By Katy Savage
This year’s World Cup attendees will be among the first to see Killington’s newly completed K-1 Base Lodge.
The debut of the $30+ million project on Friday, Nov. 25, has been three years in the making. The major investment was announced in 2018 and Phase 1 got underway July 16, 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic caused construction delays.
“This is a significant step in fulfilling our vision to transform the way guests experience and enjoy Killington for years to come,” said Killington Resort President Mike Solimano.
The 58,000-square foot structure is about 50% bigger than the previous lodge and features three floors, including two elevators — one for guests and one service elevator — and a guest escalator, the first in Rutland County. The escalator carries guests from the parking lots to the snow, along with heated sidewalks to keep guests safe and eliminate the tracking of sand and salt inside.
The building design, by Bread Loaf Corporation in Middlebury, is similar to the aesthetic of the Peak Lodge and the newly remodeled Preston’s, with an open floor plan, mixed seating arrangements, and floor-to-ceiling windows, providing panoramic views of Superstar and Killington Peak. There is also a grand fireplace on the second floor.
The exterior of the building will be sided in a combination of wood, metal and glass, with a modern nod to the alpine architecture style. It’s situated slightly lower on the mountain, which will allow easier flow between Superstar and the K-1 gondola.
All three floors have restrooms (there are 45 toilets in total).
For the past many months Bread Loaf workers have been tending to every piece of the property — inside and outside — to get the lodge done in time for the World Cup over Thanksgiving weekend. They were painting and plastering walls, installing the fire places and the heated outdoor walkway. The new escalator was in a box, ready to be installed.
“I’m not ready to relax yet,” said Joe Lattuca, a superintendent with Bread Loaf. “It will be nice when it’s over or at least to a point where it can calm down. It’s been tough.”
Lattuca said finding workers through the pandemic has been difficult. Some come from New Hampshire or Burlington. Two marketing people from Bread Loaf even got out of the office to help construction workers dust out of K-1.
“Getting skilled labor has been tough,” Lattuca said. “We have struggled like many industries.”
Lattuca was confident all the pieces would come together.
First floor features
This level features everything riders need to begin their day. There’s a rental shop with tuning and repair services, a baggage check, first aid room, restrooms and a family changing/breastfeeding room. There will also be ticket kiosks for tickets purchased in advance. A large commercial kitchen will be located on the first floor to serve the entire building. Employees will have their own locker room on this section, with showers, bathrooms and break areas.
Second floor features
The second floor has 450 seats, with both low and high top tables staggered for optimal views. A food court on this level is big enough to accommodate 200 people at a time and includes similar items available at the resort’s other lodges — a deli, pizza oven, grill, salad bar, soup station, sauté station, and hot and cold beverage stations. This floor also has a walk-up bar with eight draft lines along with a full-service coffee shop. The staple of the second floor is a wood-burning fireplace, which is surrounded by sofas and loveseats. A second bag check area is on this floor as well, along with restrooms and a guest services office.
Third floor features
An elevator and grand staircase from the second floor leads to the third level, home to a 30-seat bar with a multitude of seating options, creating a balcony-like feel for guests to overlook the second-floor seating area and clearly see the slopes. This floor is a quieter space, with custom couches, a gas fireplace, and charging ports for electronics. This floor also has plenty of space to entertain, with large TVs, shuffleboard tables, a dance floor, a stage for concerts, and a speakeasy room in the northwest corner for those looking for quiet.
There’s a spacious outdoor patio with an additional 180 seats, lined with a low wall and unique lighting. Two outdoor propane fireplaces will burn in the winter to keep guests warm.
The Killington Base Lodge has seen significant changes since its humble beginning 63 years ago.
Killington opened Dec. 13, 1958 on a shoestring budget. A pre-fab CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) hut served as a base lodge while a converted chicken coop was used as an outdoor ticket office on weekends. An outhouse served as restrooms.
The hut was replaced in 1959 with a more permanent structure — a basement level that was below grade and a first floor that opened out onto the slopes. The Vermont Department of Forests & Parks, which had built ski shelters for the ski areas that it leased land to around that time, expanded the Killington lodge in 1965, doubling the size of the cafeteria and ski shop.
As the popularity of skiing grew in the early 1960s, Killington rose to meet the demand and built its Ramshead Base Lodge in 1962 and the Snowshed Base Lodge in 1963.
While the K-1 Lodge has seen improvements since then, this is the largest investment in the lodge since Killington’s beginning. The resort paid homage to the old K-1 Lodge with a teardown party on March 20, 2022. Bread Loaf Corporation started building the new facility immediately thereafter. The goal has long been to open the new lodge by Thanksgiving weekend for the Audi FIS World Cup.
The expanded lodge has been a long time coming for those who have been with Killington since the beginning.
When Killington founder Pres Smith was asked what he thought of replacing the historic lodge with one in the modern architecture of the Peak Lodge, he said: “It’s the way I would want to go — modern American,” he said from his home in Florida.
“There are things that I didn’t get to do, and I’m delighted with what’s happening,” Smith added.
Karen Lorenz and Polly Mikula contributed to this report.