New life for Kay’s Resort |

New life for Kay’s Resort

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / After being closed for many years, there are plans to reopen the restaurant at Kay's Resort, according to David Likins, president of Mountainsprings Kirkwood.

SILVER LAKE – Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s parent company has expanded its reach with plans to upgrade Kay’s Resort, a historic lodging concessionaire on this Amador County reservoir.

Kirkwood is set to finalize next week the lease from El Dorado Irrigation District, the property owner and water company that also owns a stake in Caples Lake and Jenkins Lake at the Sly Park Campground. They also own water rights to Aloha Lake in the Desolation Wilderness.

Kirkwood has agreed to put $800,000 worth of improvements in the resort over two phases, which aims to bring the facilities up to code. The proposal on the table involves reopening by next spring the long-abandoned restaurant as a beer-and-burger joint with outside dining. They also include sprucing up the attached general store, retrofitting the house, building a boat dock with kayak and canoe rentals and modernizing the nine cabins on the grounds.

The cabins that now rent between $75 and $135 will eventually be used as employee housing for senior staff to add on to the 220 staffers – which the resort has spent $300,000 on upgrading.

“Workforce housing is remarkably important given Kirkwood’s remoteness,” said David Likins, president of Mountain Springs Kirkwood – the ski resort’s holding company that includes the development, resort and utility divisions.

Mona and John White relinquished their leasing agreement after running the resort area, built in 1863, for 33 years. The area’s history may be retained with talk of a mini museum and archeological venue.

“This is consistent with what we’re trying to do at Kirkwood – especially with the Emigrant Trail close by. We’re not talking about commercializing this place. We’re talking about preserving the things that people remember,” Likins said.

Likins said Kirkwood views Kay’s in two ways. On severe snow days, people get stuck here. Then, there are opportunities to expand Nordic skiing.

In summer, it’s a fantastic place for fishermen, with the potential for being a great family retreat. Kirkwood may also provide guided flyfishing trips and overnight horse-packing trips. The resort has plans to upgrade its full equestrian center in its master plan that spans the next decade.

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