By Katy Savage
Kristen Anderson drove four hours from Connecticut to Killington to ski every weekend of the winter.
“I dreaded going back on Sundays,” she said. “I could feel myself getting anxious – and I’m not an anxious person.”
After experiencing Killington’s hospitality by visiting the restaurants and services for 10 years, Anderson decided to jump into the hospitality business herself.
Anderson bought the 13-room Highline Lodge in September 2017 and renovated it within two months to open in time for the AUDI FIS World Cup over Thanksgiving week last year.
Now in her second year of ownership, Anderson is building her team.
Elizabeth Redmond, who has been in the service industry for 12 years, recently joined her as the general manager.
“It’s been a big learning experience for sure,” she said. “The vibe each weekend is so different.”
Gabriella Varela, the mixologist who splits time with the Hanover Inn, is making drinks with seasonal ingredients, like fresh herbs and spices.
Anderson doesn’t like to use the phrase “farm to table,” but the Highline Lodge has a small kitchen with little storage, ensuring all the ingredients are fresh. Anderson has a small garden in the back, which supplies a portion of the restaurant’s produce. The dinner menu features lasagna, filet of salmon and duck breast—all cooked with simple ingredients.
“Bringing simplicity back to the kitchen is important,” said Burke.
Burke and Anderson are redesigning the menu to attract locals but also appeal to the people who commute during the weekends.
“We’ve got to stay hip,” said Burke.
Anderson grew up in the Boston area. She stayed with her family at lodges in New Hampshire, which has helped her create the experience at the lodge.
Highline Lodge has a large patio with an outdoor hot tub and fireplace. It has a downstairs game room and sitting room. Anderson said what makes the lodge work is the people who work there.
“Everyone is committed to their craft,” Anderson said.
Anderson recently managed corporate events in Connecticut. But her true passion is cooking. Anderson attended culinary school in California, where she lived for 10 years before the family moved back East in 1993. In California, Anderson worked at a bed and breakfast along the Pacific Ocean.
These past years, “I lost my way a little,” she said.
Anderson’s daughter Lauren nudged her mother to purchase the lodge last year after they had drinks together one night on a Friday, on their way up to Killington.
“I think over the years she has drifted away from her passion from cooking and the culinary aspect she’s so great at,” Lauren said.
Anderson cooks whatever is fresh. She looks for foods that complement each other.
“You can tell when she talks about that sort of stuff she’s so passionate about it,” Lauren said.
Highline Lodge is Killington’s oldest ski lodge. It was built in 1959—a year after Pres Smith started Killington Basin ski area in 1958. The area is important to Anderson and her family.
“Killington has become such a huge part of our lives over the past number of years,” said Lauren, who lives in New York City and volunteered as an ambassador of Killington.
Anderson lives in a condo near the lodge. This year has been her first full year in Killington.
“I’ve never come up in the off season,” she said. “I’m just sort of going with it.”
She didn’t get to ski as much as she hoped since she bought the lodge. Anderson plans to change that this year.
“This is the season of Kristen,” she said.