From Colorado towns like Vail and Breckenridge to Park City, Utah, 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.
Vail Resorts has announced safety protocols, including health screenings, face coverings and a new reservation system, for all of its 34 North American resorts.
In a letter sent out Thursday, 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.
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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.”
Keystone will kick off the season for Vail Resorts with an opening planned for Nov. 6.