New Gondola Scheduled for Lutsen Mountains in 2015
LUTSEN, MN. Positioning Lutsen Mountains to meet skier's expectations, family co-owners, Charles Skinner and Tom Rider, announced the replacement of their iconic 4-passenger, 45 year old gondola with a new 8-passenger, $7 million gondola, from Doppelmayr, the world leader in ski lifts.
"We are thrilled to take this next step forward in fulfilling our vision for Lutsen Mountains' future," said Charles Skinner. "As a family-owned business, we've carefully developed and implemented a master plan to enhance visitor services and skier opportunity. The gondola purchase is one of two steps we are taking in 2015."
For over 60 years, Lutsen Mountains has been a family destination ski area on Lake Superior's North Shore and in the Midwest. "The challenges for today's destination ski areas are to keep pace with skier preferences, make investments and remain financially viable," Skinner added. "We are extremely fortunate to have the support of local, family-owned banks who are fully invested in vital community projects such as ours."
"The current gondola has been in operation since 1989," said Tom Rider. "From the moment it was installed it became an icon for the resort. The original gondola has served us well, however the new gondola will increase our rider capacity from 300 visitors per hour to 2400 visitors per hour, ensuring travel to and from Moose Mountain without lines that will meet the needs of visitors to the area for generations to come."
To continue the pioneering visions of George Nelson and Charles Skinner, Sr., Lutsen Mountains is solidifying its place as a premier destination ski resort in the Midwest. Lutsen's drive-to location is an appealing and affordable ski destination for families. The addition of the new $7 million gondola is the next phase of improvement, and construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2015. "This is the most requested investment by our users, and will transform the experience of our customers in the winter and the summer," Skinner said.
For the past decade, Lutsen Mountains has been systematically investing over $25 million in improvements, with an emphasis in environmental stewardship. These investments include:
The gondola project in 2015 will include the expansion of the Summit Chalet and additional observation decks and hiking trails. Canopy tours, ropes s and zip lines are planned for future years.
"We are grateful to the many partners, community leaders, and public officials who have worked with us over the years," Skinner said. "Lutsen Mountains is a critical piece of Cook County's economy, and with these investments we are signaling our intention to continue being fully invested in our community for the next generations of visitors."
Lutsen Mountains, located in Lutsen, Minnesota, is the largest and highest elevation ski area in the Midwest offering four interconnected mountains, 95 runs and 1080-feet of vertical, all spread over 1000 acres. Lutsen Mountains is the largest business employer in Cook County, Minnesota and generates $29 million of the County's $159 million tourism economy. The new gondola, proposed terrain expansion and other planned investments are expected to double skier visits, and double the ski area's economic contribution to the County's economy to $60 million.