Heavenly ready to start work on summer attractions
Heavenly Mountain Resort at South Lake Tahoe is set to begin construction of several activity-based attractions designed to boost summer visitation to the resort.
Heavenly is adding two ropes courses, a canopy tour and a zipline center near its new Tamarack Lodge at the top of the gondola area. C.R. Russell, director of development for Vail Resorts, says activities were chosen for their family-friendliness and to introduce tourists to National Forest Service lands.
“We are really looking for activities that will be a gateway to bring people into forest service lands and have fun,” Russell says. “We chose ropes courses because it is an activity where kids and adults can learn various types of skills and really cater to a wide variety of ability levels.”
The new activities utilize existing resort infrastructure and are designed to blend seamlessly with the natural environment, Vail Resorts says. For instance, the two towers that will anchor the 1,000-foot-long, four-line zip line center will be built to look like U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts.
In addition to two new two-story ropes courses, Heavenly is adding the Discovery Forest Canopy Tour, a tree-based two-hour guided zip line canopy tour for visitors of different ability levels. Vail Resort’s construction teams have been working on design elements with specialty contractors over the last few months, Russell says.
Bonzai Design of Grand Junction, Colo., will build the canopy tour and two ropes courses, while Zip Flyer Inc. of New York will construct the zip lines. Working at elevation and during a short construction window forces contractors to move quickly, says Russell, who oversaw construction of the Tamarack Lodge two summers ago.
“It is always challenging — we have a limited building season up there. We usually are waiting for snow to melt and typically racing to get construction done before it snows again in the fall.”
Contractors will utilize a five-mile long single-lane dirt road to deliver the large wooden poles used for the ropes courses and materials for the zip line towers. Concrete trucks have a long, difficult drive to access construction areas.
“It all has to be carefully coordinated,” Russell says. “Our main goal is to minimize our areas of disturbance and create construction zones that are as small as possible.”
The new attractions are expected to increase summer staff at Heavenly Mountain Resort to work as guides in the ropes courses and similar duties, as well as in food and beverage service positions.
“This offers a big opportunity for us and for South Lake Tahoe in terms of employment opportunities,” Russell says. “A lot of these activities require a great deal of staff, and many of our seasonal employees will be hired for year-round positions. We are really excited about that.”
The new attractions are tentatively scheduled to open later this summer. Russell says Vail Resorts is adding similar attractions to its large Colorado properties such as Breckenridge, but will wait to see how the attractions do at Heavenly before undertaking similar projects at Northstar.
“Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination, and there is a tremendous opportunity to offer more summer activities at the top of the Gondola,” says Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s general manager. “Our hope is that visitors of all ages and backgrounds are able to create life-long connections to our National Forests through adventure, play and recreation.”
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