Courtesy of Bread Loaf
An architechual rendering of the new K-1 Lodge at the top of Killington Road as seen from the slope-side. Construction will begin this spring.
By Karen D. Lorentz
KILLINGTON— On March 21, Killington President and General Manager Mike Solimano announced significant upgrades that will continue to transform Killington Resort and Pico Mountain.
At Killington, a new K-1 Base Lodge will significantly improve one of the resort’s main hub with a design reflecting elements of the new Peak Lodge, while a fourth tunnel, new quad lift, and a bubble surface lift will continue the transition to a more intermediate-oriented and family-friendly area.
Additionally, over $3 million in snowmaking investments are planned for both Pico Mountain and Killington.
The resort upgrades will build upon the vastly improved 2018-19 guest experience that provided better flow of skier traffic via the 6-person bubble chairlift; South Ridge Quad; three skier tunnels; a relocated Pomalift; and RFID gates resort-wide, in addition to other guest service initiatives, Solimano told approximately 400 guests at the semi-annual meeting, March 21.
New K-1 lodge
A major two-year project, the new three-story K-1 Base Lodge will increase seating capacity from 650 to 975 seats. The new lodge, designed by Bread Loaf, will feature 58,000 square feet of space (compared with 37,000 square feet in the current lodge) with skier services and retail on the lower level, an upscale food court and seating on the main level, and a bar on the top level, open to the room below. The building will feature walls of glass, a soaring fieldstone fireplace, open floor plan, and 180-degree views – design elements resembling Peak Lodge architecture.
Construction of Phase 1 begins this May in front of the current K-1 Base Lodge, which will continue to be used until tear down for Phase 2 in 2020. Completion is anticipated for a winter 2020-21 opening.
New North Ridge chair (a quad!)
The replacement of the North Ridge Triple with a Leitner-Poma fixed-grip quad with 3,000 rides per hour capacity affirms Killington’s commitment to the longest season in the East by facilitating fall and spring skiing at the high elevation area on Killington’s northern flank, Solimano said. Construction of the new lift is scheduled to begin in late April so it can be ready for October use.
New beginner carpet (with a bubble!)
A new slope at Ramshead above the existing carpets’ learning area will make for an easier progression for beginners with a new covered “bubble” carpet lift.
The progression work on Ramshead is another million dollar project, Solimano said.
Snowmaking, Pico’s pipeline
Solimano explained that Pico has been hampered due to having limited water in two snowmaking ponds that cannot keep up with the need. This will change for 2019-20 with a 16,850-foot pipeline allowing water to be pumped from Killington to Pico.
The additional water combined with the installation of over 4,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe, the replacement of 5,418 feet of existing pipe, and an additional water pump will double Pico’s snowmaking capacity, allowing for snow to be made for longer periods of time, more trails to be opened earlier in the season, and faster recovery from inclement weather for a more consistent product at Pico, Solimano said of the $2.1 million project.
Killington’s $1 million in snowmaking upgrades include the replacement of 12,000 feet of snowmaking air/water pipeline for more reliability, 120 low-energy tower snowguns, 400 low-e snowguns, and new, 60 semi-automatic water-and-air hydrants, which will significantly decrease the time it takes to start up snowguns.
This summer will see some additional grading work around the new tunnels at Killington along with the installation of the Great Bear tunnel, which had been delayed by an early winter last fall.
A rebuild of beginner trails for the Killington Mountain Bike Park, new bike racks for the new K-1 cabins, 7-day operation of the Ramshead lift (three lifts for biking), summer bike camps operated in partnership with Killington Mountain School, and a full schedule of events are on tap for summer 2019, Solimano said.
Solimano noted the upgrades seem to be working with a greater guest retention rate of 88 percent for 2019, up from 65 percent two years ago, and a higher Net Promoter Score. The NPS is up from 47 percent of guests saying they would recommend the resort to a friend seven years ago to 76 percent today. Solimano noted that is about as high as is attainable for the industry. Killington has also implemented small touches to elevate service – giving out hot chocolate packets, placing candy canes on cars, and brushing cars off on busy days.
He also noted the integration of Woodward features like the WreckTangle, an outdoor ninja obstacle challenge, at the Snowshed Adventure Center and the Peace Park (a new terrain park on Dream Maker at Bear Mountain) into Killington offerings.
Woodward is an action sports brand that Killington parent company Powdr owns. It includes camps and facilities where athletes build skills in a variety of sports through easy attainable steps. The facilities are specially designed to promote progression, something Killington has been known for since the 1960s. Solimano said he would like to see a Woodward Mountain Center at Killington in the future, but no specific plans are yet in the works.
With Powdr having invested $47 million from 2007-2018 and another $25 million for 2018-19, these above-announced plans will bring total investment in summer and winter upgrades at Killington to over $100 million.
Powdr paid approximately $84 million to purchase Killington from ASC in May 2007.