With so much uncertainty in the world due to COVID, many of us have been bracing ourselves for disappointment after disappointment.
The good news, my Snowmamas, is Ski Season 2020-21 has not been canceled!
Kudos to Vail Resorts for methodically and carefully rolling out a season that may not look like the rest but my gosh, it’s still a season and we can’t wait to visit Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Crested Butte and Beaver Creek.
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz released the details of the Vail Resorts 2021-21 winter operating plan today:
As we have all summer, we will be requiring guests to wear face coverings in every part of our operations, which includes loading and riding in chairlifts and gondolas; when inside all buildings; and during all ski and snowboard lessons. No one will be permitted on the mountain without a face covering. We will also strongly recommend that guests wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces throughout our resort towns and will continue to encourage our communities to make this a requirement. Being safe and successful this season will require everyone’s cooperation and we believe face coverings are foundational to make that possible.
Physical Distancing on Chairlifts and Gondolas
To maintain physical distancing on our chairlifts and gondolas, we will only be seating related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or: two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift; two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift; or two singles on opposite sides of our larger gondola cabins.
Riding a chairlift is an outdoor experience, while moving quickly and taking a relatively short amount of time, and many of you have inquired why we need distancing at all, given the requirement for guests to wear face coverings. While all of this is true, in the current environment, we do not believe it is appropriate to seat guests from different parties directly next to each other, given the dynamics during loading and unloading, during chair stoppages and due the proximity between guests as they ride the lift, speak to each other, speak on the phone, eat and adjust their clothing. We believe a conservative approach is the best way to protect our guests.
Physical Distancing on Our Mountains
As outlined below, we will be promoting physical distancing throughout our operations, including on our chairlifts and gondolas, to help ensure a safe experience. In order to make this a reality and also make it an enjoyable experience, we must manage the number of people on our mountains. The good news is that we operate many of the largest mountain resorts in North America, and for the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to. However, we are not planning for the majority of days, we are planning for every day of the season. We want to provide assurance to our guests that we will do our very best to minimize crowds at all times – be it a holiday weekend or the unpredictable powder day.
As such, this season we will be implementing a reservation system across each of our mountains. It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts. However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now. Full details and FAQs on how the reservation system will work can be found here, but this overview should answer some of your questions:
- Pass holders will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain.
- Throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass type and availability allow.
- The early season will be reserved for pass holders only. We will not sell lift tickets until Dec. 8.
- In addition to week-of reservations, we will also be providing pass holders with the opportunity to book up to seven Priority Reservation Days for the core season (Dec. 8-April 4), or as many days of access as they have on their pass if less than seven. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7.
- As pass holders use their Priority Reservation Days, they can book new ones, maintaining up to seven (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass) at any time. In addition, pass holders can always make as many week-of reservations as they choose (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass).
- Families will be able to book reservations together if they are in the same pass holder account.
- While still subject to change, at this time we do not believe pass holders will need a reservation to access our partner resorts (Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Hakuba or Rusutsu).
- Lift tickets (including Buddy and SWAF tickets) will go on sale on Dec. 8, with sales limited based on the number of spaces available for any given day after our exclusive pass holder reservation period. This season, lift tickets will be sold with a reservation for a specific resort on a specific date.
- Given the need to manage lift tickets sales, they will only be sold on our websites and through our call centers. No lift tickets will be sold at the ticket window in resort – you may only pickup your pre-purchased lift ticket at our ticket windows. We will be encouraging guests to purchase in advance – though guests can purchase a same day lift ticket online or through our call centers, subject to availability, and then pick up the lift ticket at the ticket window.
We believe this approach will help ensure a safe experience for everyone, while prioritizing access for our pass holders. To make the reservation system as easy to use as possible, pass holders will be able to book reservations to any of our resorts, and for all dates, on EpicPass.com. Booking a reservation will turn on pass access for that day, so there will be no need for pass holders to bring anything but their pass and access the mountain as usual.
To provide additional peace of mind, we have also updated our Epic Coverage program. Epic Coverage is new and free for all pass holders. It will provide refunds:
If pass holders are unable to book their preferred Priority Reservation Days during the initial booking window (Nov. 6-Dec. 7) and if they have not used their pass yet.
If there is a resort closure due to certain events such as COVID-19 during a pass holders’ initial Priority Reservation Days selected by Dec. 7. (There will still be an option for pass holders to choose to cover the core season instead.)
If pass holders experience an eligible personal event that prevents them from using their pass, such as job loss, injury or illness.
We know this reservation system is a change to our normal approach and we want to give you time to review and understand it. As such, we are extending our Labor Day deadline to Sept. 17 for our Buddy/SWAF benefits and utilization of all pass credits. If you purchased a 2020-21 pass product prior to Aug. 27 and no longer want to move forward with your pass, we will provide you a refund of the amount paid if your request is made by Sept. 17 through our call center or an online form that will be available by Sept. 1.
Let’s get this party started!