rocky resorts 

Regional ski areas join forces Whistler/Blackcomb faces increased competition from east and south Rocky Mountain resorts in B.C. and Alberta took a major step to entice their local/regional market this week with the announcement of an eight-mountain season pass for $849. The resorts — Lake Louise, Fortress, Nakiska, Wintergreen, Mount Norquay and Marmot in Alberta and Fernie and Panorama in B.C. — have also targeted destination skiers with transferable multi-day tickets. Five of the eight resorts are owned by Charlie Locke of the Skiing Louise Group of resorts. Panorama is owned by Intrawest and Norquay and Marmot are owned by other companies. While Alberta has a healthy skiing/boarding population, many consider the province relatively untapped as far as a source of resort investment. Because most Alberta ski areas are within national or provincial parks there is little opportunity for real estate development. Locke, in particular, sees Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge as potential markets for his proposed expansion and re-development of the Fernie ski area. The new pass/ticket agreement offers some excellent skiing at a reasonable price and also draws potential investors to Locke’s ski areas. An unrestricted adult season pass at Whistler/Blackcomb is $1,365 this season. It was available for $1,119 prior to Sept. 29. Meanwhile, Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which owns four ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state, this month announced a $30 million development plan for its areas. The four ski areas, Alpental, Snoqualmie Pass, Ski Acres and Hyack, are now known collectively as the Summit at Snoqualmie. Over the next decade, Booth Creek plans to add 16 quad chairs — four of them high-speed lifts — connect the resorts with runs and build a new central resort core. Upgrades this season include a new quad, eight new grooming machines, improvements to restaurant and bar facilities and a transferable ticket. While the four ski areas of the Summit at Snoqualmie have only 2,200 feet of vertical drop each and are not considered major ski mountains, they are the closest ski areas to the Seattle market and are popular among snowboarders. As well, there is some privately-held real estate available for development at Snoqualmie, unlike at most Washington ski areas where the lands are under the control of the Forest Service. Booth Creek also owns Northstar-at-Tahoe, California; Sierra-at-Tahoe, California; Bear Mountain, California; Mount Cranmore, New Hampshire; Waterville Valley, New Hampshire; Loon Mountain, New Hampshire; and Grand Targhee, Wyoming. The company purchased the Snoqualmie ski areas in 1996.

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