Your 2018-2019 Ski Resort Report
Get ready to shred, sled, skate, and swoosh
By Ross Boissoneau | Dec. 8, 2018
Amid the seasonal offerings of song, likely nothing beats the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne classic for skiers and snowboarders: “Let It Snow” is close to the heart of those in charge of or heading out to the area slopes. From Cadillac to Gaylord, over to Harbor Springs and back south again, the slopes are snow covered and awaiting the onslaught of schussers. Here’s what to expect at your favorite parks and mountains:
New this year at Nub’s Nob are many of the amenities off the slopes. For those who don’t want to schlepp their equipment hither and yon but would rather keep it on hand, Nub’s has upgraded and expanded its locker room. There are 200 new lockers, and other improvements from top (a new roof) to bottom (new carpet). You’ll be able to see it better thanks to the new LED lighting, which will also save the facility a significant amount of money over the long haul. “The cool thing is they’re right on the slopes. You can walk in, throw on your skis – it’s the easiest transition I’ve ever seen,” said General Manager Ben Doornbos.
Speaking of those slopes, as long as there are cold temperatures there will be snow, as Nub’s has also upgraded its snowmaking with a new drive for the pump house and another snow gun, adding to the 300-plus already there.
When skiers and snowboarders come off the slopes, they can also grab a quick bite or pastry and a beverage at Pintail Peak Coffee House, which now has an Italian Espresso machine. The hours have expanded from Saturday and Sunday to Friday through Monday.
Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs
A new Pistenbully ParkPro will shape Boyne Highlands Resort's four terrain parks. The ParkPro is tailored to the needs of park builders in allowing for exceptional park experiences for skiers and riders. The resort is also planning a major modification to its halfpipe, the only halfpipe in Michigan and one of just three in the Midwest, which will enable it to open earlier in the season.
Renters can choose from 45 sets of new ski and boot packages featuring HEAD's V-Shape V6 men's skis, Absolut Joy women's skis, and Advant Edge 85 and 75 boots.
Hungry after a day on the slopes? The Country Club of Boyne is offering an exclusive Chef's Table Dinner Series limited to 14 guests and featuring a five-course dinner with rotating menus. Guests may also book a private Chef's Table Dinner Series throughout the winter. The Country Club of Boyne is also offering Wine, Bourbon/Whiskey Pairing, and Snowshoe Dinners once per month, plus weekly Thursday Night Trivia
Boyne Highlands is rolling out four new pass products for the season: the Ski Three Pass, Four Fun Pass, High Five Pass and Dust Off The Rust Pass are designed to take the edge off single-day passes. For travelers, the Ikon Pass connects the most iconic mountains across North America and Australia, delivering authentic, memorable snow adventures. Launched in January 2018, it is a collaboration of industry leaders including Boyne Resorts, Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company, POWDR, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and many others.
Boyne Mountain, Boyne Falls
New to Boyne Mountain and one of only two in the Midwest, the PistenBully 600 Polar is designed to create the ultimate groomed surface for optimal skiing and riding conditions. Boyne Mountain has also added 1,000 feet of new 12-inch ductile iron pipe on Ramshead, increasing volume and snowmaking infrastructure.
Getting around should be easier thanks to new wayfinding trail signage providing guidance for cross country skiers, snowshoers, and fat tire snow bikers. New LED trail signage at the base and top of the Mountain Express lift will improve communication of trail and lift openings and closures; guests can also find this information synced with the resort's website and the resort channel in resort accommodations. Tune your skis with thenew Mercury WINTERSTEIGER's automated service station, and Boyne Mountain also is providing more lockers this year.
First time on the slopes? Terrain Based Learning is a fun-first approach to the on-snow experience, utilizing shaped snow. Novice skiers and snowboarders can learn on features that include a mini-pipe, roller, banked turns, and the perfect slope. Like the Highlands, Boyne Mountain is a participant in the Ikon Pass.
Caberfae Peaks, Cadillac
Just west of Cadillac on M-55, the bywords at Caberfae might be more, newer and better. More and better parking will make it easier to get to the slopes, where patrons will find a renovated beginner area, including a gradual, more gentle grade to the slope and brand new Green Mountain Flying Carpet Lift.
Let it snow? Three new fixed snowmaking towers, four new SMI Super Pole Cat snowmaking guns and nine new SMI Polecat snowmaking towers, along with 1,000 feet of larger diameter snowmaking pipe, to allow for better flow and less friction loss, will let it snow indeed, whether or not Mother Nature cooperates.
Newer? Caberfae has invested in brand new cross country ski rental equipment from Rossignol. Now Nordic skiing enthusiasts can now rent equipment at the Peaks and immediately access 15 km of groomed trails right from the resort. And if you’re tired of schlepping your gear to and from the resort, Caberfae has also installed more seasonal lockers for rent in it Ski & Snowboard Rental Facility.
Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Are you getting chilly? So is Crystal’s ice rink, where a new chiller will keep the rink frosty cold, even if the temperature approaches 32 degrees. Alongside the rink is a new bonfire area to get toasty.
The sun won’t only light the slopes during the day, its energy is being harnessed to power the lights on the Otter Trail, thanks to new solar-powered lights. A new retail line of Atomic skis, poles and boots, classic and skate, will be available in the shop this winter.
Crystal Mountain’s NASTAR course hasn’t changed, but the name has. What was once Cheers is now Cheers to Lou in memory of the legendary Lou Batori, who passed away last winter at 107. Batori skied until the age of 106 and raced into his
triple digits. In fact, the oldest racer at the NASTAR National Championship now receives the Lou Batori Award.
Once you’ve had enough of the slopes, new to the menu of services at Crystal Sp I for Barrel-aged Body Treatment, Winter Wheat Massage and Tawney Port Pedicure, all of which feature special product infused with spirits from nearby Iron Fish Distillery. Table Thai and Thai Foot Reflexology are also new, modern versions 2,500-year-old traditions of Asian bodywork using the whole body to treat the whole body.
Hickory Hills, Traverse City
The city-owned property and its non-profit partner put over $4 million into Hickory Hills, so there’s a lot that is new and improved, from the maintenance facility to the new lodge, a learner’s facility with a magic carpet lift and new tow rope. There are two new lifts, creating more space to ski and snowboard. At 6,900 square feet, the new lodge is more than twice as large as its predecessor and will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace, a large dining space, a bigger retail area, and a commercial kitchen. It’s also located in close proximity to the learner’s area, so parents can keep an eye on their kids from the safety (and warmth) of the lodge.
The improvements continue outside, with expansion of both the Nordic trail and alpine terrain, snow making expansion, even a new sledding hill. The new slopes offer more intermediate and advanced terrain, while the Nordic loop is a significant upgrade.
Mt. Holiday, Traverse City
The community non-profit recreation area on Traverse City’s east side will feature a new lift by Christmas, part of improvements to keep families active in the winter. Doubling the number of lifts will lessen wait times and keep young skiers engaged.
Its ski school is a cost-effective program for school-age kids to get on the slopes midweek, while the scholarship program and rental programs are all designed to be an affordable alternative to other such operations. The family-oriented ski hill has been in existence since the 40s and has been a non-profit since 2002.
Otsego Resort, Gaylord
Last year, for the first time ever, the Otsego Club opened to the public. This year it has undergone another major transition, with its purchase by Gary and Kathie Vollmar.
This year the resort has added tubing to skiing and snowboarding, an activity general manager Mike Bedells said was needed for those who want to be active and outdoors but may not want to incur the time and expense (and learn the necessary skills) to ski or snowboard.
It will host an open house the day after Christmas as a way to showcase all it has to offer, including both winter sports and summer activities. Due to the pending sale, this year the Classic Golf Course didn’t open and the Tribute was open for only a few weeks. Bedells said this will be a chance for patrons, locals and guests to see what’s new and planned for the resort, from golf and skiing to food and beverage.
Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire
Apparently it was time to upgrade, and the resort will offer all new rental equipment from Rossignol, including skis, ski boots, snowboards and snowboard boots. This iteration provides the latest, greatest technology designed to create buttery-smooth turns and carving; no word on whether it will prevent falls.
Cross country skiers will find a number of improvements. To start with, the Nordic Center is now located in Schuss Village where the Schuss pro shop is during the summer, providing out-the-door access to easier, flatter trails, while offering connection to the more challenging trails leading to the Cedar River and Summit villages. Crews have excavated extensively to widen the trails to nearly 20 feet, allowing for side-by-side track set trails and plenty of room for skate skiing as well.
New equipment helps. To make the expanded trails project a reality, a Prinoth Bombadier MP is creating the wider, double track-set trails.A new Prinoth Bison X has been added to the fleet that grooms the slopes and leaves trails of corduroy on Schuss and Summit Mountains, and thousands of trees have been removed to improve the glades sections of Schuss Mountain.
A new cold water source, pumps, and other infrastructure will increase efficiency and make more snow faster in order to open terrain as early as possible in the early days of the season. Slopes enthusiasts will be able to get on the snow a little faster by purchasing lift tickets from the new self-serve “vending machines” at Ivan’s and The Lodge at Cedar River.
And speaking of earlier, Thanksgiving weekend offers the showing of Warren Miller’s “The Face of Winter” at Ivan’s (Friday Nov. 23 at 7pm, the ASA Ski Swap at Summit Village on Saturday, Nov. 24, starting at 9am, and the Brewski Bash at Short’s later that day.
Treetops Resort, Gaylord
The resort has reinvented its Cross Country Trails at the main property and that’s now where the Skiable Feast will take place. What is a skiable feast? This Gourmet Winter Adventure takes you on a 6 km (3.8 miles) cross country ski excursion, while enjoying five gourmet food and beverage stations along the way. In addition, the resort now boasts snowmaking on 1.2 km of its cross country trails.
During the holiday week between Christmas and New Year, Treetops will host a Heikki Lunta party to welcome guests every other night during holiday week, which will continue on Friday nights during the rest of the season.The celebration asks the Finnish snow god (created by a radio station in the UP in 1970)for abundant snowfall – in this case, for all the winter fun at Treetops Resort. Guests can enjoy a big bonfire, entertainment by Tommy Tropic, s’mores, hot chocolate, a tube-pulling contest, and of course, the famous song (yes, there’s a song that goes along with it).
New Ski Operations Manager Brad Jacobson said the resort like others has
already begun to make snow on the slopes and he hopes to be open in late November or early December if the weather continues to cooperate.