Villa Olivia, Chicagoland's closest ski area, has been purchased by the Bartlett Illinois Park District. The sale took place in late December and operations have continued as usual this season.

Look for changes to the ski area next season as the Park District has had a year to evaluate the operation. They were touring other Heartland ski areas this winter looking for ways to improve the operation, according to the Midwest Ski Areas Association.

It's not a big area, only a 180-foot vertical, but being close to downtown Chicago it serves a lot of skiers and snowboarders. Lift tickets and equipment rentals are very reasonable, and lesson programs for new skiers and riders are one of the area's strengths.

Midweek lift tickets were $29 for adults and $22 for juniors this season. Equipment rentals run around $25.

The area has been around for a while. Named after the original owner's daughter, the Villa Olivia estate was built in the early 1900s. A golf course, the cornerstone of a country club of the same name, was built during the early years. The ski area first opened in 1975.

It currently offers 12 lighted downhill runs, a quad chairlift, six surface tows, and a tubing operation. The sale will ensure its continuation for future generations of Chicagolanders to learn to ski and snowboard within its friendly confines.

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