Here a snapshot of Ecosign’s activities on the various continents:
Ecosign continues its close long-term working relationship with Whistler/Blackcomb, North America’s largest resort in size and winter and summer visitors. Whistler/Blackcomb was voted the #1 Mountain Resort by Ski Magazine readers once again in 2015. Ecosign updated the master plans for Whistler and Blackcomb several years ago, and two new lifts were installed including the Harmony Express detachable six-passenger chairlift on Whistler Mountain for 3,600 persons per hour and the Crystal Ridge detachable quad chairlift on Blackcomb Mountain. Ecosign prepared a new Whistler Bike Park master plan last year. Whistler has what is probably the largest lift-assisted mountain biking (LAMB) park in the world. The Whistler Bike Park was overflowing, so in the summer of 2015 Whistler opened the Creekside base portal for mountain biking with a connection at the mid-station.
Whistler/Blackcomb had 580,000 “other” visits in the fiscal year ending September 2014 including sightseers on the Peak 2 Peak gondola and other lifts, glacier skiers and mountain bikers. We anticipate a significant increase in “other” visitors based on a record summer season in 2015 and estimate well over 600,000 “other” visits.
Panorama Mountain Village, British Columbia
Ecosign designed the new Trapper’s Ridge quad chair and ski runs which went into service in December 2014. According to President and CEO Steve Paccagnan, the lift is a “home run” for beginners, ski school and low intermediate skiers.
Other projects in British Columbia included the first mountain cross cart (MCC) course in North America at Sun Peaks Resort and financial planning at Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island.
Ecosign has been working over the past year on the design for a replacement of the Jasper SkyTram in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Plans have been prepared to replace the tramway with various options in terms of both alignment and system; new base areas and a mountain top restaurant and guest service facilities have been designed, and capital budgets, visitation forecasts and a detailed economic analysis prepared.
Le Massif, Quebec
Ecosign worked with Le Massif on the design of the new Club Med and the beginner ski area planned for the lower slopes of Le Massif in Charlevoix, in the Province of Quebec. Ecosign was mandated to ensure that Club Med was integrated within the larger context of the resort and also designed a new beginner zone complete with a platter lift and two moving carpets, and a dedicated snow play and beginner zone for Club Med. The work also included regrading the entire snow front to ensure all facilities were integrated with the proposed Camp de Base pedestrian village, which is part of the 2020 Vision for the resort.
Smokey Mountain, Newfoundland and Labrador
Ecosign has designed three new lifts to be installed at Smokey Mountain Ski Club in Newfoundland and Labrador for Iron Ore of Canada.
Calabogie Peaks Resort, Ottawa, Ontario
The company has started work on a new master plan for Calabogie Peaks Resort near Ottawa, Ontario.
With an improving economy and strong skier visitation throughout the USA, except for the west coast and northwest, a number of Ecosign’s clients are moving forward with new projects. Ecosign is working on master plan updates and the detailed design of new projects at Mammoth Mountain and Bear Valley, California, and Alta, Solitude and Canyons, Utah. Ecosign was on the steering committee for the Mountain Accord consulting team, providing pre-screening for NEPA EIS to solve transportation challenges from the Salt Lake City area to Little Cottonwood Canyon/Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City in Summit County.
Ecosign is updating the master plan at Winter Park and Steamboat Resorts in Colorado.
Other projects include a new summer master plan for Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon and the design of new beginner lifts and learning areas in Camelback, Pennsylvania and a master plan for Greek Peak Mountain Resort, New York.
Ecosign completed the design of a greenfield project in the Eidfjord Four Season master plan in 2013 and the project is now going into the ground. Eidfjord lies on the west coast of Norway, several hours from Bergen and is close to the famous Vøringsfossen Waterfall, which is the second most visited tourist attraction in Norway. Over 120,000 cruise ship passengers depart Eidfjord City docks every summer, and a key attraction at the Eidfjord Resort is a gondola ride to the Amundsen Viewpoint all year round, as well as Alpine and Nordic skiing and a boutique resort village.
Ecosign has been working with Mr. Reto Gurtner, President and CEO of Weisse Arena AG in Laax, Switzerland for 25 years now. Laax is installing the last of five major lifts from an Ecosign master plan update completed in 2012. At the start of the 2015/16 winter season, guests at Laax will be welcomed with a new 10-passenger gondola ropeway from Alps Sogn Martin to the former La Siala top station. The Leitner gondola replaces the old La Siala detachable triple chairlift. The new gondola is 3.4 kilometers long and will have a 9.2 minutes ride time with 2,400 persons per hour capacity.
Ecosign assisted Lenzerheide with design concepts for the alignment of lifts on the Lenzerheide side to match a new aerial tramway connection between Lenzerheide and Arosa, Switzerland, which was completed for the 2013/14 season, namely a new free-span 150-passenger aerial tramway from Urdenfüerggli on Lenzerheide to Hörnli Hütte on the Arosa side. This season, Lenzerheide has completed a cross-valley connection lift between the Parpan area and the Stätzerhorn. A new gondola was also installed from Churwalden in the summer of 2015. With 225 kilometers of trails, Lenzerheide-Arosa is now the largest ski resort in Canton Grisons and is one of the top ten in size, skier capacity and total trail length in all of Switzerland.
Ecosign assisted Mr. Markus Hasler, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG to study alternative alignments for a new lift in the Hörnli zone to replace an old T-bar built in 1965. The Hörnlibahn six-passenger detachable chairlift has a ride time of six minutes at 6 meters per second and opens in December 2015. The lift is 1,981 meters long with a vertical rise of 700 meters and a capacity of 2,000 persons per hour. It services a beautiful deep-snow zone on the northern shoulder of the famous Matterhorn in Canton Valais.
Ecosign was selected to continue 25 years of collaboration with Cetursa, the owner/operator of Sierra Nevada, Spain. Ecosign is currently designing a new chairlift and trails for the Borreguilles beginner area at Sierra Nevada.
Since the implementation of Ecosign’s first phase of the master plan in 2011, Gudauri has seen an incredible increase in the number of skier visits and summer sightseeing visits and is perhaps one of the fastest growing ski resorts in Europe and quite possibly the world.
Ecosign has now been commissioned and has begun work on creating a resort master plan which includes expansion of the ski facilities (modern lift technology, snowmaking etc.) to the north-facing terrain, which extends to the Kobi region of the resort, expansion of summer and winter recreational activities other than skiing and snowboarding, expansion of the resort base facilities including a commercial village center (restaurants, bars, retail shops and overnight accommodation), additional ski-in ski-out resort hotels and real estate, organized parking areas for guests/tourists, infrastructure, services and facilities for local residents and employees.
Ecosign completed a master plan for Sheregesh, Siberia, Russia
Ecosign Canada and Ecosign Asia are working on a new master plan for Nozawa Onsen. Ecosign is also active on plans for new lifts in the Resort Village in Tomamu on Hokkaido Island.
Ecosign designed the Changbaishan Four Season Resort in northeastern China, which opened in December 2012. The Changbaishan Resort was built at a cost of $3.2 billion in just 32 months by the Wanda Group, one of China’s largest commercial real estate developers. Changbaishan is now one of the most frequently visited mountain resorts in China. Ecosign is currently preparing a dual parallel slalom race course for a Legends race.
Thaiwoo Four Season Resort, China
In 2012 Ecosign prepared a comprehensive resort area master plan for the Thaiwoo Resort, which is located 16 kilometers east of the city of Chongli in Heibei Province. The phase 1 ski area for the Thaiwoo Resort is now nearing completion and includes a two section eight-passenger gondola, a six-passenger detachable chairlift, a detachable quad chairlift and several moving carpets for beginners, with the capacity to handle 4,800 skiers at one time on 71 ha. of ski trails with a total trail length of 18 kilometers. The resort village has been designed by Ecosign as a European pedestrian village with ground floor retail, skier services and commercial space plus overnight accommodation on the upper floors. The new resort village consists of a variety of 3-, 4- and 5-star International Flag hotels and a mixture of public and private ski in/out residential units. The phase 1 village has a total of 2,200 beds for public overnight accommodation and 600 private residential units for guests, all located within easy walking distance of the ski lifts, recreational activities and the commercial center. The phase 1 ski area is slated for opening in December 2015, while the phase 1 resort village has a target opening date of winter 2016.
Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, China
Ecosign was invited by the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee to enter a design competition with a master plan from Austria and Herein Architects from South Korea, to design the snow cluster venues for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Ecosign was selected as the winner of this design competition and thereafter provided the design of all snow cluster venues for submission to the International Olympic Committee.
Ecosign is currently preparing a master plan for the renovation and expansion of the Duolemeide ski area located in the Chongli area. This plan includes the reconfiguration of existing ski trails, addition of new ski lifts and terrain, and the planning of a new resort village and associated real estate and overnight accommodation and other year-round recreational facilities.
PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Korea
Ecosign designed the venue master plan for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The venue master plan was completed for Bokwang Phoenix Park for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing venues. The company was then contracted to continue its work with the detailed engineering and design of six new competition venues, which are currently under construction. Ecosign has been retained to monitor construction activities to ensure all competition facilities are built to its exacting standards.
All in all, it can be said that Ecosign has had yet another busy year with lots of travel to exotic locations for the Ecosign team.