Hyland Hills renovates chalet, adds parking


Alexis Hoedeman

While Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area is undergoing renovation, a temporary chalet, pictured above, is being utilized to accommodate skiers and snowboarders. While these extensive renovations can be frustrating to customers, Hyland hopes that a larger chalet, and more parking, will improve the experience for skiers and snowboarders for years to come.

Matthew Yazvec, Staff Writer

Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area is in the process of a major renovation this season. The area has operated above capacity for the last several years, and is therefore making changes to accommodate more skiers and riders.

The most major change is that they have torn down their old chalet and are currently in the process of building a new one. John Gibbs, commissioner of the Three Rivers Park District, which oversees Hyland, believes this is a much needed change. “Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area has operated above capacity for the past several years. Frankly, there were code and safety issues, and, in addition, the old chalet was really crowded. Indoor space was not adequate for restrooms, changing areas, locker space and food service. In addition to the lack of space, the building was showing its age, and after serving millions of visitors over the past 40 years, it was removed to make way for a new chalet,” Gibbs said.

This new chalet will come with a host of new features, which are expected to improve the guest experience at Hyland. “The new chalet will have more square footage for winter activities and year-round reservations; improved access for all skiers and snowboarders from their arrival to guest services, lesson programs and rentals and on to the slopes; expanded food and dining areas; designated space for group activities; additional secure locker space; larger restrooms and changing areas; and improved energy efficiency.  It will also be more accessible for persons with disabilities,” Gibbs said.

Another change Hyland has made is an expansion of their Normandale parking lot. This is because the lot at the hill only offers ten minute parking and handicapped parking. All others who wish to park at Hyland for more than ten minutes has to park in the Normandale parking lot, which is about a half mile from the hill, and then take a shuttle. This system is permanent and its purpose is to ease congestion at the hill and reduce traffic for the neighborhood on the street to Hyland. However, customers can still drop off and pick up people at the hill.

Shuttling will continue to play a major role in transportation to Hyland, and will ease accessibility for many skiers. “Shuttle service will still play an important role in getting skiers and boarders to the hill. With new dynamic signage and more shuttle capacity, the flow is expected to work quite well once folks get accustomed to the new pattern,” Gibbs said.

Despite the future of Hyland looking bright, the present is a different story. To compensate for the chalet being under construction the park has implemented a temporary structure to serve as this season’s chalet. The temporary chalet has everything the old chalet had but on a much smaller level.

The construction is probably most frustrating for the skiers who are used to parking at the hill and changing in the warm chalet. Now skiers have to park a ways from the hill and are advised to get their gear on in the freezing parking lot. “It is as bad as I expected, but Hyland still should have been able to finish the chalet over the summer. This is very inconvenient for everyone trying to use the hill,” said senior Alpine Ski Team Captain Jackson Fortney.

During the construction, lift ticket sales have declined. This has been exacerbated by the warmer weather. Since this was planned and budgeted for, Hyland does not expect it to be too large of an issue. “Weather is of course one of the big factors in attendance and lift ticket sales, but our 2014-2015 Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area budget called for an overall reduction in revenue based on reduced services in all areas of the operation. It is too early in the season to know for sure how much lower the total revenue will be. Fortunately, we were able to plan for it,” Gibbs said.

But, these complications will lead to, what Hyland believes, will be bigger and better things. “The crews made great progress in the off-season getting things going and getting to a roughed in and sheltered phase for Winter work, so construction is scheduled to be completed in time for the opening of the 2015-16 season,” Gibbs said.