Killington to build bigger lodge, poised to become top ski resort

KILLINGTON — Killington Mountain Resort is on course to becoming not only the biggest ski resort in the East with the most snowmaking, but with tens of millions of dollars more poured into slated improvements over the next two years it will also have some of the newest lodges and best year-around resort activities.
This past Thursday at Killington’s Grand Summit Lodge resort President Mike Solimano unveiled plans for what will be the largest new ski base lodge in New England. This summer Killington will break ground on a 58,000-square-foot structure that will replace the current 37,000-square-foot K1 base lodge by the fall of 2020, or winter of 2021.
Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Corp., which recently revamped the Killington Grand Resort Hotel, will take a prominent role in design and construction of the new base lodge.
The new lodge will have three levels, putting the lodge closer to (and on the same level as) the gondola, with a food court on the second level and bar on the third. There will be seating for 975 compared to the current 650. The lodge will have a full-service bar, couches and high-top tables similar to the layout in The Peak Lodge, upscale fine china dining, and unobstructed 180-degree views of the mountain landscape.
“We’re transforming the way guests will experience and enjoy Killington for years to come,” said Solimano. “On its own, the K-1 base lodge rebuild is transformative for Killington. But building on last year’s investments, and combined with the other infrastructure enhancements and new experiences, these upgrades set the tone for future generations to enjoy Killington resort. Killington is undeniably the Northeast’s hub for year-round adventure.”
Bread Loaf will start construction this summer with the new lodge going up behind the current lodge (on the mountain side) — which will stay in place for next season before being demolished in the summer of 2020. The new base lodge is expected to be complete by fall 2020 “or winter 2021,” said Solimano.
Some of the other infrastructure improvements for the 2019/20 season include replacing the North Ridge triple chair lift with a quad, a new tunnel on Great Bear trail, and reimagining the kids’ beginner terrain. “We’re also looking at integrating more of the Woodward approach to progression,” said Solimano, adding that one day he hopes Killington will have a Woodward facility similar to others Powdr Corp. has installed at resorts such as Copper Mountain in Colorado and Boreal in California.
The Woodward facilities there feature vast barns with trampolines, foam pits, skate ramps and other apparatus that kids and adults can use to improve skills in any sport ranging from snowboarding and skateboarding to gymnastics.
“That’s bringing the fun back into skiing,” said industry veteran Bernie Weichsel, the man behind the Boston Ski Show and a Killington skier since 1963. “Everyone wants to be able to do what they see going on at the X Games and this would allow them to try in a safe environment.”
Another major announcement is that Killington plans to run nearly three miles of pipe from Killington across the mountains to Pico. “We’ve always had nearly unlimited access to water at Killington, but Pico has relied on snowmaking ponds that can dry up or freeze,” said Solimano. By running a 16,850-foot pipeline across terrain that locals jokingly refer to as the “interconnect” (a vast area between the two ski areas) Pico will be able to double its snowmaking capacity. The expanded capacity is expected to be completed before next winter.
At Killington, the company will also replace 12 kilometers of water pipe and add 400 low-energy snow guns and 125 low-energy towers used to blast snow.
While Solimano could not confirm any news on Killington’s most popular event, the World Cup, which drew 39,000 people to the resort last Thanksgiving, he did promise “when we can announce it, I think you will be happy.”
Most of Killington’s other popular events, ranging from mountain biking’s Eastern States Cup to the Spartan Race will return and a new event, the Total Archery Challenge, will be held at Killington and Pico over Memorial Day Weekend and is expected to draw several thousand people.
The resort will also focus on adding more beginning mountain bike terrain to its nearly 35 miles of trails, adding trails at the Ramshead base and a beginner skills park. This past summer Killington had nearly 30,000 rider visits and expects to bring that up to 37,000 this coming summer.
All of these improvements are in addition to the massive infrastructure investments that Killington’s parent company made to “The Beast of the East” this past season. Last year more than $25 million went into building three tunnels to allow for better traffic flow, improving snowmaking, adding a new 6-person bubble chair, moving the old lift to South Ridge and adding new cars to the K1 gondola. The resort also added RFID ticket scanning.
“All of these projects will positively affect the local community,” said communications manager Courtney DiFiore. “We’re working with Bread Loaf Corp. again, a local company based out of Middlebury. With a bigger K-1 Base Lodge, we’ll need more staff, giving locals more chances to work where they play. We’re truly set to have the best year ever and grow our year-round business, which will help all the hardworking local business owners as a result. We have a lot to be excited about.”
The resort has also focused on a “Create Joy” campaign — doing things like putting candy canes on windshields, having DJ Dave play impromptu sets at lift bases, and surprising guests with cookies and milk or hot chocolate on the slopes.
Over the past seven years, Killington has seen its net promoter score (a measure of how likely guests are to return and to recommend the resort to friends) rise from 47 to 75. And on a scale of -100 to 100, any score above 50 is considered excellent.

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