Waterville Valley Resort has come a long way in the last four years. In 2016 we introduced a two phase $7.5 million investment plan which brought the resort to the Next Level with new terrain, renovations, upgrades, and innovations to snowmaking, the Base Lodge, and ticketing experience. As new opportunities arose throughout the process, that commitment to invest in Waterville Valley ultimately expanded to just over $12.8 million over the last four years. It’s been a long road, but we’re excited to see this chapter in Waterville Valley history come to close so that we can keep looking towards our future. Read on for a recap of how far we’ve come and for an update on what’s new for the 2019/20 season…
The Last 4 Years:
›› Green Peak
In August 2016 we announced the Green Peak expansion, our largest expansion project in over 30 years. The development of Green Peak gave us 45 more skiable acres and ten new trails of varying terrain for all ability levels. That same fall we began moving the World Cup Triple to Green Peak and cutting new trails and by January 2017 we were able to open the first trails, Bourbon Street and Mean Jean’s Ravine. The following month the Green Peak chair carried guests to the summit for the first time and we opened five more trails later that season. By the 2018/19 season we were able to open the entirety of Green Peak by unveiling the final three trails, Piano Man, Clean Shaven, and Wayne Wong’s Way.
›› Snow Surfaces
During the summer of 2017 we began installing 33,000 new feet of snowmaking pipe on Green Peak which would bring us back to 100% snowmaking by the 2018/19 season and allow us to open an entire new peak. We also installed 400 new high efficiency snow guns, and relocated 80 guns prior to the start of the 2018/19 season which allowed for better snowmaking in new positions on the mountain. With the addition of a new filtration and automation system for the 2018/19 season snowmaking became faster and more efficient, saving us on average 2,780,825 kilowatts of energy (that’s enough to power 4,521 NH homes for one month!). The new automation system helped us control the new fan guns, monitor weather remotely, and make automatic changes to ensure the best snow quality and a more consistent snow surface.
Over the last four years we spent more than $1.15 million on a new fleet of Sufag low energy, high efficiency snowmaking guns and fans to outfit Green Peak and upgrade the Mt. Tecumseh snowmaking system. This was one of the largest single snowmaking purchases in East Coast history!
We also added four new cats to our grooming fleet. For the 2018/19 season we introduced the Prinoth Bison X Winch Cat, Bison X, a Prinoth 500, and Prinoth Husky. These cats are allowing us to build and maintain Waterville Valley’s competitive venue to the highest level. The winch cat allows us to groom faster and more efficiently on our steeper terrain. The Prinoth 500 grooms 33% wider than the traditional cat which allows us to lay down more corduroy, more efficiently every night. The Bison X is an innovative machine for park building. With optimal maneuverability and low fuel consumption, this groomer offers an unrivaled range of motion for its blade and tiller. This feature allows our parks crew to build and maintain features efficiently and with precision.
In August 2017 we removed one of the last remaining J-Bars in New England from the Pasture to bring in two state of the art conveyor surface lifts. This was part of a larger, multi-year project to create a new Learner’s Area experience. The new carpets created a more beginner-friendly environment and sped up loading time. The carpets are also more energy efficient and allow our staff to use the Pasture trail more effectively.
Our rental fleet has also been overturned by 95% over the last four years. We have invested $285,000 on 825 new skis and boards, 480 new alpine and snowboard boots. We’ve also invested $75,000 on new helmets and poles over the last four seasons.
›› Base Lodge
In September of 2017 we began the multi-year project of the 12,000 square foot Base Lodge renovation by remodeling the ground floor. That following season we were able to open the new season pass office as well as relocate and create a new space for the Waterville Valley Adaptive Snowsports Program. These improvements created a better flow in the base area allowing for a more effective and efficient arrival process for our guests.
The following summer we broke ground on renovating the second and third floor. We added a wall of glass windows and re-graded the slope outside the lodge allowing for better views of the mountain. We also opened up more room for seating with a 3,000 square foot expansion creating more elbow room during the lunch time rush. The third floor, previously home to Buckets also started to receive a face lift to reflect our freestyle skiing heritage. Although still under construction, the new and improved Freestyle Lounge opened for après and beverage service in December 2018.
In September 2017 the U.S. Forest Service approved the construction of the High Country T-Bar to replace the old 1966 double and by February 2019 the new T-Bar loaded skiers and riders for the first time. Guests have been enjoying the sweeping views up on High Country and the faster ascent.
Sunnyside and Green Peak also received major repairs during the 2018/19 season. In early 2019 Green Peak began experiencing a power quality issue which was repaired by installing a new transformer and conduit. The Sunnyside lift was experiencing a low voltage problem in one of the lift’s safety circuits, a huge undertaking, but our lift maintenance crew was able to fix the problem the right way to ensure that the lift will run successfully.
For the 2017/18 season we introduced our gateless RFID system, developed at Waterville Valley Resort by the Affinity Team. This eliminated barcode scanning and allowed for a faster lift loading experience. For the 2018/19 season we introduced reloadable RFID cards so that guests could reload their cards with lift tickets from home, allowing them to skip the ticket window lines and head straight to the lift. We also introduced the RFID helmet sticker for season passholders.
›› Town Square
Over the past four years Town Square has been receiving routine maintenance and upkeep, including a new roof, siding repair, and a new post and beam entry way creating a fresher look. A number of Town Square Condos have also received a face lift with new carpet, furniture, and artwork. Additionally, we also acquired the Silver Fox Inn and Snowstar Inn, giving us more resort lodging options. Employee housing also became available at the Snowstar Inn making it easier for us to both hire and retain resort staff from season to season.
›› Summer Operations
During the Summer of 2017 as part of our Phase II projects, we added four new activities to expand our summer offerings in the Valley. These activities included 18 holes of disc golf on Snows Mountain, the Vertical Zone climbing wall and trampoline, ResortBoard, and Onewheel experiences. The Adventure Center has also added 174 new bikes to the rental shop, keeping the fleet up-to-date with the newest equipment.
What’s New for the 2019/20 Season:
›› Kids Ski Free
We’re excited to introduce the Kids Ski Free pass for the 2019/20 season. With the purchase of an Adult Plus Pass, any kid skis free all season. The goal behind this program is to give the gift of skiing and riding to a younger generation and to make the sport more affordable for families. Anyone who purchases an Adult Plus Pass will receive a voucher to pick up a free junior season pass for kids ages 6-12. This voucher can be given to any child, whether they are a kid of your own, a grandchild, niece/nephew, or neighbor. At just $1078 (full winter pricing), this is the most affordable family season pass option in the White Mountains.
›› Base Lodge
For the 2019/20 season the Base Lodge renovation will be completed. The finished Freestyle Lounge will reflect Waterville Valley’s freestyle heritage and will be a comfortable place to enjoy lunch and après with food and drink service. Visually the space will be bright and welcoming with a rustic feel decorated with memorabilia from our freestyle past, along with repurposed pieces of mountain equipment that are being refinished as art pieces.
There will be different sections to the third floor including a private event space and a bar area that will seamlessly come together as a whole. Entering slopeside guests will walk into the Freestyle Lounge bar area. The refinished picnic tables will give the space a more upscale look and to the right of the door will be a standing-room area furnished with unique refinished high-top tables.
The former Buckets dining space will have a new, modern look with the ability to be cross utilized for dining and private events. Additionally, we envision that the third floor of the Base Lodge will become a popular venue to host summer events and weddings on the mountain. We’re excited to see the finished product, and of course enjoy live music while sipping on a mug of 603 Brewery Exhibition IPA or a hot cocoa after a long day on the slopes.
›› Welcome Center
This summer we acquired the former Waterville Valley Realty building on Route 49 coming into the Valley. We’re in the process of re-purposing the space as a Welcome Center for the resort and creating offices for our Group Sales team. Central Reservations will also run out of this location. Guests will be able to stop in, ask questions, purchase lift tickets, and lessons all at this location. Be sure to stop in and say hi!
›› Terrain Parks
For the 2019/20 season we are redesigning our terrain parks. Most of our parks will now be located off of the Poma, so park skiers and riders can enjoy park lap after park lap. This will also make training for our freestyle athletes more convenient. This year we’ll have a medium/large park on Exhibition, a medium park on Higher Ground, a small park on Lower White Caps, and the medium park in the Sugar Shack Glades.
For the 2019/20 season Waterville Valley continues to upgrade the snowmaking system for even more efficiency. We’ve upgraded our filtration system which will allow for cleaner water to pass through creating a higher quality snow product more efficiently. This winter we’ve also added 34 more Folk tower guns to cover the mountain with more snow. In addition, we installed new valving and added more pipe allowing us to reconfigure snowmaking to better serve our needs on Green Peak along with upgrades and repairs to the snowmaking infrastructure on Tecumseh.
New to the Nordic Center for the 2019/20 season is a Prinoth Husky Groomer. The new Husky has excellent visibility with its large windows, upgraded ergonomic controls, and increased lighting for productivity and safety. It also has greater maneuverability with its two or four track setting plates and tillers that can be individually activated. The power of the Husky comes from the motor with Tier 4 technology that reduces emissions by making the engine perform with far more efficiency, creating more power while burning less fuel. The brass tracks on this groomer will allow for more efficient grooming of our Nordic trails, allowing us to cover more kilometers in a night, alongside our current Pistenbully 100.
Over the summer we also re-built waterville.com to create a better buying experience and to allow for easier communication.