Thursday, November 26, 2015

Orange is the New White - Nov 25

Brand new Doppelmayr Orange Bubble at Teepee Town LX, Sunshine Village
With Banff resort, Sunshine Village launching the first heated chairlift in Canada this season, it seems heated Orange Bubbles are becoming the hottest ski hill accessory across North America. 

Sunshine's luxury lounger includes 4-person heated seats, footrests and protective orange covers to stop that prevailing winds in their tracks and allow passengers to appreciate the expansive views of Mt Assiniboine. It replaces a rickety two-seater that was the coldest lift in the resort, a haunt of only the hardiest skiers desperate to get to the powder below. Now everyone will be able to use it to access beginner and intermediate runs off the Great Divide Chairlift. And it also opens up challenging black diamond and double diamond terrain, such as the Shoulder and the Teepee Chutes

Canyons Resort 4-seater Orange Bubble Express
Although heated lifts are quite common in Europe, they are rare in North America. In Utah, the Canyons Resort at Park City has been flaunting its 55 degree windproof ride since 2010. Made by Doppelmayr USA, Inc - based in Salt Lake City - it has been a real hit since it was first launched. "When we first commissioned the Orange Bubble at Canyons, the following week there was unusually cold weather - sub zero," says Doppelmayr President, Mark Bee. "A high percentage of the skiers spent most of their day on the Orange Bubble lift and didn't venture out to other lifts. They were warm and comfortable on the ride up and really appreciated the heated seats and bubbles." Bee hopes that America fill follow Austria in focusing on comfort for guests, especially when many North American chairlifts are well past their prime. But, he says, the adoption rate has been very slow in comparison to Austria where they are almost standard with more than half of new lifts built including heated seats. 

Sunny inside and out on the Canyons Resort Orange Bubble Express
So how do they work? Bee says that seats are heated electrically while the chair is in the terminal, before the passenger sits on the chair. "From a construction and permitting standpoint, it is really no more difficult than a regular chairlift," he adds. "Maybe a few more days in the wiring of the lift and the commissioning of the lift as a result of the extra controls and power systems for the heating."

In Vermont, the private Hermitage Club has a clear bubble lift with 6-person heated seats made by Doppelmayr. And this season Okemo Resort, VT adds a second Leitner-Poma bubble to its lofty lift portfolio. 

Okemo's Sunburst Express 6-person Orange Bubble
Verdict - it's not hip if it's not heated!

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