Nine minutes on a chairlift can seem like an eternity when an icy wind is slicing the side of your face and creeping in through the crevices of your Gortex ski jacket. Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah feels your pain. They’ve created a perfect, heated, wind-shielded world for you to re-group between runs – take off your gloves, text your friends about your recent powder stash discovery and most importantly, warm-up and prepare for your next jaunt down the mountain.
Meet the new Orange Bubble Quad, the world’s first heated chairlift. The seat works much like the seat heater in a car, activated by a sensor when it makes the turn at the bottom of the lift. The seat warms to 30 degrees above the outside temperature, so if it’s a mere 10 degrees, your bottom will be a toasty 40 degrees when you settle in at the loading station.
The speedy new chair, which replaces an antiquated double lift, is just one component in Canyons multi-million-dollar overhaul, which began when Toronto-based Talisker Corp. purchased the resort for $123 million in 2008. Other improvements made by Talisker include another high-speed (bubble-less) quad that accesses 300 acres of new terrain on Iron Mountain, the resort’s ninth skiable peak.
With 4,000 acres of terrain, Canyons is Utah’s largest ski resort and one of three ski mountains in Park City. Park City’s other resorts include the upscale skiing-only Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, a popular family destination with plenty of parks, half-pipes and bowls for skiers and snowboarders.
The new Canyons is settling somewhere in between, catering to locals and visitors with expanded snowshoeing facilities, outdoor concerts and movies, and a village design that encourages skiers to linger après ski. New restaurants include The Farm, which serves locally sourced cuisine and more than 300 wines, and Red Tail Grill, a Southwestern style restaurant that offers 29 different tequilas. Stretching between the Red Pine Gondola and the Orange Bubble Express is a European style Ski Beach, a collection of lounge chairs designed to entice skiers and boarders to settle in and enjoy the warmth of the sun on bluebird-sky days, when no bubble is required.