CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — After a record-breaking winter, Sugarloaf is starting upgrades to the mountain resort totaling nearly $3 million.
These include new snowmaking technology, continued terrain expansion and a new 30-person outdoor hot tub at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel.
“It was the biggest winter ever in terms of numbers of skiers and revenue,” communications manager Ethan Austin said. “The number of skiers were up 22.5 percent over last year and revenue 25 percent.”
The offseason investment is part of the Sugarloaf 2020 Ten-Year Road Map, which outlines the resort’s 10-year vision for development.
Since the vision was unveiled in 2010, the resort has seen numerous upgrades and improvements, including more than 500 acres of new terrain, a new quad chairlift, massive upgrades to its snowmaking system, a new irrigation system for the Sugarloaf Golf Club, new restaurants and food options, and upgraded facilities throughout the resort.
Last year with the help of a $300,000 grant from Efficiency Maine, Sugarloaf invested $1 million in the HKD low-e guns. This allowed the mountain to produce more snow than previous years while using nearly 10 percent less electricity. The new guns are able to produce snow at higher temperatures than older technology with just a fraction of the energy.
The largest part of the improvements this summer includes installation of an additional 200 of these snow guns.
They are very effective and were one of the reasons for the earliest opening date in six years on November 9, 2012, Austin said.
Snow was also made in March, probably extending the ski season a few days. The mountain closed May 5, he said.
“These guns were really a game changer for us,” John Diller, Sugarloaf General Manager said in a release. “Historically we have been limited to making snow during times when temperatures were 20 degrees or lower. With this new technology we were able to make very high quality snow even when it was as warm as 28 degrees. During the first few weeks of November, that can mean the difference between being open and being closed.”
The new snow guns will be installed on several different trails, including Narrow Gauge, Scoot, Gondola Line, Ramdown and Widowmaker. Several of the new guns will be mounted on sleds, allowing snowmakers to transport them to strategic locations around the mountain.
Elsewhere on the resort, the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel will see a new $240,000, 30-person outdoor hot tub. Construction has already begun, and is expected to be completed by late summer.
“We’re extremely excited about the new hot tub,” Karl Strand, Sugarloaf vice president of lodging, said in a statement. “A water element is really a necessary amenity for a signature property like the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, and with its location right in the heart of the resort, it’s sure to become an iconic Sugarloaf attraction.”
Work will also continue on Sugarloaf’s terrain expansion onto Burnt Mountain this summer as glade cutting crews begin to work their way up toward the higher elevations on the northern face of the mountain.
Since the terrain expansion began in 2010, Sugarloaf has added more than 500 acres of new, backcountry-style terrain, making it the largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains.
Last winter Sugarloaf opened the newest piece of the Burnt Mountain expansion, the Eastern Territory.
In addition to these larger projects, the resort will also install a new, larger snowmaking pipe on the Gondola Line trail to increase water capacity and will widen the existing West Mountain trail to allow ski-racing programs to use it for training purposes.
In the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, the new 45 North restaurant will see an expansive $200,000 kitchen renovation and in the Sugarloaf Base Lodge a number of areas will receive upgrades, most notably the children’s learn-to-ski area, which will be refurbished and remodeled.