January 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions Snow Days January 1999 Current Issue
January 1999

Take a powder:
Hitting the trails at Telluride

Snow Days

These winter-sports resorts are serious about meetings, but they also put a high premium on free time

By Sarah J.F. Braley

Outside, it’s a winter wonderland, and attendees cooped up in meeting rooms yearn to go outside and play. If the gathering is at a winter-sports resort, the options for outdoor diversion are many. While downhill skiers hit the slopes, others might spend their free time snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, ice-skating, snowmobiling, horseback riding or even ice climbing.

Killington, Vt.

Long a favorite of East Coast skiers, Killington continues to add to its line-up, this year with more snow-making ability, new chair lifts and mountainside meeting facilities at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center. It has 100 miles of ski trails on seven mountains, plus three halfpipes for snowboarders. The Ground Zero Fun Park with ice-skating, tubing, luge runs and a lighted halfpipe opens up at night for those who aren’t exhausted from the day on the slopes. Nearby fun includes sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing. Killington lift tickets are also good at its Siamese twin mountain, Pico, and at Sugarbush and Mt. Snow.

Accommodations: The Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center (888-644-7263) has 200 rooms, with spillover available into about 600 condos. The conference center has 15,000-square-feet of meeting space and another 25,000 square feet around the mountain. The 103-room Inn of the Six Mountains (800-228-4676) has more than 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

More than 29 lifts whisk skiers up the mountain to tackle 3,500 acres of trails. For the downhill challenged who still like to strap on some boards, 30 miles of Nordic trails beckon. Guided tours uncover the mountain’s geological treasures, dogsled tours run up to Minaret Vista, and moonlight sleigh rides add a touch of romance. Thrill-seekers can try out the bobsled run.

Accommodations: The 213-room Mammoth Mountain Inn (760-934-2571), with 10,000 square feet of event space, sits at the base of the mountain.

Mont Tremblant
Mont Tremblant, Québec, Canada

Carved into the highest peak of the Laurentian Mountains, this skiers’ playground lures winter lovers with 77 runs over 502 acres. A new heated gondola carries passengers to the summit in seven minutes. Snowboarders are allowed all over the mountain and have two terrain parks to themselves. The sports menu is extensive: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, horseback riding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice climbing, para-skiing and even snow plane flights.

Accommodations: The majestic 316-room Château Mont Tremblant (819-681-7000), overlooking the pedestrian village, has 19 meeting rooms. Nearby is the 127-room Marriott Residence Inn Manoir Labelle (819-681-4000), with 12,500 square feet of meeting space.

Park City Mountain Resort
Park City, Utah

Site of several events of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City has 3,000 acres and 97 runs dedicated to ski and snowboard fun. The Utah Winter Sports Park, constructed just for the Olympics, is already open to those who want to try bobsledding, luging and Nordic ski jumping. Also available are heli-skiing, hot-air ballooning, sleigh rides and, believe it or not, scuba diving in a nearby underground cave, a year-round activity.

Accommodations: Two top-level conference resorts are in the heart of Park City: the 200-room Olympia Park Hotel and Conference Center (435-649-2900), with six meeting rooms, and the 181-room Yarrow Resort Hotel and Conference Center (800-327-2332), with nine meeting rooms.

Smugglers’ Notch
Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Many ski-meeting attendees like to bring along the spouse and kids, so what better place to hold such an event than the mountain that has been repeatedly voted the top resort in North America for families by Skiing magazine and other publications? Aside from the 1,000 skiable acres, there are two snowboarding parks, an indoor tennis facility, ice-skating rink, tubing fun and programs for people of all ages and abilities.

Accommodations: The resort has “2,000 pillows,” all in condominiums. Events are spread over the resort’s 24,000 square feet of meeting space, including the indoor tennis courts for exhibits, a library with a fireplace and the 5,000-square-foot Meeting House.

Sundance Resort
Sundance, Utah

The realization of Robert Redford’s dream, this is an environmental retreat with a throwback feel, nestled at the foot of Mount Timpanogos, one of the highest in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The activity list is simple and enticing: skiing and snowboarding on an uncrowded 450 acres, and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on 10 miles of groomed trails.

Accommodations: Sundance has 95 rooms in cottages plus seven mountain homes decorated with Native-American touches. Events are held in the 4,233-square-foot Rehearsal Hall and 1,100-square-foot Creekside room; the resort’s total meeting space equals about 11,000 square feet.

Telluride, Colo.

Telluride is a winter heaven that would still seem stuck in bygone days if it weren’t for such modern conveniences as the gondola and high-speed lifts. Alpine skiers, Nordic skiers and snowboarders are transported quickly to the far reaches of the mountain’s 1,050 acres. The daring can also arrange to heli-ski and snow-cat ski, digging into the powder beyond the groomed trails. Those looking for a more sedate view of the mountains can take a sleigh or dogsled ride or go snowshoeing.

Accommodations: The 174-room Peaks Resort and Spa (970-728-6800), the epitome of cowboy luxury, has more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space. The Telluride Conference Center, with 11,000 square feet of space, opens this summer and will be available to groups that stay at any of the surrounding hotels.

Vail, Colo.

Despite devastating fires on the mountain in October that eco-terrorists claim to have set to protest expansion plans, Vail opened in November as usual, relatively unscathed. The largest ski resort in the United States, with 174 trails on 4,644 acres, Vail is a sure thing for anyone who’s ever strapped one or two boards to their feet. The resort also offers a host of activities at Adventure Ridge: tubing, ice-skating, laser tag, snowmobile tours and ski-bike clinics. Extensive snowshoe and cross-country ski options wind through the woods.

Accommodations: The 72-room Lodge at Vail (970-476-5011) sits 30 yards from the main chair lift, offering 8,237 square feet of meeting space, including a slopeside ballroom. The Vail Cascade Hotel and Club (800-781-1119) is a ski-in, ski-out hotel with 291 rooms and more than 26,000 square feet of meeting space in the main hotel and connecting conference center.

Waterville Valley Resort
Waterville Valley, N.H.

Part of the White Mountain National Forest, Waterville’s ski trails have been carved on the face of Mount Tecumseh. Downhillers have 52 trails on 255 acres to choose from, plus several terrain parks for snowboarders. Cross-country and snowshoe fans can disappear into the quiet forest on 65 miles of groomed and back-country trails during either the day or at night on a moonlit tour.

Accommodations: Waterville Valley Resort has more than 2,500 beds spread through country inns, condominiums, lodges and hotels. They’re minutes from the conference center, which has 11 meeting rooms in a variety of sizes. Additional meeting space is available in the base lodge.

Whistler Resort
Whistler, B.C., Canada

The skiing and snowboarding options are endless here, with two major mountains Whistler and Blackcomb to choose from and more than 7,000 acres of trails. Of course, there’s plenty more to do in this winter wonderland. Take a back-country alpine tour, go ice climbing, cross-country ski around the lake at night, wander off on a winter fishing trip to a “secret” river location, bird-watch while snowshoeing on mountain trails, para-ski off the mountainside, go heli-skiing through the powder or take a horse-drawn-sleigh ride.

Accommodations: Ski-in, ski-out lodging is available all over town, and the resort itself rents out the 35,000-square-foot Whistler Conference Centre. For an all-in-one deal, make arrangements at the area’s largest hotel, the Chateau Whistler Resort (604-938-8000), which has 558 rooms and 28,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 12,016-square-foot Mcdonald Ballroom.

Cold Shoulder Season
Meetings at winter-sports resorts tend to be small, since leisure crowds take over the mountains during peak ski season. The ideal size for a ski meeting at the height of the season is 50 or fewer.

What does a planner with a big group do? Convene before the hordes arrive or after they have gone.

“Early in the season, we can easily take groups as large as 120,” says Dean Howell, director of convention sales at Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center in Vermont. As the season hits its peak, space is harder to come by, and a planner is lucky to be able to reserve a significant block of rooms.

Then there’s spring skiing to consider, when the crowds have melted away, but the snow hasn’t. In late April or early May, Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort in Alta, Wyo. (800-827-4433, ext. 1311), is closed for the shoulder season, but the property offers a Rent-A-Resort package during that time for a minimum of 100 people. (This year, it closes April 18 and reopens around June 13.)

Groups stay at the 96-room Teewinot Lodge and Rendezvous Conference Center and in condominiums. The main Dreamcatcher high-speed lift and perhaps one other lift are returned to operation for the exclusive use of attendees. Meeting rooms are within an easy walk of the slopes and the Spa at Grand Targhee.

Whatever other services the group requests shopping, rentals, specialty food outlets can also be opened. Other activities available are snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tubing, ice skating and sleigh rides.

The buyout concept is perfect for high-security meetings or organizations that want a private resort setting.

Fleece Them
With the advent of the material called fleece, winter-sports lovers no longer have to wear scratchy wool to keep warm. Fleece pullovers are great additions to the skier’s wardrobe and make excellent giveaways at winter meetings. Both Lands’ End and L.L. Bean offer the items in their corporate catalogs, complete with your logo stitched on. Call Lands’ End at (800) 338-2000 and L.L. Bean at (800) 832-1889.


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