The 2003 ski season is shaping up to be one of the best ever. If you have been watching the weather reports, you will have noticed that the High Sierras are getting blasted with heavy volumes of powder vollys from Pacific storms, and it ain't over yet. Lake Tahoe received over nine feet of snow over the weekend of December 13-16. How's that for starters?
We will keep you informed of the snow scene worldwide throughout the season with our special snow report that will be updated as the winter wonderland news warrants it. So check back often for "Jetsetters Magazine Winter Ski Report."
WHAT'S NEW IN TAHOE
With 30 feet of natural snow annually blanketing Lake Tahoe's South Shore mountains, winter sports die-hards make their pilgrimage to the area's powder.
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort - Snowboarder alert! Alpine Meadows Ski Resort will earn its new prestigious status - better known as being "tight" among the young folks - by incorporating a Superpipe into its terrain features. A Superpipe is a snow sculpted "half of a pipe" shaped into a slope, preferably no more than 16 degrees in pitch. The technical difference between a regular half pipe and a Superpipe is the height of the pipe's walls - 8 feet high for a regular; 17 feet high for a Super. The Superpipe Dragon then applies a fresh texture of corduroy as seen on all groomed trails. The resort will be one of a handful of winter resorts within the U.S. to offer a Superpipe in winter 2002-2003. Telephone (530) 583-4232. www.skialpine.com
Heavenly Ski Resort - In the making for more than a decade, the new $250 million Village at Heavenly will debut in December. The new alpine village features two Marriott resorts offering nearly 800 residences and villas, an array of eclectic specialty shops, cornerstone restaurants, a multi-complex theatre and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Brick paths lined with gaslight lamps lead to world-class casino nightlife drawing big name acts such as Don Henley, Robin Williams, Tim McGraw, Sugar Ray, Natalie Merchant and Bill Crosby. www.skiheavenly.com
Kirkwood Mountain Resort - When Kirkwood Mountain Resort opened for the 2002/2003 winter season, the resort moved one step closer to achieving its dream of becoming a year-round destination with a full offering of amenities. New offerings this season include The Village Ice Rink and three new properties, that combined, house 70 luxurious ski-in/ski-out and slopeside town homes and condominiums. The $1.5 million, 6,000 square-foot rink, located at plaza's edge, will be open to the public daily throughout the winter, operating into the evening hours. Meadow Stone Lodge, with 32 luxury condominiums, is slated to open this fall, while Timber Ridge and The Sentinels are planned to be completed during winter 2002/2003. www.kirkwood.com
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area - The summer of 2002 marked one of the largest and most aggressive construction seasons in the history of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area - $424 million in resort improvements focused on: building a new gondola; designing four new retail shops, a restaurant and skier services building in the Village; on-hill enhancements to the Unbound Terrain Parks; upgrades to the Mammoth Mountain Inn; and new cabins at Tamarack Lodge and Resort. The 15-passenger gondola openein time for Christmas tansporting guests from the Village at Mammoth to Canyon Lodge. www.MammothMountain.com
South Lake Tahoe - Combining yesteryear's Alpine architecture look and ambiance with today's technology and environmental sensitivity, South Lake Tahoe is investing $1 billion in redevelopment. The plan - which is designed to create more open space while adding luxury hotel rooms, retail space and a convention center - supports the delicate balance of preserving a fragile ecosystem with reasonable human demand. In order to build new hotel rooms and retail space, existing lodging and commercial square-footage must first be retired through demolition. For every new lodging unit, 1.31 older units will be retired, and portions of the reclaimed land will be re-vegetated and maintained as permanent open space. The centerpiece of the redevelopment, which opened last December, is a gondola providing direct access from the core of the South Lake Tahoe/Stateline district - and its 5,000 hotel rooms - to Heavenly Ski Resort.
Traveling almost two and a half miles in under 12 minutes, the new gondola is California's longest ski gondola, and also has the largest uphill capacity of any gondola in the state. Construction of the Marriott Grand Residence Club Lake Tahoe - a 197-unit hotel and residence-style lodging facility, along with 110,000 square-feet of retail shopping space - was completed in November 2002. An additional 540 additional hotel rooms are planned for completion in 2003.
MARRIOTT GRAND RESIDENCES CLUB
For the skiers and snowboarders, Heavenly Ski Resort and the two new Marriott properties - Marriott Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe and Marriott's Timber Lodge - have just the cure for those seeking the "epic day" on the slopes.
Offering savings of more than 40 percent, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe and Marriott's Timber Lodge have teamed up with Heavenly Ski Resort to offer travel packages, which include spacious accommodations and two-days of adult lift tickets. With packages available January 5 - February 6, 2003, guests are only steps from the Gondola at Heavenly Ski Resort, whisking skiers and snowboarders up the mountain in just 12 minutes.
The 199 residences feature a selection of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom and penthouse floor plans ranging from 360 to 2,496 square feet of living space. Each residence combines the resort's classic alpine theme with modern sophistication and fine amenities such as a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining areas, multiple televisions and a DVD player, fireplace and private balcony in most residences. Other conveniences include underground valet parking; ski valet; health club with steam room and spa services; year-round outdoor heated swimming pool and whirlpool spas; concierge services; and daily maid and laundry services.
MARRIOT TIMBER LODGE - Bordering Marriott Grand Residence Club, Marriott's Timber Lodge offers 131 one-bedroom/one-bath and two-bedroom/two-bath villas (261 at buildout) ranging from 835 to 1,185 square feet of living space. Villas feature a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining areas, fireplace, multiple televisions and a VCR, washer and dryer, as well as a private balcony in some villas. Resort amenities include an outdoor, heated swimming pool and whirlpool spas; fitness center and steam rooms; ski valet; children's activity center; The MarketPlace convenience store and deli; and heated, underground valet parking.
After a day on the mountain, guests at the Marriott properties can enjoy the convenience of being located in the center of the new Heavenly Village with neighboring retail shops and restaurants, such as Wolfgang Puck Express, as well as world-class Nevada gaming and entertainment only a block away.
WHERE'S THE BEST SNOW FOR 2002?
Best resorts for early season snow. Selected by the editors of and Ski America and Canada ($24.95 World Leisure).
Ski and Snowboard America and Canada : Top Winter Resorts in USA and Canada (Ski and Snowboard America and Canada, 2003)
The most important part of any ski or snowboard vacation is the snow. When snow lovers are planning an early-season vacation in December, they must take the snow into consideration. When planning ahead, history is the best indicator combined with the mountain terrain and the resort's snowmaking prowess.
Good snow can found at select ski resorts across North America, according to the experts who regularly update Ski America & Canada, the country's best selling ski guide, and its Web site, www.resortspace.com. But, you have to know what resorts have the best chance for heavy snowstorms.
If skiers and snowboarders are yearning for natural snow, they should head out West for the most part. New England skiing and much of eastern Canada's slopes depend on a steady blanket of manmade snow. That said, many experts caution eastern skiers to stick close to home in December, rather than chance poor natural snowfall in the Rockies, California and the Pacific Northwest.
Ski America & Canada's as well as www.resortspace.com's award-winning staff have selected their "best bets" for the top dozen resorts that will keep smiles on a snow-lover's face. These are ski and snowboard areas that are resorts with extensive lodging, nightlife and dining combined with some of the best early-season snowfall statistics as compiled by bestsnow.com. Remote ski mountains that have lots of snow and not much more, such as Washington's Mt. Baker, the Guiness Book of Records most-snow champ, Colorado's Wolf Creek, and Vermont's Jay Peak, were not included.
These ski areas share a common box canyon in Utah that squeezes more powder snow out of storm clouds than any other spot in the state. These resorts have the best chance of being blanketed in dry fluffy powder snow.
Year after year, Grand Targhee gets plenty of early season snow. The slopes here have been covered with snow in December for more than a quarter-century. Nearby Jackson Hole has almost as much snow plus the charm of the evocative old-western town of Jackson.
A surprise resort for those who don't realize that these slopes lie in one of the snowiest corners of Colorado. The snow stays protected by Steamboat's legendary glades. Chances are that more trails here will be open here in the early season than at any other Colorado resort.
Staff whined about occasional rain at this massive resorts lower altitudes. When there is drizzle down below, there's often sun and plenty of snow up high. Enjoy the upper mountain normally layered with plenty of snow, then ride the gondola down at the end of the day.
Vail, according to the weather gods, is the better of the two. However, finding the back bowls open can be dicey. Between these two resorts, there is not much in terms of amenities that a skier or rider looking for the best can't find.
Other resorts such as Winter Park in Colorado, Fernie Mountain Resort, BC, Canada, and the resort collection that rings Lake Tahoe have good early snow statistics as well. At Lake Tahoe it is normally feast or famine. When the snow falls, it comes measured in feet not in inches.
On the other side of the country in New England, more than 75 percent of the trails are covered by snowmaking. This means skiers and snowboarders can rest assured that they will have good coverage on trails.
Killington, Vermont; Sunday River, Maine; and Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, are the champions of snowmaking in New England; and Le Massif, outside of Québec City with trails dropping almost into the St. Lawrence Seaway, enjoys its own microclimate that makes finding snow a good bet.
Perfect powder stashes, outstanding shaped ski pleasures or a ride on the frozen waves: The choice is all yours! The Osttirol area boasts huge amounts of snow! A Ski Touring Week plus breakfasts & dinners and four escorted backcountry tours at Anras, for example, starts at Euro 525.00 per person.