Kirkwood rolls out upgrades
KIRKWOOD – Alpine County’s mountain resort will open the 2006-07 ski season with two key markets in mind – women and children.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort is moving mountains for the markets at the former Timber Creek beginner area where two tents are being installed. A year ago, a high-speed chairlift replaced the old version in the area now called Mighty Mountain.
As part of a $3 million upgrade, one tent will house new rental equipment and ski school facilities for children and Women’s Learn to Ride Center. The Burton Snowboards program is designed as a safe haven for adult women learning the art of snowboarding.
“This is a significant improvement – especially for beginners – to improve our service and traffic flow over here,” said Kirkwood General Manager Chip Seamans, who knows what it’s like to learn – especially on the icy hills of the East Coast.
The 48-year-old ski executive grew up skiing the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania as early as age 8. And he has children who are working on the snowsports -Malcolm, 9, and Mattie, 10.
Seamans, who said he’s excited about his arrival, joined the resort after spending years in the ski resort industry. He was managing director at Sunday River Ski Resort in Bethel, Maine, from 1998 to 2003. Afterward, he worked as vice president and director of claims and loss control for Willis of New Hampshire.
He strolled the Timber Creek work area Thursday going into his first season as chief operating officer.
The small, old building with cramped quarters was torn down in May. In its place, crews are furiously at work getting the tents up. They serve as a two-year solution before a permanent structure is built.
The other tent, which offers retail and a food outlet, is closer to the Palisades first in five phases of single family homes for the ski-in, ski-out visitor and resident. Some of the homes will be ready for the upcoming season, adding to a bed base of an estimated 1,500 in 650 units.
At full capacity, Kirkwood may accommodate 6,500 people in the valley.
Kirkwood management has many plans for the future of the resort, including the replacement of at least one chairlift in an undetermined area.
But in the grand plans for a remote ski area, amenities and programs are the name of the game for the destination traveler seeking a place to settle for longer than an overnight stay.
Expedition: Kirkwood goes into the season with more programs including practical clinics designed to hone skills and find new ones. The clinics, which are run out of an office in the Kirkwood plaza, were established by women for women because the burgeoning market is known to learn better outside a competitive male arena. Gear specifically designed for women will be available for demos.
Snowcat skiing will return to the mountain. In the coming years, skiing the craggy Martin Point is one option that’s part of a future plan.