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Posted on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

New owner to invest $10M to update Mt. Brighton Ski Resort

By Ben Freed


Ben Levin, 14, of Hamburg Township displays his better-than-average snowboarding skills, grabbing some serious air off a jump at Mount Brighton

Lon Horwedel | Ann Arbor News file photo

Vail Resorts announced a $10 million dollar investment in newly acquired Mount Brighton Ski Resort, aimed at enhancing both the slopes and the lifts in Livingston County.

“We’re thrilled that Mt. Brighton is now a part of our family of resorts,” executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts Kirsten Lynch said in a statement.

“It’s a very special place steeped in snow sports tradition and we intend to honor that legacy by bringing additional enhancements to the ski area and creating more value for Michigan skiers and riders.”

According to a press release from the resort company, which acquired the Michigan resort in December, planned improvements to the mountain include improved snowmaking machines which will allow the resort to open earlier, extend the ski season, and offer a more consistent and high-quality snow surface.

There will be additions to the runs for skiers and snowboarders ranging from the beginning to the most advanced. New rope tows will make access to smaller hills easier, and new expanded terrain parks also will be added for experts to show off their skills.

The resort, about 20 miles north of Ann Arbor, has 26 trails and an 18-hole golf course.

The park’s seven chairlifts will also receive a face-lift, and a new quad chairlift will be installed before the 2013-2014 snow season arrives.

In addition to improvements to the resort, Vail also will be including Mount Brighton in their “Epic Pass” deal that allows skiers or snowboarders to ride at any Vail Resort throughout the snow season. The passes, which will cost $689 for adults and $359 for children, allow unlimited skiing at Vail resorts in Colorado and Lake Tahoe.

“Next winter, [Michigan skiers and riders will] be able to ski as much as they want in their own backyard and at eight world-class resorts out West,” Lynch said in the statement.

An “Epic Local Pass” also will be available for $529, $479 for university students, that allows unlimited skiing at Brighton and more limited offerings out west. A pass for just Mt. Brighton will coast $399 for adults, up four dollars from this season’s opening price of $395.

A similar $10 million investment is being made in the Afton Alps resort in Minnesota, which Vail also acquired in December. Company spokeswoman Kate Lessman said the investment will focus on the infrastructure of the resort and that there are no plans as of now to raise staffing levels at the site.

The new resorts are the first investments by Vail in ski properties east of Wyoming. Lessman said the company is extremely excited about the new opportunities that come with expanding into new ski terrain.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

"Mount" Brigthon? Ski "resort"? Uh huh. "We'll be adding a new compost pile this summer, which we hope will become a snow-covered mound next winter. We have also contracted with the City of Detroit for their trash, in an effort to build our heap an extra 25 feet.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

That's actually a good idea! Why not try to make the place bigger?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

Unfortunately, from what I've read, snow skiing is one of the industries that will disappear in the next 20 years due to global warming. The season will become shorter and shorter, making it impossible to stay solvent. Always good to see investments in the state, but this recreational activity may not be around in the future, especially in lower elevation resorts that don't have the consistent low temperatures of more mountainous areas. I'm not debating the causes of global warming, just one of the long term consequences.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

Will the Winter Olympics disappear as well? You people.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:40 a.m.

If you have faith in the almighty hockey stick as pronounced by Lord Al of Gore, then you believe in this type of climate change. But it's good the faith has these Mayan-style projections, so we can get on with business a decade or so from now.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

How about adding a tubing hill?

G. Orwell

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Big mistake. Everyone knows there will be no more snow do to man made global warming. A little sarcastic humor.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

It would be nice if the folks from Vail could import a few thousand feet to the Mt in Brighton.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

Mt. Brighton as of today is a dump. If it weren't for its proximity to Ann Arbor, there would be no reason whatsoever to go there. If the Vail people hope to make it an enticement for monied Ann Arborites to spend major cash out west, they will need to spend millions. And not just in refurbishing the lodge areas, but in a wholesale reorganization of the lifts/lines/runs. Right now it's impossible to get from one side of the front face to the other without flat-landing it because there are tow ropes in the middle. And let's hope they lower prices for daily tickets, as it's already one of the most expensive places to ski in Michigan, even though it's one of the smallest.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

I'm glad to hear Mt. Brighton's new owners are making some upgrades (the place badly needs it), but I hope they don't use it as an excuse to raise prices too much. Skiing has become much more expensive since I got into the sport 15 years ago, and much as I like to ski Vail, they're one of the most expensive resorts. Two-day lift tickets for a family of 4 shouldn't be the price of a mortgage payment. Mt. Brighton is an OK local place to learn, with some upgrades it might even be a nice place to learn, but it's never going to be Vail or Lake Tahoe, no matter how many new lifts are installed.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

Any word on the golf course portion?

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

As long as I can drive the green on #8 from the back tees I'm fine with the wacky layout. Then again, I use my 5 iron off the tee for just about every other hole on the course.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

The only things that the course lacks are a windmill and a clown face. Full-size mini golf.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

That golf course is awful, almost as bad as Huntmore.

Ben Freed

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Anyone out there ski often at Mt. Brighton? Obviously it's not "out west," but how does it stack up against other Michigan ski spots?


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

There *are* no Michigan ski spots. If you know anything about skiing.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Mt. Brighton is where I learned to ski many years ago. It's good for beginners but get's a little boring for upper intermediate and advance skiers, like all of the ski areas in lower Michigan. Like all resorts in Michigan, you spend more time in line and on the lifts than you do on the slopes. The terrain is not long or tall enough. That's just geography. I've often wondered why Brighton doesn't open up the steep back side slope. It would make for a short but fast and pretty fun slope. Maybe Vail will.

Some Guy in A2

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

One of the worst features of Mt. Brighton in the past has been the near complete lack of mature trees. Aside from the reasons an Ann Arborite would care, the trees keep the wind down, the snow in place (and not in your eyes), and hide the view of most of the slopes which makes the whole experience seem less either crowded or barren. I will check out Mt. Brighton after their renovations and give it a fair shake, but in the past, I only drove to Alpine for this and other reasons folks have already mentioned.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

I second J's comment. The *only* good thing about Brighton is the proximity to AA. However, driving the extra 30 minutes to Alpine Valley is worth it because (1) the slopes are better, and (2) the staff is *much* better. The attitude and disregard I received from the people in Mt. Brighton made me vow 4 years ago never to go there again. When I wanted to go with friends for a day with the kids, I discovered that they feel the same -- "anywhere but Brighton." Good luck to the new owner, and I hope they bring the "Big resort spirit to the neighborhood Mt. Brighton."

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

It's a landfill rather than a mountain, so runs are extremely short. I hope Genoa Twp is careful to ensure that the new snow-making machines don't turn Bauer Road into an ice-skating rink. For that matter, resurfacing Challis is a serious need, as is improving the Challis/Bauer intersection, which was apparently designed by schoolchildren on April Fool's Day.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

The best thing about Mt. Brighton is that it's close to Ann Arbor. We'd rather drive the extra 1/2 hour or so and go to Alpine Valley. Neither compare with the ski spots up north, like Boyne, or Blue Mountain in Ontario. I think it's great for Mt. Brighton to have this renovation, but the bottom line is that the slopes there just aren't that great.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Are they hiring?

Ben Freed

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

The spokesperson said they wouldn't be expanding the staff right away, but it could come next ski season. Ben


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

probably. call them and find out.