Sunlight’s future looks to the past |

Sunlight’s future looks to the past

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN RESORT, Colorado” Like every year since 1966, Sunlight Mountain Resort is revving up for another season. Opening day is Dec. 5, it’s not like a nation-wide economic crisis can keep Coloradans off the slopes.

At least that’s how Sunlight’s marketing manager, Dylan Lewis, sees it.

“If it snows, people come skiing,” said the Glenwood native, matter-of-factly.

Still, the downvalley mountain has gone through quite a few changes recently, and most of them have a financial benefit. Though the resort did have to spend money to remodel its roof, it’s saving cash by deciding to limit snowmobiling on the mountain.

From now on, ski patrol will take the lifts as much as possible.

Besides the obvious monetary difference, less exhaust will be blown into the air, which Lewis knows will make skiers happier. Other green, and cost-effective, policy shifts include swapping the snow machine’s compressor from diesel to electric, as well encouraging patrons to recycle more with new Recycle bins.

“We’ve really tried to focus on our environmental efforts,” Lewis said. “It’s something small we can do.”

Adding to his sense of optimism about business is the fact that skiing at Sunlight can be nearly half the price of the valley’s costliest resorts. An adult day at the mountain is $50, which beats out even Grand Junction’s Powderhorn in terms of daily rates ” despite Sunlight’s three or so percent price increase this year. That low cost is what Sunlight strives for and, Lewis feels, is what gives it an advantage. So far, season pass sales have been fairly good, indicating to Lewis that the mountain still has a strong following of area residents.

“We’ve got that strong local market to pull from,” he said.

This season, Lewis only hopes to strengthen it.

Part of Sunlight’s plan for the winter months is to take a big step backwards ” back to the heyday of the place’s biggest parties, that is. When Lewis was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, he remembers the mountain’s mid-winter celebration, Ski Spree, being an integral part of the community. Then, the festival had related events spread all the way from the mountain to downtown Glenwood Springs.

In recent years, the festivities have died down a bit and been regulated to the ski area, but this season, Lewis is letting the old times live again. Along with Ski Spree’s usual array of races and live music at the resort, there will be a chili cook-off, broomball tournament, battle of the bands and block party in town during the weekend of Jan. 24.

The resort is even adding another weekend event, to boot. Its first Winter Carnival, to be held Dec. 20, will feature food and music, as well as adoptable pets. The day is also a fundraiser for CARE.

Of course, with all of these new endeavors, Lewis has no idea what the specific economic impact might be on the resort. But that isn’t exactly the point. This is about nostalgia, about getting people pumped up ” not just about Sunlight, but about skiing in general. And, in coming years, he’d love for the excitement only to build.

As he put it, “Hopefully, this is the starting point.”

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