Jiminy Peak: A Year-Round DestinationBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, May 25, 2006
Hancock - Dozens of workers toiled under a bright morning sun in near-60 degree temperatures on May 25 to transform the Jiminy Peak ski resort into a warm-weather venue known as Jiminy Peak Mountain Adventure Park.
|A mountain coaster like this is expected to be installed at Jiminy Peak and ready to ride in July.|
The adventure park is set to open on May 27. The opening will be accompanied by a popular "Berkshires Biggest Garage Sale," which expects to host at least 30 vendors at the site's Village Center lower courtyard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Mountain Sports shop operated by Potter Brothers is participating in the sale.
Coming Soon: 2,600 Feet Of Fun
An anticipated July installation of a mountain coaster ride is generating huge resort excitement, said Katie Tworek, director of public relations.
The coaster is very popular in Europe and when in place at Jiminy Peak, it will be the second mountain coaster in use in the U.S. A mountain coaster is in place in Colorado, Tworek said.
Mountain coaster cars are not connected as rollercoaster cars are but are individual cars built to accommodate two passengers. The cars are pulled up a track and then released, and passengers may control the descent speed. The cars are designed to travel no faster than 25 miles per hour, said Tworek.
Already In Place
The mountain coaster will join existing summer-season attractions that have been added to the mountain over the years. A 3,000-foot-long alpine slide was the first major summertime installation; next year, the slide will have been at Jiminy Peak for three decades. The resort hosts a 9-hole miniature gold course, a climbing wall, a giant swing, a "bouncy-bounce," a playground area and Euro-Bungee trampolines which allow people to be outfitted with a harness that allows increased jumping heights and opportunities for twists, flips, and other high-jumping stunts.
"You get so much higher than on a regular trampoline," Tworek said. "You flip, you twist, it's fun."
The trampolines may be used by those who weigh a minimum of 50 pounds. The maximum permitted weight is 250 pounds, she said.
Tworek is always up for ride on the oversized swing.
"I think it's the thrill. You do go a few stories off the ground. And I don't think there is a ride here that I don't like."
A 700-foot-long "Zip Line" runs at a height of 25 feet from the ground and travles at a speed of about 40 miles per hour. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall and weigh less than 300 pounds.
A Jiminy Peak employee readied a "Zip Line" ride for a May 27 Mountain Adventure Park opening.
The Berkshire Bike and Blade venue operates a rental entity which is open.
"We offer mountain biking to experienced mountain bikers," she said, and added that all bikes must pass an inspection before being allowed on the lifts.
Among the summer visitors are youth groups and camps. Resort shops are open to meet most needs or wants.
The "Just Jiminy" shop, which sells items marked with the resort logo, is open, as is "The Country Store," built in 2002 and operated by "Store At Five Corners" owners Tom Masone and Meredith "Meddy" Woodyard. Inside the store, which also hosts the Hancock Post Office, is a nook that carries items from the Williamstown-based "Where'd You Get That?!" store.
The "Berkshire Express" is scheduled to open and offer scenic summer chairlift during the July 1 weekend, Tworek said.
Lots of "New"
The energy surrounding the grounds is high in anticipation of summer guests.
"We are attracting new people to Jiminy during the summer," Tworek said.
Many of the resort's buildings, including lodges, centers, and the Christiansen Tavern have undergone some significant renovations.
Christiansen Tavern is boasting a new roof, a kitchen expansion and a modest seating capacity increase.
JJ's Lodge, known as the East Base Lodge before a massive renovation, handles conference crowds of about 350 people during the warm weather months and becomes a ski lodge during the winter with a 400-person capacity. The ground floor hosts a snow sport school during the winter months; the upper three stories of the five-floor building are condominiums that were all sold before the construction was completed, Tworek said. The condos were opened to occupancy in February.
"[JJ's] was the final piece to the [resort's] Village Center," Tworek said. "It's really the place to be in the Village Center."
Crane Lodge wasn't slighted during the renovation work; new floors, new walls, new lighting and a new bar were added to the space in about six weeks time. On May 25, dining tables were sheathed in white tablecloths, fresh flowers stood tall in glass vases, and sunshine spread a soft glow about the room.
Melanie Jackson and Sarah York work at "The Country Store" at Jiminy Peak.
"It was about revitalizing the space," Tworek said of the work.
Keeping Focus On The Future
A four-season focus is paying off; according to information provided by Jiminy's CFO Jack Filiault, summer business at the resort has grown by 168 percent since 1996.
Special events have spurred resort visits; this summer, events include a "Chamber Night" on June 14, a mountain coaster grand opening event planned for July 1, a July 28-30 "Pedro's Festival" mountain biking event, a September 9 "Epicurean Weekend" event featuring Cooking For Kids Chef Mike Russo, and a Fall Festival scheduled for Oct. 7-9.
Jiminy Peak is also preparing to accept July 2007 delivery of a 253-foot tall General Electric turbine with a 122-foot blade.
Preparations include preparing a concrete foundation for the turbine, installing transformers and underground power lines, and additional improvements to the electrical distribution system. The turbine will be used to generate power for the resort and the project has benefited from a $582,000 Massachusetts Technological Collaborative grant. The project total cost is at about $3.9 million. Benefits of the project include mitigation of energy costs for the resort - during 2005, the resort spent about $948,421 in energy costs- and bringing a sustainable, wind-powered power source to the resort.
Ups, Downs, And All-Arounds
Growth and expansion have been at the heart of Jiminy's operations for two decades. During the 1980s and 1990s, the resort saw construction of hospitality venues, private homes, townhouse-style properties, and the Village Center buildings.
T & J General Contracting employee Dave Sobon was among the workers who tackled Christiansen Tavern renovations.
Snowmaking operations are constantly improving and evolving, and beginning in 1998, over $10 million has been poured into infrastructure development.
Widow White's peak opened in 1998 and the opening brought the installation of a second quad [four-person] chair life, and added seven ski trails to the resort. The Berkshire Express, a six-person high-speed chairlift, was erected in 2000. New trails and half-pipe venue was added for the 2004-2005 winter season.
Jiminy Peak has almost always been in the Berkshire and the ski industry spotlight in one manner or another. Founded as Jiminy Peak Inc. by John Clark, John Drummond and John Fisher in 1947, the ski area opened for business in 1948 and offered a $3 life ticket for one T-bar, the first T-bar in the state.
An additional opening year "amenity" was an outhouse.
Two rope tows were in place for the 1949 season and a decade later, a second T-bar was erected below the initial T-bar. A lodge was subsequently built at the mountain's base, and snowmaking capabilities were introduced to the mountain.
In 1964, the first chairlift was installed and, although not known at the time, the future of Jiminy Peak arrived at the mountain in 1969 when Brian Fairbank was hired as the general manager. After a complete business reorganization in 1974, Fairbank was elected the corporation president.
The resort has experienced very high "ups" and some significant "downs" over the years, with several snow-drought winters mixing with industry innovations and accolades.
The resort is a major employer. Jiminy Peak employs about 150 people year-round, with the employee roster swelling to about 900 full and part-time workers during the winter months and about 60 summer season workers, Tworek said.
Every nail pounded, every attraction installed, and every amenity offered is part of a resort mission, and that mission is straightforward, Tworek said.
New floor, new walls, and a new bar were part of the Crane Lodge renovations.
"This is all to make Jiminy Peak a complete four season resort, a destination," she said.
The Mountain Adventure Park will offer 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekend and holiday hours through June 11.
The park will open seven days a week beginning on June 17 through September 4, with 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours.
All hours and activities are weather-permitting. A full-day ticket to the park is $46; alternative admission information and additional information about all aspects of Jiminy Peak is available at a www.jiminypeak.com Internet web site or by calling 413-738-5500.
Season passes for the 2006-2007 ski season are available now, with pass prices starting at $299 until June 15. Passes may be acquired at the web site, by calling 413-738-5500, ext. 3090, or by visiting the resort.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367.