The Story of Boyne Highlands

With skiing on the upswing and Boyne Mountain doing well, Everett Kircher, founder of Boyne Resorts, figured it was time for another move.

Harbor Highlands, a ski area in Harbor Springs, was founded by 10 local businessmen, and opened with one slope and a rope tow during the 1955/56 season. Through the next few years, Harbor Highlands expanded adding more trails, uphill transportation, and a small day lodge. But the owners soon ran out of money, amassed considerable debt, and were forced to close. When Kircher decided to buy the property, he insisted on paying off the creditors as well as making sure that all the shareholders recovered their full investments. He said at the time, "I'd like to go into the area with everybody feeling happy about the deal and about Boyne."

Kircher committed the next year to planning and went on to purchase an additional 2,900 acres of land adjacent to Harbor Highlands in order to carry out his vision of a large year-round ski and summer resort. During planning, Kircher, his wife, and six-year-old son, John, were squeezed together on a double-place chairlift at Boyne Mountain when Kircher thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have a three-passenger chairlift instead of just a two? A triple?" And so the phone call was made to chairlift manufacture, Riblet, and they agreed it could be done. When Boyne Highlands opened on December 26, 1963, guests were greeted by not one, but two, of the first triple chairlifts ever built. The resort also offered 11 trails and five lifts, the Highlands Inn with dining room, cocktail lounge, and swimming pool, cafeteria, and the previously built Highlands Lodge.

Boyne Highlands was instantly praised. The New York Times wrote, "The new development underscores the fact that Northern Michigan, once known only as a summer resort area, now attracts sports enthusiasts and vacationists on a year-round basis. Winter sports, in fact, have grown phenomenally in this region."

By the Years

    • 1947
    • Boyne USA Resorts was founded — now called Boyne Resorts.
    • 1963
    • World's first three-place chairlifts installed at Boyne Highlands. Boyne Highlands Resort opens on December 26, 1963.
    • 1966
    • The Heather golf course opens — designed by Robert Trent Jones and the first in Boyne Resorts' collection.
    • 1970s
    • Patented Boyne Snowmaker (a.k.a. Highlands Snow Gun) introduced.
    • 1971
    • Main Lodge expanded.
    • 1974
    • The Moor golf course opens.
    • 1978
    • The Young Americans Dinner Theatre opens — now second longest running dinner theatre in America.
    • 1987
    • Heather Highlands Inn (phase one) opens and is the only condo-hotel at the resort.
    • 1989
    • Donald Ross Memorial golf course opens. Convention Center and south wing of cafeteria opens.
    • 1990
    • Country Club and Golf Center opens — now called Country Club of Boyne. Michigan's first high-speed quad chairlift installed at Boyne Highlands.
    • 1993
    • Heather Highlands Inn expands to 128 rooms from 72 rooms. The Bartley House is purchased.
    • 1995
    • North Peak ski area expansion opens with 12 additional runs, 2 additional chairlifts. Arthur Hills golf course opens (first 9 holes).
    • 1999
    • Arthur Hills golf course expands to 18 holes.
    • 2006
    • Michigan's first lift-served Bike Park and Midwest's longest Magic Carpet conveyor lift opens. Introduction of the exclusive Boyne Bed sleep system. The First Tee of Boyne Highlands begins operation.
    • 2007
    • Proprietary snowmaking technology, Boyne Low-E fan gun, introduced.
    • 2008
    • Resort selected as host of Golf Channel's Big Break X: Michigan. Green Lodging Michigan certified.
    • 2009
    • Expanded adventure sports including Zipline Adventure Tours and winter horseback trail rides introduced. One of only two Burton 'Learn to Ride' centers in Michigan opens — the other is located at Boyne Mountain.
    • 2010
    • Furry friends become part of the vacation experience with the availability of pet friendly lodging. Cafeteria goes green, reducing resort's garbage waste by up to 70%.
    • 2011
    • Resort honored as host of the 100th Michigan Amateur.
    • 2012
    • Burton Riglet Park introduced for young snowboarders ages 3–6. The Spa at Boyne Highlands opens.
    • 2013
    • Snowmaking system is fully powered by proprietary Boyne Low-E fan guns.