By Doug Hare EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – On Nov. 28, Thanksgiving Day, Big Sky Resort will open for its 46th season. Before returning to their favorite runs, snowsports enthusiasts are bound to notice improvements to mountain amenities from previous seasons.
This summer, Big Sky Resort renovated the Mountain Mall, now dubbed The Exchange, reenvisioning their dining, après ski area, restrooms and lockers in the Mountain Village base area. All-new cuisine options will greet skiers this winter, including sushi flown in fresh from both coasts, a ramen station, a taqueria, stone-fired pizza, specialty coffee and crepe stations, as well as a deli and grill serving soups, sandwiches and other items.
The new food hall on the third floor will offer abundant indoor seating for guests taking a ski break, warming up or grabbing a bite to eat. Seating capacity has been nearly doubled with an increase of more than 350 seats for use from breakfast to après.
Après ski will be enlivened with new outdoor decks boasting prime views of Lone Mountain and a cozy outdoor fireplace. The enhanced deck seats more than 250 people, perfect for soaking up the sun and drinking in the quintessential Lone Mountain views.
Guests will also notice improvements to the facility’s lower level, including complimentary day-use cubbies, day and seasonal-use lockers, a new changing area and expanded bathrooms to start the day in comfort.
A new public elevator installed in the central core of the building will be available to all, including skiers arriving to the 15-minute drop-off zone in Mountain Village, who may want to hit the slopes as quickly as possible. The elevator will enable guests to access retail and restaurants, and the resort hopes that the elevator will be most impactful for the large contingent of special ability recreationalists who visit Big Sky.
The renovated common area will also serve as a flexible event venue with a capacity of over 750 people. Total restroom capacity in the renovated space has increased by more than 50 percent. Staff locker facilities on the lower level have also been expanded and modernized.
The Exchange will open in stages beginning Dec. 5.
The on-mountain experience will also be different from seasons past: gone are the days of paper tickets, removing gloves, and fumbling with lanyards to present a ticket or pass to load the chairlifts. This summer, Big Sky Resort installed Axess smart gates equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at select lifts that serve as access points to the mountain. RFID allows a ticket or season pass to be scanned from inside a pocket, keeping hands warm and ski days smooth.
All winter lift tickets and season pass products will be loaded on to a Sky Card equipped with RFID technology. RFID gates have been installed at select access lifts that will automatically open with active media.
“RFID technology allows for a guest-friendly lift ticket and season pass process, making it easier than ever to load lifts and add additional days to your pass without visiting the ticket window,” said Troy Nedved, general manager of Big Sky Resort.
All Sky Card media will be electronically reloadable for added guest convenience. Once guests have a Sky Card, days can be reloaded online, eliminating the need to visit the ticket window to update passes or lift tickets.