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Dining and Leisure Alternatives in Canada’s Top Ski Destination

Dining and Leisure Alternatives in Canada’s Top Ski Destination

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It’s not that I don’t own skis. The moment I expressed interest in the sport, my dad went out and bought me a pair. I was 16 years old and I think he harbored guilt from my first foray on a mountain when I was 5. Not understanding that his frilly-dress-wearing, book-loving, pansy of an only child preferred reading Madeline to mountains, he was frustrated to find out that putting my skis into a V and pushing me down a bunny hill didn’t help. With tears in my eyes, I swore not to go back on a mountain for another 10 years. Not one to back down on my promises, it took me 11.

I pretended for the next 10 years that I was into the sport. I’ve gone on spring break ski trips and ski dates. I’ve bought the trendiest snow bunny paraphernalia and I’ve played the part of active Vancouverite.

But now, at age 27, my mortality is just as visceral as it was at age 5 and I’ve finally come to terms with what my father (and subsequently, boyfriends) cannot; I don’t like skiing.

Living just an hour and a half away from Canada’s top ski destination, I’ve had many opportunities to perfect my "pendant ski" (during, as opposed to après, or after) activities, and I assure you that during this spring ski season in Whistler, British Columbia, home of the 2010 Olympic Games, there is plenty to keep those who prefer bubbly to bunny hills, occupied.

If it's a proper meal and not a party you're after, make reservations at Araxi, made famous on Hell's Kitchen and consistently voted the best restaurant in Whistler. If you need to replenish your iron supplies, Hy's Steakhouse, a Canadian institution, is your destination. Don't leave without sampling at least eight orders of their cheese toast.

Surprisingly, Spa Scandinave Whistler is the perfect spot to get a rosy, outdoor glow on your cheeks. Nestled in the mountains, this Finnish bathhouse boasts a eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, two hot pools, and two ice-cold plunging pools. Restorative and deeply relaxing, a day in the spa is cheaper than your physical therapist appointment after a fall on the slopes. Be sure to grab a bowl of whatever Bearfoot Bistro's soup-of-the-day is at the café and cross your fingers that it's their decadent mushroom.

Canada’s local designers are making names for themselves all over Manhattan at the moment. Aritzia’s flagship store in SoHo is always bustling and Lululemon’s free yoga classes in Bryant Park this summer looked more like cult worship with hundreds of attendees than a store promotion. Spend a day perusing these shops and others in Whistler Village and bring back more than a sprained ankle.

Après Skiing:
My dad was wrong when he said the best part of skiing is the feeling of taking off your ski boots at the end of the day. That’s the second-best part. The number one best part of spending a day on the slopes is immediately downing a glass of chardonnay in celebration of not ending up in a coma. Skip the ski boots, and head straight to Longhorn Saloon and Grill or Garibaldi Lift Company an hour early to save your party’s table. These spots aren’t exactly known for their culinary cuisine, but the après ski scene will almost make you wish you spent the day actually skiing. Almost.

12 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Canada, 2021

Ski resorts can be found across the country, but the best skiing in Canada is in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta. The snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains are home to world-class ski resorts that attract skiers and boarders from around the world, and smaller resorts frequented primarily by locals.

Whistler Blackcomb, just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, is one of the top ski resorts in the world, offering a first-class experience from the slopes to the hotels, restaurants, and shops. The interior of BC is home to some lesser visited gems with extreme terrain, or family-oriented resorts. In Alberta, the ski resorts around Banff are an exceptional introduction to skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

In central and eastern Canada, Ontario and Quebec offer skiing opportunities of their own, catering mainly to an eastern crowd. In Ontario, Blue Mountain is a wonderful family hill located just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto. In Quebec, Mont-Tremblant, known for producing some of Canada's most famous skiers, offers some of the best skiing in eastern Canada.

Changes for the 2020/2021 Ski Season: All the ski resorts in Canada will have new rules in place for the 2020/2021 ski season. These may include online-only lift ticket purchases, mask wearing in lift lines and indoors, and physical distancing protocols. Be sure to check the website of your resort prior to your visit to avoid disappointment.

Plan your winter escape with our list of the best ski resorts in Canada.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

Skiing Just Got Cheaper - At The World’s Best Ski Resorts

Skier enjoying fresh powder in the famous bowls of Vail, Colorado, America's favorite ski resort - . [+] now 20% cheaper.

Finally, some good post-vaccination news for skiers and snowboarders after two rough pandemic winters that greatly disrupted ski vacations, travel and the snow sports industry. Unlike just about everything else we enjoy in travel and recreation, the cost to go skiing has actually dropped in recent years, mainly do the prevalence of multi-resort unlimited ski passes. But as of today it is going down even more, at dozens of the most popular and desirable ski destinations in the world.

Of course, this doesn’t affect things like airfares, hotels or après ski cocktails, but the actual cost of a day on the slopes has gone downhill at the vast majority of world class destination resorts in the U.S. and many elsewhere. These savings are especially dramatic for those who ski or snowboard a lot - you could make turns at more than four dozen top resorts around the world every day next ski season for less than some top ski areas selling single day tickets would charge for just four days!

Thirteen years ago, ski industry giant Vail Resorts completely changed the lift ticket playing field when it introduced its Epic Pass, a new type of season pass product that was not tied to a single mountain, but rather was good across the multiple mountains in the company’s growing portfolio. Since then, competitors have followed suite, mainly in the form of Alterra Mountain Company’s Ikon Pass, the second biggest, but there are a lot of smaller players, from the Mountain Collective (2 days each at 43 resorts, many of them very high profile) to Indy Pass (independently owned resorts) to Powder Alliance (18 resorts worldwide) to regional offerings like the New England Pass, the Northeast’s Powder Pass and Western Canada’s Rocky Mountain Passport.

The pedestrian village at Whistler/Blackcomb, the largest and most visited ski resort in North . [+] America - and part of the Epic Pass.

But Epic is the most popular, selling an estimated 850,000 passes before last winter, and its offerings are immense by anyone’s ski and snowboard travel standards. The resorts covered for unlimited, no blackout date visits include the most popular in the United States (Vail), the largest in the United States (Park City), the most popular - and largest - in North America (Whistler/ Blackcomb), the largest in Australia (Perisher), and marquee resorts across Colorado (Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Crested Butte), Tahoe (Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar), New England (Stowe, Okemo, Sunapee, Mt. Snow, Attitash, Wildcat), New York (Hunter), the Pacific Northwest (Steven’s Pass) and many others, throughout Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, 37 in all.

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Even top Japanese resorts are included on the Epic Pass. Japan is home to the world's best powder. . [+] This is the view from famed Rusustu resort.

That’s a ton, but there’s a lot more, because Vail also has partner resorts worldwide that include the largest and most desirable resorts in France, Italy and Japan, among others. The full Epic Pass also includes 7 days of skiing each at Telluride, CO Sun Valley, ID Snow Basin, UT Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (Fernie, Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse, Kimberly, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, Stoneham) and 5 days each at Japan’s legendary Hakuba Valley (10 resorts) and Rusutsu. There is also varied access to 26 European partner resorts across Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria, including the largest ski resorts in the world, Trois Vallees and Skirama Dolomiti.

In short, this one pass lets you enjoy a full ski vacation at the best resorts all around the world, plus unlimited skiing at many of the best destination resorts in the U.S. and regional properties close to urban areas containing a good chunk of the U.S. population for day or weekend trips. The Epic Pass also comes in several more restricted and less expensive iterations, including regional local offerings for those in Tahoe, Colorado and the Northeast, plus a variety of flexible use 1-7 day passes, starting at just $67 for a single day pass.. There are also specialty discounted versions for military, college students and seniors.

But here’s the big news - today Vail Resorts announced a price drop and slashed the prices of every single one of the 20 versions of Epic Passes by 20% for the upcoming 2021-2022 ski season, and these are now on sale. They also include a lot of summer access and activities, such as lift served mountain biking and more. If you are planning just a single trip or intend to stay close to home, you can sort through the variety of less than full models on the Epic website, but the bottom line is that the full-blown, top tier, all-access unrestricted Epic Pass is now just $783, down from close to a thousand last year. Considering that the pricier ski resort surpassed $200 for a single day lift ticket a few years ago, this is a pretty amazing value. Unlimited skiing plus a minimum of 5 free days at more of the world’s greatest resorts than you could reasonably expect to get to in even the most ski trip intensive winter of your dreams for under eight hundred bucks is one of the best deals in travel I have seen in a long time.

Don&rsquot give up on your ski season aspirations just yet. You may have to forfeit the traditional après-ski scene, but it&rsquos still worth hitting the mountain for some socially distant downhill-ing. Salt Lake City&rsquos newly renovated international airport is the gateway to no less than 11 resorts, and driving is always an option as well, making these slopes the most viable pick in America for both easy access and a breadth of alpine experiences. Powder Mountain and Park City Mountain each claim to be the biggest ski resort in the country, so wide open spaces won&rsquot be an issue should you want to slalom mask-free. If you have your quarantining bubble in tow, try smaller Snowbasin, where six luxury day lodges can be reserved for full-service gourmet dining and drinking it&rsquos as though you&rsquore the only ones on the mountain. Utah&rsquos superior snowfall means that you&rsquore likely to sneak in some serious powder through all of April at places like Alta if you&rsquore hesitant to venture out now.

3 . Lake Louise

Temperature inversion causing a cloud of sea at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is the largest ski resort out of the 3 Banff resorts with an incredibly scenic view that is unparalleled. The resort is very family-friendly with a great variety of wide well-groomed trails that cater to skiers and boarders of all abilities. Being located 45 minutes from the town of Banff, you might want to consider renting a car for extra flexibility since you can ski the surrounding mountains of Banff Sunshine and Mount Norquay if you have a SkiBig3 pass.


  • From Vancouver International Airport

Take the first exit that shows Vancouver Downtown. At the end of the the Arthur Laing Bridge, follow along Granville Street for approximately 60 blocks. Continue over the Granville Street Bridge into downtown Vancouver. Proceed into the left lane and turn left on Davie Street until you reach Burrard Street. Turn right on Burrard Street. At the foot of Burrard Street, turn right at Cordova Street. Proceed one block down Cordova Street then turn left onto Howe Street. Howe street becomes Canada Place, which brings you to the front of the hotel, turn left into our driveway.

Travel North on Hwy I-5 from Seattle across the border.

The I-5 will turn into Hwy 99. Follow Hwy 99 North until it becomes Oak Street. Continue on Oak Street, approximately 70 blocks to Broadway. Turn left at W Broadway and follow Broadway, approximately 10 blocks to Burrard Street. Turn right on Burrard Street and follow Burrard Street to the very end (approximately 16 blocks, including crossing Burrard Street Bridge). Turn right onto Canada Place. The hotel will be on your right-hand side.


Despite some of the challenges faced by recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism, the industry as a whole remains an exciting, dynamic, and growing sector of the BC tourism economy. Employment opportunities abound, and the potential for economic contribution to the province, protection of wilderness areas, and diversification of rural economies away from resource extraction are exciting prospects. BC is uniquely positioned to maintain positive growth in this area, contingent upon government support to address the barriers and challenges listed above. Students looking to develop professionally in this field should strive to gain both hands-on experience in a specialized activity, and a strong tourism focused education this combination will offer the best chance to open doors to a long-term career in this exciting industry.

Now that we understand the importance of recreation to the tourism industry, especially in BC, let’s explore Chapter 6, which looks at entertainment, the other half of this industry classification.

  • Adventure tourism: outdoor activities with an element of risk, usually somewhat physically challenging and undertaken in natural, undeveloped areas
  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG): Canada’s only internationally recognized guiding association, offering a range of certifications
  • Avalanche Canada: a not-for-profit society that provides public avalanche forecasts and education for backcountry travellers venturing into avalanche terrain, dedicated to a vision of eliminating avalanche injuries and fatalities in Canada
  • British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance: a strategic alliance representing 58 regional and destination golf resorts in BC with the goal of having BC achieve recognition nationally and internationally as a leading golf destination
  • British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association (BCGRA): an organization offering marketing opportunities and development support for BC’s guest ranch operators
  • British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF): an organization offering snowmobile patrol services, lessons on operations, and advocating for the maintenance of riding areas in BC
  • Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA): founded in 1966 and headquartered in Kelowna, BC, CWSAA represents ski areas and industry suppliers and provides government and media relations as well as safety and risk management expertise to its membership
  • Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA): founded in British Columbia, an organization that runs a training institute for professional guides, and a separate non-profit organization representing CSGA guide and operating members
  • Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC (CBVA): promoters of best practices in sustainable viewing, training, and certification for guides, and advocating for land use practices.
  • Destination mountain resorts: large-scale mountain resorts where the draw is the resort itself usually the resort offers all services needed in a tourism destination
  • Dive Industry Association of BC: a marketing and advocacy organization protecting the interests of divers, dive shops, guides, dive instructors, and diving destinations in BC
  • Guide Outfitters Association of BC (GOABC): established in 1966 to promote and preserve the interests of guide outfitters, who take hunters out into wildlife habitat publishers of Mountain Hunter magazine
  • Nature-based tourism: tourism activities where the motivator is immersion in the natural environment the focus is often on wildlife and wilderness areas
  • Off-road recreational vehicle (ORV): any vehicle designed to travel off of paved roads and on to trails and gravel roads, such as an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or Jeep
  • Outdoor recreation: recreational activities occurring outside generally in undeveloped areas
  • Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORC): a not-for-profit organization that promotes the benefits of outdoor recreation, represents the community to government and the general public, advocates and educates about responsible land use, provides a forum for exchanging information, and connects different outdoor recreation groups
  • Recreation: activities undertaken for leisure and enjoyment
  • Regional mountain resorts: small resorts where the focus is on outdoor recreation for the local communities may also draw tourists
  • Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC: representing more than 600 members in the commercial sea kayaking industry, providing operating standards, guide certification, advocacy, and government liaison services
  • Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association (MBTA): a not-for-profit organization working toward establishing BC, and Western Canada, as the world’s foremost mountain bike tourism destination
  • Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA): an organization that advocates for over 850 nature-based tourism operators in BC, placing a priority on protecting natural resources for continued enjoyment by visitors and residents alike
  1. Compare and contrast the terms recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism. How can we differentiate between each of these terms?
  2. Do you believe that ORV tourism operators should be considered nature-based tourism? Explain.
  3. What is the difference between a regional mountain resort and a destination mountain resort?
  4. Of the smaller subsectors of tourism economy discussed in this chapter, name three that are commonly found in small, rural communities. What is their significance to the local community?
  5. Name a well-known destination for mountain biking in BC. What is the attraction of that area?
  6. Why is backcountry skiing/snowboarding sometimes considered a risky activity? Explain. How can these risks be mitigated?
  7. List three industry organizations described in this chapter that represent outdoor tourism subsectors. What general services do they offer to those they represent?
  8. What unique advantages does BC offer for recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism?
  9. Review the section Trends and Issues. What suggestions would you give to the BC Government to support tourism in this subsector?

Case Study: The Wind Within

In late 2014, Destination British Columbia launched a video and set of corresponding marketing materials that sought to expand on the “Super, Natural” brand promise for the province.

On your own or as part of a team, consider the following:

  1. What natural elements are being promoted?
  2. What recreational activities are featured in the video?
  3. Which industry groups or associations are needed to support these activities? Name at least five.
  4. What are the advantages of promoting BC’s natural elements as a pillar of marketing campaigns?
  5. What are the disadvantages? How might these be mitigated?

After answering these questions, come up with a quick design for a marketing piece that profiles one recreational activity in your local community. This could be a webpage, a brochure, an app, a poster, or another marketing piece. Be sure to visit the Destination BC brand website to make sure your ideas fit in with “The Wild Within” concept and brand:

Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island Has Unexpected History

Photo(s) by Nicole Steffen

The land upon which Mackinac Island’s Mission Point Resort sits has an ancient and intriguing history: From the Native American tribes who considered the island holy and who fed whole villages on the abundant whitefish found offshore to a British officer’s folly of a clubhouse to an international peace movement that set up headquarters where the upscale hotel resort now welcomes guests. Through the ages, Mission Point has offered respite, beauty, purpose, learning and a special Mackinac Island place to gather.

Here are six memorable eras from the fascinating and often unexpected history of this easternmost island point.

The Native Encampment Years

The whole of Mackinac Island is sacred to the Anishinaabe people—so much so that it’s hard to distinguish the history and value of any particular geographic section of the island. But Arch Rock, a limestone formation at the edge of Mission Point Resort with an unusual circle in the middle, and Sugar Loaf, a stacked limestone formation, both have special spiritual significance to the Anishinaabe people, says Eric Hemenway, the director of repatriation, archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and an expert on the island’s native history.

“What I’ve learned, and have heard others speak of, is that spirits reside in and around these areas, making them sacred,” Hemenway says.

The specifics of those spirits are so sacred that they’re shared only in certain times, in ceremony, he adds, so he suggests visitors explore the island and see what holy spots call to them. The whole island is what the Anishinaabe call their place of origin, where they’ve always been and still, in many cases, reside near and around.

At the height of the fur trade era, Mackinac was the center of action for the entire Upper Midwest, particularly for native people who would go there to camp, trade, hold ceremonies, raise families and bury their dead. They’d put up wigwams and fish, then grow corn on nearby Grand Island.

“It was a hub of people coming to trade, to travel, pass through with information and goods,” Hemenway says. “The fishing was unbelievable. Whitefish and sturgeon were, from records I read, like super fish, the size of a man’s leg. That’s one of the significant gifts of the Great Lakes, the food it provides the Anishinaabe people. And the location was very well placed. You had a finger on the pulse.”

Robinson’s Folly

Bordering the edge of Mission Point’s property on the island’s easternmost point is another limestone outcropping with the unusual name of Robinson’s Folly. This formation, 127 feet above the lake’s surface with a tree growing out of its top, is today both a favorite photo spot and a marker along the 8.2-mile cycling trail around the island. But in the late 1700s, it was a British fort commandant’s poorly-chosen site for a clubhouse—the first documented use of the property that’s now Mission Point Resort, according to Steve Brisson, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks.

There are written descriptions of how British Captain Daniel Robertson (the Fort Mackinac commander from 1782 to 1787) used the rustic wood structure as a getaway spot and retreat for officers and their families. “It was like a clubhouse, away from the fort, where they probably played cards, had some drinks. Basically, it’s a camp,” Brisson says. “The story goes, he built it too close to the cliff and it eventually fell over.” The rock gets its name, he says, from either the folly of the building site or the British term for a building with a superfluous use.

One often-shared legend has the captain battling a jealous native over a woman and falling to his death at the spot, but according to records, Robertson left his post fully alive, returned to Canada to receive the rank of major and later achieved a comfortable position in Montreal society. As the legend evolved, Robertson became pronounced Robinson and the natural structure was so named.

Mission House at center and the church to the left, about 1830. All historical images courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks.

The Mission Years & Early Tourism

In 1825, Mission Point’s namesake, Mission House, was built for the Protestant mission founded by William Montague Ferry and his wife, Amanda. The building, now maintained by Mackinac State Historic Parks and used as a dormitory for seasonal employees, started as a three-story wood-framed boarding school that drew native children from across the Midwest.

Tribal people willingly sent their children to early mission schools like this one, Hemenway says. Unlike some later boarding schools that prohibited the speaking of native languages and sought to assimilate native children into the majority culture, these early schools translated materials into the native language while also teaching them English and other subjects. Some children at this early mission school were trained to be interpreters for the area’s still-thriving commerce, and in 1827, 112 students were attending the school that closed 10 years later. The most lasting impact was an unintended one, Brisson says. It ignited a kind of war between island Protestants and Catholics who, upon seeing the Protestant activity, installed a full-time priest at St. Anne’s.

Another 10 years later, the Mission House took on a new mission—tourism—in the form of the first real tourist hotel operated on the island. Run by Edward Franks, it housed visitors up to the Great Depression, Brisson says, and they came for leisure pursuits, not unlike those that lure people to the island today. They might take a carriage tour, wander to the fort—back then to watch real soldiers on parade—walk in the woods, visit formations like Arch Rock, enjoy multi-course dinners and even ride the early version of today’s safety bikes (those with brakes).

An 1862 ad for Mission House

The Moral Rearmament Movement & College Years

An international peace movement, called the Moral Rearmament, that launched spinoffs like the high-energy Up with People performances and the original Alcoholics Anonymous got its start in America on Mackinac Island. The movement, founded first at England’s Oxford University by Lutheran pastor Frank Buchman in 1938 to usher in peace between nations (later between company leaders and laborers) with its principles of honesty, purity and unselfishness, moved its training programs to the United States in the mid-1950s—specifically Mackinac Island. After holding meetings at Grand Hotel and Island House, they opted to build their own massive compound and concentrate activities on the eastern side of the island where Mission Point Resort now sits.

The group constructed several buildings with the help of hundreds of volunteers from around the world, moving massive timbers on the ice bridge or floating them across the Straits. The buildings included a theater and sound stage on which they produced major motion pictures as part of their propaganda-style “theater of hope presenting what society could be.” When it was finished, complete with orchestra rehearsal rooms, two major sound stages, set design and construction shops and more, it was the second-largest television studio in America. Some well-known actors of the time performed on the island, Brisson says, including Martin Landau, who would go on to win an Academy Award for other work. Not incidentally, the theater was later used as a major filming site for the film “Somewhere in Time,” and an incentive for Universal Studios to film entirely on the island. The Great Hall Complex, completed in the winter of 1955–56, added a million cubic feet of space that could house 1,000 people.

When the Moral Rearmament Movement closed its island operations, buildings like the theater were deeded to Mackinac College, a four-year liberal arts institution born in 1966 out of the movement’s desire to develop mid-Cold War unity by educating students for a future in public life, leadership and the media. They wanted, according to an oral history collected by former Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Phil Porter, “to create a college education in which character is developed along with a brain.”

Faculty were recruited from around the world and included a former head of the National Academy of Sciences, a Taiwanese ambassador to New Zealand and a scientist who had a major hand in the development of penicillin. Financial stresses forced near closure after three years, but the school stayed afloat for a fourth to have a single graduating class with the help of staff members who worked for free or gave up their jobs so students could step in and sub as housekeepers and kitchen help, says Pat Driscoll, Mission Point’s concierge and historian.

Driscoll helps host a regular reunion of Mackinac College grads, many of whom majored in political science and have gone on to live and work around the world. Most remember it as “wonderful,” she says. “It was hard to be isolated when the boat stopped, but there isn’t one of them who regrets doing it. When they come back, it is their college again.”

MRA Main Complex under construction in 1956

A Christian School With a Planned Ski Team—and a Cain and Abel Run

There was a Christian mission behind the college’s next use—as a different college but with the same name. Rex Humbard, a television evangelist best known then for his “Cathedral of Tomorrow” program, launched a college with 150 students in 1971 and closed it a year later due to financial problems throughout the ministry. That doesn’t mean Humbard didn’t have a fascinating vision though.

The holdings he purchased from the Moral Rearmament Movement included not just the Mission Point area campus but also land and buildings now a part of The Inn at Stonecliffe and Grand Hotel’s Woods Restaurant. There he built what was then the world’s only ski lift on an island, partly so his college could have a downhill ski team. The 28-chair lift and two runs—interestingly named “Cain and Abel” and the “Hallelujah Trail” were part of a 165-acre winter sports center that also included two ski jumps, a toboggan run, skating pond, cross-country trails and a Bavarian-themed guest house (now Woods Restaurant).

The complex was designed by Sepp Benedikter, an Austrian ski jumper, and other Olympians were hired as instructors for what was to be an alternative to “swinging ski resorts.” But lack of reliable snow and inability to easily get to the island in the winter proved challenges too daunting to overcome.

A Hotel Once Again

As other missions attempted on the point failed, the ones that stuck were always tourism-related, Brisson notes. By the summer of 1979 when Universal Studios leased the sound stage to produce “Somewhere in Time,” the cast and crew were able to stay in what was then the Inn on Mackinac. In late 1987, the property was sold to John Shufelt, and in 2014 to present owners Dennert and the late Suzanne Ware.

Schufert was successful in expanding the business, notes Mission Point’s Driscoll, starting with relatively spartan dormitory-style rooms. To the joy of the island, he tore down the old college library that stood where Adirondack chairs now dot the resort’s famous open lawn. He added lodge-style décor reminiscent of western ski resorts, and the resort thrived.

The Wares, Driscoll notes, have ushered the resort into a new era with their investments, kindness and goal of having the friendliest staff on the island to create extraordinary Mackinac Island experiences. Through multi-year renovation plans, they’ve added the largest spa and salon on the island, made major upgrades throughout the resort and brightened the décor bringing the beautiful colors of Mackinac and Lake Huron inside. Their passion for food has been translated into Mission Point’s “Farm to Ferry” dining as they work with local and regional farms bringing the best of Michigan straight to Mission Point Resort. “We see our commitment to elevated, farm to ferry dining as an opportunity to become the foodie’s destination on Mackinac,” says Liz Ware, VP of sales and marketing. “Whether staying at Mission Point or not, we want visitors to say, our trip isn’t complete until we’ve eaten at Mission Point.”

The team is currently working on its next five-year improvement plan which includes public spaces, activities and grounds. When Covid-19 interfered with many of the 2020 summer plans, they kicked off the new promenade area with what you do when handed lemons, Driscoll says: “Put up a lemonade stand.”

Many have dreamed and failed on this spot, but now—as in the past—the use with the most staying power is the one that lets visitors rest and dream on an island resort vacation.

7 . Squaw Valley - Alpine Meadows

Views of Lake Tahoe from Squaw Valley

Combining Squaw Valley's premier terrain with Alpine Meadows' powder and views of Lake Tahoe, the two resorts have merged to become Squaw Alpine. Though they're not connected by lifts, you can ski them both on one pass via a short shuttle ride. Famous for its wildly extreme terrain, Squaw Valley is an instant favorite for advanced skiers and riders. The base village has a wide selection for dining, drinking, and shopping choices as well as accommodations. But since it’s one of the most convenient resorts to get to from the populous Bay area, Squaw can draw big crowds meaning packed parking lots and long lift lines. On the other hand, Alpine Meadows is often overshadowed by its legendary neighbor, but it's a fantastic place to ski if you’re looking for great terrain without the crowds! If you can look past the outdated lift system and amenities, Alpine Meadows will not disappoint you.


Steamboat Springs, CO- February 10, 2021 – Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation announces plans to embark on a significant investment in on-mountain improvements and redevelopment of the base area to create a world-class guest experience that matches the resort’s long recognized industry excellence. The Gondola Square redesign compliments plans for on-mountain development with both projects having been part of the resort’s Master Development Plan that was most recently amended and approved in Summer 2019.

Initial plans have been submitted to the City of Steamboat Springs to transform Steamboat’s Gondola Square into a multi-use, amenity-rich plaza creating an easy-to-navigate resort core complete with additional dining and après, shopping, entertainment and welcoming gathering places for guests to enjoy year-round. Guests will now be able to fully experience the fun, family atmosphere Steamboat is known for with a reimagined arrival experience that eliminates multiple levels of cumbersome stairs. Easy and direct access to additional open space and an expanded plaza area adjacent to the snow will invoke the area’s Western-rooted hospitality in the heart of the resort.

The redeveloped plaza is expected to break ground in April 2021, following the resort’s close of the winter season, complementing already slated work to move the Gondola to a nearby on-snow location. In place of the current Gondola building, the plaza will be expanded, and plans may include an ice rink, communal gathering spaces, outdoor seating and fire pits to enhance the mountain experience. The buildings around the new plaza will include a combination of resort owned and independently owned restaurants and retail outlets, as well as additional lodging options. The overall improvements plan, including on-mountain and base area enhancements, is anticipated to occur over the next three years.

“The reimagined plaza, in combination with exciting on-mountain projects, solves long-overdue needs for Steamboat’s base area,” said Rob Perlman, president and COO for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. “We are thrilled that our parent company, Alterra Mountain Company, recognizes the importance of investing in, and reimagining, the future of Steamboat Ski Resort and supports this incredible multi-year investment. This is the biggest proposed project since the resort first opened in 1963, and it will benefit visitors and the entire Yampa Valley community, which have been so supportive of the resort through the years.”

During the pre-planning and permitting phases of these proposed projects, the resort and development partners have worked closely with the City of Steamboat Springs to reinforce the community collaboration for the future of the resort.

“Redevelopment of Steamboat’s base area has been on the community’s wish list for a long time,” said Gary Suiter, City Manager for the City of Steamboat Springs. “City staff looks forward to working with the high-quality team selected for this project as it moves through the development review process and becomes reality.”

“We have selected East West Partners to work with on this project in order to tap into their extensive and valued ski resort experience to develop a shared and thoughtful resort vision that keeps Steamboat’s future authentic to its Western hospitality and Olympic roots,” said Bryan Elliott, Chief Development Officer, Alterra Mountain Company.

For a Variety of Skiers: Windham Mountain

Windham is just over a two-hour drive from New York City. You’ll find something for all types of skiers with its 54 trails, including a 1,600-foot vertical drop, and a wide range of lesson programs for adults and kids. There’s also fantastic snow tubing with a conveyor lift, ice skating, and even snowmobiling! Windham also has one of the largest varieties of on-mountain dining. Families can enjoy a nice meal at the Seasons, its restaurant with a view, or opt for elevated pub food at Tavern 23 both restaurants require advanced reservations. Windham will add more grab-and-go food items and add outdoor dining at The Lunchbox and at new food trucks. Windham is also home to the Gwen Allard Adaptive Sports Center, the largest adaptive snowsports program in the Northeast! The center provides coaching and educational opportunities for participants ages five and up, as well as equipment rentals. Windham, Catskills

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