Curtis Webb of Norwell, Massachusetts, flies off a jump at Sunday River. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

NEWRY — Six replaced and upgraded ski lifts, a mountain coaster, a mountaintop observation tower, more condos, more houses — and that’s just the start of Boyne Resorts’ multimillion-dollar investment at Sunday River Resort over the next 10 years.

The resort released Sunday River 2030 on Wednesday, a development road map for the next decade with plenty for skiers and non-skiers alike.

Some steps, like building the North Peak multi-story observation tower and renovating the 6,000-square-foot ballroom at Grand Summit Hotel, could start in the next year.

“In 2018, when we were finally purchased by our parent company Boyne Resorts, the goal was really to be able to start reinvesting in the infrastructure and the experience at Sunday River,” spokeswoman Karolyn Castaldo said. “Two years down the road from that, to be able to announce a plan of this size is just incredible, we’re really excited.”

The 2030 plan includes:

• Upgrading and replacing six of the resort’s 18 ski lifts, including Jordan Bowl, Barker Mountain and White Cap.

Work will happen in the off-season.

“Most of them are really to better the ski experience,” Castaldo said. “We don’t have specifics yet on what they will be replaced with, but there have been talks about upgrading capacity, changing some over to high-speed that are currently fixed-grip, so it’s really just making it a more modern lift system.”

• Building new Dream Maker Lodge condominiums near the Dream Maker Trail.

• New radio-frequency identification ticketing, or RFID, with “first in the world dual-frequency wireless chips” — buy a season pass or reload lift tickets onto your card and go straight from the parking lot to the lift.

• A new single-rail mountain coaster that will travel from the top of the North Peak down to South Ridge in a seated cart.

“They’re super fun,” she said. “It really is a great way to get all types of people, families young and old, to have an exciting thing to do in the summer together.”

• Renovating the Grand Summit Hotel grand ballroom.

“Conferences and weddings are some of our largest business segments,” Castaldo said. “We do about 60 weddings a year across the resort and Summit ballroom is our largest venue. . . Even in just the last five years we’ve really grown our numbers in conference attendees, so we felt it was important to get those services up to speed as well.”

• Building the new observation tower to take in the views.

“We’re really excited about that, that’s been in the works for a few years now,” Castaldo said. “We’re looking at a couple of different places around North Peak, but a short walk from the Chondola and really kind of elevate people so they can get better views of the Mahoosucs in and just give kind of a destination to our scenic lift rides in the summer and fall.”

The upgrades and additions could mean more hiring. Sunday River employees 1,500 people full- and part-time in the winter and 500 year-round.

“Even looking back five years, we’re almost double what we’ve maintained (for year-round employment), so I think the more we can add new amenities and get more visitors year-round, the better our chances are of increasing employment opportunities,” Castaldo said.

She said the company isn’t commenting on the size of the overall investment, but for just one of its plans, filings with the Oxford County Registry of Deeds indicate Boyne paid up to $6.2 million for 450 acres on Merrill Hill where Sunday River hopes to develop house lots as well as build a future ski lift. It will cost another estimated $2.2 million to finish subdivision roads and stormwater infrastructure there, according to a state Department of Environmental Protection filing.

The resort also recently purchased the Sunday River Golf Club, two miles from the Jordan Hotel, which it managed last year. The course sold for $2.3 million on Jan. 16, according to the Newry Town Office.

Greg Sweetser, executive director of the Ski Maine Association, said Boyne’s investments fit in with the statewide trend of continuing to grow resorts into multi-season draws.

“They have a lot employees, they have a lot of infrastructure and they have a lot of real attractive, off-season recreation,” he said. “I love the concept of this observation tower on North Peak.”

Maine has held steady the past few winters with about 1.3 million skier visits a year, Sweetser said. He hopes to see growth with Saddleback Mountain coming back next year and several strong children’s skiing programs underway.

Several ski areas have or plan to embrace RFID ticketing, he said, which is already big overseas.

“The thing that excites me is it keeps Maine really at the front line of everything to do with the sport, whether it’s snowmaking, whether it’s lifts, whether it’s technology, whether it’s summer, whether it’s mountain biking, Maine is not sitting still,” Sweetser said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.