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Fake it 'Til You Make It: Hunter Mountain's First 'Snow'

As colder temperatures set in, snow-making at Hunter Mountain is in full swing. Known for their technologically advanced snow-making system, Hunter Mountain has the fastest recovery time of any ski area in the world, turning out 40 tons of snow per minute. According to their website, Hunter can cover an acre with a foot of snow every hour, and since 1980, has been capable of providing 100 percent snow coverage, making them pioneers in snow-making technology. With such impressive snow conditions, it is no wonder that Hunter is a highly sought out winter destination, creating a reliable seasonal boost in Greene county tourism. Despite the name, Hunter Mountain is actually comprised of three separate mountains, two terrain parks, and 240 skiable acres. The ski slopes opened to the public Nov. 29, and the 2013-2014 season is expected to draw in the usual crowd of thousands, from experts to complete novices. Thirty percent of the trails are dedicated to beginners, with 30 precent reserved for intermediate skiers, 27 percent for the more advanced, and 13 percent devoted to the experts. Skiers and snow lovers of all ages flock to the town of Hunter to hit the slopes at what has come to be known as the Catskills’ premier winter resort destination. Founded by brothers Orville and Israel Slutzky, the Hunter Mountain Ski Resort dates back over 50 years. Its rise to success wasn't without a few setbacks, however, and the slopes were not always so smooth. In fact, the State once believed the mountain was too jagged and rocky to be suitable for skiing. But the Slutzky brothers were determined to open the resort, and in 1958 found developers who funded their project, which they called The Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl. Built by the brothers' own construction company, the lifts and lodge opened in 1960, with a few weak seasons to follow. With grave losses early on, the resort's developers declared bankruptcy within three years, leaving the project in the hands of Israel and Orville. The brothers' channeled their life-long love of skiing into building a world-renowned winter sports destination, and by the mid-1960s business was soaring. Part of the reason for the boon was clever marketing and a second ski lift, but snow-making is really what put the Slutzky brothers on the map. In 1980, when the Lake Placid Olympics experienced a shortage of snow, the Slutzky brothers sent their team and equipment to the site to make sure the Winter Games continued. They raised the bar even higher when in 1989 they became the first resort to install an automated snow-making system. Continually updating their equipment and staying at the cutting edge of technology maintained their reputation as a leader in the industry. Orville Slutzky was well known for his philanthropic efforts in the Greene county community, and both brothers managed the resort well into heir 80s. Israel Slutzky died at age 92 in 2006, and Orville passed away in Apr. 2013 at the age of 96. The resort is now run by their children, who continue to make improvements and keep Hunter Mountain in the spotlight as a leader in the world of artificial snow. For the 2013-2014 season, the resort has invested a million dollars into new equipment, including a new lift called Carpet One, new snow groomers, a high definition live webcam, and a free mobile app. Encapsulated within Hunter Mountain’s Learning Center is the Snowsports School. Director Jen Schmidt is excited about the resort’s new additions because Hunter Mountain is known for being a great place for those who are just learning to ski in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. “The addition of Carpet One, along with our new terrain-based teaching process will make learning to ski or ride easier and more fun than ever.” The Snowsports School offers a variety of classes and workshops for skiers of all levels, with a focus on families and beginners. Fourteen trails are designated for beginners, and the process of ticket purchasing, equipment rentals, and getting to the lifts is facilitated by a team of knowledgeable instructors. Visit the website for detailed information on seasonal programs and special offers for both adults and kids. After an exhilarating day on the slopes, you can choose from three different lodging options, all offering a wide range of amenities. The Pinnacle condominiums and Hunter condominiums are both family-friendly and comfortable, and provide easy access to the slopes and trails. Up to six bedroom units are available, so large families have plenty of room to play and relax. If you're looking for something more decadent, relax at the Kaatskill Mountain Club, where you can pamper yourself with a full service spa, sauna, health club, and heated pool. Studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites all offer full amenities, while the Penthouse and Executive Suites offer a more luxurious experience. There are over a dozen eateries on site, from fine dining to snack shops, pub food and three fully stocked bars. Two retail stores provide everything you need from custom fitted boots to ski tuning, so there is no need to leave the property during your stay. For a complete brochure of all Hunter Mountain has to offer this season, visit their website: www.huntermtn.com.

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