The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Over $11 million slated for Killington and Pico

Now that the snow has melted, action has resumed at the 4,210-foot elevation on Killington Peak with phase two of the new Peak Lodge.

Workmen return to the newly re-designed 15,000-square-foot, two-story facility in June. President and General Manager Mike Solimano noted that another $5.1 million is being spent on the Peak Lodge, which is slated for completion in December.

Solimano explained the reasons for the design changes, noting "the original $7 million budget and design concepts called for a basement support level capped off with two floors, one with a food court area and one for fine dining and a deck area similar to the original structure."  

Robert Carl Williams Associates in Pittsfield designed the new 15,000-square-foot facility to include seating for 300 guests, a food venue featuring a selection of fresh fare, and a full bar in addition to lounge areas with couches and coffee tables.

Solimano went on to explain that the bids on the original concepts topped $9.5 million, which was $2.5 million more than planned. (The total for the lodge will amount to about $7 million with previous years work - the original 1968 structure was removed in 2011 and new foundation, footings and bottom floor walls were completed in fall, 2012.)

So, after a long process of guest feedback, design changes, delays fostered by Tropical Storm Irene, and the sharpening of pencils, there is "a sleek new design that follows Killington's long-term commitment to the mountain environment," he said.

Solimano, a former controller and CFO at Dynastar and Killington Director of Finance for ten years before becoming president and GM last year, openly stresses that "capital resources are not infinite" and that Killington adheres to a carefully thought-out plan that makes financial sense and has enabled it to be continuously profitable while also being a leader in the ski industry.

"The more we spend on one project, the less that is available for others. Instead of the 'bells and whistles' approach incorporated in the first design, the team was re-assembled to digest input from all sources and to re-look at the needs of this venue. We decided that the best use of our resources were to focus on providing the best all-around building to the most guests possible.

"As a result, we decided to combine two smaller floors into one large floor and move the kitchen facility to the lower level. This new design will allow for a real multipurpose facility that will allow us to host weddings, sit-down dinners as well as provide a more casual lodge feel during winter," he said in a posting to readers of The Drift, Killington's e-newsletter.

4--Peak -construction -June -2013--courtesty -of -Killington -resort -Image

A peek at Peak Lodge
"This lodge will be completely different from any other lodge at Killington. A lobby with large, convenient restrooms will lead you into a room sprinkled with couches and seating area for a relaxed feel," Solimano said.

He described the dining experience as one that will range from the farm-to-table to creative food options developed by in-house chefs. He notes a "Starbucks" feel for the multifunctional dining area for another new experience at Killington. "Food offerings will be much more upscale than our current base lodge menus (no fried foods), and a very comfortable bar area will include a gas fireplace and couches for late day chats," he added.

Solimano also explained that as part of better communication efforts, he was both laying out the evolving changes as to the Peak Lodge design while at the same time explaining the need to balance capital funding for other continued resort upgrades.

$9.8 million to crow about
Those millions to be spent in other improvements are also noteworthy. In addition to the $7 million lodge investment, Killington has another $2 million in infrastructure projects, which include the installation of sewer lines and snowmaking pipe at Killington and Pico.

The K-1 Gondola upgrades - planned for the year Irene struck - are also on tap this summer. This project includes a new heated deck for the lift maze with a canopy overhead. The canopy will consist of the latticework from the Skyeship Gondola entry area (being removed and rebuilt at the K-1) and the addition of a covering for it. It will still be open to the sides.

More glades are being cut at both Killington and Pico with some existing glade work being undertaken as well.

Jeff Temple, director of mountain operations for Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, said, "Due to the storms of the past year, there will be extensive pruning and trimming on existing gladed trails at both resorts and a new gladed trail at Pico."

Plans also call for creating a new food and seating venue at Pico Mountain to help offset busy times for the main lodge cafeteria and lounge. The small eatery will be located in a space previously used by Vermont Adaptive, Solimano said.

Further resort expenditures are being made on four new grooming machines, including a park cat, new rental equipment, snowsport school uniforms, and lift maintenance, bringing the total of all investments for the 2013-14 season to $9.8 million, the largest in recent history at Killington.

AML Lodge makes it $11+ million
Also at Pico, work is underway on the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge, a joint project between Pico Ski Education Foundation (PSEF) and the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports program. The two organizations are collaborating to build the $1.3 million, 6,000-square-foot, two-story building, designed by NBF architects of Rutland, with each having a floor to serve their respective programs.
Located between the retail sports shop/office building and the existing Pico Ski Club facility, it is being built on land donated by Killington-Pico Resort to the two groups.

The two organizations are close to their $1.1 million current fundraising goal. The target completion date is Thanksgiving.
With Pico's AML Lodge added to the other upgrades and facilities, the total investment for Killington and Pico comes to over $11 million - a significant portion of the state's total $55 million construction projects happening at ski areas in 2013.

Photos courtesy of Killington Resort