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New Lodge At Killington Peak Makes Debut; Potential Link To Pico Noted

Lodge at Killington PeakHis dream was to create ski areas on the state’s highest mountains, but he couldn’t find anyone to develop Vermont’s second highest peak, deeded to the state in 1938.

Nevertheless, (the late) Perry H. Merrill persevered and, eventually as the Commissioner of Vermont Forests and Parks, leased land for seven ski areas, including Killington which opened in 1958.

Offering the state’s highest lift-served skiing at 4,200 feet, it now offers the highest elevation lodge not only in Vermont but the entire Northeast.

The new Lodge at Killington Peak, which opened to the public after Christmas, was celebrated with an official grand opening in January with dignitaries and Killington-Pico personnel among 200-plus guests.

“Thank you, congratulations, and I believe Perry Merrill would be very proud,” commented current Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael C. Snyder.

Noting Killington is “mostly on lease land,” Snyder also pointed out that the state’s leases were the model “for ski leases in the West.” Citing the leadership roles of Vermont and Killington in skiing, he stated that with the new lodge “Killington continues to lead nationally.”

Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Megan Smith also praised the new facility, noting that it will also serve the shoulder seasons with the ability to host weddings and special events and boost the state’s year-round tourism and travel industry.

Three years in the making, the Peak Lodge is an energy-efficient, six-sided building that replaces a former lodge that once housed the top terminal of the world’s (then) longest and first four-passenger gondola. A replacement 8-passenger gondola terminating below the peak rendered the cavernous terminal space useless.

Rather than renovate and expand the existing restaurant, Killington President and General Manger Mike Solimano noted that his predecessor Chris Nyberg, now COO of Powdr Corp, planned a new facility. Architects designed a two-story building that can withstand class 3 hurricane winds (130 mph) and fits the same footprint on the peak.

The new, modern facility has inch-thick, double-paned window walls that offer amazing views of mountain ranges in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York along with spectacular sunsets. Located just steps from the K-1 Gondola, the $7-million, 15,000-square foot lodge features an abundance of natural light, full-service bar, lounge areas with couches and coffee tables, seating for up to 300 guests, and a more upscale dining experience with creative fare from Executive Chef Eric Rusch and his crew.

The Peak Lodge is not only part of an overall plan to accommodate guests skiing over from nearby Pico in the future — an Interconnect between the two resorts is on the drawing boards — but to serve the many skiers who currently prefer advanced skiing in the K-1 lodge and lift area.

It complements the lunchtime offerings of the K-1 Lodge and twin Umbrella Bars with an elevated dining experience in a more refined and relaxing atmosphere. Three chefs prepare daily specials along with food court items featuring homemade soups and chili, sandwiches, deserts, and other fare. One normally doesn’t find a fish-of-the-day special in a base lodge, but red snapper can be found at the peak.

Plans include offering Saturday night dinners and hosting weddings and special functions such as the dinner and fashion show to be held for visiting media from around the country in March.

Several men commented after the celebratory fireworks that brides would do well to include fireworks in their receptions at the peak. Several weddings are already scheduled for the new lodge.

As Smith predicted, the lodge will be an asset not only to Killington but also to the state’s travel and tourism industry.

Photo: Celebration for new Lodge At Killington Peak (Karen Lorentz)
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