In The Spotlight
Winter has arrived across the upper Midwest. Many ski areas and resorts are opening this weekend, and Thanksgiving Weekend also looks good if you want to get away for that first ski trip of the new season.
A combination of cold air, system snow and lake effect snow has put some natural cover on the ground and has been great for snowmaking. It’s among the best opening weekends in the Heartland in the last 20 years.
Hyland Hills and Afton Alps near the Twin Cities and Little Switzerland near Milwaukee are opening Friday, Nov. 16. Minnesota ski areas opening on Saturday include Powder Ridge, Andres Towers, Welch Village and Mount Kato. Wisconsin’s Granite Peak and Michigan’s Nubs Nob also opens Saturday. It’s Nubs third earliest open ever.
Ski resorts opening around the Great Lakes this weekend are offering attractive early season overnight lodging packages.
Boyne Mountain opens Friday and Boyne Highlands opens Saturday. Much of the front face at each resort will be open as well as beginner areas. The Mountain is offering ski and lodging packages beginning at $88 per person, per night. They plan on closing midweek, but reopening Thanksgiving Weekend.
Caberfae Peaks, near Cadillac, Michigan, is opening Saturday and has ski and lodging packages beginning at $69 this weekend and $99 for Thanksgiving Weekend.
Lutsen Mountains, located along the north shore of Lake Superior, is opening this weekend with plans to operate the Flapjack conveyor and 10th Mountain Chair with beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain available. Meanwhile, snowmaking continues on Ullr, Eagle and Moose Mountains with at least four lifts and 12 to 18 runs projected open for the Thanksgiving weekend. Weekend lift and lodging packages start from $112 per person.
With the long range forecast remaining good for continued snowmaking next week look for more ski areas and resorts to open for Thanksgiving Weekend. You can log onto SnoCountry.com to check the latest conditions at your favorite Midwest snowsports destination.
As many ski areas make the final preps before a huge holiday week, weather conditions are shaping up great for both the east and the west.
Eastern U.S. & Canada
The northeast continues to get the benefit of an active weather pattern. Storm after storm has provided shots of snow for the past two weeks, with yet another system on the way. On Friday, Nov. 16, a coastal storm will plow northward, providing snow from West Virginia to Maine. It’s a fast mover, but will have enough juice to crank out as much as 2-6” for most terrain, with the jackpot in the mountains of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine with as much as 6-12” for many mountains. Look for excellent conditions for Loon and Sugarloaf Mountains for opening day Friday. Killington, Mount Snow, and Sugarbush will also be top hits for this coming weekend.
Western U.S. & Canada
The interior West/Rockies have had a great stretch leading into this week with heavy snow for parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Loveland Ski Area boasts its snowiest start to a season *ever* with nearly 7 feet of snow (yes, you read that right) before Thanksgiving.
While no huge storms in the western forecast, conditions will be prime, and temperatures cold enough at night in the teens and 20s for many western ski areas to turn on the snow machines to lay the final layers before the big Thanksgiving week ahead. Look for some natural snow over the peaks of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming Friday into Saturday with 2-6” of snow on the slopes. Discovery Ski Area Montana should have some fresh snow as they re-open for the weekend.
When John Myers’ soon-to-be married daughter said the three-bedroom condo at Vermont's Okemo wasn’t going to be big enough, he purchased a five- bedroom slopeside townhouse where the extended family of 18 enjoys time together. Every week 30,000 baby boomers become grandparents so it’s not too surprising that there are multiple generations enjoying vacation homes at the country’s ski resorts.
Among retirees relocating to ski-vacation homes, real estate agents report some downsize - and others upsize to accommodate adult children and grandkids.
“I’m seeing two, three and four generations of families enjoying Okemo together,” notes Kathy Burns, owner/broker of William Raveis Real Estate Vermont Properties in Ludlow. She attributes that to ski programs plus après-ski and summer activities that make the mountain “a great place to connect and call home.”
Mountain properties continue to be purchased by all ages. In addition to weekend warriors and telecommuters, agents also see owners who move in for the ski season and others who don’t ski but use their vacation homes for summer and rent them out in winter. Prices continue to depend on location and property size, condition and amenities.
“The Killington real estate market has ignited and appears to have transitioned from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market,” notes Kyle Kershner, broker/owner of Killington Pico Realty, who adds it's the busiest he’s seen in ten years.
Inventories for homes and condos are down and many properties are receiving multiple offers with some selling above asking price, like a one-bedroom condo that had three offers within 24 hours of Kershner listing it. “Things are selling well with the lowest priced and $200,000-300,000 range selling fast,” he notes.
The economy, summer activities, and “mountain biking energy” are among factors driving the market, he said, adding the $25 million in Killington improvements are reinforcing a desire to own among those already interested in the area. He also reported a non-skier buyer is purchasing properties as an investment, noting Airbnb and VRBO rentals are also a factor in the increasing interest in ownership.
A vacation home provides a place for families and friends to get together and have fun and people have been doing that year round at Loon Mountain for a long time, Donna Martel of Loon Mountain Real Estate Co. said. She sees people who purchase and hang on to their homes for extended family gatherings as well as non-skiers who buy to use in summer and rent out in winter.
Currently, the most popular price range for sales is the $200,00 to $300,000 and even $400,000. With not a lot of inventory it is starting to become a seller’s market, Martel said. Properties range from quartershares at the Loon Mountain Club, which sell for $13,000 to $22,000, to several million for luxury slopeside homes.
Mike Gullotti of Colorado Group Realty, which handles rural and resort real estate sales in south and north Routt County where Steamboat Resort is located, reports that the market is very active with a slight decrease in inventory. The average sales price has climbed to $743,144 (96.9 percent of asking price). An abundance of luxury inventory brings the average list price up to $1.6 million, up 18 percent from last year.
Approximately 50 percent of second-home owners are from the Front Range (greater Denver area) and purchase properties in the $250,00 to $1.5 million range. People who can work remotely purchase in the $500,000 to $800,000 range, and families who move up to larger homes typically pay $300,000 to $500,000, Gullotti notes.
Upgrades abound for a quartet of Colorado ski and snowboard resorts that swing open their doors in mid-November, as the new season gets into full-bore boogie mode for the 2018-2019 season.
New lifts, more snowmaking and some family- and dog-friendly features mark the new season at Eldora, Copper Mountain, Purgatory, Vail and Winter Park. Here’s a synopsis of what skiers and riders will find when they pull up to any of these mountains this winter.
Eldora. Skiing and riding in the trees will be easier to navigate, as the Front Range day-mountain thinned out forested sections of the hill. Season ticket holders now have a chip on their pass to help speed up ticket-buzzing at entrance gates to lifts.
Copper. Lift installation crews were busy at the Summit County resort this summer. Two venerable main base chairs got next-generation updates. The long-run American Flyer is now a six-person detachable chair with bubbles – hopefully to retire the local moniker “American Freezer.” And the American Eagle, which delivers skiers and riders to mid-mountain, will be a combo of six-seat chairs and eight-person gondola cabins. Downhill Duke’s is now dog friendly.
Purgatory. After a couple years’ flurry of upgrades, the southwestern Rockies resort will pause to enjoy this season. To get more families, the Durango-area resort has a new season pass that is free for all children in fourth grade or younger, with no blackout dates and no parent purchase required.
Winter Park. Big news at Denver’s “home mountain” is the first new lift since 2007 – the 10-seat gondola to replace Zephyr Express. Expected to cut lift line times, the new gondola will run from the base to the 10,700-foot Sunspot summit. More snowmaking capacity around the mountain, too.
Vail Mountain. Crews installed 10 large-capacity, low-energy fan guns on Born Free trail and have upgraded mountain-wide snow-making system to increase productivity. Parking spots and rates have been shuffled.