Downhill Lodge Replacement
The Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort is widely known and awarded as “the Best Place to Begin,” much in part to extensive learning programs, a concentration of beginner-friendly terrain and long-standing commitments to safety that has Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area rated as one of the safest ski areas in the region according to Ski California.
Originally built in 1971 to be a real estate sales office for the Dart Corporation, the ski lodge is now littered with issues that have caused it to be studied for remodel or replacement. In December 2019 after extensive review, the board of directors voted to replace, not remodel, the facility due to the challenges associated with its unique snowflake design and extensive building requirements that would be needed to comply with current ADA and California Building code regulations making a remodel cost-prohibitive.
Throughout the history of this replacement project, which spans many years, various member-led committees and task forces have helped lead the work done to date. Staff and the board have contracted with several third-party experts to help us understand issues related to ADA standards, best ski industry practices, community engagement and more. You can see their reports and findings in the documents linked below.
In September 2020 consultant Ward Young Associates presented the findings to their Building Program Refinement Study. After extensive conversation and analysis, the board authorized staff to move forward into the schematic design phase and procure a design team through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process.
In October 2020 Tahoe Donner entered into an agreement with PROS Consulting to conduct a thorough outreach program focused on comprehensive and unbiased gathering, analyzing and disseminating of information. The consultant has extensive experience coordinating public outreach and assisting in projects across the country. They will work collaboratively with staff, the Lodge at Downhill Ski Ad Hoc Task Force and the future design team. Work throughout this process includes:
- Member Outreach: Focus groups and a member survey
- Data Gathering and Consolidation: As documents and surveys are completed, data on the lodge will be consolidated and shared with the membership and board
- Business Plan Development: Based on member feedback, we will begin business planning that reflects the winter operations and potential uses beyond the ski season that may be identified in outreach and research
- Lodge Design: Will work with the design team to ensure the key findings are integrated into the design plan
At a recent board meeting, the board directed staff to evaluate a lodge sized in the 22,00 to 26,000 square foot range. Before the board makes a final determination on size, a schematic design needs to be approved. The design team will take the information that the outreach consultant provides and, based on crucial member outreach and previous studies, develop a conceptual plan or schematic design that meets the needs of our membership. This phase will include the potential cost to construct the lodge.
As the membership, committees, staff and board work together to provide necessary feedback on our future ski lodge, the management team looks forward to hearing everyone’s input.
LODGE AT DOWNHILL SKI PROJECT TIMELINE
Over the past several years, the project has worked its way through the Capital Projects process. This includes multiple independent studies to determine the facility needs and optimal functionality of the space. Some key milestones are shown below:
- Downhill Ski Lodge Task Force Charter (Task Force) formally adopted by board. Key task force achievements:
- Developed starting point for comfortable carrying capacity for lodge at 1,000 skiers
- Developed sizing criteria for board workshop
- Building Program Refinement Study conducted by Ward Young Associates
- September 2020 open Board Workshop with Ward Young to discuss analysis and next steps
- PROS Consulting hired to complete thorough outreach program, data gathering and consolidation, business plan development and eventual lodge design support
- Sent Architecture and Engineering request for qualifications (RFQ) to potential design teams
- Current user statistics gathered and Lodge needs analysis completed by staff
- Ski resort benchmarking analysis performed by Taskforce
- December: Board of directors approved reconstruction of the ski area lodge over a remodel
- Decision paper includes Taskforce benchmarking summary
- Member discussion groups began through Downhill Ski Resort Subcommittee
- Independent study completed by Ecosign Ski Industry Master Planning Consultant and report presented to the board
- Project analysis decision paper approved by the board which allowed the project to move to phase 3 in the Capital Projects Process
- Downhill Ski Resort Subcommittee created by General Plan Committee
- Lodge Expansion Architectural Feasibility Report by Todd Gordon Mather (TGM) completed
- Lodge Expansion Structural Feasibility Report by Linchpin Structural Engineering completed
- Ecosign Ski Industry Master Planning Consultant engaged
- Membership communication process began
- Dec. 2020 – Architectural and Engineering Request for Qualifications
- Sept. 2020 – Ward Young Architecture and Planning Downhill Ski Lodge Building Program Refinements Study (includes recommendation for size and configuration of spaces for new lodge)
- Dec. 2019 – Decision Paper to replace Downhill Ski Lodge
- Dec. 2019 – Information Paper to replace Downhill Ski Lodge
- May 2018 – Downhill Ski Resort Decision Paper to move the project to Stage 3 of the Capital Projects Process (Conceptual Design)
- April 2018 – ECOsign Technical Assessment and Resort Concept / Master Plan
- June 2017 – Information Paper to update the board of directors on the process of hiring a master plan consultant for the Downhill Ski
TASK FORCE ANALYSIS + 2020 PROJECT WORK
This portion of the Lodge Replacement webpage is dedicated to documents generated and referred to by the Lodge Task Force, launched in January of 2020. Thus far, this section contains material used by the Task Force from inception up to the board workshop in September 2020. Documents are listed in chronological order for readers to capture an understanding of the analytics and critical thinking made by the Task Force through the year.
- Skier Visit History 1-18-20: Staff developed this skier visit table that shows the skier visit numbers for every day of the ski season. The Task Force used this to develop what the peak period days were and the number of days per season that those days occurred.
- Downhill Ski Usage per Day 2-17-20: This table provides a summary of the ski visit history table above. The table was used to show how many days the resort exceeds certain capacities per season (700, 800, 900, 1000, 1,100, 1,200, 13,000). It also references snowfall volumes, showing how varying snow years impact ski resort use.
- Task Force Update to GPC 3-2-20: The slide deck provided the General Plan Committee (GPC) an update of Task Force progress as well as introduced a timeline for staff to engage a third-party architectural firm to drive a lodge programming analysis.
- Lodge Sizing Task Force Decision Criteria Consolidation 3-19-20: The Task Force documented the sizing criteria ideas.
- Lodge Sizing Task Force Criteria Summary 3-19-20: Bulleted summary of the Task Force Decision criteria ideas.
- Ward Young Task Force Meeting Update on Scope of Work 4-6-20: Ward Young Architects updated the Task Force on the firm’s scope of work. Details of the discussion can be read in the corresponding minutes.
- Ward Young Task Force Update 5-4-20: Ward young updated the Task Force on programming analysis and schedule.
- Ward Young Working Paper 5-13-20: Ward Young generated a working paper containing study assumptions that would ultimately drive the programming analysis.
- Best Operating Practices 5-14-20: This brainstorming list was generated by the Task Force. The list is not meant to be a polished document but one ensuring that best practices are accounted for by the Task Force when reviewing the programming effort.
- Ward Young Planning Criteria Questions 5-18-20: Generated by Ward Young. The document provided baseline planning criteria for the programming effort. The Task Force provided feedback/input.
- Ward Young Update to Task Force on Draft Programming Analysis Report 8-5-20: Ward Young presented their draft programming analysis as well as Staff’s take on reducing service levels/carrying capacity enough to reduce square footage estimates to 26k sq. ft. This review provided the basis from which Ward Young could prepare for the Board workshop.
- Downhill Ski Lodge Board Workshop 9-14-20: Board workshop summarizing final Ward Young programming analysis, Task Force member final sizing opinions, board sizing discussion and approach moving forward. The final Ward Young report is attached to this website.
HOW TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK
PROS Consulting is developing an important member survey that will be distributed to all members in December. Please watch your email inbox this month to participate.
You may also provide feedback via our online form. Member feedback is an important component in the process of rebuilding the ski lodge, and we hope all interested members will participate. The consultant will consolidate all survey data and feedback for presentation to the board and members.
- September 2020 – Ward Young Architecture and Planning Downhill Ski Lodge Building Program Refinements Study (includes recommendation for size and configuration of spaces for new lodge)
- April 2018 – ECOsign Technical Assessment and Resort Concept / Master Plan
- April 2017 – Linchpin Structural Engineering feasibility report for remodeling existing Downhill Ski Lodge
- April 2017 – TGM Architect preliminary feasibility report for remodeling existing Downhill Ski Lodge
Committee Meeting Minutes