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Idaho ski resort plans big upgrades

New lodge, lifts and on-site housing to come

By Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
Published: November 20, 2021, 12:27pm

BOISE, Idaho — Major upgrades are coming to an Idaho ski resort, the first expansion of its size at the mountain in more than a decade, according to resort officials.

Brundage Mountain Resort, which changed hands last year after being family-owned since its creation in 1959, announced that it will build a new base lodge, break ground on residential lots on-site, and upgrade lifts and terrain as part of a 10-year master plan.

Bob Looper, president of the McCall-area resort, told the Idaho Statesman in a video interview that the plan is the realization of upgrades in the works since the previous owners, the DeBoer family, brought Looper on board in the mid-2000s.

Looper said that around that time, former owner Judd DeBoer had just completed a land exchange with the Forest Service, created master plans and finalized development details. But the project was put on ice, Looper said.

“About that time, the economy hit the skids,” he said. “And the good news is Brundage did not turn any dirt. It all came to a screeching stop.”

More than a decade later, Looper said the resort is in serious need of the upgrades. Brundage will break ground on a new base lodge — a 20,000-square-foot facility located next to the current lodge — next year. Brundage expects it to be finished by the 2023-24 ski season.

Looper said the new lodge will link to the existing children’s center and will feature a Mountain Adventure Center, new food and drink options, and greater seating capacity for guests. The remodel will also eliminate stairs between the lodge and nearby Bluebird Lift, allowing for a smoother and safer transition on and off the mountain.

The old lodge eventually will be torn down, Looper said. He said parts of the building — the bathrooms in particular — were not in any condition to renovate (though pieces will likely be saved and reused around the resort).

“(Our guests) love a lot of the nostalgia, the special things about Brundage. … I’m not so certain that the existing day lodge and the bathrooms are part of that love,” he said. “It’s 20,000 square feet of history and dysfunction right now. And so we can’t just wipe it clean.”

The resort will also break ground on residential sites next year. The residential development will be the first of its kind at the resort, featuring 21 single-family home sites, 22 cottages and 45 townhouses in the Northwoods area to the northwest of the lodge. The development will be on 37 acres near the Lower Rodeo ski run.

It’s the first phase of planned residential development that ultimately will cover about 388 acres that were first approved for residential use in 2009. Looper said most of the homes will be sold to private owners, while some will remain Brundage property and used as rentals.

“We have to get some lodging on the mountain to even out our peak days and our midweek use,” Looper said.

The development is also expected to help fund some of the improvements on the mountain, including lift and terrain expansions and upgrades. Details of the mountain expansion weren’t immediately clear, though Looper said they’ll fulfill some prior master plan elements that never came to fruition. The upgrades will include mountain bike trails for summer use as well.

Looper said the resort will strive to live up to the moniker of “the last great place,” given to it in 2016 by now-defunct Skiing magazine.

“It’s still going to be that last great place when we’re done with it,” he said.