Whoever thought that Fairfax County, VA, just outside Washington, DC, would be the home for a new ski resort? Aside from the fact that SnowSports Industries America (SIA) was headquartered there for many years, the area is home to many DC lobbyists, government officials, and members of the medical profession. Fairfax County, one of the largest in the U.S., does boast its share of skiers and snowboarders and at least four ski/snowboard retail shops.
Now, Virginia-based developer Alpine-X plans to build a new indoor snowsports resort in Fairfax County, according to a report in the industry trade publication Ski Area Management. The resort, Fairfax Peak is a 450,000-square-foot indoor facility with its longest slope at 1,700 feet. It is the first of 20 such sites planned for North America. The project has been approved by Fairfax County Government.
Alpine-X CEO John Emery and CFO Jim Calder both have experience in the indoor entertainment industry at Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., where they previously served as CEO and CFO, respectively. Great Wolf owns and operates a chain of 19 family resorts, all anchored around indoor waterparks.
Fairfax Peak is an ambitious project. It will feature an indoor snowsports venue, upscale hotel, gravity-powered mountain coaster, zip lines, multiple food and beverage outlets, and additional amenities. Guests will have year-round access to skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and snow play, as well as a host of other no-skill and low-skill activities.
If the project gets off the ground, the American Dream Big Snow facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey will no longer be the only indoor ski and snowboard facility in North America. That facility opened in December 2019 and was forced to close for months due to the pandemic. It has since reopened.
Big Snow is part of the American Dream Mall. It offers a full array of skier/snowboarder amenities.
Alpine-X principals imagine its resort model will complement traditional mountain resorts. “ There are an estimated 9.2 million active skiers and snowboarders here in the U.S., a market that would be much larger if the sport were more accessible,” said Alpine-X CEO John Emery. “We’re on a mission to address this market gap by bringing snowsports closer to home and providing access year-round, thereby eliminating the traditional challenges of cost, geography and seasonality.
The Fairfax Peak project started four years ago when Alpine-X approached Fairfax County about building atop a capped, inactive landfill the county had been seeking to repurpose. The inherent slope of the landfill makes it attractive from a construction standpoint, and its proximity to Washington will allow Alpine-X to court a broad market.