Lake Tahoe, CA & NV (Nov. 19, 2009) - The 2009-10 winter season kicks off in Lake Tahoe this weekend with several ski resort openings planned Friday and Saturday offering thrilling terrain park features, wide open groomed runs up to a mile long and varying levels of terrain for early season skiing and snowboarding. Cold temperatures, highly efficient snowmaking systems and early season snowfall spurred by El Niño weather systems enabled ski lifts to start turning as early as Halloween at Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, the first of the seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts to open with Heavenly planning to follow suit this Friday, Nov. 20th along with Northstar-at Tahoe Resort and Squaw Valley USA on Saturday, Nov. 21st. The amount of open terrain acreage could increase dramatically over the weekend with more than a foot of snow in the forecast from winter storms currently heading for the Lake Tahoe region.
These snowstorms and the ongoing supplemental snowmaking efforts at the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts bode well for top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding for holiday travelers and the affordable early season lift ticket prices, early season ski vacation deals and lodging packages at the resorts and surrounding Reno-Tahoe area properties make the dream of a meaningful ski vacation a reality in a tough economy.
"The Ski Lake Tahoe resorts have seen several feet of snow already this season both from natural snowstorms and from state-of-the-art snowmaking systems, making Lake Tahoe a sure bet for families and destination travelers looking for reliable early season conditions," said John Wagnon, president of Ski Lake Tahoe. "The amazing conditions combined with the best ski vacation deals in the country make Tahoe the place to be for a unique early season winter experience."
In addition to incredible early season conditions, travelers headed to Lake Tahoe can take advantage of the most affordable ski/stay packages in the country offered at lodging properties that are able to accommodate just about any budget. Season-long ski-and-stay packages begin as low as $69 per night at regional casino properties, allowing guests the flexibility to choose from all seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe.
The "Friends Fly, Stay and Ski Free" offer from Southwest Airlines Vacations has every second guest flying free into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport on trips booked before November 26th for travel through February 10th. And on Southwest, even skis and snowboards fly free.
Another annual early season favorite in Lake Tahoe is the 10th Annual Learn to Ski and Board Weekend. Scheduled for the weekend of December 12-13, the deals that weekend cost $25 and include an all-day beginner lift ticket, group lesson and gear rental valid at several Ski Lake Tahoe resorts.
Taking advantage of the highest base elevation in Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe started turning lifts on October 31st as part of the resort's Halloween Kickoff Costume Party. To further the celebration, the resort extended its early season operating hours under the lights until 7:00pm including a modified version of its "Show Off" Terrain Park. With the recent natural snowfall and consistent cold temperatures for supplemental snowmaking, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe is now open seven days a week with additional terrain serviced via the Ponderosa Lift. This earlier-than-average start to the season is perfectly timed to showcase the recently completed Slide Lodge with its glass and steel construction and 7,623 square foot deck that provides jaw-dropping views of the valley floor 4,000 feet below. Guests can take advantage of ski-and-stay packages starting as low as $69 per night at Reno casino properties such as the Silver Legacy and El Dorado and make turns right off the plane given the resort's location less than an hour away from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Visit www.skirose.com for further information.
Heavenly Mountain Resort's snowmaking system has the ability to cover more than 73 percent of the resort's trails and the guns have been blasting around the clock since late October to offer incredible early season skiing and snowboarding beginning this Friday, Nov. 20th. These efforts have been so successful that the resort now plans to open twice the amount of terrain that was originally announced for this Friday's opening, including the mile-long Orion's run. The resort also purchased new grooming snowcats to add to its large grooming fleet dedicated to providing a consistent, quality snow surface. Take advantage of Heavenly's popular "BOGO" offer - buy one night of lodging and lift tickets, get the second night lodging and lift tickets free! Packages start as low as $55 per person, based on double occupancy. For more details, log onto www.skiheavenly.com.
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort turned on its snowmaking operations earlier than ever before in the resort's history and its snowmaking operation was expanded this summer to include more beginner terrain throughout the mountain including ski-in/ski-out access from the new Ritz-Carlton Highlands resort that opens this December. This early jump on snowmaking bodes well for an on-time opening scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21st. Guests who book their ski/ride getaway to Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort by December 15, 2009 stay for just $99.75 per person, per night (based on double occupancy). This offer includes two lift tickets per room, per night, some restrictions apply. For more information, visit www.NorthstarAtTahoe.com.
Snowmaking operations are underway at Squaw Valley USA as the resort prepares for its 60th Anniversary celebration to kick start the season on Saturday, Nov. 21st including a base jump from the Cable Car by professional skier JT Holmes. This season also marks the 50th Anniversary of the resort hosting the 1960 Winter Olympic and Squaw Valley USA has events planned throughout the season to commemorate the occasion including torch relays, opportunities for guest to participate in event reenactments and a week-long Olympic Heritage Celebration slated for January 8-17, 2010. Guests can even ski with Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley on select Saturdays and weekends throughout the season. Book early and save up to 25 percent on lodging packages at Squaw Valley USA. Log on to www.squaw.com for details.
Alpine Meadows is slated for a Dec. 5th opening and consistently cold temperatures have allowed the resort to continue snowmaking efforts to supplement the recent natural snowfall. New this season, the resort has announced a daily lift ticket which will be valid at both Alpine Meadows and Homewood Mountain Resort located quite literally on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe with interconnecting shuttle service available. Additionally, members of the resort's Alpine Club can ski and ride for as little as $44 per day. Alpine Meadows is also partnering with the Resort at Squaw Creek to offer a new precedent for value, ski travel and four-diamond accommodations with ski-and-stay packages starting as low as $155 per night. The resort has also announced a three night/four day ski-and-stay package with the Hyatt Regency, Lake Tahoe beginning as low as $269 per night. For more details, please visit www.skialpine.com.
Boasting a base elevation of 7,800 feet and average annual snowfall totals of more than 500 inches, Kirkwood Mountain Resort installed two new lifts last season that are now poised and ready for an epic El Nino snowpack. To capitalize on the predictions of a banner season, Kirkwood Mountain Resort has expanded its special events calendar this winter to offer an engaging atmosphere almost every weekend this season including the North American Freeskiing Championships and the North Face Masters. Early season stay-and-ski free packages are available from opening through the beginning of the holiday season along with a number of online specials. Visit www.kirkwood.com for more details.
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort will showcase the newly incorporated steep and deep terrain in Huckleberry Canyon with complimentary guided excursions into this backcountry stash on Fridays when conditions permit. On weekends, backcountry lessons - a 2.5 hour experience in Huckleberry Canyon that is a focused introduction to backcountry equipment, route selection and skier/rider improvement - are only $33 with a 3-pak lesson purchase. Also new this season, adult beginners can learn to ski or ride for just $35 Sunday through Friday all season long. The Learn to Ski/Ride package can be purchased online and includes a 2.5 hour lesson, limited access lift ticket and all-day equipment rental. Sierra-at-Tahoe will continue to offer lift tickets for as low as $45 when purchased as a 3-pak which can be used any day throughout the season. Sierra-at-Tahoe has partnered with the Tahoe Valley Lodge to offer stay-and-ski packages for as low as $65 per night valid opening day through December 18th. Log on to www.sierraattahoe.com for the latest information.
About Ski Lake Tahoe
Surrounding North America's largest alpine lake, the seven resorts that make up Ski Lake Tahoe are Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort and Squaw Valley USA. Lake Tahoe boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, and the region has some of the highest annual snowfall amounts in North America. The seven resorts, all offering unparalleled scenic vistas of panoramic mountain and lake views, are located less than an hour from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. For further information and to directly book travel, lodging and transportation for Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and its travel partners, visit www.skilaketahoe.com.