Vt. Resorts Unveil Coaster, Zip Lines in Effort to Boost Summer Visits

Vermont’s Killington Resort, already famous with skiers and riders in the winter, will unveil its new Beast Mountain Coaster Saturday. The coaster is part of a large package of additions and upgrades aimed at boosting the destination’s reputation with travelers in warmer months.

Similarly, another of the state's prime ski destinations, Stowe Mountain Resort, just unveiled its multi-million dollar "SummerStowe" program, which the resort said includes nearly two miles of zip lines down Mount Mansfield. That spot has some of the most breathtaking views in the state.

“We can't just be a weekend destination, we need reasons for people to stay all week,” said Megan Smith, the commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Tourism and Marketing. “And this is going to do it.”

Travel is critical to this small state’s economy. Smith said Vermont's winter lodging receipts are about $156-million. That is approximately $40-million more than the state’s summer lodging receipts, so Smith said she would like to see the number of warm-weather trips rise to match the cold ones.

“It would mean a big difference to the state of Vermont,” Smith said of the notion of dramatically expanding summertime visits to Vermont. “If we can get [more] year-round employment, that will benefit Vermonters and Vermont in a big way.”

Killington and Stowe’s new offerings this season follow a trend in the resort industry in recent years. Many resorts that are busiest in the winter have been working to strengthen their summer offerings.

Other examples include a recently-added water park at Jay Peak Resort, and an “adventure zone” at Okemo Mountain Resort, whose Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster is similar to the new Beast Mountain Coaster at Killington.

The Beast Mountain Coaster’s carts glide on tracks through the woods alongside slopes that in the winter are trails for skiing and riding. The experience feels sort of like a hybrid between sledding and mountain biking, based on a trip necn took Friday.

Riders can control their speed by applying brakes, or they can use no brakes at all and feel the sensation of going pretty fast around twists and turns.

Killington said it spent $2.3-million on the coaster, which was part of an investment of $3.5-million in new recreation options. Those include the 100-foot-high SkyeRide, which the resort said takes visitors on a 600-foot long trip at 30 miles per hour, a “mining” experience for kids, and a ropes course.

“We're very excited about this addition, because I think it brings Killington to a whole new energy level for the summer,” said Jeff Temple, the mountain operations director for Killington Resort.

Temple told necn that the carts on the Beast Mountain Coaster have technology on board that is designed to prevent crashes.

Stowe Mountain Resort will also introduce what it is calling the Stowe Treetop Adventure, an obstacle course made up of bridges, nets, swings, and other features that are suspended between trees and poles.

“By introducing options to soar over the mountain canopy and have an astonishing forest adventure, SummerStowe will allow our guests and residents to reconnect with nature in exceptional ways,” Dave Merriam, Stowe’s mountain recreation director, said in a news release.

For more information on visiting Vermont’s ski resorts, in summer or winter, visit the website of the group Ski Vermont.

Information on other travel options is available through the state website Vermont Vacation

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