Originally Posted by Philpug
Other than it costing significantly more.
No. All the new owners did was unwind the absolutely suicidal pricing policy ASC installed over the previous 4 years. You will recall that ASC was insolvent and needed to create summer cash flow to make some attempt to pay the quarterly interest payments on their huge pile of debt.
I've been a Killington season pass holder for 25+ years. Until ASC, Killington only had one season pass product. No blackout deal. It broke even in 20 or 21 ski days. Inflation adjusted, it would cost $1,600 today. The 2008 season pass price? $1000. The blackout pass price? $600. Season pass prices are substantially under their historic levels.
Killington also killed off any and all day ticket discount programs. They no longer participate in the flatland ski club October bulk voucher programs. If you're there from another mountain for a race or freestyle event, you pay the walkup day ticket price. It's now really tough to score a comp ticket. The only surviving deal is group rates for the tour bus crowd.
The day ticket price didn't go up much. It's comparable to other Vermont ski areas. Stowe has much higher prices both for day tickets and season passes.
Face it. Killington under ASC was a freakin' zoo on weekends. It's now quite civilized on weekends. Their killing off the discount deals detoxified the place.
The new management did acknowledge the obvious... Killington is predominantly a weekend resort and trimmed services somewhat midweek. Pico and the Skyeship are closed two midweek days. All the base lodges are open 7 days per week but you can't get food or buy lift tickets other than at a kiosk at Bear or the Killington base lodge on the slowest midweek days. They've never run all the lifts midweek and this just formalized what previous management was already doing. 90% of the customer base will never notice.
There are a couple of things they have done that I think are mistakes:
They jacked up the prices on kid programs. This doesn't impact me but I think it's short-sighted. I think they should price kid programs so they break even. That's the future of their business.
They announced a significantly shortened season. Instead of October to June 1, they're operating mid-November to mid-April. That one does impact me since I pretty much suffer through their midwinter product to enjoy what has always been the best spring skiing in the east. I can cope with no white ribbon of death" in October and early November but I'm used to being able to ski into May every year and this makes Killington a lot less attractive.
Some positives, from my point of view:
Their early season trail rollout was completely expert-centric. That's how the original Preston Smith Killington did it and ASC mistakenly changed the policy to blow snow on beginner areas like Snowshed and Rams Head only to have them melt out over and over. Advanced skiers ski in November. Novices don't.
Snowmaking quality and quantity are great. There were all kinds of rumors that Killington had quit making snow for the year after Presidents weekend. Not true. They made tons of snow beyond that. They put a good 5 feet down on Double Dipper and that was superb last Saturday. They're blowing on Superstar right now. If they wanted to, they now have enough base to easily make May.
Grooming? Most of us only ski groomed trails after a thaw. It's no better or worse than it ever was. Right after a thaw and re-freeze, you get golf balls and sugar snow.
Food? In 30-something ski days, I haven't spent a dime on their food. It doesn't appear that they have fixed it in the Killington base lodge. I haven't set foot in Snowshed where they have their food court. The only negative I've seen is they pulled out waitress service in the Bear bar and set up a pizza counter. That place had really gone downhill under ASC ownership so it's not much of a loss. It would have been better to put the food quality back to what it used to be where you could get a very good sandwich and a tastey side. Killington has a labor shortage issue so I can see why they decided to go with a low-labor alternative.
For me, the overall product is much better this year since they chased away all the bargain hunters. It's no longer jammed on weekends. If they came to their senses and announced that they will try to operate at least through the first weekend of May, I'd be happy. The chronic complainers will always find something to bitch about. With the internet, it's just gotten amplified since a small number of whiners can make it appear that Killington is now a disaster.