SOURCE: Bear Valley Mountain

November 13, 2008 11:00 ET

You Belong at Bear! Bear Valley Mountain Opens 2008-09 with New Family Facilities Programs and More Access to World-Class Skiing

Northern California's Closest-to-Home Premier Family Resort Unveils New Family Center, Kids' Snow Play Program, $100,000 Terrain Park, Snowcat Access to Backcountry Terrain and Improved Snow-Making Capacity

BEAR VALLEY, CA--(Marketwire - November 13, 2008) - Bear Valley Mountain, the Central Sierra's premier family skiing and riding location, today announced upgrades and new product plans for the 2008-09 season. Continuing with the theme "You Belong at Bear," opening day guests will be greeted with significant improvements to the 9-lift, 1,280-acre resort that will enhance the family experience for skiers and riders of all ages and skill levels. Among the improvements added during the off-season were expanded facilities that streamline the rental, lift ticket and lesson purchasing process, a $100,000 investment in terrain parks with new features, snowcat access to pristine chutes and bowls, improved snow-making capabilities and new family-oriented activities and programs.

Improved facilities and new family programs aren't the only reason you belong at Bear. Bear Valley is conveniently located at the east end of well-maintained National Scenic Byway Highway 4, making it the closest-to-home resort for enthusiasts from the Central Valley to the Coast. With just one tank of gas and about three hours of drive time, skiers and riders can enjoy Bear Valley's awesome terrain, from the smoothest of cruisers to the steepest of chutes.

"Our team spent the off-season upgrading and expanding our facilities, adding more programs for the family, completing slope maintenance improvements and making a significant investment in our terrain parks. The changes will make the skiing and riding experience more enjoyable for every member of the family by providing a wider selection of services and activities to skiers and riders of all ages and skill levels," said Bear Valley Resorts CEO Martin Wegenstein. "Family-focused additions, easy access from all points of Northern California and an intimate sense of belonging are why I like to say, 'Gemuetlichkeit,' when I describe Bear Valley." (Gemuetlichkeit [ge-moot-li-kite] is a German word meaning a place of belonging.)

This season, the added conveniences and programs designed to entertain the whole family include:

--  New Snow Sports Learning Center -- Enjoy a quick and easy one-stop
    location for lessons, rental equipment, lift tickets, and age-appropriate
    ski and snow play programs.
    
--  Snow Play program -- Take advantage of fun activities and an
    introduction to snow sports for kids ages 3 to 6; half-day and all-day
    options available.
    
--  New Backcountry Snowcat Tours-- This option pairs awesome snow
    conditions with advanced skiers and riders for an unparalleled experience
    of Sierra Powder and spring skiing on pristine backcountry terrain.
    
--  Increased snow-making fleet -- State-of-the-art SMI snow-making guns
    offer energy-efficient, high-flow technology capable of covering more than
    100-acres of terrain.
    
--  Remodeled Childcare Area -- An attractive center for parents and
    childcare providers offers a comfortable place to entertain and care for
    the little tykes who aren't quite ready to hit the slopes.
    
--  Mountain/Meadow Combo Season Pass -- This pass gives you access to
    unlimited downhill or cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails any day of
    the season!
    
--  Lesson Reservation Center -- Staffed seven days a week, the new call
    center allows families to speak with a live lesson specialist and book
    lessons in advance.
    
--  Terrain Park Features -- Investing nearly $100,000 in terrain park
    enhancements, including a dedicated terrain park cat and crew to build two
    brand new parks, introducing a variety of new features for riders of all
    levels.
    
--  Visual Communications -- New plasma television screens throughout the
    lodge provide guests with a 360-degree view of Bear Valley's services,
    activities and events through informative and fun content to make the Bear
    Valley experience even more enjoyable.
    
--  Sound System -- Now guests can listen to a new sound system around the
    lodge to enjoy their favorite tunes as they savor the Sierras.
    

Remodeled Lower Level Creates Family Lesson and Rental centers

To better accommodate families, Bear Valley has remodeled the entire guest area of the lower lodge to provide streamlined access to rental equipment, lift tickets, lessons and age-specific child activities. The new design creates two major new facilities: the Rental Center and the Snow Sports Learning Center. While both centers house ski rentals, snowboard rentals and tickets for the whole family, each location specializes in a particular area:

--  The Rental Center combines ski and snowboard rentals with tickets and
    group lessons, but can also outfit enthusiasts with state-of-the-art demo
    equipment.
--  The Snow Sports Learning Center offers both ski and snowboard rentals
    and is focused on servicing guests of all ages that would like to add a
    lesson to their day, including private, group lessons or snow play.
    

"The goal of the new Rental and Snow Sports Learning centers is to make the preparation process fast and easy for guests with one-stop shops where they can stay together as they get ready to enjoy a wide range of mountain activities," said Bear Valley Mountain's General Manager, Jim Gentling. "Guests asked us to consolidate these services and we're excited to deliver on that request with not one, but two all-in-one centers. No matter which area you start in, the new design and process will allow families to stay together while quickly getting through the preparation process."

Snow Play Program

Cubs between the ages of 3 and 6 who are not quite ready for the slopes can participate in the Snow Play program, which introduces kids to the fun of snow sports in a safe and active environment. Program leaders keep the kids busy both in the playroom and outdoors in a private area on the snow where they get to experience the excitement of playing in the snow while being gently introduced to ski equipment, safety and having fun with kids their own age. Lunch and snacks are included.

"Our guests are excited to have their little ones introduced to the fun of snow sports while the older kids and adults are enjoying the slopes," said Mike Young, Bear Valley Mountain's director of snow sports programs. "Our Snow Play program provides activities that keep kids active in a supervised environment. The excellent instructor-to-child ratio ensures that all participants get the attention they deserve and need."

Snowcat Tours

This season, skiers and riders aching for affordable access to pristine terrain and secret stashes now have a new option -- Bear Valley's new Snowcat Tours program The 14-passenger snowcat will transport a select few to untouched terrain offering access to the best untracked powder on the mountain. This program is for advanced and expert skiers and riders only!

"Bear Valley Mountain has teamed up with Mountain Adventure Seminars to launch a new backcountry program that will give advanced skiers and riders access to the best snow conditions on the mountain as selected by our guides and ski patrol teams," said Mattly Trent, Bear Valley Mountain's director of snow safety. "This experience promises to be an unforgettable ride and is guaranteed to be one of the best trips you'll have on a slope this season."

During the season, the snowcat may run before, during and after regular lift hours, taking skiers to different locations. Runs will vary depending on snowfall and conditions.

In addition to providing backcountry access, the snowcat will also shuttle guests to different spots on the mountain for activities like Easter Sunday services atop Koala and to assist in other mountain operations.

Increased Snow-Making Fleet

Bear Valley Mountain added further upgrades to its winter arsenal in order to produce more snow early in the season. The resort has enhanced its snow-making fleet with 10 new SMI state-of-the-art, high-volume, Pole Cat snow-making guns that specialize in producing larger quantities of snow at warmer temperatures, enabling the resort to reduce the property's carbon footprint. Bear Valley's highly efficient snow-making guns are at different locations on the mountain, positioned to cover up to 100 acres of skiable terrain. The primary runs the guns will support include Mokolumne West, Ego Alley, Rodeo, Cub Meadow, Lodge Run, Grouse Connection and West World.

"We would be thrilled to have Mother Nature give us a healthy and early dumping of sweet Sierra powder and never have to start a single gun," said Bear Valley Slope Operations Manager Dave Hager. "However, if needed, these new top-performing guns combined with cool temperatures will ensure that Bear Valley's loyal guests can access terrain while we wait for the precipitation levels to increase."

Remodeled Childcare Area

The remodeled childcare area, located upstairs in the main lodge, provides parents and childcare providers with a comfortable place to entertain and take care of little ones in a safe and fun environment. Equipped with arts, crafts, toys, games and a library of kids' books and movies, this area is a great place to spend time with little ones. Parents desiring childcare can bring their own sitters or connect with independent local sitters through Bear Valley's main office.

Lesson Reservation Center

Bear Valley has added a new lesson reservation center to its family-friendly lineup. The Bear Valley reservation center will be staffed with live lesson reservation experts to help book ski and snowboarding lessons in advance. Upon arrival, guests will enjoy a special express window, where all lesson tickets, forms and lift tickets will be preprinted and ready for pickup, ensuring the whole family enjoys the convenience of advanced reservations.

Terrain Features

Under the direction of Bear Valley's new Director of Mountain Operations, Jon Mahanna, and former pro freestyler Mike Schimke, skiers and riders will find a new terrain park landscape at Bear Valley this season. The new terrain park on Westworld is geared toward intermediate to advanced riders and a new beginner progression park will be added near the base of the mountain.

"We're focused on building a premier family resort and the parks are an important element to ensure we provide an excellent experience for the entire family, regardless of their age or ability," said Mahanna. "We're investing $100,000 in our parks, including a dedicated terrain park cat, a new crew, and an increased number of features."

The name of the new park on Westworld will be up for grabs as Bear Valley opens the naming to guests in an online contest -- so get those creative juices flowing!

Communications System

Since the new ownership took over Bear Valley in 2005, the improvements and changes on the mountain and in the village have come fast and frequent. This season, patrons visiting the main lodge area will benefit from new plasma TVs that provide information on upcoming events and developments, local services, weather conditions and informative tips to aide guests in making the most of their visit to the Bear Valley area.

Since the new ownership took over Bear Valley in 2005, the improvements and changes on the mountain and in the village have come fast and frequent. This season, patrons visiting the main lodge area will benefit from new plasma TVs that provide information on upcoming events and developments, local services, weather conditions and informative tips to aide guests in making the most of their visit to the Bear Valley area.

Sound System

Bear Valley visitors will enjoy listening to a variety of music genres while relaxing and taking breaks around the main lodge. The new sound system makes the musical listening experience better than ever.

2008-09 Hours

From opening day through the spring, Bear Valley's lifts will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Resort dining opens one hour before lift access and lesson and rental services open 30 minutes prior to lift opening.

For general information about Bear Valley Mountain, call 209-753-2301 ext 0. For snow and weather information, select ext. 2. For more information on the redevelopment plans for Bear Valley, visit www.bearvalley.com.

About Bear Valley

Conveniently located on National Scenic Byway Highway 4 in the Central Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, Bear Valley Mountain is the premier year-round family skiing and boarding location. The area boasts 1,280 acres of varied terrain, more than 67 runs and two terrain parks, 1,900 vertical feet and 30 feet of average annual snowfall. More information is available at www.bearvalley.com.

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