Vail Resorts announces plan for the 2020/21 ski season

The plans outline the operator's new COVID-19 protocols
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When the novel coronavirus landed in the United States last spring, it was still ski season in Colorado. On March 14, 2020, as infection rates grew increasingly higher in Colorado’s ski towns, Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order requiring all Colorado ski resorts to close.

The order came just hours after resorts across the state preemptively announced they were shutting down because the new coronavirus.

With the new ski season approaching, one of the nation’s largest operators, Vail Resorts Inc., just released plans for the 2020/21 season with a comprehensive focus on safety.

“We are fortunate that our core experience of skiing and riding takes place outdoors, across huge mountains, offering fresh air and wide-open spaces for our guests,” says Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz. “However, to help protect our guests, our employees and our communities amid this pandemic, some changes will be required this season.”

Skiers who want to access any of Vail Resorts’ 34 mountains will need to make a reservation, according to the new plans. Epic Pass holders get exclusive early season access through December 7, plus access all season with week-of reservations and Priority Reservation Days to lock in days for the core season before lift tickets go on sale.

“For the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to,” says Katz. “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. We believe this approach will help ensure a safe experience for everyone, while prioritizing access for our pass holders.”

Other key changes outlined in the plan include:

  • Guests will be required to wear face coverings to get on the mountain and in all parts of resort operations, including in lift lines and riding in lifts 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.
  • Ski and ride school will be offered and on-mountain dining will be open, but with changes to help keep guests safe.
  • Mountain access will be managed to ensure guests have the space they need. As such, the Company announced a mountain access reservation system and limits on lift tickets to prioritize its pass holders.

To give guests more time to consider the changes, Vail Resort’s Labor Day deadline has been extended to Sept. 17, including the deadline to use pass holder credits from last season.

Weather permitting, Vail Resorts plans to kick off its North American ski and snowboard season with Keystone opening on Nov. 6, 2020. Scheduled opening dates for each of its resorts can be found here.

Categories: COVID-19, Industry Trends, Travel, Tourism & Recreation