As baby boomers were building families in the 1970s and 1980s, ski resorts were putting steel and concrete in the ground, expanding both lifts and terrain. The skiers and riders of today are benefiting from those infrastructure improvements. Lifts are faster, ticket-checking is RFID-enabled to speed up lines, and snowmaking and grooming have never been better or more energy-efficient.
Now the focus is on affordability and on-hill experiences.
Resorts are attracting the children and grandchildren of boomers with more options for saving on the cost of skiing and riding, as well as off-slope events and activities that round out the mountain experience.
At the Fairbank Group of New England ski resorts - Bromley, Cranmore and Jiminy Peak - skiers can save up to 50 percent if they plan ahead, purchase special value cards, and shop for lesson and rental equipment packages.
With calendar pricing, up to 50 percent off on-mountain prices are available for non-refundable/non-transferrable lift tickets purchased online in advance. The earlier tickets are purchased, the higher the discount - online ticket rates increase when inventory levels are depleted or the date of the visit draws near.
Buying online means no fumbling for cash or credit cards and less time at the ticket window. Savings are greater for off-peak periods, higher for holidays and weekends.
Value Cards are a no-brainer. At Jiminy Peak a $62 card includes two free days (restrictions apply), then $15 to $20 off every lift ticket purchased throughout the season.
Bromley's $81 Sun Mountain Card (SMC) purchased before Dec. 14 ($91 afterwards) saves up to $30 off an all-day lift ticket all season long, and includes one free all-day lift ticket.
Cranmore's Value Card is $89 and includes one lift ticket, then $20 off all lift ticket purchases thereafter. There are no blackout dates and every seventh lift ticket is provided at no additional cost.
The resort's "After Two, Tomorrow Too" promotion allows visitors who buy a full-pass ticket after 2 p.m. to use the same ticket the entire next day at no additional charge.
More ways to save: there are ski school packages that offer buy two/get one lesson free at Jiminy Peak; seasonal equipment rentals for as low as $200 at Bromley; and discounted night skiing at Cranmore and Jiminy Peak.
Under the theory that the best of all prices is "free," kids age five and under ski/board free at Bromley and Cranmore.
On-hill improvement plans include an expansion of Terrain-Based Learning (TBL) at Jiminy Peak and Bromley beyond the beginner areas and out on the upper mountain where they serve as mini-parks and self-improvement areas.
Discover Zones at Jiminy Peak and Cranmore go one step further with TBL features, self-guided signs, plus free learn-to-ski or ride advice from trained ski and snowboard instructors stationed at terrain features during peak periods.
At Bromley, a new partnership with Arena Snowparks adds a family-friendly progression park with a new layout and design that will create one of the best progression parks in the East for riders from green to black ability levels.
Also at Bromley, the event calendar will be expanded to include more family-friendly entertainment.
Mountain experiences also include snow tubing - Cranmore's 700-ft. facility alone has 10 lanes. The Soaring Eagle Zip Line, Mountain Coaster and Giant Swing will expand its Fun Zone concept, moving it to a larger location and adding multiple features for both adults and children to enjoy during breaks or après ski.
"Winter ski resorts are not just about skiing or riding any longer," says The Fairbank Group's Tyler Fairbank, CEO. "It's about small, memorable moments that make up a complete winter outdoor vacation experience for all members of the family.
"And for our millennial and Generation Z guests who can't remember a life before the internet, the WiFi and cell coverage is great."