Ski resorts: Not just for winter anymore
Snowflakes and vast, high-elevation terrain attract winter visitors to Tahoe-Truckee ski areas.
But, many resorts are now keeping their doors open during summer months to compete for year-round tourism and to extend their business opportunities.
“At some point, all resorts want to be year-round,” said General Manager Kent Hoopingarner of Homewood Mountain Resort.
Among local ski resorts, Squaw Valley USA and Northstar-at-Tahoe offer the widest variety of activities in both summer and winter, due in part to having centralized villages with a number of restaurants and shops.
Squaw Valley offers dining, drinking, shopping, swimming, hiking and biking for locals and visitor at both its Village and on the mountain.
“The purpose of High Camp was to make Squaw Valley into this year-round destination where people could come and enjoy themselves if they were skiing or not,” said spokeswoman Savannah Cowley. “Since the Village has been completed, it has definitely pumped up Squaw Valley as a year-round destination because there are recreation and activity at two levels.”
While it doesn’t compare to business in the winter months, cable car rides and mountain-top entertainment generates the majority of summer revenue, said Cowley.
After a one-year hiatus, Northstar re-opened its mountain bike park this summer with two new trails and increased lift access. The resort also has an 18-hole golf course and offers free roller skating in the village. Much like Squaw, Northstar has taken on events like jazz and wine or beer festivals.
And like a number of local ski areas, Northstar aims to be a family-friendly resort with amenities for diverse interests, be it a spa treatment, a downhill mountain bike course or sled ride.
“The goal is to have something to offer everybody whenever they want to come up ” offering people a variety of activities, whatever season it is,” said Northstar spokeswoman Jessica Van Pernis.
As a resort undergoing a change of ownership, the West Shore’s Homewood is looking toward stepping up its summer business down the road. JMA Ventures purchased Homewood over one year ago and, while working on mountain improvements for next winter, the new owner has not yet revamped its summer amenities.
“So this summer is a transition period and not being able to really find our niche; we’ll have 13 weddings this summer,” Hoopingarner said.
The events incorporate Homewood’s food and beverage and conference services.
The ski area also used to host a paintball course, which was removed after neighborhood complaints. The ski resort continues to sponsor arts and crafts fairs and is involved with the Lake Tahoe Music Festival.
With the number of visitors and second homeowners Lake Tahoe attracts during the summer, Homewood Mountain Resort can benefit by offering a variety of recreation, Hoopingarner said.
“We want to do more for the summer visitor,” he said.