Featured, Local News

Parking reservations at Killington open Thursday

By Pete Duffy
Killington Resort flanked by the welcome plumes of snow guns on Saturday, Oct. 31. The resort is scheduled to open Nov. 14 to passholders, if the weather continues to cooperate.

The resort outlines advanced parking reservation system used to limit crowds this season

Staff report

The ski season is right around the corner, with Killington Resort aiming to open next Saturday, Nov. 14 along with Mount Snow, the first  two resorts to open in Vermont.

“While there is always a competition to open first, we believe winning this year means all of us doing our part to put into place thoughtful plans and  follow guidelines  and best practices to keep one another safe, so that we may enjoy a full season of skiing and riding,” said Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain.

To prepare Killington Resort announced on Oct. 28 further details for its parking reservation system, which is how Killington plans to manage the number of people at the resort in order to ensure the wellbeing of its guests, staff and community. The parking reservation system, will be in place every day of the season and must be reserved before arriving to the resort to ensure availability.

“The parking management system means guests will plan their trip to Killington knowing they’re going to have a great experience – they’ll have a spot to park and plenty of room to spread out on the mountain,” said Solimano. “We’re doing everything we can to ensure the longevity of the season. By managing the number of people visiting Killington and Pico at any given time, staff and guests will be able to appropriately physically distance, stay safe and have fun.”

Guests can begin booking reservations for Killington at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5, and at Pico Mountain beginning Thursday, Dec. 3. Skiers and riders will be able to book up to seven advance days throughout the season.

Once the season begins, guests will be able to book an unlimited amount of days in the rolling 7-day window. Then as guests’ advance days fall into the rolling 7-day window, guests will be able to book additional advance days. Advance booking is recommended; however, same day reservations can be made, if there is space available, at Killington.com/reserve.

Although the resort anticipates opening Killington Nov. 14, that continues to be dependent on having top-to-bottom skiing and riding with access to multiple base area lifts.

“We believe November 14 is a realistic date to achieve top-to-bottom skiing and riding with access to multiple base area lifts. That being said, we all know East Coast weather – early season especially – can be challenging and until we can provide the space needed to facilitate physical distancing, we will delay opening,” Solimano said when he first announced opening day in September.

From opening day through Sunday, Nov. 22, access to Killington mountain will be reserved for Killington Season Passholders and Ikon guests only.

Express Card Holders, day tickets, buddy passes, vouchers etc. will be accepted starting Monday, Nov. 23, and will be on-sale beginning Friday, Nov. 6.

Additionally, this year’s early season snowmaking and expansion plan is different than recent years and will focus on getting multiple lifts open and spreading out guests across the resort to facilitate physical distancing. Typically, the stairs leading from North Ridge to Killington Peak provide the connection needed early season when skiing access is not available off Killington Peak, but the stairs will remain closed this season since they don’t allow for physical distancing. The firepower that typically is directed at getting Superstar ready for the World Cup (canceled for all U.S. stops this November and December) will be redeployed to get top-to-bottom skiing off the K1 gondola and better coverage on the North Ridge and Snowdown trails.

The resort doesn’t plan to offer beginner terrain in the Snowshed or Ramshead areas until mid- to late-December, however, typically those areas have been open for Thanksgiving weekend.

“Here at Killington, we’re particularly well positioned to operate successfully amid a pandemic as the biggest mountain resort in Eastern North America spanning seven distinct mountain areas – eight if you include Pico Mountain – with 28 lifts and nearly 2,000 skiable acres to roam when fully open,” Solimano said.

“We continue to monitor Covid-19 and, given its dynamic nature, have prepared thorough, adaptable operations plans that are consistent with the Vermont Department of Health and follow the National Ski Areas Association’s Ski Well, Be Well best practices,” he continued.

The 2020/21 Killington/Pico plan follows the National Ski Areas Association’s Ski Well, Be Well best practices and includes:

The requirement for staff and guests to wear masks covering the nose and mouth at all times, except when seated while eating or drinking.

New protocols for lift queueing and riding to ensure appropriate physical distance.

Encouragement for guests to be prepared to warm and dine at their vehicles, given reduced capacity limits in lodges and limited dining and beverage options at resort venues.

A continued commitment to uphold the highest standards of sanitization to keep staff, guests safe.

Travel map

Per state of Vermont guidance, guests can travel to Vermont only from approved counties on the Vermont Travel map or need to quarantine for 14 days prior to their arrival. This travel map is updated on a weekly basis, every Tuesday and they expect this policy to be in place throughout the season.

As a reminder, these plans are subject to change once the state of Vermont issues and approves ski resort restart guidance.

Early season skinning

“I know that the first snowfalls get everyone excited for another season on the mountain and you may want to earn your turns before lifts spin, but uphill travel routes will not be open early season,” Solimano stated. “Until we have enough snow coverage to open designated uphill travel routes, skinning is not permitted at Killington and Pico. I’m aware that many passholders have ignored our closures in the past, but this season, our uphill policy will be strictly enforced and you will be at risk of losing ski privileges if you’re caught on the mountain. If uphill routes are closed, it’s for good reason – such as unmarked hazards, poor coverage or large machinery at work to name a few – and in the best interest of our guests, staff and community first responders,” he concluded.

Physical distancing on chairlifts and gondolas

High capacity chairlifts and closed cabin carriers will be loaded in a way that allows for physical distancing. For example, on the gondola and high speed, high capacity lifts, guests will ride with only members of their traveling party, or at 50% capacity.

Masks covering the nose and mouth are required at all times in lift lines, while riding lifts and while indoors unless eating or drinking.

Physical distancing in lift queues occurs organically due to the length of skis and snowboards and guests will notice additional spacing measures, including extended maze designs, more lateral spacing and increased signage, to further ensure a consistent flow of appropriately spaced traffic, Killington stated.

New Killington Resort app, text messaging

“Our team has been working behind the scenes to develop a new Killington Resort app, which will be available for Apple and Android phones at the beginning of the winter season,” Solimano revealed in September. “A few key features of the app will be real-time lift and trail status, lift wait times and tracking. The tracking feature will allow you to track your ski day, see where you’re at on the map and allow you to see where friends and family are on the mountain. We will also be able to send push notifications with real-time updates and information as needed allowing us to improve communication to guests who are at the resort.”

The resort will also roll out a text messaging platform.

“We know the likelihood of needing to communicate with guests outside of email and social media is greater than ever this coming season,” Solimano continued. “We promise we won’t bog you down with endless text messages but plan to use it for communicating critical operations updates as needed, important information about upcoming visits and the occasional promotional message such as a season pass deadline reminder.”

To receive texts guests must opt in by texting “Beast” to 64600. Opt-in details for Pico Mountain will be coming soon.

Other technological improvements include new software to enable contactless credit card payments for food and beverage outlets across the resort.

Tentatively scheduled opening days
for Vermont’s Alpine resorts

Killington – Nov. 14

Mount Snow – Nov. 14

Stowe – Nov. 20

Okemo – Nov. 21

Sugarbush – Nov. 21

Jay Peak – Nov. 22

Stratton – Nov. 25

Bromley – Nov. 27

Smugglers Notch – Nov. 27

Middlebury College Snow Bowl – Dec. 2

Burke – Dec. 4 or 5

Cochrans – Dec. 12

Mad River – Dec. 12

Suicide Six – Dec. 16

Pico – Dec. 19

For more information about Killington’s opening plans visit: killington.com then click on 20/21 Winter Operations.

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