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Skiers flocked Bousquet this weekend skiing and tubing.

New Bousquet Having Strong Ski Season, Opens Restaurant

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The new lodge and bistro opened last fall.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a completed lodge and newly opened restaurant, the revamped Bousquet Mountain is doing well and looking forward to the school vacation week.

"We have had a successful year of snowmaking, our snow is doing really well and it's exciting to start a season with a lodge — as opposed to last year where we didn't really have a lodge — and the lodge is beautiful, people have been loving it," general manager Kevin McMillan said.

"The restaurant opened last week and the food is tremendous, the outside deck last week opened up which is perfect for this vacation weekend."

After the property was purchased by Mill Town Capital in May 2020, the ski area opened for the season in late November.  In January, the first floor of a new, 15,000-square-foot lodge was opened.  The new lodge is a far cry from the original, more than 50-year-old facility that is replaced.

Earlier this month, Lift Bistropub was unveiled on the second floor of the lodge and McMillan said it has been a destination for skiers and non-skiers alike.

"We are focused on that restaurant being kind of a standalone restaurant that benefits from being at a ski area," he said.

"And so the expectation is, and it's already happened, that a lot of people that live in town come here in the evenings to enjoy the bar and the restaurant and don't participate in skiing at all, and that was kind of our hope — that there was some sort of a synergy there between the ski area and the restaurant and the city of Pittsfield."

The menu features appetizers, salads, and main entrees with fitting names such as "Look-Out Nachos," "Double Black Diamond Burger," and the "Icicles Burger" after the arguably most challenging trail on the mountain.

Outdoor seating is also available at Lift on a second-floor deck with panoramic views of the mountain.

For diners with less time, there is a quick-serve kitchen downstairs.

McMillan said bookings have been "very strong" and that the mountain is expecting many people for mid-winter break, which occurs this week in Massachusetts.

"It seems like we've been preparing all winter for this week, which is great," he added. "So our operations are squared away."

Because Bousquet is an easy commute from large cities like Boston, there is a mix of locals and out-of-towners who come to the mountain.  

There are also benefits to being a small ski area, McMillan said, as it is accessible for families with young children and staff members are able to zero in on customer service.

Because the ski area began staffing early on, it was able to secure a team that is focused on creating a great experience for visitors, McMillan said. Staff members are also required to have a COVID-19 vaccination, making for fewer sick days and call-outs.

"About 80 percent of people that try skiing for the first time, never come back to it and what we have been trying to do is change that paradigm just a little bit. There's got to be reasons why they wanted to try and there are reasons why they never come back, and so we've been trying to identify those points that make it hard for people and then trying to smooth them out a little bit for folks," McMillan said.

"So we have instructors meet their guests in the rental process and help them go through the rental process so that they know how to carry their skis they know how to have their pants outside of their boots instead of tucked in their boots so they fill up with snow and become uncomfortable and we're really focused on trying to retain skiers which is great for the industry and particularly good for us."

Adults can secure a night pass that is valid after 4 p.m. for $39 on both weekends and weekdays.  Affordability was prioritized in the planning process, as the mountain wished to be priced a little below regional competitors to be accessible to the community.

Upgraded snow systems have also aided Bousquet in having a good season.

An electric converted, fully automatic snowmaking system was added to the mountain for a quicker and more efficient process.

In this system are 80 new snow-making guns with 19 designed for full automation. Along with the guns, there are 14,000 feet of new snowmaking pipes and an upgraded pump house.   

"We've got a great team working at the mountain this point, our snow has been holding up really well even though it's been such a wacky winter," McMillan reported.

"We made snow early and we made a lot of it, so we're very fortunate that the new snowmaking system we have enabled us to get open early and really been weathering the rain and the strange temperatures well."

For those who are not interested in skiing or snowboarding, Bousquet has made updates to its tubing facility that caters to both the tubers and onlookers.

There are more than 100 tubes, eight tubing lanes, and a carpet lift to allow for many trips down the hill.

A tube shaper was purchased to create intentional tubing lanes that are the same size as the tube. With this, the hill can be a little more playful varying terrain and it has reportedly been well received.

McMillan said the low price point has also been popular for families, as tubing passes range from $22 to $24 for two hours.

To accommodate the people who prefer to just watch the tubing, there is a cabana village by the area with fire pits, lights, and picnic tables.

"What I wanted to do is instead of having it be focused solely on tubing, we wanted a slightly more holistic experience for folks," he said. "The parents tend to tube with their kids two or three times and the kids keep going up and down, up and down up and down and the parents hang out by the fires and relax and enjoy themselves without having to worry too much about what the kids are doing and where they are."

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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