Trip Ideas

There is a Global Niche Industry in Luxe Multi-Seat Chairlifts for Some Reason

The chairlift at the ski resort. A utilitarian device created to make recreational skiing more efficient and less physically taxing. The chairlift acts as a cable-enabled sky ferry for recreation seekers, skiers and people who enjoy riding the contraption.

In Popular culture

The scenic observational beauty, the thrill of being in open-air transport high off the ground and the anticipation of having to slide off the moving chairlift as the ride ends is an experience that has been long exalted in popular culture. There is an entire niche entertainment genre of 80’s comedy movies set in ski resorts that still enjoys cult status, like Ski School (1991), Out Cold (2001) and the true creative apex of ski resort comedies, Hot Dog…The Movie (1982). For further and much more specific proof, look no further than the horror movie Frozen (2010), which is about three snowboarders who, forgotten by the staff who have inopportunely shut down the resort and left for the week, get trapped on a malfunctioning ski-lift high in the air. (No, I am not referencing the other Frozen movie that you may be familiar with.) The whole movie is about three people battling hypothermic elements for mad, desperate survival because they got stranded on a stalled ski resort chairlift. High above the ground. The point is, because of a sense of status or adventure, the inanimate contraption known as the ski resort chairlift has captured a place in the consciousness of our popular culture. Even for people who have never skied or visited a ski resort.

Issues and Remediations

However, those of us who have never been on a ski resort chairlift can’t really appreciate how uncomfortable, hard to sit on, slippage-prone or bumpy a chairlift ride can be first-hand. Since chairlift riders are exposed the elements, the ride can be very chilly indeed. For people who pay exorbitant amounts of money for luxury ski resorts experiences, the most intolerable part of the experience usually ends up being the time spent waiting to ride and slide off of an uncomfortable chairlift. Chairlift manufacturers dotted all over the world have answered the unasked call to remedy mild chairlift-related annoyances by creating new kinds of luxury-caliber chairlifts primarily for use in luxury and corporate ski-related recreation facilities. Imagine chairlifts with weather shielding accessories, heated seating options, and designer leather upholstery. Imagine no more.

The story of Leitner Ropeways

In Kitzbuhel, Austria, local chairlift manufacturer Leitner Ropeways are catering to the luxury travel market by creating a new 8-seater luxury chairlift under the brand name Brunn. The luxe 8-seater chairlift comes with ergonomically dynamic seats that cut down on slippage. The seats were co-designed by interior experts from the car industry. The Brunn 8-seater chairlift features comfortable and contoured bucket seating, designer leather upholstery and interior foam stuffing. The Brunn chairlift features adjustable seat heating, a lockable safety bar, and a weather-proof plastic, see-through canopy. It can lift a total of 3,300 people an hour and vertically ascend 1,400 in three minutes. The Brunn chairlift required over 10 months of research and testing before they were greenlit for commercial manufacturing.

The Orange Bubble Express and Silver Queen Gondola

The featured attraction at the Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah is the Orange Bubble Express. Consider that in 2010 when it first premiered, the Orange Bubble Express was the first heated chairlift ever to be opened in the United States. The name is derived from the fact that this 4-seater chairlift features an orange-colored canopy shield for protection against the elements. Also in 2010, at the Aspen Mountain ski resort in Aspen, Colorado debuted the Silver Queen Gondola chairlift. It features solar-powered music equipment so that you can plug in earbuds or headphones and jam to tunes while you ascend. The Silver Queen Gondola chairlift ascends 3,000 vertical feet from Aspen to the Aspen Mountain resort in about 20 minutes, weather permitting. The chairlift system can lift over 10,000 people an hour.

Other popular destinations

For the discerning luxe-chairlift enthusiast pondering a jaunt to Switzerland, the Titlis Rotair, which can be found in service in resorts in Engelberg, Switzerland, is a luxury, fully-enclosed chairlift that actually revolves in 360 degrees of motion to offer breathtaking scenic views during its almost 10,000-foot lift ascension. You will find it in operation in resorts on Mount Titlis. In Squaw Valley, California, the Squaw Valley ski resorts operate a luxury chairlift that was constructed to resemble the coziest mountain cabin in the world. The Nest Express, which began operation in 2014, features interior wood paneling, framed artwork hung on the walls, benches and a smoke alarm. In Vail, Colorado, the Gondola One luxury chairlift is a 10-seater with cushy, comfortable heated seats and free Wi-Fi connectivity. The Gondola One travels an impressive 1,200 feet-a-minute.

Wrapping up

So don’t skimp on the luxury amenities on your next ski resort visit, especially if you’ve spent the equivalent of a king’s ransom for the experience. And who knows - the chairlift experience could end up becoming the best part of the vacation.

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