Killington, VT Offers New Off-Slopes Activities This Season
By Karen Rubin
Killington Resort in central Vermont offers almost as many off-slopes activities as the 200 slopes it sports on its seven mountains. This season, Killington is opening a new Winter Adventure Center with activities including snowshoeing, tubing, and dog-sledding, and a new junior snowmobiling track.
New Winter Adventure Center
This season, the resort is opening a new Killington Winter Adventure Center at the Killington Golf Course, offering on- and off-snow activities for all ages including snowshoeing, tubing and dog sledding. Tubing, on four 100-yard long lanes with snowmaking, is open Tuesdays through Thursdays plus weekends and holidays. It is closed Mondays and Fridays. Hours are 2:30-6 p.m. and Thursdays and Saturdays until 8 p.m. ($15/adults, $12/juniors ages 6-12).
Arctic Paws Dog Sledding makes its debut at Killington this season, also at the golf course. This a complete experience where the guest is the "musher" and glides through the fairways. Tours are available Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. and reservations are required.
In addition to Snowmobile Tours offered through Killington Snowmobile Tours, new this year is Kids Pro Sno-Cross Track a modified sno-cross track on the mountainside of the Killington Base Lodge especially for kids ages 6-12. The course is designed with the smaller-set in mind and snowmobiles, 2003 xc120 Polaris', also are sized smaller for children. It is open Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesdays) from noon-6 p.m. and the cost is $20 per child for about a 20-minute ride. The maximum speed of these sleds is approximately 8 miles an hour and helmets and children's sno-cross outfits are provided.
Killington Snowmobile Tours offers trips through the Calvin Coolidge State Forest and Park System with some of the most breathtaking Green Mountain views in Vermont. Miles of groomed and maintained trails twist and wind through forest land. Expert guides lead and fill in on all the particulars during the ride. A two-hour 'radical ride' is available for the not-so-faint of heart (802-422-2121).
Snowshoeing is available through Killington Snowshoe Tours which offers rentals and 1-1/2 hour snowshoe tours daily from Beattie's Trailside Lodge on the golf course (weekends from 10:30 a.m.-noon, 1:30-3 p.m., or on request midweek). Guided tours go through the wooded confines of the Green Mountain National Golf Course for beginners; more aggressive hikes go through Gifford Woods State Park. For those seeking a little romance, join the Full Moon Dinner Snowshoe. They also offer a 3-hour cardiovascular tour for the very physically fit. Reservations are required by calling 800.767.7031 or visit online at killingtonsnowshoetours.com.
Also, Cross Country skiing is available at Mountain Meadows, a privately owned cross country area, known for its snowmaking. Located on Kent Pond, Mountain Meadows offers 57 kilometers of groomed trails for both skating and classic skiing. More than 500 acres of terrain for back country skiing are available as well. Trails can vary from the Pond Trail, a 3K beginner trail with nothing but flat skiing around Kent Pond, to the 1.5K White Trail, for beginner and intermediate skiers that is wide with a double track and skating lane, or the more advanced Black Trail, an 11K trek through pine tree groves and to the highest point in the area's trail system, Hutchins Hill and Hutchins Cabin. All trails start and finish at the Ski Center. Rentals are available as well. For more information, visit www.xcskiing.net or call 800.221.0598.
There are nearly a dozen spas and massage salons in the Killington region. The Spa at The Woods, a full service European spa nestled in The Woods Resort & Spa in Killington, is a true European spa offering Hot Stone Therapy, Citrus Body Polish, Seaweed Body Mask, Herbal Wraps, and Paraffin Treatments. There's also an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and an exercise room. Also, at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center offers a complete health and fitness facility, Swedish, deep tissue and stone massage, yoga classes, outdoor hot tub, and heated pool.
Families will enjoy Ski Week Activities include the Perfect Turn Flag Parade at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays; a Monday Welcome Party at the Rams Head Lodge, 3:30-5 p.m. with family entertainment; Ice Cream Sundae Party on Tuesday, 3:45-4:30 p.m.; and free Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides, every 15 minutes from Rams Head Lodge, slopeside, 4-5:30 p.m. (dress warmly). Wednesdays, at 4:30 p.m. there is a Puppet Show at the Snowshed Base Lodge, as well as Hasbro Game competitions; Dinner at the Peak includes a roundtrip on the K-1 Express Gondola to the on-mountain restaurant on Killington Peak (kids under 5 eat for free with an adult, 6-8 p.m., 422-6780 for reservations). On Thursdays, there is a Family Fun Slalom and an afternoon Farewell Party.
New video arcades have been installed in the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, the Rams Head Family Center, the Winter Adventure Center, and at the Shops at the Shack, located at the bottom of Killington Road. The Shops at the Shack location, known as the Mountain Arcade Center, is the largest of the arcades, with 60+ video games and a redemption center, where kids can redeem "tickets" they win from the games for prizes.
Meanwhile, there is a new valet parking service on weekends at Snowshed and at Rams Head, for $15. At the end of the day, the guest calls a cell phone number or sees a valet and their vehicle will be brought to them.
The Killington Resort area offers about 100 different restaurants and eateries. Even so, every time we go we head toward Casey's Caboose. This was a blast when our kids were very young, and it continues to appeal even though they are teens. Much of the restaurant is actually set in a 35-ton, circa 1900 railroad snowplow car (the most fun is sitting in the cupula of the raised observation deck where the engineer would have controlled the plow). You can get steaks, Maine lobster, burgers and salads. I still delight in the Lionel train that runs overhead around the bar area, blowing its whistle (midway on Killington Road, 802-422-3795).
Famous hangouts include The Wobbly Barn (802-422-3392); the Pickle Barrel (considered the best spot to see live music, 802-422-3035); Ppepper's Bar and Grill (802-422-3177), and Chef Claude's Choices (802.422.4030).
Places to Stay
As befitting the largest ski resort in the Northeast, Killington has the largest selection of accommodations. Guests can choose from lodges with amenities; the warmth and charm of a country inn; condominiums with plenty of space; the convenience of a motel or motor inn, or private home rentals from property management companies. A free shuttle bus connects the lodgings with the base areas.
We enjoyed our stay at The Pinnacle, centrally located in Killington Village, a few minutes by shuttle bus from the slopes. The Pinnacle offers 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom condominium units with full kitchen (such a convenience for a ski holiday), cable TV, VCR, stereo, gas fireplace, phone, washer/dryer. The kids will enjoy the game room (pool table and a few video games), spa with 20-person hot tub, 8-person hot tub, sauna, steam room, wine and beer bar. The Pinnacle is walking distance to shops and restaurants. (Operates from December through mid-April.
The $20 million Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, the only slopeside hotel in Killington, offers 200 rooms from traditional hotel rooms to one, two and three-bedroom suites and penthouses (the units are owned, but are rentable). The resort also offers a full-service restaurant, Ovations, named after the resort's steepest trail, valet parking, on-site childcare, concierge, bell and room service. Luxury amenities also include a heated 75-foot, year-round outdoor swimming pool, full health club, plus spa services including whirlpools, steam room, sauna, and in-room massage services. For vacation information call 877.4.KTIMES or book online at thekillingtongrand.com
Ski and Stay Packages
A 5-Day Ski Week is priced from $243 per person early and late season; rates during mid-winter start at $346 and include significant savings on 5 nights of lodging and a 5-day lift pass. 5-Day Learn-to-Ski or Ride Weeks are designed for first-time skiers or riders, and includes 5 nights lodging, 5 days of specially designed learning equipment, 5 days of lift tickets, Sprint® Perfect Turn® Discovery Center Program (Learn to Ski/Ride), and 5 days of lessons; priced from $244 per person. 4-Day Killington Long Weekend Package rates start at $212 per person early or late season and include 4 nights lodging and a 4-day lift pass; rates during mid-winter start at $347, with lodging starting Wednesday, Thursday or Friday night (holidays not included).
Call Central Reservations at 800-621-MTNS or visit www.killington.com or www.killingtonchamber.com. You can purchase lift tickets online and save up to 10 percent on two to seven-day plans, including clinics and equipment, when you book online 14 days in advance.
Killington is 242 miles, about a five-hour drive, from the New York metro area. However, if you prefer not to drive (particularly if you are a single parent), there is service by Amtrak from Penn Station on the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland Vt., taking about five hours along a scenic route along the Hudson River in New York into Vermont. From the train station, there is a connecting shuttle service to the resort via The Bus.
Once at Killington, you do not need a car. The Marble Valley Regional Transit District, generally known as The Bus, serves the Killington/ Rutland communities and its guests seven days a week, from early morning to late in the evening. The fare is just $1; however, Skyeship Base Station, Pico, Snowshed Base Lodge, Killington Base Lodge and all lodging properties managed by Killington Resort are fare-free zones and no tickets or fares are needed to board buses at these points. Killington guests who arrive via plane, train or bus can easily use The Bus network of routes for transport to mountain base areas, restaurants, shops, and nightlife on Killington Road, as well as the movie theaters, shopping malls, and stores of Rutland. The Bus also serves as a means of connecting transportation to lodges and inns from other public transportation systems.