Summer is a busy time for state's ski resorts
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | July 29,2012
Killington Resort is replacing its Peak Lodge atop Killington Peak. The $7 million lodge and restaurant is expected to be open in time for the 2013 Christmas holiday.
The state’s ski resorts are once again pumping millions of dollars into projects this summer – everything from new restaurants and lodging to lifts and snowmaking.
Killington Resort is in the second year of a three-year, $7 million project to replace the Peak Lodge atop Killington Peak; Stowe Mountain Resort is investing $4.7 million in snowmaking upgrades; and as resorts continue to expand beyond skiing, both Bromley and Mount Snow have added off-season amenities.
Despite a disappointing 2011-2012 ski season, Parker Riehle of the Vermont Ski Areas Association said resorts continue to see the need to invest aggressively.
Riehle, the VSAA president, said coming off the most recent season “it’s more important than ever to do that in order to maintain our stature in the marketplace and instill confidence with our skiing and riding faithful.”
Skier visits at the state’s resorts totaled 3.9 million, down 11 percent from the nearly 4.4 million during the 2010-11 season. Nationally, skier visits were off 16 percent.
Riehle said the state’s snowmaking capacity remains critical in serving as a buffer during periods when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“The ski areas statewide have over 75 percent of the terrain covered with snowmaking,” he said. “And to put that in real terms by way of comparison, when you look at another snowmaking-dependent ski state like New Hampshire, our 75 percent coverage with snowmaking means we have 1,000 acres more of snowmaking coverage alone than all of New Hampshire’s skiable terrain in total.”
Among the projects planned or under way:
Killington Resort — The Peak Lodge project that began last year is a multistory lodge and restaurant. It replaces the existing 1960s building that was demolished last summer.
According to Killington, at 4,100 feet, the Peak Lodge will be the highest gondola-served lodge facility in the eastern U.S. The facility will offer mountain views of three states: New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Work will be completed next year in time for the 2013 Christmas holiday.
Killington is also investing in upgrades to the snowmaking system, trail work, and recently opened an 18-hole disc golf course, which was relocated from sister resort Pico Mountain.
Killington has a number of projects in the pipeline including replacing the Snowdon quad and adding an uphill service in the South Ridge area.
Killington spokeswoman Sarah Thorson also said on the horizon is the long-awaited ski village.
“The Act 250 (permit) is still in the review process for the Killington Village, so once everything is approved,” Thorson said, “and we begin to break ground, the next step will be the interconnect between Killington and Pico.”
Over the last five years, the resort has spent more than $20 million on capital projects including the Skye Peak Express quad, snowmaking and infrastructure improvements.
Tropical Storm Irene delayed some of last year’s projects. The August storm caused $6 million in damage to the resort.
Stowe Mountain Resort — snowmaking upgrades include 325 tower guns, 150 energy-efficient land guns, 16 fan guns and seven miles of new piping. The improvements will eliminate 100,000 gallons of diesel storage, use and emissions.
Jay Peak Resort — $30 million in resort-wide improvements, including a 8,500-square-foot Mountain Learning Center, two new lifts, renovation of the Sky Haus summit tram station into a 120-seat restaurant, also planned is a Vermont-style country store.
The company also plans improvements to recently acquired Burke Mountain.
Sugarbush — The resort hopes to break ground shortly on its Rice Brook Residences project in the Lincoln Peak base area.
Sugarbush spokesman Patrick Brown said the project is awaiting permit approval for the three-building, 15 unit complex.
“Fully owned, private residences,”Brown said. “Some are condominium single floor and some are multiple-floor town homes, all with underground parking.”
He said the project is situated to tie the “historic Sugarbush village to the new Lincoln Peak village.”
Bromley — completed construction on its Aerial Fun Park, an investment of $500,000.
“It’s basically a two-hour challenge, both physical and mental, with folks going tree to tree, on cables, in a safety harness, at varying heights depending upon the course’s difficulty level – there’ll be four levels of difficulty and five courses,” Bill Cairns, Bromley’s general manager, said in a statement announcing the opening. “Now, in between those trees you’ll have to deal with rope ladders, floating planks, zip lines, rolling barrels, net walls… all kinds of interesting obstacles.”
Smugglers’ Notch — Invested in solar power system, installing 35 Vermont-made AllSun solar trackers, which use GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun throughout the day.
The 150-kilowatt system will produce approximately 205,000 kilowatt hours each year – enough energy to supply most of the resort’s Village Lodge, according to the resort.
Mount Snow — recently opened its 2.5-mile long lift-serviced introductory downhill mountain biking trail.
Named the Gateway, the trail is at least five-feet wide and follows a number of switchbacks with smooth banked turns that winds through open fields and wooded areas. The maximum grade is 12 percent.
Lift service is offered Friday thru Sunday until mid-October providing access to more than 15 miles of well-maintained trails for all ability levels.