Proof that new ownership at Taos Ski Valley means business is evident this summer with the start of construction of a new hotel and more upgrades on the mountain.
Most visible is a new four-story, 65-room hotel that will sit right in the middle of the base village. At the end of last season, crews demolished the skier services building and have begun filling that void with the first resort-owned overnight lodging at the northern New Mexico ski and snowboard mountain.
For the 2015-2016 season, skiers and riders will be sidewalk superintendents for the construction. This past season, mountain managers reconfigured entrance and exit routes to and from parking areas that skirt the construction zone. The new hotel is expected to welcome guests in November 2016, according to CEO Gordon Briner.
“Construction impact during (the winter of 2015-2016) will be minimal and our mountain operation will not be affected,” said Briner.
Also rising up is a new home for resort-run rental and ski shop (Taos Ski & Boot), the Andean Software clothing shop and public lockers, all to be located along the new walk-in access. All of these operations lost their home to demolition.
On the mountain, chainsaw crews have opened up the glades of the Wild West area on the western edge of the resort, and are cutting out more trees for the North American and Ernie’s runs on the front side.
An upgraded snow cat fleet and new snow guns on the back side will aim to get that area of the mountain – where intermediate runs predominate – open as early as possible. More snowmaking on the upper front side should get the upper half of the mountain (Lift No. 2) open sooner, as well.
“All of these additions are to support an improved Thanksgiving opening and getting Lift No. 2 open as quickly as possible,” said Briner. “The next priority will be to get additional terrain on the front side open along with ‘around the world skiing’ (return route to front side) as soon as possible and hopefully Chair 4 opening by the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21).”
All this work comes after billionaire hedge-fund owner Louis Bacon, a longtime TSV skier and homeowner, bought the 60-year-old resort from the original Blake family in 2014.
Bacon committed $395 million for infrastructure and facility upgrades, and the Village of Taos Ski Valley instituted a development tax district to help pay costs. First of out the shoot was the new Kachina Chairlift that debuted this past season with first-ever lift access to the 12,400-summit.
Photo: Top -- New hotel rises out of Taos Ski Valley base (TSV/Facebook); Taos Kachina Bowl opened up with new lift last winter (TSV/Facebook)