No mask, no reservations, no skiing
Vail Resorts offers glimpse into what 2020-21 ski season may look like
by Stina Sieg
Colorado Public Radio News
Skiers and snowboarders can expect a lot of changes on the slopes this winter. And one of the world’s largest ski resort companies has shared details on some plans for an upcoming season like none before.
Late last month, Vail Resorts announced safety protocols, including health screenings, face coverings and a new reservation system, for all of its 34 North American resorts. In addition to its flagship Vail and Beaver Creek, Vail Resorts also owns Breckenridge, Keystone, Whistler-Blackcomb, Utah’s Park City and California’s Heavenly, to name a few.
In a letter sent out Aug. 27, CEO Rob Katz detailed the new safety precautions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to have changes that can be in effect throughout the entire winter, he said.
“We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactive changes,” Katz said.
He added “consistency and predictability” for guests will be important during this fluid situation.
One of the biggest changes is that only pass holders will be able to hit the slopes to start the season. Pass holders will also have to make reservations in advance. Regular lift tickets won’t go on sale until Dec. 8.
Vail Resorts will require face coverings in order to access all of its mountains and inside all buildings. That includes people standing in lift lines, riding chairlifts and gondolas, and taking lessons. The company is also encouraging people to cover their faces while actually skiing or snowboarding but has stopped short of making it mandatory.
Physical distancing measures will be implemented in lines and on lifts and gondolas except for people who traveled to a resort together. Staff will also enforce physical distancing inside all buildings, including at restaurants. All sales will be cashless.
Because of decreased capacity, Katz recommended that guests dine at off-peak hours and carry snacks and water with them to stay fueled on the mountain. While most resorts will still sell pre-packaged beer and wine, Katz said they will not set up traditional bars or pubs where many people can congregate.
“I ask for your understanding and patience,” Katz said. “In return, you can count on us to try and do everything we can to help keep you safe and make skiing and riding a reality this entire winter.”
Despite the new restrictions on buying lift tickets, prices for passes are expected to remain the same. Resort officials expect that the majority of days this year will not be affected by capacity restrictions but have added new pass types to make working around reservations and getting to the mountain more affordable.
Vail is offering credits for the 2019/20 Season for Epic Day Pass holders. Customers with remaining days on their Epic Day Pass or other multi-pack passes will get a credit for each unused day, up to 80 percent of the price paid for the pass. The credit can be applied toward a pass of equal or greater value this season.
Keystone will kick off the season for Vail Resorts with an opening planned for Nov. 6.
For more from Colorado Public Radio, go to www.cpr.org.