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Blue Mountain: Where it all Began

The Beginning…

Blue Mountain Resort began with the dream of a man named Jozo Weider. The Czechoslovakian born Weider had the vision and the drive to develop a winter resort in the province of Ontario. At the time there was little participation in the sport of skiing. That was all about to change….

The 1940’s

It was 1941 when Jozo Weider started operating Blue Mountain ski resort. At the time, skiing was centered at the North end of the mountain, consisting of the trails “Schuss”,”Granny” and “Kandahar”. A lift was fashioned using two sleds drawn by a cable and powered by an old truck engine. The Blue Mountain Lodge, located just north of the Toronto Ski Club, was built in 1941. This brought the first hint of Tyrolean flavour to the Blue Mountain countryside.

In 1948 Blue Mountain Resorts Limited signed an agreement with The Toronto Ski Club and the Blue Mountain Ski club that provided the company with a 999 year lease on the resort’s northern lands. Later that year the company purchased a 150 acre farm which became the Apple Bowl Area.

In 1949 A new facility The Ski Barn was built out of an existing barn on the 150 acre property purchased in 1948. The Barn became the ski headquarters of the resort, providing food facilities, accommodations and a dance hall. The old beams, wooden floors, hanging wagon wheel and lanterns made for a totally original and charming atmosphere.

The 1950’s

After nearly a decade of operation, skiing in Collingwood started to gain momentum. Realizing the need to expand, Jozo sold the Blue Mountain Lodge. The sale enabled Weider to finance the first real tow at Blue Mountain. The new poma-lift ran between the “Schuss” and “Granny” trails at the north end of the resort. With expansion on his mind, Jozo proceeded to purchase the property between “O-Hill” and the North Area. He put in another poma-lift and built a ski barn. The ski barn became the ski headquarters providing food facilities, accommodation and a dance hall.

In 1955 the North Poma, Blue Mountain’s first modern lift was built. The lift was a hit for skiers as it allowed quicker access to the hill.

In 1959, the first chair lift (Old South chair) was installed at a cost of $100,000. This chair-lift rounded out the resort, allowing a skier to make his way across the 2 l/2 miles of hillside, from north to south, by riding up one lift and skiing to another.

It was during the 50’s that Jozo began to diversify. Noticing the soil base of hard pan clay, Jozo began to dabble in ceramics. This hobby led to the founding of “Blue Mountain Pottery”.

The 1960’s

In the 1960’s a mass market began to develop for skiing in Ontario. Improved highways, machine-groomed trails, safety bindings and other improvements made it easier and safer to ski. Perhaps most importantly, family incomes were on the rise. The higher incomes afforded people the leisure dollars necessary to take up the sport. To meet increased demand, a 20 unit, two story Inn was built at the base of the slopes. The Inn provided much needed accommodation for skiers that had traveled to ski at Blue Mountain.

In 1966, Jozo sold Blue Mountain Pottery in order to concentrate all his efforts on his first love, the ski industry. Additional trails were cut, three new double chair lifts (North, Apple Bowl and Tranquility) were erected and the Central Base Lodge was built preparing the resort for the spectacular growth that would take place in the 1970’s.

The 1970’s

Despite the progress made in the past 30 years, Jozo’s vision of the resort was far from being realized. He felt it required further modernization to serve the skiing public. Jozo Weider’s untimely death in 1971 placed the responsibility of running the resort on his family. Jozo’s son George Weider, became President of Blue Mountain Resort and eventually went on to become Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1978. At that time, Gordon Canning, Jozo’s son-in-law, assumed the Presidency. As illustrated by the incredible growth that followed Jozo’s death, the family continued to operate Blue Mountain with the same progressive business philosophy.

In 1973, a $500,000 snowmaking system was installed at Blue Mountain. In the years that followed, an additional $5,000,000 was invested to further develop and improve snowmaking systems. In an effort to better serve skiers coming to the area, major construction occurred. A Ski/Rental/Repair complex was built at Central Base Lodge, the Resort Administration Offices were expanded and the South Base Lodge was built at the south end of the resort. Lift facilities continued to expand including the addition of the L-Hill, Big Baby, Inn Triple and the O-Hill chair lifts. By the end of the decade, there would be 17 lifts consisting of 3 triple chair lifts, 5 double chair lifts, 6 poma-lifts, and l T-bar and l rope tow. When the construction settled down, night skiing was introduced to Blue Mountain at the south end. In 1979, Big Baby and O-Hill trails were lit up and skiers had their first taste of skiing under the stars.

Jozo Weider had a vision that Blue Mountain be a four-season destination. With the introduction of The Great Slide Ride an investment of $500,000 in 1977, Blue Mountain quickly established itself as a major Ontario summer destination. The Alpine Slide included 2000 feet of mini-bobsled track using the Inn Triple chair lift to service the ride.

The 1980’s

The 1980’s also served to be a decade for tremendous growth, with development and expansion continuing at a rapid pace. In 1980, Blue Mountain purchased Georgian Peaks. The amalgamation of the two ski areas resulted in an ideal mix of terrain for skiers of all abilities. That year, expansion was in the plans for Blue Mountain’s summer operations as well. A $700,000 Slipper Dipper Water Slide was added to the Slide Rides complex, serving to compliment the already growing summer business.

In 1981, Blue Mountain built a $5.5 million year round hotel, the Blue Mountain Inn. This five star resort hotel featured a conference centre, l00 guestrooms and 3 luxury suites. That same year, 700 feet of private sandy beach was purchased on Georgian Bay for the guests of the inn.

In 1984, Blue Mountain installed a $1.3 million water slide in the heart of the Wasaga Beach tourist area. This purchase marked Blue Mountain’s first venture outside of the Blue Mountain complex.

In 1985, further expansion for the resorts’ own summer attraction took place with the installation of a $300,000 Tube Ride in the Slide Ride complex. The winter season saw investment that year as well with the addition of a $150,000 beginner chair lift (Easy Street) at Central Base Lodge.

1985 was a pivotal year for Blue Mountain Resort in terms of Real Estate as well. Collingwood Township Council and the Ontario Municipal Board approved Official Plan Amendments and Zoning by-law Amendments enabling Blue Mountain Resort to proceed with plans to develop a resort village. The construction of a sewage plant in Collingwood Township, along with the associated trunk facilities, also provided the servicing required for construction to proceed.

In 1986, the Chateau Ridge condominium development, which consists of 54 slope-side units, was constructed marking the first phase of the development of Blue Mountain’s Village. In the three years to follow, resort village development continued at a rapid pace with a second phase in1987, a third and fourth phase in 1988 and a fifth and sixth phase in 1989.

On July 26, 1986, Blue Mountain Resort became a private company by purchasing back all the shares from its minority shareholders. Privatization was very important to the future development of the resort, giving management the flexibility to undertake many projects envisioned for the resort. Within the next two years, six trails were cut in the Orchard area and one was added at the North area.

Early in 1987, The Georgian Peaks Ski Club members approached Blue Mountain Resort offering to purchase back The Peaks ski resort. The deal closed June 29, 1987 giving the resort the ability to concentrate its efforts solely on the development of Blue Mountain. More capital, $1,450,000, was invested in snowmaking boosting existing efficiency and introducing snowmaking coverage to the North area. A double chair-lift was installed in the North Area at a cost of $300,000. The new chair overlooked the “Spectacular” trail. Due to its increasing popularity, night skiing was moved to the Central area, giving skiers more slopes and variety.

In 1988, Blue Mountain’s Central Base Lodge invested $2,000,000 in major renovations, adding more space and a licensed dining room. Continuing its effort to offer more diversity to skiers, Blue Mountain cut a new trail “Memory Lane” between “L-Hill” and “Tranquility” and added the Happy Valley trail and the Inn Triple Chair to the night skiing line-up. This brought the total number of lit trails to 6 and the number of night lifts to 5.

Continuing to add to its year round recreation base, Monterra Golf, a new, $3,000,000, 18 hole championship course opened in July 1989. The opening was closely followed by the $800,000 Monterra Dome Indoor Tennis facility in October. The dome houses 5 indoor courts and is a multi-functional structure that can be used for other events as well.

For the winter season, there were many new developments and upgrades as well. A new trail was cut under the south chair, Ontario’s first high-speed detachable quad, $1,550,000, replaced the “Tranquility” double chair lift and a beginner chair lift replaced the “Big Baby” poma to service the skier at the novice level.

The 1990’s

The “Monterra Pavilion” opened in July 1990. The Pavilion was constructed at a cost of $4 million and houses the Monterra Bar & Grill, Pro Shop, condominium check-in centre, conference facilities, change-rooms and an outdoor pool & whirlpool. An 18,000 square foot putting green was also opened to further complement the facilities offered at the Monterra Golf Course. Blue Mountain continued to improve the winter attractions as well. A half pipe for snowboarders was constructed; a new beginner chair “Sugar Shack” was added in the south end and a new expert trail “Elevator Shaft” was cut beside the “Spectacular” run in the North end. In 1991, the Silver Bullet Driving Range was added to the many services offered at the Monterra Pavilion. On the slopes, the skiers saw two new expert trails cut, “Calamity Lane” and “Avalanche”.

In 1992, another $400,000 was invested in Blue Mountain’s snowmaking facilities and lights were installed on “Memory Lane”. To enhance the summer attractions, a “mushroom” splash pad was built adjacent to the Alpine Slide Ride. Sand volleyball courts, swing sets and children’s play areas were added to Monterra, Blue Mountain Beach and the Slide Ride area.

1993 witnessed the Blue Mountain arsenal of snowmaking facilities increased with the installation of 130 new Tower Snowmaking Guns, bringing the total to 200 of these high tech guns. Two new 1000 GPM water pumps were installed increasing pumping capacity to 6000 GPM and Phase 1 of the construction of the pipeline from Georgian Bay to Blue Mountain Resort had been completed.1994 saw the completion of Phase 2 of the snowmaking plan with the pipeline connection from Blue Mountain to Georgian Bay. 52 additional HKD snowmaking guns were added to the north area of the resort. The 4th and 5th floors of the Inn were upgraded with the remodeling of 50 guestrooms.

For the 1994-95 winter season, Blue Mountain introduced the Jozo Weider Racing Club in response to families wishing to participate within the Southern Ontario Division (S.O.D.) racing program. The new racing program provided 4 levels of competition for skiers of all abilities: Nancy Greene League (10 yrs and under), MacKenzie League (11-13 yrs), Hershey League (19 yrs and under) and Adult League (20+ yrs).
In order to offer guests more rest and relaxation, Blue Mountain opened My Touch, Your Spa in 1995. Located on the second floor of the Blue Mountain Inn, this luxurious spa offers a full range of aesthetic and massage treatments.

In preparation for the 1996-97 winter season, the snowmaking system pumping capacity was increased to 8,000 gpm with an additional 25 HKD Tower guns being installed across the mountain. Grooming machines were fitted with a “Front Renovator” that refreshed the top 14” of snow. For advanced level skiers and snowboarders, “Glade Skiing” was also introduced with the cutting of a 2,000-foot trail between “Smart Alec” and “Mogul Alley”. A new snowboard park, complete with a 450’ half-pipe, jumps and hits, was developed at the South End of the resort. To service renters more efficiently Central Base Lodge underwent major renovations with the construction of a new 10,000 square foot rental facility. This facility includes a spacious rental area and larger repair shop, rest rooms, locker rooms and change areas. To reflect our commitment to the beginner skier, 290+ parabolic skis were added to the rental inventory. Additional snowboards with innovative, step-in, soft boots were also added in response to the growing popularity of snowboarding.

The 1997-98 season marked many exciting changes as well. During the Green Season, Blue Mountain replaced the Tube Ride with the new Raft Rider. This continuous flow tube ride takes 1, 2 or 3 riders down many hills and turns. Winter guests welcomed the arrival of a new High-Speed 6 Person Detachable Chair lift (“The Grand Prix”), located at the north end of the resort, which Replaced the Spectacular Double Chair. The resort’s uphill capacity surpassed 20,000+ people per hour. Three double black diamond runs were added to our trail menu – two runs located in the north end “The Little Devil” and “Lone Rider”, which replaced the North Poma. “Willy’s”, the third new double black diamond run, was cut just south of “Happy Valley”. Snowmaking capacities were further increased from 8,000 to 10,000 gallons per minute and another 19 HKD tower guns were added to bring the total snow gun inventory to 306. These technological increases allow Blue Mountain to go from virtually no snow, to a one-foot base of snow in only 2 ½ days.
Another large addition to the Resort was the construction of a new 9000 square foot, 450- seat Conference Centre. Opened in April 1998, this facility extends from the Inn Café at Blue Mountain Inn, providing a slope-side appeal. The Conference Centre provides overflow seating for skiers from the Inn Café and features a reception area complete with a mountainview and fireplace.

During the 1998-99 season, Blue Mountain moved one step closer to becoming a ‘Snow Resort’ with the opening of Tube Town at the south end of the resort. At speeds of 60+ km/hr, this speed sensation takes riders down snow chutes in an inner tube. Skiers and boarders were introduced to our first Terrain Park. Double the size of the existing “Badlands” Snowboard Park, this double black diamond playground features boxes, rails, wave walls, pipes and hips. Another Terrain Park, “Hell’s Half Acre” was added to complement the north end trail menu.

After 23 years of entertaining hundreds of thousands of riders, the original summer attraction that introduced downhill excitement – The Great Alpine Slide Ride – was retired. The retiring of the Great Slide Ride marks the end of an era that will be missed, not only by guests, but also by all of the seasonal staff it has employed over the years.

In preparation for the 1999-2000 winter season as has become the norm, witnessed numerous improvements to its facilities and services. Snowmaking received a $400,000 injection with the purchase of new and varied types of snowmaking guns. A $2,500,000 High Speed Detachable 6 person lift was installed to replace the existing Inn Triple chair at “Happy Valley”. “Apple Bowl” received a $450,000 triple chair lift to replace its poma-lift. The “Apple Bowl” area became a new beginner skier area. A new Bombardier Utility Vehicle was purchased for $265,000 equipped with a Flex Tiller. The rental capacity was expanded again as $200,000 worth of new skis, snowboards, boots and boot dryers were purchased. An investment of $400,000 saw 6 new breakout rooms for the newly constructed conference centre as well as upgrades to the existing rooms. Blue Mountain’s favourite bar, Jozo’s, underwent a $90,000 facelift to give it a fresh new look and feel. Blue Mountain also added a Winter Outdoor Patio at the Inn, a great place to socialize and catch the last few rays of sun at the end of the day.

New Era for Blue Mountain

In January of 1999, Blue Mountain announced that the family owned company had entered into an agreement to sell a 50% interest to the Intrawest Corporation. In a separate transaction, Intrawest also purchased 100% of a 32-acre parcel of developable real estate at the base of the resort. Preliminary plans for a village development on this land included approximately 1,000 condo-hotel units, 200 town-home units and 100,000-sq. ft. of commercial space, similar to the current size of Tremblant.

The vision for the Village at Blue Mountain is inspired by Old Ontario era architecture. The pedestrian village will contain 60 -70 shops and restaurants for our guests to explore. The envisioning document for the Village at Blue Mountain has been completed and the Discovery Centre is open to the public for a glance into the future of Blue Mountain Resort.

Historic Snowbridge was the first development to begin construction at the base of Blue Mountain. The development consists of 40 single-family dwellings nestled in and around Monterra Golf Course.

Construction for The Village at Blue Mountain has been very successful to date. On June 14 2000, the first condo hotel project, The Grand Georgian, was launched. 131 suites in the Grand Georgian were sold in 8 hours that day. The Grand Georgian will be the first structure in the Village at Blue Mountain and opened in late 2001.

In preparation for the resort’s 59th season of operation, the 2000-01season experienced an investment of $5 million towards resort-wide enhancements and terrain upgrades. A Magic Carpet was installed at the south end. This beginner lift operates similar to an escalator or moving floor and will greatly assist ‘first timers’ as they make their way up the slopes. The addition of a fourth high-speed detachable lift – Southern Comfort – at the south end at a cost of $3.25 million further increased up-hill capacity. Now, skiers and riders can access a high-speed lift from any of our 34 trails across our 2½ miles of mountain terrain! The night ski season under the stars will have double the appeal as every lights’ candlepower has been increased by 50% while the number of lit trails offered has grown from 12 to 23 runs. Blue Mountain’s rental inventory continued to expand to meet the needs of our increasing snowboarder, skier and mini-ski markets. The summer of 2002 marked a return to the summer attractions business at Blue. The newly renovated Raft Rider Tube Ride and new children’s water play area were supplemented by a climbing wall and Euro-bungy trapeze ride.

Summer 2002 also marked the arrival of the Village at Blue Mountain as a social centre of the local community. With the opening of Weider Lodge in July 2002 and the additional retail and dining the events plaza of the village came into its own. Nightly entertainment, first run movies and a variety of activities and events brought owners, retailers and the local community together in the spirit of adventure, activity and fellowship.

Summer 2003 saw the arrival of Seasons at Blue. Season’s reflects country cottage décor and an expansive hearth room provides a welcoming atmosphere. Seasons offers 137 suites from cozy studios to three bedroom suites. 2003 also brought with it a facelift on of the village centerpiece, the mill pond.

New Era: Real Estate Development

Blue Mountain’s real estate development began with the development of four phases of Condominiums encompassing 141 acres of land at the base of the mountain. Phase I, Chateau Ridge, is located on the slopes near the Blue Mountain Inn and consists of 54 luxurious two-bedroom apartment style condominiums. Phase II, Cachet Crossing, consists of 42 luxurious one, two and three bedroom units, and is located adjacent to Village Base Lodge. Wintergreen, the third phase of development consists of 55 luxurious three-bedroom condominium units located along the first fairway of the Monterra Golf Course. The fourth phase of condominium development was Mountain Walk, containing 48 luxurious three-bedroom condo units.
Owners of the condominiums have the option to participate in a rental program that is managed and operated as an extension of the Blue Mountain Inn. After the four phases of Condominium developments, Blue Mountain launched Monterra Estates. This real estate development includes 80 large scenic building lots located along the seventh fairway of the Monterra Golf Course.

Blue Mountain’s partnership with Intrawest has featured a renewed energy towards real estate development across the resort. Three unique accommodation hotels surround the village. The first condo-hotel project, The Grand Georgian, sold 131 units during its one-day launch in June 2000. The second building, Weider Lodge, named after Blue Mountain’s beloved founder opened in June of 2002. The third building, Seasons at Blue, opened in 2003. Season’s reflects country cottage décor and an expansive hearth room provides a welcoming atmosphere. Seasons offers 137 suites from cozy studios to three bedroom suites.

In 2003, the first phase of the Rivergrass Mountain Homes was completed, and in 2005, the third and final phase of Rivergrass Mountain Homes was completed.

In 2005, The Westin Trillium House, the resorts largest and most luxurious accommodation, opens as the first branded hotel in the Village at Blue Mountain.

In 2006, construction began on Mosaic at Blue – a boutique-style hotel. With an eye-catching mélange of architectural styles from curlicue Victorian to weathered red brick, Mosaic’s eclectic exterior reflects thirteen facets of Ontario’s rich past. Inside, the sleek, decidedly modern interiors feature the ultimate in present-day luxury.

Mosaic embodies a combination of prestige, luxury and panache that is, quite simply, enviable. It’s a Village at Blue property at the base of the mountain, with amenities for everyone in your family; 4-season outdoor pool, ski and bike storage and it is the first to treat owners to a private lounge.

On September 12th 2005 The New Village at Blue Mountain Conference Centre opened. The conference centre offers 33 meeting rooms. It hosts groups of 8 to 900 with interior connections to the Monterra Dome for trade shows and large group dining. Featuring a large – 2800 sq. ft. – glass atrium overlooking the Monterra Golf Course, and a fully equipped business centre, this facility is showcased by a grand staircase alongside new elevators. Additionally, this building is serviced by a central kitchen boasting 700 square feet of cooking surface, 3,000 square feet of refrigerators and 20+ cooks per shift. Its advanced audio-visual and tech support services place Blue Mountain within the top resort venues in Ontario.

The New Village at Blue Mountain Conference Centre compliments Blue Mountains three other state of the art conference facilities: The Grand Central Lodge, Weider Conference Centre and Blue Mountain Inn Meeting Rooms.

New Amenities at Blue Mountain

In the center of the Village, a 4-acre Mill Pond provides skating in the winter and many entertaining events and activities in the summer.

Extending Blue Mountain’s Green Season amenities, the new era for Blue Mountain has brought the arrival of an Outdoor Climbing Wall, a Toddler Zone with a supervised children’s water play area and a dry playground.

On April 6, 2006 Blue Mountain opened Plunge! Aquatic Centre, the ultimate water adventure! Plunge! is inspired by the charm of traditional Muskoka-style boathouses. Pools, hot tubs, rope swings, docks and slides provide year-round fun.

Raven Golf Club at Lora Bay opened summer 2006. This 7,200 yard championship layout is the first Raven Golf Club in Canada. Co-designed by Canada’s premier golf course architect Thomas McBroom and PGA Tour professional Tom Lehman, The Raven at Lora Bay’s dramatic course design and layout was dictated by the dynamic forested shoreline of the brilliant Georgian Bay. With some of Ontario’s most breathtaking terrain, the landscape is sure to impress golfers as the course drifts along Nipissing Ridge and various wildlife preserves. What makes this course unique are the purposefully preserved elements that pay tribute to historic rural Ontario. As you play through an apple orchard and beside century old barns you will be inspired to strike crisp golf shots on the way to your career low score.

The growth & development of Blue Mountain & Intrawest is still on the rise… we have most recently added The Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, Timber Challenge High Ropes, Wind Rider Triple Zips, Mountain Segway, Cascade Putting Course, Open Air Gondela, Climbing Wall & so much more…

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