Originally Posted by Living Proof
Two years ago, there was a very similar negative reaction to the purchase of Killington by Powdr. I've minimal first hand experience about Killington, and, I hope other Bears who ski there more often weigh-in with their experiences.
My limited observations are that Powdr has done a better job at managing K'ton than was predicted by many. For sure there has not been much K'ton bashing, and, the recent thread about this year's opening day sounded pretty positive. My group of friends who do a week at K'ton each spring remains committed to returning this March.
Copper may be very different, but, it is a jewel and needs to be treated as such.
At Killington, it took almost 2 years for Powdr to realize that their preconceived notions of what it means to run an eastern ski area and who their customer base is were off-target. This had the pleasant side effect of thinning the on-slope crowds significantly. They're starting to get it now, and I've heard their season pass sales are up 11% this year. Kudos to Powdr for keeping K open this past Sunday as the wrod melted away.
They're gradually improving the failing infrastructure left by the previous owners (leaky snowmaking pipes, bathrooms, etc.) And they've installed 1 new quad and closed a lift and two trails with dangerous crossings. The rule is that all improvements must come from Killington's profits -- no funds flow from Powdr corporate to the ski area, only in the reverse direction. Expect no infrastructure investment from Powdr corporate into Copper. Copper employees take note: the employee population at K has been reduced, especially the year-round population, since Powdr took over. Another cost saving measure was to close most lodges midweek and to close their 7th, family-oriented mountain (Pico) 2 days a week. They're restoring partial midweek lodge service, but Pico is still only open 7 days in holiday weeks.
At Killington, Powdr seems much more focused on the day ticket customer than on the passholder, especially in their first year. They upped the price of passes and shortened the season. In the first year, they also refused to sell any form of discounted day tickets, but they have slowly introduced a stream of discounted products targeted at slow weeks. A non-blackout adult pass now costs $1,249. The informed speculation is that Powdr actually wanted to drive off some of the old, low-margin passholders to enhance the day ticket customer experience. (Passholders generally bring their own lunch, don't buy lessons, don't lodge in resort housing, and frequent off-resort bars.) On a positive note, this year K tried to open earlier than their stated mid-November opening but mother nature hasn't been very cooperative.
With their partner SP Land, Powdr is still trying to convert Killington from a ski area with a vibrant access road business community into a classic western "company town" ski RESORT. The current proposal calls for the destruction of most parking and the creation of distant remote lots. Anyone who's ever ridden their shuttle bus service shudders at this thought and some season pass holders have said they'll leave when this happens. The bottom line is that Powdr is trying to make the best of a bad business deal: they partnered with SP Land to acquire Killington and turn it into a Stratton, but it's not and never will be. The Copper community should work to politely help Powdr understand Copper's unique value proposition and identity so that any decision by new management to change Copper's identity is well-informed.