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The WORLD's FINEST lifts

It's been our privilege to bring you up the mountain efficiently and safely since our 1st gondola in 1962. Our commitment for our vision of Vail 2033 is to bring you from the familiar to the exceptional. And from the functional to the beautiful and extra comfortable. We are listening to you. And we are taking the long view.

 

Vail is taking no shortcuts in comfort, warmth, visual appeal, and, of course, safety.

We are recommitted to bringing you: THE MOST EXCEPTIONAL SKI LIFTS IN THE WORLD

From 1992 until 2018 America lost ground on Europe when it comes to lifts and technology, etc. We, Vail had the first high speed quads in the world (and 4 or the first 5 in America) while Europe had t-bars and trams. (noted from The Storm Skiing Journal interview with Big Sky's President at the opening of the Lone Sky Tram) Like skiing and the lift system in Zermatt and Kitzbuhel — Vail is transforming the ski day experience. Imagine a day when ski lifts are not just about the destination, but are superbly enjoyable adventure too. It's coming to Vail. 😊

 

You will feel the innovation. And you will see the innovation. But, most importantly, we strongly believe these state-of-the-art lifts will add excitement and a special quality to a significant part of your days in Vail. Perhaps not as important to you as the skiers, but mindful of our tight staffing concerns, in the midst of our commitment to quality, we will be debuting American's first operator-less gondola  AURO (Autonomous Ropeway Operation) from Doppelmayr. It matches our vision, is safe, and has been highly successful in European installations. This is the autonomous gondola in Zermatt. 

By 2033, we will quite likely have more than one new autonomous, lift operator-less, gondola (possibly three - Lionshead, Vail Village, and Golden Peak) like above. We are aware of the ever evolving customer interest... that involved more self-discovery and adventure. Someone said to the other day, "well, the Europeans are more attuned to being able to load a lift without anyone telling them." 🤣 That is just silly.  Tell us of an elevator that still has an operator pressing the floor button for you. Or tell us the about a fast moving subway that has railway operators helping you board at its stops. Have faith. Beauty, innovation, and good is ahead on Vail Mountain (and following at our other resort portfolio resorts) in the "ski lift" category. Oh, yes - there is a distinct possibility that Vail will bring augmented reality windows to some of its gondolas. What does this mean? It means that like in the image above, a rider can see trail maps...

The new AI technology Doppelemayer and Mantis Rope Technologies are now working on is not just for chairlifts, but also their next generation T-Bars -- so lift teams at their station centers can simply "turn-on" lifts (at least on non-new snow days) without lift operators needed at the lift site.

Some early explanation below. 

OK - a few comments of note that we've heard.

(1) The first from an installation in Europe, "We’ve noticed that many guests use the new lift for repeat trips. The restaurant offers top quality and attracts high visitor numbers – the symbiosis of the modern ropeway and the multifunctional building is spectacular and has been a sensational success"

(2) “We have built an exceptional lift because the ski slopes in this area are very popular.” Alban Scheiber, Managing Director, Liftgesellschaft Hochgurgl

(3) The new base and arrival stations for Doppelmayr lifts/gondolas are heads and shoulders above the past. Details place human beings and their needs systematically at the center of all our designs. Yes, it costs more, but the benefit has already been felt in multiples of the cost.

Beyond bringing you the world's finest new lifts and technology we hope to bring you our aerial tram. Plus, in addition to introducing operator-less gondolas we are instituting a contactless lift access (in other words, no lift ticket checkers) radio-frequency identification (RFID) turnstiles at all of Vail's lifts where skiers and boarders can gain access to a ski area. This latter is beginning in the 2025-26 ski season. Like Aspen,  Whistler Blackcomb, and the other greats of Europe do - Vail mountain is moving to turnstile access for all our mountain lifts. It will free up our employees for all the other exciting improvements on the way. Yes, don't worry, we'll still have someone their helping you.

One of our simple wins will be our new lifts on board using a double loading system (DLS) on the 6- place detachable chair lifts. It gives our customers the comfort and the safety that they have a right to expect.... by nearly giving every chair twice the time to load. "Nearly" because we'll actually be able to increase the speed of our high speed lifts because of the extra time given to each chair and loading. We satisfy the efficiency hopes our our guest and may actually be able to reduce the need for changing our 6-person lifts to 8-person lifts. Oh, might one of the loading areas be specially for boarding of our ski school children with a varied height loading mat? Of course. We're very open to this.

You want to prevent fraud because deception is decreasing your revenue?

SKIDATA's Freemotion Gate checks if the visitors have a ticket and even if they have the right height and the same face as on the ski pass.

Moreover, if the system recognizes the person is unauthorized it will lock the turnstiles to get sure only the right person gets access.

You wanna profit from this technology as well? Then follow the link: https://bit.ly/2B6cr7g

https://www.skidata.com/en-us/solutions/mountain-destinations/access-control

After its stunning debut in spring 2023, the world's first turnstile-free access designed by SKIDATA is revolutionizing ski resorts with its sMove Gate. Unveiled at Interalpin, visitors loved it.


The sMove Gates have been installed at the brand-new Komperdell cable car in Serfaus. This state-of-the-art cable car, known for its efficiency and modernity, is the perfect match for the innovative sMove system.

Watch our video to see how it works, transforming the world of welcoming guests.

Benefits of this new replacement for lift ticket scanners: Designed for inclusivity, ensuring a warm welcome for every guest. Seamless entry for skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, strollers, and wheelchairs. Perfect for all seasons, with proven resilience in extreme weather.

Manageable from central control room. 

Regarding our chair lifts we are working with Doppelmayr/Garaventa to debut their latest/newest (sometimes first-ever) developments. Yes, most of our new lifts will have heated seats. These ones specifically are being designed in a collaboration with Audi. They are full leather individual seats (goodbye to cold/snow-covered bench seating where a lift-operator's broom sweeps the snow and ice as quickly as they can). Many of our new lifts (like nearly every new installation in Europe over the past 10 years) will be "bubble" lifts that cover you in cold wintery conditions. These lifts, in some areas, will rest at night under the cover of the departure or arrival stations. In all situations, our "bubble" cover lifts will automatically close at night and during daytime snowstorms when no one is aboard.

Might Vail Work with Porsche DESIGNS on its new lifts . . . 

The Porsche Design Studio puts each guest into an individual ergonomic sports seat, heated with solar power and fully protected against the elements.

The most exciting element is the 45° rotation of the entire chairlift as it goes up. We think you'll enjoy the new views.

Yup, we're breaking the rules and transforming the resort experience with our lifts too. We hope that beyond the skiing itself the other ways/time that you spend in Vail brings awe, joy, excitement, and wonder your way.

 

Our new lifts will all have an automatic safety bar (which lowers along with its accompanying footrest just before exiting the base station). These are practically a standard on all new lifts in Europe. In the United States the first was the new lift that Deer Valley's new CEO and President talks joyfully about. In a podcast question, "Do you have pushback from old timers who don't like the foot rest bar down?" "No. I don't think so. It's been well received." 

We think that anyone's dislike of our automatic safety bar (which also rises automatically as the lift enters the upper station) will be very well compensated for with our new heated leather seats and (optional) bubble for protection on days of snow and wind. As mentioned, our new lifts will keep the seats dry (always appreciated 😁): (1) the bubbles automatically lower when no one is on the lift and (2) at night some of new our lifts will be stored under the lower and upper lift stations.

The AUTOMATIC SAFETY And FOOT Rest

Above: The Heated Seats & Covered/Bubble Chair Ribbon Cutting

 

Bonus: In the evening, when it is planned to snow lift operators simply use a push button close the upper bubble so skiers arrive the next morning with heated and dry seats. 

 

We hope you will enjoy these wins designed with you, our guest, in mind. We can't wait until the ribbon cutting and Champaign toast with you on opening day. 🥂😁

Note on the automatic safety bars: "A legal complaint filed this month in Third District Court alleges employee negligence led to the girl’s fall from the Iron Mountain Express lift at Canyons Village and her serious injuries. The lawsuit states the 10-year-old girl was celebrating her birthday with three friends when they boarded the lift back on Dec. 16, 2020. Her father and two other friends got on the chair right behind them. The girls couldn’t pull down the safety bar and just after boarding, the 10-year-old slipped from her seat and dangled from the lift as it continued up the mountain. The filing claims Iron Mountain Express was under the supervision of one employee at the time. The girl’s father and others yelled to the employee for help. They said the lift operator acknowledged the girl hanging from the chair but didn’t immediately stop the lift and she traveled up 300 yards before falling 30 feet to the ground covered in rocks and brush."

In the case of our super valuable lift ops, well, perhaps it might be a beautiful, inspiring lift operator station (inside and out) architect designed. More and more research is showing how the quality of the buildings we work in and even look at around us affect our happiness. And on that exact thought uninspiring structures/buildings actually contribute to depression and lessened mental health.

In conversations with lift operators at Beaver Creek, they said, yes, an inspiring/beautiful station would bring joy and a better quality of life to their days. And we think to our guests too.

The lift station from Zell am See, here, is one of our inspirations. Oh, as we've mentioned we are evolving to autonomous gondolas - to remove the serious issue/cost of lift ops labor shortage. In these circumstances, there is no base lift station, per se.

Can we match what Big Sky did with their new heated bubble lift in 2018 - the loved 8-seater bubble, or what Deer Valley is doing with its recently announced expansion to double the size to 5700 skiable acres (larger that Vail currently) along with their new bubbled heated seat lifts. Yes, of course.

In our conversation with Doppelmayr, it was made clear that every major ski area in Europe was installing bubble lifts often with heated seats on their new or updated lift installations. Debuting at one of the ski areas in Michigan this year is the first modern bubble chair in the Midwest and the first fully automated safety bar system in the United States. Their ergonomically designed D-Line seats will also feature heating.

 
Are we listening? Yes. In the Denver Post's article "Backlash against Vail Resorts growing among skiers and snowboarders across the country" with its subtitle "Critics cite limited terrain, staff shortages that impact lift operations and perception that ownership needs to pay its workers more" we can say we're grateful for the comments and we take them seriously. We will touch on the top complaint listed and that's "lifts." Beyond staff shortages we are going to the source, so to speak, the drive-train for all of Vail's new lifts will have the low-noise Doppelmayr Direct Drive (DDD) – a gearless and very maintenance-friendly drive. It's generally the "gears" that shut our lifts down. And this brand new "gearless" drive is a game changer.
 
Additionally, in our commitment to the environment, we are bringing on photovoltaic lift stations where they actually become a power plant for renewable energy. We are also leading the way again with the next in the evolution of lift stations with the new timelessly elegant visual design of glass where media modules, so to speak, display on the glass, transforms one's time waiting in line by sharing joyful and helpful information, short videos, and more. Learn more about our future lifts (the Doppelmayr D-Line coming to Vail in 2026). We will be starting our lift evolution with our Vail Mountain resort. 

Oh yes, like Aspen and the other greats of Europe do - Vail mountain is finally moving to turnstile access to our mountain lifts. It will free up our employees for all the other exciting improvements on the way. Yes, don't worry, we'll still have someone their helping you.

UPDATE (July 3, 2023): The Minturn Alpine Crossing is inching forward... more each month.
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We can't tell you how excited we are to bring you our new lifts. They'll be the kind that Kitzbuhel and the other greats in Austria and the Swiss Alps begin installing in 2016. But, we're working with Doppelmayr/Garaventa to make them even a little better.  in the 2022 ski season a lift of what we're doing debuted in the United States at Deer Valley (but ours planned will be a step up from what they brought on).

 

It may be tough to rationalize cost to immediate VALUE, but we are taking the long view. (Note: some resorts have new lifts in 2023 that are as uninspiring as 35-year old lifts). Those days and lifts are something of the past. The value-add from the additional costs of heated leather seats with covers to prevent oil or water dripping and not having snow and ice on the seats in the mornings are worth it in our minds.

Yes, Vail will have the finest lifts anywhere in the United States. And, finally, of the quality lifts that the best in Europe are using. We believe our care and commitment to excellence in our lifts will be repaid in multiples (smiles, comfort, and, of course, your love for Vail mountain).

We also believe it’s not just the lift itself, but it’s the look and feel of the base and the summit stations. They will be very tasteful, but also interesting and we think you will really like them! They will be more attractive than anything the US has seen at this point. We hope our little touches will transform people's experience/excitement. 

 

Once again we are following the lead for Europe's newest lifts and departure and arrival stations. Some of our new lift stations will be slightly larger to keep our lifts under cover each evening. Our newest lift in Mongolia Bowl will even have a coffee shop in the upper glass area above the summit lift station. This will be the first that Doppelmayr/Garaventa has done anywhere in the world. Our commitment to excellent quality and "first ever" innovation goes everywhere with us.

 

Personal note: Our gondolas will be inspected and cleaned every morning. Sadly, gondolas at some resorts are filthy... saw once with cigarette packets and embarrassingly dirty floor and windows (and we were on the first lift). Perhaps acceptable for some lesser resorts. But, at world-class resorts, no. 

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“T-bars are the future" At a fraction of the cost to install and operate, these surface lifts stir curiosity all skiers.

(from Ski Magazine)

NOTEWORTHY:  The leaders of Kitzbühel soon realized that the Kitz 3S-Bahn is not only an important addition to the ski resort but also has a special place in the hearts of all those who work on the lifts in Kitzbühel. "Everybody wants to work on the tram and new lifts and in our new base and upper lift stations. We rotate all the lift staff and morale has been higher than it's ever been for them." 

 

OK - this is still preliminary talks, but in our interest of village-to-village skiing, we are hoping to introduce our first aerial tram — between Vail and Beaver Creek — by the time of the Vail / Beaver Creek 2033 World Alpine Ski Championship. Yes, of course, it is to our best interest to surprise the world with its quality/uniqueness (so our tram in its own right becomes an attraction and a reason for people to visit Vail). This tram (shown here), from Germany, while 6 years old already is the visual we are designing ours off for an all-glass and visually breathtaking cabin.

NOTE: There is the possibility that this tram spans the entire Minturn Valley. This would be the highest span above ground in the United States and similar to the tri-cable "3S-Bahn" gondola lift in Kitzbühel that connects Hahnenkamm and Jochberg at dizzying heights. Due to light aircraft flight patterns in the valley and other benefits of village-to-village lifts (yes, breakfast, lunch, or dinner in different towns) we are adding a mid=station in Minturn.

Herzog & de Meuron have revealed their plan for a new summit station atop the Swiss mountain Titlis (at side). The Alpine masterplan entails the new construction of the summit station, the redevelopment and extension of an old beam antenna tower, and an upgrade of the Titlis underground tunnel. The design aims to breath new life in one of Switzerland’s most renowned international tourist attractions.

The existing summit station was built in 1967, and despite several modifications and expansions over the last 50 years, it no longer fulfills current and future requirements. As a further modification would not optimize the situation in a sustainable way, the summit station will be entirely replaced by a new construction. The project articulates a process that is transforming Switzerland into a complex urban landscape.

 

Beyond the cable car departure/arrival stations above, another recent movement in many of Europe's better resorts has been exactly that... better designed stations for the chair lifts themselves. The architects on this summit station (below) for the bubble chair in Arosa was Bearth & Deplazes — the same architects involved in, Ovaverva, the public pool in St. Moritz. 

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To minimize the visual impact of its new installations, in Arosa, close to Chur, they commissioned the construction of the chairlift arrival station to blend with the landscape. Inspired by the precipitous topography, but trying to avoid a direct imitation of it, the three stations comprised by the chair lift — the valley station, an intermediate stop and the station at the top of the mountain – adapt to a geometry of oblique planes and crystallographic echoes.

 

Vail, of course, will not only stop at bringing you the world's finest lifts, but will also surprise you with some of it's upcoming base and summit stations. 

Good personal reference for ideas -- Solden in Austria. 

And additional gondola ideas.

Before hiring an architecture firm to design future lift stations, we will invite the public (and premier architecture firms and schools (Yes, Harvard Graduate School of Design) to participate in a private design competition.

Might we ever have a new fixed-grip (non-high-speed quad or equivalent), it is possible but more likely another T-Bar. That said, we are always listening. We get it. It's trend that is happening. Some skiers like the slower, blissful, and charming nature of traditional fixed-grip lifts and, of course, the adventure of the T-Bar (which is such a lighter footprint with significant other benefits). Either would most likely only be in a location where a shorter lift was needed and in an area without expected delays. Below is the new Chair #16 T-Bar on the race course area near Golden Peak. 

Of course, a slower lift (yes, T-Bar and Poma lifts included) reduces trail crowding a little bit. At the same time it also gives our skiers and snowboarders a little extra time for the "romance" of it all... the lift stations are significantly easier to fit in tight spots and absolutely there's time to take in and enjoy the beauty all around.

The analogy has been used with fast cooking ("hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, finish your first course, you have to be ready for more quickly"). Do we like this kind of cooking and eating? Sure we do, but occasionally we like the restful sense of slow cooking and meals too... time to relax, talk, and look around with an ease especially when the company is good and the dining environment is particularly pleasing. Well, of course, the same can be true of lifts. Plus, people like choice and variety. We get it. If and when we will redirect the saved costs to our highly audacious plan for other lifts. 🥂

Added Bonus

Following the lead from one of our sister resorts in Switzerland, we are superbly excited to share with you that Vail is bringing you our Audi/Vail gondola collaboration project. This idea developed during our making of the Minturn Alpine Crossing as a way to genuinely make the mountain experience a welcome & memorable joy for all. 

 

We are fully committed to our non-skiers as much we are to our skiers and snowboarders and we hope this commitment will make everyone's time in the mountains that much more fulfilling. In this special partnership our leather seats are designed and manufactured by Audi and offer both massage and seat heating, a headliner made of Alcantara platinum (used in Lamborghini and Ferrari cars), as well as a leather-covered console and champagne bottle and glass holder. 

Additionally, the special cabins include Audi Bang & Olufsen® 3D Advanced Sound System to greet you via Bluetooth. 

 

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Might we look to our friends at Porsche Design to help us design our next gondola (and maybe our aerial tram)... oh, absolutely, that we promise. 

 To the right is the exclusive design-gondolas of in Zell am See newest gondola that has impressed the world (and, of course, Zell's guests) by a conclusive combination of design and function. The team of Porsche Design reconsidered the function of a cablecar-gondola, found numerous prospects for optimization and developed a clear, functional shape language. The result is a gondola that impresses by its gorgeous shape and allows an unique view of Zell am See at the same time.

Yes, Vail is going to make your time traveling to the ski runs and hiking trail exhilarating as well. We are pretty excited.

Today, the trip from the Vail Valley to the top of a mountain is not just transportation. It is part of the exciting skiing or hiking experience. In addition, ropeways have become symbols for innovation and performance for touristic mountain regions. Therefore the design of the our new gondolas need to deviate from conventional “boxy” aesthetics and offer even more fantastic views at the same time.

Are we scared or steering away from village-to-village skiing opportunities as our founder, Pete Seibert, had envisioned when he fell in love with skiing in Zermatt, St. Anton, and others in Europe? No, by no means. 

Rather, and in fact, while some of our ideas—an aerial tram to Minturn and a gondola to Beaver Creek's Spruce Saddle along with a 111 car gondola to Red Cliff—don't make the quarterly earnings profit margins litmus test, we're going long on Vail. Going long for so many reasons, including the practical reasons of impact on mobility and spending and well, love and pride and excitement for Vail. 

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