With the official start of the ski season arriving a couple days ago—two weeks later than last year—and snow pounding the Colorado mountains over the last two days, the local ski industry is hoping more skiers and snowboarders will return to the high country and spend the kind of money that’s been eluding the major resorts for several years now. Revenues were up slightly last season over the 2008-09 year, according to CW2, but they’re still not close to pre-recession numbers. “We’re still on the way to building ourselves back–back to positive or average or normal, whatever the case may be,” says Jennifer Rudolph of Colorado Ski Country USA.

The resorts continue to take a hit on luxury real-estate sales in this down economy, which is also keeping families from booking hotel rooms and vacations at resorts, reports KUNC. The industry is hoping the La Niña weather pattern, which means colder winter temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean and Pacific Northwest, will translate into more snow for Colorado’s northern and central mountains. That could account for early season-pass sales, which seem to be above average for this time of year.

Most resorts aren’t adding many new hotels or fancy upgrades, instead choosing to focus on better snow-making equipment and streamlined lift access. But at least one exception is Vail Resorts, which yesterday announced its acquisition of Northstar-at-Tahoe, a premier resort in North Lake Tahoe, California (via The Associated Press).