Mountain Blog

Placing the centerpiece
Brian Lawson - Thursday, April 23, 2015

It’s a question that’s been begged by illustrations from Crystal’s master plan and asked any number of times over the last 25 years, “When will you build the village?” Well, if you seek a pleasant village, look about you. What’s missing is that center piece to the puzzle. Not for much longer.

This summer begins a $10 million expansion for Crystal Mountain starting in The Backyard with six new slopes and a triple chairlift but front and center, figuratively and literally, will be a 25,000 square-foot, LEED-certified addition to the Inn at the Mountain. This is perhaps the most transformative project in the resort’s history and one that will add a new energy and vitality to the heart of the village.

It will be a space that connects every corner of this mountain community, a new gathering place where meaningful connections are made over a cup of coffee, glass of wine or pint of craft beer. Moments will be shared viewing the slopes from a rooftop plaza and taking vows in beautifully manicured gardens within the park below. Inside a new specialty grocery you’ll find tastes and treats that capture the distinctive flavor of northern Michigan.

Presales are currently underway for the eight, two- and three-bedroom Inn Residences - with eighth-shares beginning at $85,900. The design offers a versatility unlike anything Crystal has done in the past. The Residences will have a contemporary vibe with natural accents and a layout that make it possible for this phase to be used as 20 individual hotel rooms and five garden suites. As a result of this thoughtful design and its special features, an owner can spend time at the mountain and rent out a room without sacrificing privacy.

Over half the shares needed to put shovels in the ground have already been sold. Crystal anticipates breaking ground in early-fall (2015) with construction taking approximately 12 months. You can find more information, renderings and elevations online and if you’d like more details about ownership in the Residences give a call to Karyn Thorr, Nancy Call or Joan O’Neill at Crystal Mountain Realty, 800.968.2911.

Stay tuned to the Mountain Blog for the latest expansion updates on new slopes in The Backyard and the Inn Residences project.

Get Back into the Swing of Things
Abbey Neerken - Friday, April 10, 2015

Crystal Mountain Driving Range - April 10, 2015

It’s time to dust off those clubs and get to the golf course, or at least the range! After all, the range has been open since Wednesday with the Betsie Valley to open Saturday (April 11) and the Mountain Ridge likely to follow in the next week or so. The Masters is on television and the forecast is calling for temps in the 60s and sun this weekend. If you don’t feel it already, you’ll be getting that “itch” to get on the course. Tee off the season right by doing these five things before your first round:

1. Ease into it 

Use it or lose it, remember that? When you stop doing a sport for a while, like all winter, you lose muscle memory. Don’t worry; it happens to everybody so ease back into it by getting the feel of your swing again. Start by swinging without a club, then get to the range. “Start with high lofting clubs and work your way to low lofting clubs,” says, Ed Laprade, director of golf instruction at Crystal Mountain.  Start small by chipping or putting and work your way up to the driver. You don’t want to kick off the season by shanking one on the first tee!

2. For the sake of your back, Please Stretch

Throwing your back out is not going to help your game. You don’t have to spend an hour at yoga before hitting the course or range, but you’ll want to warm up those muscles you haven’t used in a while. “Even beginning a simple workout regime to get those muscles working again can make a world of difference,” says Crystal Mountain Director of Golf, Brad Dean. His workout routine recently changed for golf season, and although he is sore now, Brad agrees that it is better than feeling sore during the peak of the golf season.

3. Get Real

Remember, it’s been an ice box for nearly five months so make sure your expectations of the course, the game, and especially yourself are realistic. “You cannot expect to play a mid-season game right out of the blocks,” says Laprade.  Don’t get frustrated just be happy, you’re playing golf again! 

4. Seek Help from a Professional

Bragging rights will be on the line soon enough, so get a few strokes up on your buddies by taking a lesson. Crystal Mountain Golf School has made Golf Magazine’s Top 25 in America twice. Crystal’s instructors have worked with every type of player from those who’ve played in The Masters and US Open to countless who have never even picked up a club. A pro can identify and fix that hitch in your swing or short-game. And if it’s you’re club’s fault (even though a good carpenter never blames the tools), they can help get you a custom fit. 

5. Spring Cleaning

Once you’ve exhumed your clubs from the basement or garage (try not to inhale too much dust), first make sure they’re all accounted for and get last year’s dirt and grass out of every groove and give them a nice shine. Go out get the necessities: a couple dozen balls, tees, new towel and while you’re at it, a new pair of shoes – you’ve earned it.

Congratulations! You are mentally and physically ready for five-and-a-half glorious months on the fairways and greens. See you on the first tee!

Crystal Mountain Driving Range - April 10, 2015

The Backyard, Coming Winter 2015/16
Brian Lawson - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

This spring Crystal Mountain will be replacing this shed with a chairlift terminal surrounded by six new downhill trails. You’ve probably skied or boarded right past it countless times on your way to the North Face.

Based on some of the tracks we’ve found back there, some of you reading this blog have probably already tested this terrain. The Backyard is located straight back from the Crystal Clipper High-speed Quad nestled in a draw between The Ridge and North Face. The new complex will be serviced by a triple chairlift and include a mix of green (beginner) and predominantly blue (intermediate) trails.

The two outside runs will share terrain with Last Chance (The Ridge) and Tammy’s Turn (North Face) before breaking off into new territory. Here’s a look at how it sets up:

As the snow thaws, crews will begin work on the project with trails being shaped and lift towers and terminals installed over the course of the summer. These six new trails will be ready for next winter (2015/16) bringing Crystal Mountain’s total to 56 - ironically, the same year the ski area was established, 1956.

There is much work to be done over the next eight months - including names for the new trails - so stay tuned for updates!

Well done, Anika!
Abbey Neerken - Monday, April 06, 2015


Well done, Anika! Traverse City’s Anika Dy, and her coach Scott Wilson, Crystal Mountain’s Director of Player Development, certainly have reason to celebrate. The eighth grade golfing protégé and her coach   traveled to Georgia’s famed Augusta National course last weekend, where Anika qualified for the prestigious annual Drive, Chip and Putt finals for junior golfers. On the course, Anika executed an astonishing 15-foot putt, prompting gasps and applause from the crowds! Her incredible putt gained the attention of two-time Master’s champion Bubba Watson, who was on hand to give Anika an on-the-spot congratulatory handshake.

Watch her putt!

Competing in a field of 80 junior golfers, Anika finished sixth overall in the age 12-13 girls group.

All 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship scores.

Anika first became interested in the sport of golf when she started tagging along with her dad as he golfed. As with most kids, she tried a variety of sports. But her love for golf continued to bring her back to the course. Five years ago, she met Coach Scott Wilson at the Novi Golf Show, and shortly after she joined Crystal’s Junior Elite program. Along with her younger sister Anci who is a sixth-grader and another rising golf star, she now practices year round.  

While at the Masters, Anika and her sister Anci were able to meet with Augusta National member and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, along with other influential industry and legendary golf professionals. 

Anika and Anci Dy with Augusta National member and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Anika and Anci Dy with Michael Breed, PGA’s National Teacher of the Year in 2012

The finals were shown live last weekend on The Golf Channel. The Dy family along with the families of the other 79 junior golfers, arrived in Augusta Friday. Participants practiced at the Augusta National practice facility on Saturday, attended a banquet that night and then competed Sunday morning.

Drive, Chip and Putt is a joint initiative by the Masters Tournament, the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America. For more information about the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship visit

Learn more about Crystal Mountain's Golf School, a GOLF Magazine Top 25 Golf School that offers over 100 golf schools, clinics and programs to every level of golfer, and youth specific golf programming, by visiting

Anika Dy looks to drive, chip and putt to a title at Augusta National
Brian Lawson - Friday, April 03, 2015

While teaching a junior clinic at a golf show in Novi five years ago, Scott Wilson, Crystal Mountain’s Director of Player Development, met eight year old Anika Dy.

“I asked her when she started playing golf and she said, ‘When I was six,’” says Wilson. “I asked if she’d played any tournaments and she said yes. I asked how she did in those tournaments and she answered, ‘I won them.’”

This weekend the now 13-year-old Anika will be looking for another victory on one of golf’s most historic stages, Augusta National. By just about anyone’s standards you could already chalk this one up in the win column. She is one of just 10 girls in her age division and 40 from across the nation who will be competing in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals to be held on Sunday at the home of The Master’s. Two drives, two chips and two putts (from three different distances) means you have to make each swing count.

“Anika had to compete against kids from Michigan, Ohio and western Pennsylvania to get here,” adds Wilson. “But if you spend just a few minutes with her it’s easy to see how she takes everything in stride and excels in these situations.”

Anika and her family moved to northern Michigan in 2011 because they liked the lifestyle and not just to participate in Crystal’s Junior Elite program but to enjoy all four seasons - she’s also an avid snowboarder. Like any kid should, she’s tried any number of sports but her heart always brings her back to golf which is her main focus. And focused is precisely what she and Coach Wilson will be over the next two days.

The two will spend time practicing this afternoon at the Capital City Club just north of Atlanta. Tomorrow there will be another practice session at a club in Augusta before the main event on Sunday at Augusta National. The competition begins Sunday, April 5 at 9am and you can watch live at

Good luck Anika!

Picture Your Wedding At Crystal
Nancy Story - Monday, March 30, 2015

Picture yourself on your wedding day. Where do you imagine it to be?  Using Crystal Mountain as your canvas, we’ll help you paint the perfect portrait of a memorable wedding.

          It starts with no worries on the day’s details. Having the ceremony and reception in one venue is convenient and eliminates many logistical hassles. Crystal Mountain offers a variety of postcard-pretty places on premise, from the wooded glens of Michigan Legacy Art Park, to scenic mountain top celebrations accessed by chairlift rides, to spacious indoor spaces – all providing gorgeous backdrops for those memorable photos you’ll cherish forever.  


Whether you’re hosting friends from all over, couples with kids, or large extended family groups, we have accommodation options to suit every pocketbook. Hotel-style rooms, comfortable condos, and  roomy vacation homes provide plenty of choices for your guests.  If you’re envisioning an entire wedding weekend, our wedding team can coordinate the entire agenda, from a “Glad You’re Here” gathering as guests arrive, to a farewell brunch as an appetizing send-off.  And if you’re not from the area, let our experienced staff assist you with connections and suggestions for local stylists, florists, live entertainment, and more. We’ll help you plan your event to infuse joy in every moment. With a wide array of resort activities available, you and your guests can focus on fun while we focus on the service and hospitality that your special occasion deserves.


That service includes the big one: FOOD.  Our wedding coordinators can design a menu customized to your needs, from small plates to formal, appetizers to desserts, action stations and farm-to-table freshness. Northern Michigan is foodie heaven, and our staff can assist you in choosing the perfect options to deliver a delectable wedding feast.

 Don’t forget to pamper yourself there’s the opportunity to take advantage of the Crystal Spa credit included with our wedding packets.  Take time to relax and re-energize in the Crystal Spa, where the bridal couple receives special credit to unwind before the Big Event.

AND IN 2015 -if you’re a Snowsports enthusiast or winter sports wannabe, you’re in luck. Bridal couples booking a Crystal Mountain wedding within the year (April 2015 through December 31, 2015) will each receive a season pass for the 2015/16 ski season.


Make sure your wedding paints the perfect picture of one of life’s greatest occasions. Crystal Mountain’s wedding coordinators take care of the details so that saying “I do” is easy and worry-free! But don’t just take it from us. Here’s what a recently wedded couple had to say about their Crystal wedding day:


Spring Slope Manicuring
Nancy Story - Sunday, March 22, 2015



As early spring tiptoes in, and the slopes still hold a full load of product, grooming habits make the difference.

Grooming guru Jason Harris and mountain manager Mike Cutler, take note of how spring temperatures affect the hills.

“Normally, it takes two groomers about ten hours each to groom 100% of our groomable terrain,” noted Harris . Once the roller coaster cycle of spring temperatures begins, though, grooming habits can change daily.

 “Spring conditions mean that the time spent grooming can take about 15 hours if the snow is already soft, and going once over the runs is enough,” Cutler said.  But that time stretches to 30 hours if conditions warm up during the day, and then get rock hard at night. “That’s when we have to go over each run a number of times,” he said.

Harris indicated that when it’s really icy, they’ll send out three groomers rather than two, to ensure the silky corduroy that skiers rush to carve up when the lifts open first thing in the morning.  And how does that icy surface transform into corduroy? It’s all in the tiller, which acts like a roto-tiller to churn up hard snow surfaces. Corduroy is the finely ridged surface of the snow resulting from that effort. 

“Typically, the depth of cut is in the 1-3” range depending on the conditions,” Cutler said. “We’ll go down 3” for (tilling) hard surfaces and about one inch for corn snow and slushy conditions.”  Crystal’s winch cat, purchased two years ago, has made spring grooming much easier than it used to be, he added. With the winch cat, groomers are able to pull snow from the base of the slopes back up to the top, thus filling in low spots and keeping the top from getting too icy. (Apparently snow, too, can be recycled).

Spring skiing requires skillful manicuring on the part of our groomers to keep the product fresh.  Good grooming habits stretch out the ski season, cold nighttime temperatures mean snow is keeping its solid grip on the slopes, and skiing into April this year means there are still plenty of corduroy mornings ahead!



A Few Good Skiers | parody of a classic film scene
Brian Lawson - Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Skiers and snowboarders are a special breed. Their pursuit of fresh powder, whatever the conditions, is difficult to explain and often misunderstood. Not unlike Colonel Nathan Jessep in the iconic film, A Few Good Men. The parody below re-imagines the movie's classic courtroom scene as Jessep defends himself under cross-examination for skiing the Polar Vortex. If you can identify with the sentiment, chances are you've been out enjoying the trails the last couple of weeks.

Fair Warning to Parents: We've done the text equivalent to bleeping out two words but did not delete them entirely (parental discretion is advised).

Colonel Jessep, did you actually go skiing in this weather? 

You don't have to answer that question!
I'll answer the question! You want answers? 
I think I'm entitled to... 
You want answers? 
I want the truth! 
You can't handle the truth!
Son, we live in a world that has snow, and that snow has to be exploited by people with skis. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater passion than you could possibly fathom. You weep about the Polar Vortex, and you curse the weatherman. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the wind chill, while frigid, brings with it the promise of sweet corduroy and fresh powder. And my pursuit of that powder, while insane and incomprehensible to you, is the reason there’s a winter in the first place. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at après ski parties, you want me on that snow, you need me on that snow. We use words like layering, neck gaiters, boot warmers. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent adapting to the elements. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under a blanket of fresh powder, and then questions the manner in which I shred it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you click into your bindings, and grab a chair. Either way, I don't give a d@!n what you think you are entitled to. 
Did you actually ski in this stuff? 
I did what I...
Did you ski in the Polar Vortex!?

You're d@!n right I did! 

Where Is the Love? Find it at Crystal Mountain!
Abbey Neerken - Thursday, February 12, 2015

Find relaxation, romance and recreation this Valentine’s Day at Crystal Mountain. Spend the day being pampered on site at the award-wining Crystal Spa, or explore the property looking for a prize-redeemable heart in our Where Is the Love scavenger hunt. Finish the day with a tasty entrée from the Thistle Pub and Grille or Wild Tomato dining room, or order out from the Little Betsie Bistro.

Planning to hit the slopes this Valentine’s Day? Look for the hearts and win a prize in our Where is the Love Scavenger Hunt – including a 2015/16 Premier Ski Season Pass!

Hearts of all sizes are hidden throughout the Crystal Mountain property, both outdoors and inside. From the ski slopes to the Clipper Café, from Tickets and Rental to the Burton Riglet Park, hearts are everywhere! Return your heart to the location specified on the heart, and redeem it for prizes ranging from Crystal Mountain swag, resort gift cards and spa vouchers to lift ticket discounts. The smallest heart is redeemable for a 2015/16 Season Pass! Our heart hunt begins at 9am on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, and ends when the ski lifts close.

One prize per person, any age can participate. Hearts cannot be redeemed after February 14, 2015 – so be sure to turn yours in on Saturday. Hearts have no cash value and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

Visit the Park at Water’s Edge and Explore the Outdoors with your Valentine:

Dog Sledding* from 9am-4pm
Ice Skate, Fat Tire Snow Bike, and Snowshoe rentals at the Park at Water's Edge
Edge Adventure Course, 4pm-10pm
Horse-Drawn Surrey Rides, 6pm-10pm
Moonlight Snowshoe Hike*, 7pm
•Outdoor Laser Tag* 8pm,8:45pm and 9:30pm

Kids can stop by the Park at Water's Edge for FREE face painting and a fun Heart Search for candy!
*Reservations required. Call the Park at Water's Edge, 888.968.7686 ext. 7000.

Celebrate your love with limited time spa services and special – great for you or your valentine!

Tranquil Couples Massage Cost: $178 per couple
Enhance your Couples Massage with our Infinitely Loving Package for only $29 per guest: Your massages will be enhanced with our popular Glove Exfoliation Treatment, including His & Hers exfoliation gloves to take home. Following your massage, enjoy a 20-minute Chinese Jasmine infused private bath for two complete with a glass of champagne & gourmet Belgium chocolate. Available: February 1-13, 2015. Not valid Tuesdays or Saturdays.

Reserve your spa appointment today by calling (844) 260-3673. Infinitely Loving Package is not available as a stand-alone service. It is only available when booked for 2 guests in combination with a Couples Massage. A 16% adjustable gratuity and 2% service charge will be added to all spa services. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability. Not valid in combination with any other discounts.

Valentine's Gift Certificate Special

Now through Valentine's Day (Feb 14, 2015), purchase a Crystal Spa Gift Certificate for a 50-minute Tranquil Massage, Espresso Mud Body Scrub or Pure Results Facial for only $99. Or, purchase an 80-minute Gift Certificate for a Tranquil Massage or Pure Results Facial for only $139. Includes gratuity. Gift Certificate is valid for one year from date of purchase. Gift certificate includes 16% gratuity and 2% service charge. Excludes: 12/25/15 – 1/2/16. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability. Not valid in combination with any other discounts.

Enjoy a tasty Valentine’s meal when you order off the Special Valentine’s Day Menu at Thistle Pub & Grill! Menu is available Saturday, February 14 – Sunday, February 15.


Prince Edward Island Mussels | sautéed with shallots, tomatoes, and garlic, finished with sherry and fresh basil, garlic butter crostini
Korean Tacos | crisp bao bun, slow-roasted pork, cucumber cilantro slaw, aioli


Grilled Beef Tenderloin* | marbled mashed potatoes, whipped Gorgonzola butter, haystack onion
Duck Breast* | seared with crispy skin, truffled forbidden rice, apricot cilantro jam
Market Fish | locally raised barramundi baked with fresh herbs and preserved lemon, bulgur salad


Chocolate Fondue | creamy dark chocolate flambéed tableside with fresh strawberries, caramel coffee cake bites, and brownies
Dual Sorbet | house-made strawberry ginger and fresh kiwi

Last Call
Nancy Story - Sunday, February 01, 2015


It was just a quiet send-off.  After 40 years, Michael Call put in his final day at Crystal Mountain last month. He slipped out the side door of the outdoor maintenance shop - that small, unremarkable brown pole building tucked behind some evergreens at the edge of the day skier parking lot. Most people don’t notice it, nor do they have any idea of what happens there. But it’s really a remarkable place.

It’s where the nuts and bolts of this place are put together and greased to make anything and everything outdoors operates. Wipe out that building and that crew, and there would be no mountain - but no one knows that. These are not the front liners, these snowmakers and lift mechanics and groomers and utilities overseers. They are not the ones you see greeting guests, going to meetings, making appointments. They wear Carhartts, not dress shirts, and will likely never be seen by our guests.

As the now former vice-president of mountain operations, Michael was the lynchpin of outdoor maintenance. You might say he went from setting up snow guns to becoming top gun. From moving snow to moving dirt, Michael’s been overseer on most of the physical changes that have taken place at Crystal over the last four decades.

Yet forty years at Crystal wasn’t Michael’s original plan. After graduating from the University of Michigan and returning home to Benzie County, where his folks had a fruit orchard, his plan was to work at the local ski area for just one winter.  He applied to be a snowmaker.

Local entrepreneur George Petritz,  he of the frozen fruit pie fame, had taken over the reins of Crystal in the late 60s – ostensibly, just to help put the local ski hill back on financial track, and then sell the place. “But I grew to like it,” Petritz once said. “So I stuck around”.  He hired Michael to make snow for the winter of 1974-75 – and Michael, like George, grew to like the place. So he too, stuck around. When a gal named Nancy Mullen joined the Crystal Mountain staff as the first member of the area’s inaugural marketing department, Michael took note. And then he took interest.  Two years later, the couple married, thus beginning the saga of the Calls, who together helped craft the foundation for what is today Crystal Mountain.

The decades don’t reflect the untold hours Michael spent shaping the place. Building lifts, expanding snowmaking, cutting new trails,  upgrading everything underground and over ground all moved from ideas into action by Michael and his crew.  Call’s four children – two boys and twin girls – grew up on the mountain, with both parents working here. Nancy moved from marketing into Crystal’s real estate office, the Call kids moved off to college and life beyond school, and Michael continued to toil at Crystal…..until now.

A quiet send-off.  No marching bands or dancing girls. Fifteen people were on hand in the outdoor maintenance shop to bid an unofficial farewell. Of those 15, each had an average of 26 years of Crystal Mountain experience, meaning there was over 400 years of service to Crystal Mountain milling around the shop that day.  The guy with the most mileage on these hills, though, is moving on from grounds to grapes, from winters to wines. Yep, he’s started a vineyard on the same acreage where his family’s orchards once grew. It’s an appropriate transition of sorts, aging together with fine wine.

Thank you for forty years, Mr. Call.