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May 2011

Construction Site :: May 2011

Resorts expand with new lodges, summer attractions and energy-saving tools.

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Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, alter ego to Camelback Winter Resort and the largest outdoor waterpark in Pennsylvania, is going even bigger this summer. It’s adding two new family tube rides, the SandStorm and Dune Runner. The SandStorm boasts two “tantrum funnels” that scream excitement (they are guaranteed to cause screams, anyway), while the Dune Runner creates wonderful stomach-churning freefalls before riders plunge into the water at ride’s end. The new rides will bring Camelbeach’s count to more than 35 when they open June 17.

To get a head start on the $2-million additions, the resort began clearing snow from its trails in late March—just as a series of snowstorms arrived and allowed the resort to extend the ski and ride season by two weekends, through April 3, creating a seasonal mash-up that even Monty Python would love.

Gunstock is investing $2.1 million in three major attractions for the summer of 2011, to gain a greater share of the 3.4 million summer visitors to the state’s Lakes Region. The first two attractions, the new Aerial Treetops Adventure Course (“ATAZIP”) and Mountain Segway Tours, will open on Memorial Day weekend. A new ZipTour will open in July. There will be 20 ziplines in all when everything is completed.

ATAZIP is a completely new, high ropes, zipline and obstacle course within the trees. ATAZIP will offer 91 games, including 41 course challenges, 22 ladders, and 12 zip lines totaling almost 1,400 feet in length. There will be eight courses, and six ability levels. “The ATA course will be the largest high ropes, zipline and adventure course in New England,” GM Greg Goddard says. The experience will cost about $45 and last two to three hours. The Mountain Segway nature and historical tours use the new Segway X2 to explore some of Gunstock’s 50 miles of alpine and cross country terrain. A two-hour tour will be $70.

The ZipTour will comprise 8 different ziplines, including the two longest zip lines in the continental U.S., at 3,900 feet. They drop 650 vertical feet, at an average 18 percent grade. New technology gives each rider the ability to control the speed of descent. Thrill seekers can travel up to 56 mph, while sightseers can stop and look around while hanging 155 feet in the air, should they be so daring.

These new attractions supplement Gunstock’s existing ones, including scenic lift rides and a host of festivals and special events, as well as weddings and corporate outings.

Mountain Creek’s new owners are building a new day lodge at the Vernon base as part of a major, year-round, $14-million expansion to be completed by the start of the 2011-12 season.

The 44,000-square-foot base lodge has been 10 years in the making. The new facility replaces the Sprung Structure tents, which were erected in the fall of 1999 after fire destroyed the original lodge. The Adirondack-style architecture of the new lodge invokes the history of the old and complements the Appalachian lodge at the main base. On the inside, the new lodge makes use of all the latest technologies. It houses rentals, retail, lockers, food court, Starbucks, sushi lounge, private club space, several bars, and a large outdoor activity space.

The highlight is a completely reinvented rental experience. Taking a Disney-style approach, the new process combines elements of the “pod” and “station” approaches to rental and adds video and computer technology to create an entertaining, efficient and seamless rental experience.

In addition to the lodge, Mountain Creek is moving an existing building (pictured) to create a dedicated learn-to center, reconfiguring and expanding its learn-to terrain, cutting a new 1.5 mile trail, and relocating and expanding the tubing hill (which goes from seven to 30 lanes). For year-round adventure, the area is adding a mountain coaster and mountaintop zipline. For good measure, it’s also adding a 140-seat restaurant to the Appalachian Lodge.

Mt. Rose installed three power-generating extreme Windspires in November at the Winters Creek Lodge. The intent was to offset some of the electrical power needs of the new lodge, which was built in 2009. The expectation was that the three windspires would provide enough power to, in effect, keep the lights on at the Winters Creek Lodge for the winter season.

The spires, a sort of cylindrical wind turbine, are mounted on 30-foot poles, to make sure they stay above the snowpack.

The average wind speed at the Slide Bowl of Mt. Rose is 14 mph, but these “extreme” windspires are designed to handle winds up to 160 mph. At 11 mph average winds, each Windspire can theoretically generate about 2,000 kWh a year. Rated maximum power is 1200 Watts (at wind speeds of 25 to 40 mph).

And how did they work? “In January, we had an initial issue with the invertors. Snow was blowing through the seals. But this problem was remedied by the end of the month,” says PR manager Kayla Anderson. Then, in February and March, the spires generated a total of nearly 700 kWh, a bit more than 200 kWh per spire.

Beyond the energy savings, the Windspires had a not-surprising PR effect as well. “We’ve received great feedback from our passholder base, mainly because of the aesthetics and how quiet they are. People say they look like sculptures,” Anderson notes.

“In the continuing effort to be a green industry, this is a viable mechanism that ski resorts can consider to offset power usage with renewable energy sources,” adds marketing director Mike Pierce.