The Mountain Times

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Reflections on Irene: Killington's Resorts

Nearly a year later and to unknowing eyes looking around the Killington area you hear "what storm, there was a tropical storm here that caused how much damage?"

The damage our two resorts sustained totaled over $5.5 million. Irene curtailed several capital projects we had in process and we redeployed crews to deal with the 300+ new projects she created.

Because of the amazing recovery efforts by our teams, two months later we opened the resort for winter operations. The first resort to open in the east, we might add. Admirable, considering Killington sustained substantially more damage than any other resort in the state.

Getting open early and staying open with a good skiing and riding product is one of our annual goals, and last year it was doubly important. With all the media coverage, it looked like Vermont was down for the count. We recognized early that getting open was going to be extremely important for the health of business in our resort community and our state.

Because of Irene's damage, we were able to improve some of our facilities in the repair process.  The best consequence of Irene's destruction came from our biggest loss, the Superstar Pub.

This 7,000 sq. ft building collapsed. Three months later, it was gone and replaced with a 6,400 sq. ft umbrella bar, the largest in North America and wildly successful. Popular at many European resorts, the umbrella bar concept has thrilled Killington guests providing a new food and drink experience at the bottom of Superstar slope.

Irene delayed the building schedule for the new Killington Peak Lodge by a year, but progress has resumed. The footings and walls for the first level are nearly complete, after which we will put the site to bed for the winter. Work to complete the building will resume in May, with an expected completion date of December 2013. What a wonderful addition this special facility will be for our community and state.

Irene and her drama will never be forgotten. We learned so much about the power of nature and the strength of the human spirit in the face of that power.

From a regional standpoint, everyone was affected to some degree. So many wonderful stories can be told of compassion and helpfulness. Banding together to overcome adversity is such a wonderful human trait. When faced with falling off the cliff, humans always find an alternative.

Tagged: hurricane irene, reflection, killington, resorts