By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington is famously big and has an abundance of terrain that offers skiers and riders of all ability levels a huge choice of wide, groomed cruisers, narrow classic New England runs, moguls, steeps, all manner of glades and trees, terrain parks, halfpipe, and gentle learning hills. It’s that size and variety of terrain that has earned the area its moniker of “Beast of the East.”
But making a vacation truly memorable requires more than just conquering The Beast. There’s that special sleigh ride or unique dining experience that can enhance any great day outdoors. Add a plethora of activities and all manner of entertainment both at Killington and nearby, and you can definitely create a beastly vacation of your own.
To help folks who are new to the resort take advantage of all that beastly terrain, Killington shows its softer side with free mountain tours given by friendly and knowledgeable “Ambassadors.” They are specially trained to help visitors, whether it’s how to navigate the diverse mountain areas or with advice on where to find sushi or great Italian or the best steak house around. Tours depart daily at 10 and 11 a.m. from the Snowshed Base Lodge courtyard for a 75-90 minute tour of the area. Appropriate for Green Circle and higher ability levels.
A mountain orientation—ask questions, find out what’s going on and more—is also offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily at the large trail guide sign at the entrance to the K-1 Express Gondola.
Ensuring a better season
A sure way to increase anyone’s mastery of the challenges of Killington and Pico Mountain is to take a lesson. Whether one wants to master the woods, bumps, or carving, or just learn how to ski or snowboard or build confidence and skills, Killington offers instruction for all ability levels and ages in a variety of formats.
“One goal of the Killington Snow Sports School is to transition first-time skiers into lifetime skiers,” stated Dave Beckwith, the resort’s director of snow sports. With that focus, Killington has new terrain-based learning™ (TBL) features on both Snowshed and Ramshead this year (see TBL article in this paper).
Beckwith observed that one key to a better learning experience is to match student needs to specially trained instructors. Guests can request a family instructor who can speak a foreign language or someone who can address their special needs.
Beckwith added that instructors can also help skiers and riders get more out of the sport by using the new technologies in today’s equipment for more efficient use of the equipment which means more progress and enjoyment. “Taking a lesson enables you to tap into the diversity of the tool you have on your feet,” he said. From skid to carve to working the bumps with rotary motion, a lesson can be especially helpful in creating a better season, he added.
Killington also offers three innovative Discovery programs that include free equipment and other perks at the end of the lessons. (The new Burton snowboard/bindings’ Discovery program has already sold out.)
The 4-day Elan program ($299) for first-timers ages 18+ includes four two-hour lessons, four days of rental equipment, and four days of lift tickets (days one and two are for the learning area; days three and four are full-mountain access). Lessons do not need to be consecutive but need to be completed by the end of the 2014-15 season. On the fourth day of lessons, participants receive a brand new pair of Elan skis and bindings for free and also get 50 percent off lift tickets and lessons for the rest of 2014-15 and the 2015-16 winter seasons.
Also, new this year is the Ministars (ages 4-6) Discovery Camp ($399), which includes four full consecutive days of lessons, lift ticket, equipment, and lunches plus one free adult lift ticket per day. Tykes get to keep their new Elan U-Flex ski system and boots for free. (Limited availability, so reserve soon.)
For more info on these or other lesson programs, including Max 3 and 5 group or private lessons, check the website or call (800) 923-9444.
After a fun day on the slopes, there’s a plethora of fun things to do at the resort and nearby.
For all ages, lift-served tubing and snowcat-drawn sleigh rides are great ways to end the day. Hours during the holidays at the Tubing Park are Dec. 25-26, 4 to 7 p.m.; Dec. 27, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Dec. 28-Jan. 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. There’s an adjacent clubhouse for tickets, food, beverages and warming up.
Or rent snowshoes at the Clubhouse and go out on the golf course trails for exercise and fun (hours same as tubing).
Undulating sleigh rides are offered at Snowshed, Dec. 26-30 at 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online, at open ticket windows, or by calling 800-621-6867. Reservations suggested.
On Dec. 26 the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) presents its interactive raptor encounter at the Killington Grand Hotel at 7 p.m. Meet live falcons, hawks and owls in a first-hand encounter that enables participants to understand the defining characteristics that make a bird a raptor and its adaptations for life as a predator on the wing. Touchable artifacts and hands-on materials make this a memorable experience.
If you want to celebrate the Wobbly Barn’s 50th Anniversary with dinner, dancing, live music and ringing in the New Year on Dec. 31, call now (802) 422-6171. The New Year’s party will feature DJ Prime, a nationally syndicated DJ from NYC.
For a truly unique fine-dining experience, sign up for five-course dinner at the Ledgewood Yurt. This experience includes a wonderful snowcat-drawn sleigh ride and dinner not to be missed—definitely “a night to remember.” Reservations required, toll-free (866) 809-9147. Family nights are Dec. 27 and 28 for ages 7 and up, and Dec. 31 is for adults only.
Muscles sore from unfamiliar exertion? Face need TLC? The Killington Grand Spa offers an array of treatments that will reduce stress, pamper you, and treat those aching muscles. From soothing massages to rejuvenating facials, a spa treatment is a special treat and another great way to end the day or enjoy a day off. For appointments, call (802) 422-1050.
You can also find live music après-ski hours at various base lodges and along the most celebrated après-ski road, Killington Road, aka the Access Road, is rightly famous for its restaurants and nightclub spots. From fine dining to live entertainment, the road rocks. There’s also ice skating action on Summit Pond and a variety of stores that will let you “shop till you drop.”
For a day off, try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing locally at Mountain Meadows or take a drive around the corner to nearby Mountain Top Inn and its Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center in Chittenden, overlooking Chittenden Reservoir and the Green Mountain National Forest(802) 483-2311.
The Pico Sports Center is also open to guests for swimming, strength training, an array of classes, and working out on all the latest equipment.
The region also offers tours at the nearby Long Trail Brewery, performances at the glorious Paramount Theatre in Rutland, and more.
Learn more about places to dine and things to do at www.killington.com and have a safe and memorable holiday.