NEWRY, Maine — New England skiers and snowboarders will be experiencing a new mode of mountain transport during the 2008-2009 winter season as Sunday River prepares to install the first Chondola in the Northeastern U.S. The $7.2 million hybrid lift is one of four in North America and will transport skiers, snowboarders and summer guests from the South Ridge Base Area to the summit of North Peak, a location from which six of Sunday River’s eight peaks are directly accessible. The Chondola will play an integral role in the expansion of four season Resort amenities and allow for foot passenger access to the mid-mountain Peak Lodge.
A Chondola is a high-speed detachable six-person chairlift that carries gondola cabins at regular intervals. The lift is being manufactured by Doppelmayr CTEC and is slated to be open to the public in the winter of 2008-2009, pending state approvals. A trip previously requiring two lift rides by skier and snowboarders will be reduced to one. Summer, special event and mountain bike guests will also gain access to North Peak via the Chondola.
“This innovative lift system is an initial step in delivering on a vision for Sunday River,” said Dana Bullen, Sunday River general manager. “We’re looking forward to bringing this level of refinement to all experiences at the Resort. We’ve spent nearly a year crafting the finer details of Sunday River’s future. The installation of the Chondola signals the transition from the envisioning phase into the planning and implementation phase. This is much more than a ski lift, it will transform how Sunday River interacts with guests in all four seasons. The transformation will be seen at all levels of the Resort in coming years. This is just the beginning.”
The Chondola is the marquis element in an upgrade plan at Sunday River that accounts for nearly $20 million worth of investments since joining the Boyne Resorts family. New trails will be cut from the summit of North Peak. $1.7 million will be invested in snowmaking equipment including new Boyne Low-E fan guns as the Resort continues in the quest to double the amount of snow that can be made at one time, while reducing energy usage. $1.4 million will be invested in resort condos and hotels including new Boyne Beds. New bike and walking paths will be constructed to connect base areas and lodging properties. Additional details regarding this summer’s $14 million in upgrades will be announced in the coming months pending state and local approvals.
The vision that has and will continue to guide capital investments and business decisions at Sunday River will soon be released in the form of a preliminary “storyline”, which frames what the future Sunday River experience will become over the next five to 20 years and beyond.
“In the last year, much has changed in the New England ski scene,” said Stephen Kircher, president of Boyne Resorts eastern operations. “We’re proud that Sunday River is now on its way to reaching its full potential. Our commitment to and respect of the Resort and community continues and we remain focused on local stewardship. Eastern sister resorts, Loon Mountain and Sugarloaf, are also in line for significant investment in the coming seasons. Property owners and New England Pass holders have a lot to look forward to.”
The location of the Chondola will serve to improve a wide range of Sunday River experiences. The Resort’s primary beginner terrain will see a decrease in advanced and intermediate skier traffic as the majority of resort guests are transported elsewhere via the Chondola. The trip to the summit of North Peak will be accomplished in one lift ride rather than two allowing faster access to Sunday River’s entire breadth of terrain. The option of open air or enclosed transport will be appealing on warm or cold days. Summer and event guests will be able to reach the Peak Lodge in one lift ride and in inclement weather via gondola cabins.
“We’re extremely pleased with the pace of this process,” said Dana Bullen, Sunday River general manager. “Starting now, Sunday River is clearly New England’s resort on the move. The next few years will solidify that in a big way.”
Preliminary planning to offer 12-hour skiing on North Peak and South Ridge continues and could be available as soon as next season pending local approvals. Any 12-hour skiing will be serviced by the Chondola and would incorporate the mid-mountain Peak Lodge.