Resort Destinations

Mountain-based resorts are most profitable in the winter season and when snow is on the ground. Their primary form of revenue is skiing. It is a challenge for mountain-based resorts to keep their operations functioning in the summer. They must utilize the mountains for hiking or down-hill biking and the rivers for white water rafting and canoeing (13).



Skiing did not become popular as a recreational sport until the mid 1800s. Technological advancements in the creation of skis led to an increasing popularity in the early 1900s but records indicated that there were as few as four operating ski areas in the United States (12).

The first ski lift was created at Gilbert’s Hill in Vermont in 1934. Such advancements have continued to make skiing an easy and more comfortable sport for recreational users.
Real estate issues involved in ski resorts arose when the first
chairlift was created in Sun Valley, Idaho. Housing soon went up around the area (12). World War II had a large impact on skiing. It stopped development during the war but the Tenth Mountain Division, a heroic division in the American army, gained a reputation for skiing. After the war, many of its members found themselves in the industry and developed the Aspen Skiing Corporation. Also, European style and talent was brought to America when many of the country’s best skiers moved during the war (12).

Television coverage of the 1960 winter Olympics inspired many Americans to try this “new” sport. From there, skiing began to boom and resorts and skiing areas arose in both the west and east coasts of North America (12).

Recently, innovations to skiing such as snowboarding and night skiing have targeted a younger group of people and created many unique programs at various resorts.

Most large and visible ski areas in America are built on land owned by the United States Forest Service and have to obtain a permit in order to run their operations. Developers are expected to design their recreational area so that it will provide not only a profitable benefit to him but also a public benefit (13).


Designers should also consider the following things in building and operating a ski-based resort (12):

  • Daily lift ticket price
  • Maximum waiting time in lift lines
  • Type of food service
  • Walking time from parking lot to base lodge
  • Percentage of terrain covered by snowmaking
  • Attitudes of ski area employees

Some of Mobil Five-Star award winning mountain-based resorts of 2005 are (8) :

  • Chateau du Sureau, Oakhurst, California
  • The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
  • Twin Farms, Woodstock, Vermont

© 2005 Melissa Osterer