Jay Peak, Known For Skiing, Makes Splash With Water Park
02/04/12 8:30AM By Amy Kolb Noyes  Download MP3
(Host) Considering this winter's lackluster snow totals, area resorts are fishing for ways to "weatherproof" ski vacations. VPR's Amy Noyes recently visited Jay Peak, where visitors are now encouraged to bring their skis, their snowboards, and their bathing suits.
(Noyes) We're nearly halfway through the ski season, though it feels like winter's just getting started.
A lack of early-season snowfall, like we've seen this winter, can be hard on Vermont's ski resorts. They rely on snowy holidays and cold snowmaking temperatures to start the season off on the right foot. A winter like this is enough to make the ski industry want to scream. But what's a ski resort to do?
Many resorts have invested in ways to entertain guests off the mountain - from restaurants to ice rinks, to performing arts centers.
Up at Jay Peak, Vermont's northernmost ski resort, they've just put $25 million into building New England's largest indoor water park.
Steve Wright is the resort's vice president in charge of sales and marketing.
(Steve Wright) "The last month has seen us bring on board the Pump House Indoor Water Park, which has sort of fundamentally changed the way that we market and deliver vacations. It's a good way to help sort-of weatherproof your vacation and to make sure there's something available if the weather goes sour."
(Noyes) So if it's not an ideal day on the snow, visitors to Jay Peak can skip the skiing or riding and try out a surfboard or waterslide instead.
The park boasts something for everyone. There's a series of water slides with varying degrees of dips and twists; a deep pool with a rock climbing wall growing up out of the water; and a wave pool where you can surf or ride a boogie board.
(Noyes) And just in case you have the desire to be locked inside a capsule, have the floor drop out from under you, free-fall 60 feet per second, then get thrown for a loop, there's La Chute.
(Wright) "La Chute is the only indoor aqua loop in North America. It starts up at right around 70 feet. We had to build a cupola at the top of the building to accommodate the capsule that folks stand in and that drops 50 to 60 feet and then throws you into a 180-degree loop and then out into a pool."
(Noyes) Jay Peak hopes unique water park features like the aqua loop and the wave pool will entice thrill seekers to book their ski vacations at Jay. Visitors seeking a slower pace can choose to simply float the river that meanders around the perimeter it all.
Meanwhile, in its first month of operation, Wright said at least 60 percent of the park's visitors have been day-trippers, many coming up from the Burlington area or down from Montreal. But that could change if it gets too crowded to accommodate the vacationers.
(Wright) "At least for this season we're allowing visitors to come up and enjoy it for the day as well. We're trying to get a handle on park capacities and compression, and things like that so we may change that in the future, but for now day visitors are welcome to the park as well."
(Noyes) So if you just have to try out that aqua loop, here's Wright's advice.
(Wright) "Get in here while you can."
(Noyes) As for me, I think I'll stick to the hot tub.
For VPR News, I'm Amy Noyes.