Sierra Nevada ski resorts, which got their first blast of winter on the last day of October, have new offerings this season, but the biggest news is a budding price war on lift tickets. Some dispatches from the snow front:
* Alpine Meadows in North Lake Tahoe, bucking an industry trend of ever-rising prices, is decreasing the cost of its daily lift tickets for adults to $39, down $17 from last season. "We're trying to grow our sport" by attracting both novices and former snowboarders and skiers, said spokeswoman Rachel Woods. Tickets will cost more during Christmas and New Year's week and holiday weekends: $59 for adults and $49 for those 13 to 18. (800) 441-4423, www.skialpine.com.
* Sugar Bowl in North Lake Tahoe will match the $39 price but only if you buy your ticket in advance at Safeway stores in Northern California. Starting in early December, tickets will be sold as gift cards near the checkout counters at more than 200 stores, said spokeswoman Colleen Dalton. The $39 advance price will be good on holidays too, she added. Otherwise, adult walk-up tickets (ages 23 to 59) will be $56 on weekends and holidays, $40 Mondays to Fridays; for young adults (ages 13 to 22), $42 on weekends, $40 weekdays. (530) 426-9000, www.skisugarbowl.com.
* Squaw Valley plans to fully open the second phase of its village, adding 19 shops, by Christmas, spokeswoman Katja Dahl said; earlier it added 147 resort condominiums. The first phase opened last winter. Additions include Mamasake Sushi restaurant, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and the Keoki Flagg Fine Art Gallery. Adult lift tickets will be $59, up from $58 last season. (888) 766-9321, www.squaw.com.
(The price picture at Lake Tahoe resorts was mixed as of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday. Kirkwood, for instance, said it would charge $58 for adult lift tickets, up from $54 last season. At Sierra-at-Tahoe, the price will be $49, down from $53 last year. Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe had not announced prices.)
* Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village, Nev., is completing a four-year, $60-million renovation and expansion. Last week it was to have opened a spa with 16 treatment rooms and a lagoon-style, all-weather indoor-outdoor pool. Room rates are about $225 to $900 per night in winter; some special rates, subject to availability, may be lower. (800) 233-1234, www.laketahoehyatt.com.
* Mammoth Mountain, which was to have opened last week, plans to open its high-speed gondola on Thanksgiving. The much-delayed link will transport visitors from the new Village at Mammoth to Canyon Lodge in six minutes. From there, they can catch high-speed quads up the mountain. The new gondola, with cars holding 15 passengers each, can handle 3,000 guests per hour.
Stores and restaurants at the Village at Mammoth have gradually opened in the last several months; 15 were open last week. Also new this season are a $1.5-million renovation of Mammoth Mountain Inn; two luxury cabins at Tamarack Lodge & Resort; and upgraded, live Web cams from three sites on the mountain (linked from the home page below). Adult lift tickets will be $62 weekends and holidays (an increase from $60 last season) and $57 Mondays to Fridays (same as last season). (800) 626-6684, www.mammothmountain.com.