I don’t ski, but I have been to Squaw Valley many times during my life. The last time was a few years ago as my husband and I were travelling from the Sunnyside Lodge on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. We were pre-snow season, so Squaw Valley was a stop to see what the area looked like post-1960 Winter Olympics and what fun we would miss during the upcoming winter. It was also a nostalgic moment. My family lived in Reno, NV at the former Stead AFB. During our sightseeing travels, we often stopped at Squaw Valley. To this day I think of it as the place where we were in shorts and sandals and walking through snowy areas under a warm, shiny sky.

The Squaw Valley I remember just got a $24 million facelift that “those who ski” or “those who lodge” will appreciate. Since last year’s investment of $15 in base area and on-mountain improvements, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have added another $24 million in improvements, including a new high-speed, six-passenger chairlift subtly titled Big Blue Express, improved High Camp beginner experience at Squaw Valley, and a mile-long terrain park at Alpine Meadows.

“We are very excited about the significant investment devoted to capital improvements for the upcoming season,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. “Snowmaking improvements, in particular, for this season and in the future, will be substantial and will vastly improve the consistency and quality of our snow surface and afford us an excellent opportunity for top-to-bottom skiing quite early in the winter season.”

Last year’s merger of Squaw Valley and neighboring Alpine Meadows ski resort, which included the new SnoVentures™ activity zone with tubing and mini-snowmobiles, and the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks, allows skiers and riders to experience 6,000 acres, 43 lifts and more than 270 trails on one lift ticket or season pass.
Non-skiers such as me should enjoy the remodeled legendary Olympic Plaza Bar. More than $300,000 was spent on rustic chic furniture and the redesign now pays tribute to the resort’s Olympic heritage with collage murals commemorating the 1960 Olympics.

If you’re going to ski well, you have to look the part, right? Lots of high-fashion and top-notch equipment that squeals “stylin”! Two new stores have opened to accommodate fashionistas. Parallel Sport Shop’s 5,000 sf of floor space and The Ledge Board Shop’s 2,000 sf  of space are filled with snazzy outdoor and street apparel as well as the latest ski technology.

Not a skier but wish you were? Both resorts have partnered with Burton Learn to Ride Center. Burton’s teaching methodologies assist new riders in connecting their turns faster.

Alpine Meadows’ park expansion makes it the longest terrain park run in the Tahoe region. A new base area jib arena has added four beginning boxes, two intermediate and four new snowmaking pip jibs, increasing the park’s fleet to more than 60 jib features.

More is happening. Check it out at www.squaw.com or www.skialpine.com or call 1.800.403.0206.

If winter is too far off and you need to get in shape before taking to the slopes, perhaps the New Life Hiking Spa, an all-inclusive destination spa in Killington, VT may be the answer. It would be for me.

Located in the Green Mountains, the Spa is only open until Sept. 28.  As if the special Fall rates weren’t enticement enough, visitors get a morning guided hike along the Appalachian Trail, a variety of fitness classes, cooking demos and a massage if you book a three-day stay. Killington is Vermont’s second highest peak at 4241’.

Founded in 1978, by Jimmy LeSage, M.S., New Life is an award-winning weight loss and hiking spa vacation that has been yearly selected since 2005 as a top 10 fitness vacation by MSNBC and a top weight loss spa by Shape Magazine and Health Magazine.

If all of this sounds like it requires more physical energy than you can muster, perhaps the ‘Stay with us and Pamper Your Palate’ promotion offered by Accor Hotels India will perk up your power pak. Applicable at 15 Accor Hotels across India, the promotion offers comp’d breakfasts and an additional meal of choice for each day of the booking. The promotion ends Sept. 30, so act quickly.

Accor is the world’s leading hotel operator and European market leader. It has more than 4,000 hotels in 90 countries.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI, for which she is on the Membership Advisory Council and the Industry Advisory Council. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com

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