The Mountain Times

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New glades, natural woods and skinning policy announced for this winter season

There was a buzz of excitement at this year's annual Killington Chamber of Commerce meeting held at the Killington Grand Hotel Oct. 16 after the resort announced the addition of new gladed trails, new "natural woods" backcountry trails and an official skinning policy at both Killington and Pico resorts, as well as a slew of customer-driven lodge and lift improvements.

The crowd erupted in applause when they learned of the five new glades that will be open at Killington and four at Pico. Plus, parts of the formerly restricted backcountry, skied by locals for years according to Temple, will now be open to the public, listed on maps as "natural woods" trails. In total this will add 700 more acres of skiing at Killington and more than 200 new acres at Pico.

Four top executives from Killington Resort spoke, including President Mike Solimano, Killington Marketing Manager Rob Megnin,

Killington Operations Manager Jeff Temple and Pico Manager Tracy Taylor.

Solimano said this winter season, guests should see many of their top concerns answered.

"We have been trying to treat them better, which is a pretty basic thing," he said, and those efforts are beginning to pay off. Vermont's share of the country's 56 million skier visits last season grew 16 percent, and Killington Resort's share of those skiers grew 24 percent last winter - an increase of 146,000 visits in one season, Solimano said.

Building on the One Killington initiative and improving Net Promoter Score, the resort and community will continue to take aim at achieving the highest customer rating in the East.

NPS, many successful companies believe, is the most important indicator of customer happiness. It asks the simple question "how likely are you to recommend Killington to your family and friends" recognizing that it is the totality of a guests experience that matters. The goal is to improve from the communities current number of 69 to 73, the highest rating for any resort on the East.

The resort also announced that it will again try to open first and close last, on the East Coast, early season pass purchasers will get money in return for buying early, people over the age of 80 will ski free, more discounted youth passes are now offered, and the resort will pro-rate season passed for anyone who gets hurt mid-season, not just those with additional insurance.

Also new this year, based on top customer complaints about antiquated lodges and crowding on trails, will be cleaner bathrooms, more water, and tissues offered near lifts, earlier openings on Skyeship and added signage at congested trail intersections.

There will be a new "morning entrance" at K1 for easier access from the parking lots and base area, and a heated concrete maze.

The mountain is also giving away free skis and bindings from Elan for any guest who purchases a four-day Learn to Ski package.

Other than major investments the executives covered the Peak Lodge atop Killington Peak, which is (thus far) on schedule to open by Christmas 2013, and new snowmaking hardware.

Cristina Kumka is a freelance reporter for The Mountain Times. She can be reached directly at cristina_kumka@yahoo.com.