Prior to the start of this year’s ski season, which began for many resorts in early December, questions lingered throughout the ski industry concerning just how many people would come to the slopes considering the current environment. From all reports, those questions have been answered emphatically. People want to ski, and they have been packing the resorts while at the same time adhering to strict social distancing guidelines.
In order to ensure the safety and well-being of both their skiers and employees, many resorts have been limiting ticket sales and have implemented a number of other measures. The National Ski Areas Association’s “Ski Well, Be Well” program is designed to ensure that resorts provide skiers with a thoughtful return to outdoor winter recreation.
According to Brad Wilson, General Manager of Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area in Boise, Idaho, who also serves as president of the Idaho Ski Areas Association, “Demand for winter recreation continues to be strong in Idaho and across the country. How we accommodate this demand safely is our challenge.” He adds, “I believe that visits to the mountains are above average, but many ski areas, Bogus Basin included, are seeing less spending per visit. This reduction in revenue is due to limitations on profit centers like ski/snowboard rentals, ski school, and food and beverage. For instance, we have no inside seating for our restaurants due to recommendations by our local Health District, and have suggested people consider their vehicles their base lodge. In addition, due to the inability to assure social distancing, we are not offering group ski school lessons, only private/semi private lessons. And we have moved the entire ski/snowboard rental operation outside.”
In Idaho, as is the case throughout the country, most of the larger ski areas are requiring or strongly suggesting that lift tickets to be purchased in advance to assure their space on the mountain. Wilson says, “Some ski areas are limiting the number of lift tickets sold each day, others are not. No ski area in Idaho is limiting season pass holder visits or requiring pass holders to make reservations at this time.”
Advance ticket purchases are the best option for securing your selected days and to help them manage capacity and safety at Aspen/Snowmass. Based on the fact that there are four mountains and plentiful terrain open now, they don’t expect to limit lift tickets or pass usage this season when looking at current business projections. “It is our intention to have some inventory of lift tickets available for sale every day of the season, but we urge you to buy in advance,” says Senior Communications Manager Tucker Vest Burton. “We hope to continue to operate safely and provide the best possible guest experience and our teams have been doing an amazing job and we will continue to provide our guest’s with a safe, accessible and easily navigable experience.
At Stratton Mountain, Vermont, season passes including Ikon, Ikon Base, Stratton Summit, Select, Strattitude Passes and Ikon Session Pass 4-Day, will have priority access. Advance purchase of general lift tickets is required. Seating capacity inside lodges will be limited and will be available by advance reservation only in 25-minute increments through Open Table. Reduced capacity on the gondola and chairlifts will be observed. Guests will have the opportunity to ride with members of their traveling party, or load with other skiers and riders at no more than 50 percent. Individuals who wish to ride alone will be allowed to do so but may have to wait until demand allows a chair or cabin to be loaded with one person. Indoor dining remains the same, and the village restaurants remain open, many requiring reservations in advance. They have added outdoor heaters and picnic table for those looking to hang outside and eat, as well as two outdoor dining options for food on the go.
Taos, New Mexico, is limiting capacity to 25% uphill capacity. This is in-line with the requirement from the State of the New Mexico. All day tickets must be purchased in advance, online. Season passholders may go direct-to-lift and do not need to purchase any tickets or make reservations in advance. Ikon passholders just need to make a make reservation through the Ikon system. Taos Ski Valley sold-out all its available tickets for several days over the holidays indicating there is demand for skiing this winter, and that Taos’ safety procedures are working. Claire Mylott, media spokesperson, says, “Our expectations and hope for the season are to give people the joy of skiing, the respite of the mountains, and a way to exercise in the outdoors. Because of the capacity limits on the mountains skiers and riders are experiencing a unique season, and many have commented to us how thrilling the experience has been thus far.”
Nestled in the scenic Pocono Mountains, Camelback Resort requires the purchase of advanced lift tickets and passes online. Ski rentals and signed waivers will need to be completed online to minimize contact. Facial coverings will be required in all public spaces, including rental shops, while queuing for loading and riding lifts. Parties traveling together will need to ride together while singles will need to ride alone. Sanitizing stations will be present at the top and bottom of each lift. There are accommodations available at Camelback Lodge, an eight-story mountain modern-designed hotel with 453 guest suites. Innovative outdoor dining experiences at Camelback include the new Tacos & Beer Truck at Camelback Mountain Village featuring street tacos and draft beers. A new soup and sandwich themed food truck, On a Roll, is hitched to Tap Bar, a draft beverage trailer, for prime dip sandwiches.
By its inherent nature, skiing lends itself well to many of the social distancing guidelines that have been recommended. Some fresh mountain air combined with physical activity while responsibly socializing may be just people need these days.