KILLINGTON, Vermont – Vermont ski resorts were packed with visitors gazing at the fall foliage on Wednesday, and it is hoped that the tourism boom will hit the slopes next month.
Around the same time last year, resorts like Bolton Valley, Killington, Jay Peak and Smugglers Notch were planning to start the season with base lodges closed and no out-of-state visitors.
Lindsay DesLauriers, president of Bolton Valley, said there were a few bright spots – the transition to buying lift tickets online, for example. Skiers and runners will always be encouraged to pick up online to reduce wait times, but other aspects of the 2020-21 season will not be missed.
“There were downsides, of course,” said DesLauriers. “Accommodation was very tight, food and drink was very limited.
This year there is a little more hope on the slopes. In Stowe, hotel bookings are currently up + 6% ahead of the 2019-20 winter season for stays from November to January. This is probably due in part to the return of out-of-state visitors to Vermont, a factor that Killington Resort president Mike Solimano says should help the results.
“For this year, we expect a much more normal year,” said Solimano. “I don’t think we’re going back to a normal year yet, but we’re very optimistic. There is a lot of demand for skiing and horse riding.
Killington typically hosts some of the biggest competitions in winter sports, including the Women’s Skiing World Cup. It had to be canceled last year, but its big comeback is now slated for Thanksgiving weekend.
“People were thrilled to put on such a high level event in the state, and I think we’ve shown the people on the East Coast that they really love watching ski races,” Solimano said. “We’re really excited to bring him back. “
Other resorts like Smugglers Notch and Bolton Valley have spent their free time planning some big upgrades that they are excited to show off this winter.
“People will notice this year that we have built an addition to our Timberline Base Lodge, we are currently working on it,” said DesLauriers. “It’s going to be a race to the finish!
Smuggs has improved its snow cover and its maintenance for the sake of efficiency.
“We’ve put in some fuel efficient guns and the Snowcat we just purchased has GPS that will tell us how deep the snow is,” said Steve Clokey, vice president of marketing and operations. promotions.
Meanwhile, Jay Peak expects a big rebound from Canada. Last year, the resort had to go an entire season without Canadian visitors, and while uncertainty persists, there is optimism that the border could be fully open by the time the skis hit the snow. Seasonal season ticket sales are also up 30%.
“We were guaranteed that the border wouldn’t open at all for 2021, and now it’s still a moving target, but we hope to get it when the snow starts to fly, that remains to be seen,” JJ Toland said. . , communication director.
Jay Peak and Smugglers’ Notch hope to start producing snow early next month and open the day after Thanksgiving. Weather permitting, Killington will begin producing snow later this month.