Ski season isn’t that far off, and in preparation, Vail Resorts has announced what Whistler Blackcomb (and other destinations) are going to look like in 2020-21 amid the global pandemic.
The projected season dates for Whistler Blackcomb are November 26 to May 24 (subject to change).
In a letter to guests, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz shared details on new protocols that will be in place across the company’s properties worldwide to mitigate risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus and keep visitors, staff, and community members safe.
Chief among the new measures: you’ll need a reservation for a specific date to hit the slopes this year.
If you’re a pass holder, you’ll be able to make as many week-of reservations as your pass type and availability allow.
The early season is reserved for pass holders only.
Lift tickets for non-pass holders will go on sale on December 8.
You can only purchase lift tickets through the Vail Resorts’ websites or via its call centres, not on-site at ticket windows.
Also new this year: mandatory face coverings. No one will be permitted on the mountain without one. That means wearing a face covering inside all buildings, in lift lines, on chair lifts and gondolas, and during all ski and snowboard lessons.
The company is also strongly recommending that people wear face coverings in all other indoor and outdoor public spaces throughout Whistler.
To ensure physical distancing, only people who are skiing or riding together will be able to sit together on chairlifts and gondolas, though there are some exceptions: two singles can sit opposite sides of a four-person lift; two singles or two doubles can sit on opposite sides of a six-person lift; and two singles can be on opposite sides of 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,” Katz said. “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.”
Food options will be more limited this season, with a focus on ready-to-go hot and cold items. On-mountain outlets will have tables spaced well apart to ensure physical distancing, while outdoor eating will be emphasized.
“Since stopping by one of our restaurants will not be as easy as in years’ past, we will also encourage guests to bring water, snacks and other food with them on the mountain to ensure they stay hydrated and have the energy needed for their ski day,” Katz said.
You’ll still be able to find packaged beer and wine at most of Vail’s locations, but full-service bars are out.
Bring credit or debit cards for cashless transactions.
Ski and snowboarding instructors will have to have health screenings before they show up to work. Participants will need to go through an online health screening, too. Classes will be limited to a maximum of six people, and lessons need to be purchased in advance.
Vail Resorts’ Labour Day deadline has been extended to September 17, giving people more time to plan and book. (You can also use pass holder credits from last season by this date.)
“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,” Katz said in a press release. “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.”
More info is at Whistler Blackcomb.