Meetings & Conventions Snow Days January 1999
Take a powder:
Hitting the trails at Telluride
These winter-sports resorts are serious about meetings, but
they also put a high premium on free time
By Sarah J.F. BraleyOutside, it’s a winter wonderland,
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.
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
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, 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
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
Park City Mountain Resort
Park City, Utah
(435-649-8111; www.parkcitymountain.com; www.parkcityinfo.com)
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, 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
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 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
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, 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
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
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
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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