The upcoming ski season may look a little different this year.
The early season closure of ski resorts across Colorado devastated anyone looking to get their last few trips to the slopes. Companies have been working hard to make sure we can head back this year.
On August 27, hope was renewed when Vail Resorts became the first major Colorado ski resort operator to provide details on its COVID-19 procedures for the 2020/2021 season. Loveland Ski Area also released a reopening plan and coronavirus update. While the ski season might look slightly different from years past, the protocols will ensure safety while still getting an excellent ski and snowboard experience.
Vail Resorts COVID-19 Protocols
In a letter published on the Vail Resorts website, CEO Rob Katz outlined the new changes for their 2020/2021 winter operating plan. Vail Resorts will implement a reservation system designed to limit visitor numbers. Only Epic Pass holders can save spots for early season access and will receive priority reservation days. According to the letter, the reservation system includes the following details:
- Epic Pass holders must make a reservation before arriving at the resort.
- The availability of lift tickets for the general public each day will be determined by how many pass holders already have reservations.
- General public lift tickets, which won't be available until December 8, will only be available online or via telephone.
More information on how the system works for Epic Pass holders is available here.
This winter we’re focused on 3 things: your safety, having a successful season start to finish & prioritizing our pass holders. Details on our 20/21 operating plan & new reservation system that gives pass holders priority access to the mountains they love: https://t.co/ar4UX1lGgf pic.twitter.com/9kGqY80cK2— VailResorts (@VailResorts) August 27, 2020
Katz and the organization believe it is the best way to ensure everyone's safety and wellbeing on the slopes.
"It goes without saying that operations at our 34 North American resorts will abide by all local regulations, but for us, that’s just where safety begins," he said.
In addition to the reservation system, Vail Resorts will also implement the following safety protocols:
- Face coverings are required in all areas of the resort, including on the mountain.
- Only guests skiing or riding together can share a lift or gondola to promote physical distancing, with a few exceptions outlined on their website.
- Full-service restaurants will have reduced seating, and bars will not be operating (packaged beer and wine will still be available).
- All employees and participants enrolling in ski and ride school will be required to undergo health screenings.
"Success for this season can only happen with close collaboration and partnership in each community," Katz said. "There is no doubt this season will be different, but we are committed to what matters most: working to protect your safety and wellbeing and providing you with great skiing and riding this winter."
Loveland Ski Area Reopening Plans
Loveland Ski Area in Idaho Springs released a summary of operational changes for the upcoming season on their website.
"We place the highest value on the health and safety of our guests and employees, and that will drive our decision making when it comes to the 2020/21 season," they posted. "We expect to open on time and will do everything we can to safely stay open for the entire season. With your help, we believe this is possible."
Learn more about Loveland’s preliminary plans for the upcoming season including the 130 Day Guarantee for season pass products. 2020/21 season passes are on sale now.— Loveland Ski Area (@LovelandSkiArea) August 6, 2020
For more info go to https://t.co/eYvaMdKYJN pic.twitter.com/WPC5O7zNob
In addition to rigorous sanitation efforts, Loveland released the following details:
- Mandatory physical distancing in all areas.
- Required gloves or mittens while on chairlifts.
- Required face coverings in all areas.
- Class size reduction for ski and snowboard schools.
- Occupancy reduction in all buildings.
- Advanced reservation for equipment rentals.
The warming cabins and food service on the mountain will remain closed. Loveland also announced there would be no live events for the 2020/2021 season. Full details on their coronavirus protocols are available here.
Loveland Ski Area in Idaho Springs is offering a 130-day ski season guarantee for the 2020/2021 season. They will offer a prorated credit toward a 2021/2022 season pass for lost days due to a mandated closure related to COVID-19.