Vail Resorts was one of the first to take advantage of the new legislation with its Epic Discovery Summer Program launched in 2016 in Vail Mountain and Breckenridge in Colorado and Heavenly in California, with educational components designed to immerse visitors in the mountains. Since then, many other resorts have followed suit. In June of this year, for example, Telluride in southwest Colorado launched its first canopy tour with zip lines, airlifts and rappelling.
The approach worked. Some would even say too good. “Most mountain destinations in the west and many in the northeast have the same or higher summer occupancy rates than the winter months,” said Tom Foley, senior vice president of business operations and analytics for Inntopia, a resort marketing and e-commerce company -Companies. (He adds that housing prices are still lagging behind the peak winter prices, however.)
Even resorts that have had an infrastructure for a long time have benefited from it. Killington, Vermont, launched its bike park (which is on a combination of state and private land) 30 years ago. But from 2016 to 2018, visits rose from 12,000 to 30,000, said resort spokeswoman Courtney DiFiore. She attributed the growth to new beginner and advanced trails, more programs for kids, and a year-round pass option.
This year, the resorts expect summer visits to rise several notches in response to the pandemic. “It’s unreal how much demand there is for Jackson right now,” said ski resort spokeswoman Anna Cole. “Jackson is naturally out there and quite aloof, and people want to get in their cars and drive,” she said. “We fit the bill on all fronts.”