Opinion
September 11, 2014

Killington Resort president pens an open letter to the Killington community on summer growth

Dear Editor,

Earlier this summer Killington Resort asked the town of Killington to consider repealing the sales and use portion of the 1 percent option tax. The resort is committed to using the money, freed up if the tax is repealed, to invest in additional summer assets and to help fund key summer events that the option tax revenues had been used to sustain. While the resort plans to invest in summer growth regardless of the tax repeal, having access to additional funds would substantially speed up developments.

Originally resort management had planned to ask the Killington Select Board to put the option tax repeal to a vote this fall. However, after more discussion with members of the Economic Development and Tourism Commission (EDTC), the Killington Chamber of Commerce and local citizens, we have decided to wait to call a vote until Town Meeting Day on March 3, 2015. This will give us the time needed to work with the community and ensure we have a solid plan residents can support.

As this summer comes to an end, I also want to update the greater regional community on what has been happening this summer at the Resort to grow the region’s year-round business, and what is still to come before the snow flies.

This year, in an effort to grow our mountain bike business, we’ve added and improved several lower-level mountain bike trails in the Snowshed area. In addition to running the K-1 Express Gondola seven days a week, we’ve started running the Snowshed Express Quad on weekends and holidays so guests can access our expanded beginner and intermediate mountain bike terrain.

With the goal of creating a world-class mountain bike experience, the resort partnered with Gravity Logic, an industry leader in designing and building mountain bike parks. They have created a multi-year development plan for Killington, which began this summer, as they have done successfully at resorts across North America. Gravity Logic will return to the resort in a few weeks to start laying out the next round of mountain bike trails in the Snowshed and Ramshead areas.

Our summer development has and will continue to be primarily focused on mountain bike trail expansion as we believe this is the most viable business model to bring repeat summer visitors to the area. However, I believe that the best long-term approach will result from the combination of physical assets at the resort and summer events such as the “Cooler in the Mountains” concert series.

Looking ahead, the resort also plans to augment mountain biking with other family-friendly attractions such as zip lines, an alpine coaster and ropes courses. We have been working this summer to install the Soaring Eagle Zip Line at Snowshed but have had several set-backs due to permitting and other issues. However, we are making progress. We signed the contract to bring this attraction to the resort and our hope is to install it later this fall or early spring (at the latest.)

Business and visitation have been strong at the resort this season with revenue up approximately 35 percent over last summer. While this represents high relative growth, the numbers are still small compared to our projected potential for summer business here.

We firmly believe that “a rising tide will float all boats” and that the multiplier impacts (additional spending in the community by guests to the resort) from destination mountain bikers and other visitors will be significant. We know we need to grow year-round activities moving forward, and we are committed to doing so. I believe that Killington Resort’s best years lie ahead.

In the interest of open community communications, I pledge to keep the community informed as projects progress. I also welcome community feedback, questions and comments. Feel free to contact me directly at msolimano@killington.com.

Thanks,

Mike Solimano, president and general manager for Killington Resort and Pico Mountain.

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