TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Vail Resorts’ plans to transform the summer experience at Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California Resort could be a game-changer to bolster tourism on the North and South shores of Lake Tahoe.
The Colorado-based company plans to spend $25 million to add zip lines, ropes courses, summer tubing, climbing walls, expanded hiking and mountain biking trails, interpretive centers and the Forest Flyer, an alpine slide that winds through the forest on raised rails much like a roller coaster, at six of its large mountain resorts.
The company expects to generate an additional $7 million in earnings by creating a slate of summertime adventure activities among its six major resort properties, which stretch from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of Lake Tahoe.
Bill Cottrill, director of sales and marketing for Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel near the base of the gondola that services Heavenly Mountain Resort, says that reinvestment in summertime activities by Vail could provide a windfall for much of South Lake Tahoe.
“Heavenly is very important for South Lake Tahoe businesses; their investment is critical to the overall success of the area,” he says. “We have millions of people within a three- to five-hour drive, and having those extra activities creates additional excitement and buzz, which in turn earns more visitors. We need those extra amenities.”
The newly renovated Basecamp Hotel on the California side of South Lake Tahoe also is ideally positioned to capitalize on Vail’s push to create a summertime adventure destination at Heavenly. Brian Hunt, general manager of the 50-room property, which opened in June 2012, says summer bookings already far outpace winter bookings, and having even more people in town can increase the economic health of retailers, hoteliers and eateries throughout the South Shore.
“There are way more activities for families in the summer than in the winter, and depending on what (Vail Resorts) are actually doing on the mountain, it certainly could make a difference,” Hunt says. “We certainly will be the benefactors of more bodies coming to South Shore. The busier they are, the busier we will be.”
Basecamp Hotel, which was gutted to the studs and remodeled in a “baselodge” theme, caters to adventure travelers and Lake Tahoe explorers — the exact clientele Vail Resorts seeks to draw to its resorts in the summertime.
“The more people that find themselves in this neck of the woods and are like-minded in that regard, the better off we will be,” Hunt says. “Any company looking to pump money into town, we certainly could use a little love to help bolster the economy and community.”