The jet-setting ski-crowd has been flocking to Gstaad, Switzerland for decades, but it’s been a century since a proper grand hotel entered the scene. (The early 20th century saw the openings of the Grand Hotel Park in 1910, the Grand Hotel Bellevue in 1912, and the Gstaad Palace in 1913.) Enter the brand new luxury resort, Alpina Gstaad, which opened its doors last month.
At last month’s PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel:
Thirty-four-year-old Evan Reece is co-founder and CEO of Liftopia.com, the web’s go-to source for discounted ski lift tickets, equipment rentals, classes, meals, and activities at some 150+ resorts in North America, in addition to detailed resort profiles with trail maps and reviews from skiers and snowboarders. And while the company has been around since 2005, Reece and co-founder Ron Schneiderman (both former employees at Hotwire) didn’t start raising serious money until 2009. Liftopia.com is evolving rapidly.
Aside from its super-deep discounts (some tickets go for as much as 80 percent off!), the company is also working to change the marketplace overall by helping resorts manage and analyze inventory. It's working both the consumer and business angles, which we think is smart. And last year, they launched the Liftopia iPhone app. What’s next?
We sat down with Reece to ask him some questions:
If you thought 12-12-12 was a big deal, think again. The Ski Areas of New York (SANY) have announced the 10-10-10 promotion, offering 10,000 ski lift passes for $10 each on January 10, 2013. That's an incredible savings, given that day passes for adults generally run from $45-70 at most New York mountains.
It’s a little-known fact that New York has more ski areas than any other state in the U.S. And with over 20 of them participating, such as Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks and Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills, 10-10-10 offers loads of wintry-fun options. January 10th is a Thursday, so why not make a long weekend out of it?
To take part in 10-10-10, buy your passes now through January 9, 2013 at Skiandrideny.com, and then hit the slopes on the 10th.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Plattekill Mountain Resort
The mountain is open at Jackson Hole and eager skiers who’ve been watching the Wyoming weather (to summarize: snow and snow and more powdery snow) will be happy to hear that getting to the Tetons is easier this winter. United is flying directly from Newark and San Francisco and Delta has added direct flights from Minneapolis, bringing the number of cities with direct service to the valley up to nine.
Intermediate skiers (me!) get a little love from the notoriously Black Diamond-heavy resort, too. A recently completed detachable quad lift opened last week to sweep Blue Trail skiers (me!) up to mid-mountain in just three and a half minutes. The Casper trail network has been expanded and buffed and more than half the blue trails are open, even this early in the season, because of the benevolent snow gods have dumped over 130” so far—more than at any other Rockies resort.
We love it when celebrities drop by the T+L offices. And on Wednesday, Olympic and World Cup Champion skier Lindsey Vonn stopped in to tell us about how many pairs of skis she travels with (150), how many days a week she trains in the off-season (6, for several hours each day), and how many eggs she eats to fuel her workouts (a lot).
But the gold medalist didn’t come to the snowless east coast just to talk training. Lindsey’s also involved in a cool new program with Vail Resorts, and she brought along the company’s CEO, Rob Katz, to announce EpicMix Racing.
As a professed snow snob I scoffed when a group of friends
recently proposed a ski weekend in Killington, Vermont. It’s hard to get
excited about mountains that look more like the hills I used to sled down as a
kid in Salt Lake City than the exhilarating, death-defying declines that tattoo
the Rocky Mountains. When you grow up within an hour of seven world-class ski
resorts you tend to develop a cavalier attitude about the prospects of cleaving
down a worn, icy tilt and paying good money for it. So I opted to head for this
quaint northeastern burg sans my snowboard. Half the fun of a ski vacation
anyway is exploring the town, enjoying the fresh air, eating at great
restaurants, and plunging into the après ski scene.
These new high-speed chairlifts shave minutes off those mountain rides—which means more time going down than up.
Resort: Mount Snow, Vermont
New Lift: Bluebird Express
Vertical Feet: 1,608
Duration: 7 minutes
Time Savings: 7 minutes
Resort: Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel, Austria
New Lift: Resterhöhe
Vertical Feet: 1,657
Duration: 5:45 minutes
Time Savings: 8 minutes
season ushers in major improvements at these ski resorts.
Northstar California Resort, California
The News: Thanks to a $30 million investment, the mountain welcomes additional trails, a
high-speed quad lift, a new 500-seat on-mountain restaurant—plus a 22-foot
halfpipe designed by Shaun White. 5001 Northstar Dr., Truckee; 800/466-6784; one-day pass from $85.
Big Sky, Montana
The News: The
remodeled, slopeside Solace Spa & Salon expands its treatment rooms and
salon services, and Andesite Mountain adds 20-plus gladed acres. 1 Lone Mountain Trail, Big Sky; 800/548-4486; one-day pass $84.
A handful of on-mountain restaurants are reinventing the cafeteria concept.
California: Tamarack Lodge
Peak Pick: Seared peppercorn-encrusted ahi sandwich and house-made peach cobbler.
Getting There: California Trail, a blue run offering views of Lake Tahoe from 3,000
Top of the
gondola; 775/586-7000; lunch for two $32–$40.
Village, Japan: Goshiki
Peak Pick: Hokkaido-crab miso soup and local lily bulb tempura.
Getting There: Misoshiru (which means miso soup), a black diamond featuring Niseko’s
Leaf; 81-136/443-311; lunch for two $52.
Sip on Haute Chocolate: St. Regis Aspen Resort
Looking for something sophisticated to do post skiing? The latest offering at this newly redesigned resort is just your cup of tea, er, hot cocoa. The program features a flight of three kinds of hot chocolate, created by Vosges Haut-Chocolat exclusively for the resort (Australia lemon myrtle, lavender flowers, vanilla and white chocolate, anyone?)—plus gourmet grilled-cheese finger sandwiches. For those who still want a little booze après ski, go for the Spiked Flight.
Head to the “Beach”:
Ski Beach at Canyons Resort in Park City, UT
This mountain hot spot—located between the base terminal of the new direct-connect gondola and the “Orange Bubble” enclosed heated-seat chair lift—comes complete with beach chairs, lifeguard stands, and fruity drinks (courtesy of The Farm restaurant). Sure, there’s no ocean, but if you use your imagination, that snow will start looking like sand in no time.