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USA 2020-21 plans for limiting capacity

Discussion in 'United States' started by MarzNC, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Since there isn't likely to be much interest in a general USA 2020-21 thread, I'll just post stuff I come across related to how American ski areas and destination resorts are planning to limit the number of people on the slopes for the upcoming season. Even though not many have announced their plans yet, the range of approaches is already impressive.

    Vail Resorts started things off by saying that their reservation process would apply to all N. American locations, large and small. How that will actually pan out at the small areas in the midwest and mid-Atlantic will be interesting.
     
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  2. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Arapahoe Basin is the first better known ski area to announce that they don't intend to have any sort of reservation system. Season pass numbers will be limited, day ticket purchases will only be online in advance.

    As some people may remember, ABasin re-opened for about 10 days in late May. The online lottery system put together very quickly didn't exactly go well.

    http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/2020/09/season-passes-and-lift-tickets-2020-21.html
    " . . .
    -Reservations will not be required for Arapahoe Basin Season Pass and Any Day Pass holders. The number of passes sold will be limited.

    -Ikon and Mountain Collective Pass holders are welcome and are encouraged to ski and ride A-Basin. Access details are still to be determined.

    -Lift tickets will be available every day. Arapahoe Basin will require all lift tickets to be purchased in advance, online through our website. The number of tickets sold each day will be variable to reduce peak visitation periods.
    . . ."
     
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  3. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If there was a season not to travel to the northern hemisphere for skiing this coming one may be it.
    I will make up for it 21/22 in a big way.
     
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  4. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    Whitefish are not imposing ANY limits. There will be social distancing requirements in restaurants, and masks will be required on lifts, but that's about it.
     
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  5. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are starting to be a growing number of ski areas/resorts saying that they won't have a reservation system. What they are doing instead is selling a more limited number of season passes, plus only doing advanced online sales for day tickets in order to control the numbers.

    Powder Mountain near SLC really won't have to change anything. PowMow has limited the season pass count for several years. Something like 2500. Day tickets are also limited, perhaps 1500. With 7000 acres, there aren't long lift lines even on powder days. For that matter, the powder lasts 2-3 days instead of 2-3 hours.
     
  6. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    I should have clarified my previous post. Whitefish are not limiting passes. They also have a 100 day guarantee. They will offer a pro-rated credit towards a 2021/2022 season pass if they are not open for at least 100 days due to a mandated closure or stay at home due to covid-19. The only difference seems to be that they are setting up selfie stations and in-town pick up events for passes in place of their usual in town pass sale events.

    That said, I can't see us heading OS this season even if restrictions are lifted.
     
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  7. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Vail Resorts is at the forefront of the idea of advanced reservations even for season passholders. Needless to say, that covers a lot of resorts. However, that may not end up the majority decision. Especially true for the places that aren't "destination resorts" on Epic or Ikon/MCP. What I'm seeing is more resorts and ski areas severely limiting the number of season passes. The idea is then to be able to allow season passholders to ski any time, and require advance online purchase of day tickets. Obviously easy to limit numbers for the day tickets based on snow coverage, number of open lifts, and whether or not a day is typically busy. Quite a few major ski resorts didn't sell their season passes in June-August (summer time) as they normally do.

    Boyne Resorts started selling season passes for Maine in early Sept, but then paused the sales until early Oct. Boyne owns Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine and most of the people who go there are from Boston in Massachusetts. Boyne normally has a New England pass that also includes Loon in New Hampshire. Sales ended for that mid-June. The Maine pass is a new offering and more expensive than the New England pass has been.

    Jackson Hole has announced that JH season passholders and MCP holders will not need to make reservations. There will be far fewer season passholders. I'm sure there were locals caught by surprise when JH stopped selling season passes recently. Will be available again on Oct. 5, but the 7-day and 10-day packages won't be offered. No decision yet about Ikon passholders. However, I've learned that anyone who books a lesson is guaranteed a lift ticket for that day. I plan to work with an instructor I know during a trip in early Dec.

    https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/this...cle_d8112ab9-980e-5d42-aaac-243942cc471f.html
     
    #7 MarzNC, Sep 15, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
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  8. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not exactly about capacity limits, but the opening dates for Utah are slightly different due to COVID-19. Note that Utah doesn't have any travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

    Ski Utah starts listing opening dates in early September, usually after Labor Day. Last year a few places were overly optimistic about early season snow coverage after the first few snowstorms and had to delay opening dates by about a week.

    Alta announced they plan to open on Nov. 21. The American Thanksgiving holiday is Nov. 26, 2020.

    Alterra seems to be sticking with traditional opening dates for Solitude and Deer Valley. DV is at lower elevation, gets less snow than LCC/BCC, and needs more time for snowmaking and grooming before they can open at the level their market expects. Even though Alterra owns DV, Ikon passholders are limited to 5/7 days. Other Alterra resorts are unlimited access even for Ikon Base. DV still sells a DV-only season pass for folks who want unlimited access. It's something like US$2500 and half that for seniors 65+.

    Vail Resorts normally opens Park City lifts by late Nov, meaning just before Thanksgiving week. However, VR is delaying until just before Christmas in order to have the maximum amount of terrain open. I have a feeling that some active seniors who retired to Park City are probably not too pleased. I'm sure they were looking forward to early season turns before the holidays.

    Utah Opening Dates 2020-21, as of Sept. 13

    Nov. 20: Brian Head
    Nov. 20: Solitude
    Nov. 21: Alta
    Nov. 25: Snowbasin
    Dec. 4: Sundance
    Dec. 5: Deer Valley
    Dec. 18: Eagle Point
    Dec. 20: Park City

    TBD
    Beaver - small mountain for locals
    Brighton - traditionally mid-Nov but not announced until late Oct, owned by Boyne Resorts
    Cherry Peak - small mountain for locals
    Nordic Valley - small mountain for locals near Snowbasin and PowMow
    Powder Mountain - traditionally not open until Christmas week, very limited snow making, limits season passes and day tickets
    Snowbird - traditionally open Thanksgiving week but not announced until early Nov
     
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  9. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Two Powdr resorts are using parking reservations as a way to stay under capacity limits. Copper in Colorado and Killington/Pico in Vermont made their announcements in the last couple weeks.

    Killington is traditionally the first to open in VT, with much fanfare and media coverage. But with the cancellation of the World Cup races in late November, they have set a firm opening date of Nov. 14. That's 2-3 weeks later than usual. The routes they plan to work on for early season skiing will be different as well. The idea is to have more trails open so that people can spread out more, with a greater focus on the upper mountain to get people away from the base. Killington draws people from all over New England, including people from New York City and Boston as well as Connecticut and eastern NY state. Fair to say that it's typically very crowded on weekends. However VT has very strict travel restrictions in place that even limits people who live in the northeast, which has relatively low numbers for COVID-19. So that's going to discourage some people who would normally make the drive for an overnight ski weekend.

    Sept. 10, New England Ski Industry (USA)
    Killington Pushes Back Opening Day
    Due to COVID-19, Killington's opening day will be its latest in over a dozen years.
    https://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=858
     
  10. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are lots of news reports out today bout the statement from Alterra CEO, Rusty Gregory, regarding how capacity limits would be addressed. I got an email with the full statement from one of the resorts that I visited last season. I assume the same statement is being sent out by other Alterra resorts.

    Included in Alterra Statement 14Sep2020
    "This effort starts with controlling resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding. We are prioritizing access for season pass holders and will tightly regulate the number of daily lift tickets that will be available by advance purchase only. To this end, walk-up window sales will be eliminated, and the sale of most undated lift ticket products will be discontinued until further notice."

    Sept. 14, Aspen Times, from Steamboat Pilot, Colorado (USA)
    Alterra Mountain Co. makes announcement on winter operations

    https://www.aspentimes.com/news/alterra-mountain-co-makes-announcement-on-winter-operations/
    "STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Alterra Mountain Co. CEO Rusty Gregory released a statement Monday morning regarding the company’s ski resorts across the globe.

    Alterra will focus efforts on controlling resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding for the 2020-21 ski season, Gregory said in the statement.

    Access to the mountains will be prioritized for season pass holders. The number of daily lift tickets will be tightly regulated, according to Gregory, and those will only be available through advance purchase.

    Walk-up window sales will be eliminated, according to the statement, as well as the sale of undated lift ticket products.
    . . .
    Vail Resort will similarly favor season pass holders for the upcoming winter ski season. The company’s plans will be to implement a reservation system to access the mountain, according to the company, and pass holders will be able to reserve up to seven days in advance on their passes and as many week-of reservations as their pass product allows.

    Walk-up tickets also will no longer be available for purchase at the window of Vail Resorts. Vail has since released its expected date of opening as Nov. 20.

    Ikon Pass members were reassured Monday that reservations for lift access will not be necessary at most resorts where it is accepted, at this time.

    “… currently most Ikon Pass destinations feel confident they can elevate the guest experience and eliminate the need for lift access reservations by addressing social distancing concerns through other operational changes,” according to a statement released on behalf of Ikon Pass.

    Aspen Skiing Co. is expected to announce information about its winter season operating procedures and local season passes by the end of the month."
     
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  11. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ikon has a new webpage specifically to address whether or not reservations will be needed at Alterra resorts or at a partner resort. Here's the top of the list. Partner resorts that will require Ikon holders to make reservations include Big Sky and Brighton (Boyne Resorts), Arapahoe Basin (indep.), Jackson Hole (indep.), Loon (NH, Boyne), Taos (indep.), The Summit at Snoqualmie, Windham (NY, indep.). Aspen Ski Co. and Alta plans for reservations for Ikon holders are "Pending."

    https://www.ikonpass.com/en/reservations

     
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  12. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Nothing new in this video by Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, about the VR reservation system. But it hits the highlights and reasons that people should still consider an Epic pass a good value. Assuming of course someone wants to ski at a VR resort. It was released on Sept. 14, just a few days before prices for N. American Epic passes go up. Don't think there will be another extension of the deadline.

    If you are curious about the VR reservation system, prepare to do a lot of reading. Clearly VR learned from the experience during early season in Australia. The same systems is being deployed at all N. American locations from W-B to the small hills in the midwest and mid-Altantic (bought from Peak Resorts in 2019).

    VR has already announced opening dates for all their N. American resorts. In many case, the dates are later than traditional seasons. So there will be more open terrain and lifts on Day 1 in order to allow more people access in a spaced out manner.

    https://www.epicpass.com/info/reservation-details.aspx

     
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  13. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Here's the overview of the Epic reservation system. In some ways, requiring reservations at all resorts may give more people a reason to buy an Epic Day Pass for 3-5 days. If they live anywhere near one of the VR resorts east of the Mississippi, and have hopes of a ski vacation out west, by having one they would be able to reserve those days before Dec. 8. As long as they don't use it, can get a refund if plans for a trip don't work out. Or can go ahead and use the days locally.

    A feature that makes it less worrisome to book well in advance is that a reservation can be cancelled online up to midnight of the night before. A slot created by a cancellation is automatically made available. So also means that for a local checking first thing in the morning of a powder day could be worth while. Or checking just after midnight for night owls.

     
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  14. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are two regions that are likely to have the most variety in methods used to make sure that lift lines don't become too crowded from a social distancing standpoint are Colorado and New England.

    New England is the origin of American skiing. The oldest ski areas date from the 1930s. Many small hills closed by the 1990s. There is still a wide range from destination resorts like Stowe (VR), Sugarbush (Alterra), Killington (Powdr, Ikon), or Sunday River (Boyne) to small hills with dedicated locals who enjoy the night race league under the lights. Crotched, Pat's Peak, Wachusett . . . the list is long of ski areas close enough to Boston for day trips. There are options for people willing to drive a few hours from New York City as well. Weekends are traditionally very busy. Afternoons can be busy with local school groups. Given that New England was hit hard by COVID-19 in the first wave in Feb-Mar, the nervousness about safety precautions to avoid any potential transmission is much higher than in other American states.

    Colorado has several Epic resorts, a few Alterra resorts, a few Ikon partners, and quite a few independent ski areas that are quite popular with locals as well as knowledgeable travelers. Flying to Denver is relatively cheap from any other region since multiple airlines go there. Colorado is within driving range for people on the Pacific coast as well as dedicated skiers in the midwest. I know people who drive from Chicago to ski in Colorado every winter. The energetic drivers don't stop overnight.

    Sept. 14, Colorado Public Radio (USA)
    Most Ikon Pass Mountains Won’t Require Reservations This Season
    https://www.cpr.org/2020/09/14/ikon...ons-this-season-alterra-has-a-different-plan/
     
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  15. kimberlee81

    kimberlee81 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Just looking for straight answers - not wanting to see this wander off into talk about the plague. How long do we all think it's likely to be before we're game to:-

    With a vaccine
    A) Get back on an international flight?
    B) Get back on a flight to the US?
    C) Get back on a flight to Canada?
    D) Get back on a flight to Europe?
    E) Get back on a flight to Japan?
    F) Get back on a flight to South America?
    G) Get back on a flight to New Zealand?

    Without a vaccine
    H) Get back on an international flight?
    I) Get back on a flight to the US?
    J) Get back on a flight to Canada?
    K) Get back on a flight to Europe?
    L) Get back on a flight to Japan?
    M) Get back on a flight to South America?
    N) Get back on a flight to New Zealand?

    Looking forward to seeing people's thoughts.
     
  16. oreo

    oreo One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Obviously we are all guessing, but I bet we don't get good access to the vaccine until 2nd half 2021. Then, vaccine will be required for efficient travel. Bet unvaccinated travel won't be a thing until sometime like 2024.

    I'm keeping an eye on what the various resorts are doing. Live in Park City, Utah currently. Bought an epic pass and a snowbird pass. Feel like the bird might be closer to jackson's plans than vail/epic. Will see.

    Certainly be a LOT of people ski touring in the already very busy wasatch core this winter.
     
  17. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    ### Moderator note ###


    ### Moderator note ###

    This thread is about limiting the number of people on the slopes in US resorts, due to COVID-19.
    It's not about getting flights out of & back to Australia, nor any other places.

    There is a COVID Travel thread for this, and you are more likely to get answers to these questions here:
    https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/coronavirus-travel-during-and-after-covid.88247/
     
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  18. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Park City, Snowbird, and Jackson Hole will have very different approaches to limiting numbers. Epic passholders will be using the VR reservation system and can book up to 7 Priority Days starting a month before day tickets will be sold. Locals will be able to get "week of" reservations, which means the possibility of catching a powder day. Snowbird isn't planning on requiring reservations according to the Ikon reservation webpage. Presumably they will limit the number of season passes so some locals who haven't bought one yet could be shut out.

    JH has announced pretty detailed info of their plans. JH will not require reservations for JH-only season passes, but will for Ikon holders. They stopped selling season passes last week and won't make them available again until early Oct. There won't be any 7-day or 10-day packs. MCP folks won't have to deal with reservations.

    I plan to fly to SLC in Dec, then drive to JH for a few days with a couple friends who have never been to Jackson before. They have MCP, I have Ikon. I have other friends with Ikon headed to JH in Dec too. Given their dates, they are giving some thought to getting the MCP too. It's good at Grand Targhee for the first time this season.

    I'm waiting to see what Alta decides. I have a Midweek Alta Pass, so certainly hoping not to need reservations M-F.
     
  19. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    It took a while, but the pattern for Ikon locations in terms of which ones don't plan on requiring reservations and which ones plan on having a reservation system became obvious. What helps is to consider the resorts owned by Alterra, versus Ikon Partners that are owned by Boyne Resorts, Powdr, or are independent. Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole are probably the best known independent resorts. List below based on info as of Sept. 15.

    https://www.ikonpass.com/en/reservations

    Here’s the list for the Ikon locations in the USA. Alterra resorts in bold, reservations not going to be required for Ikon holders. Locations not owned by Alterra and not requiring reservations of any kind in italics.

    * No announcement about reservations yet.

    Washington: Crystal Mountain, The Summit at Snoqualmie
    Oregon: Mt. Bachelor
    California: Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth, June, Big Bear

    Montana: Big Sky
    Wyoming: Jackson Hole
    Utah: Deer Valley, Solitude, Brighton, Alta*, Snowbird
    Colorado: Aspen/Snowmass*, Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper, Eldora, Arapahoe Basin
    New Mexico: Taos Ski Valley

    Michigan: Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain

    Maine: Sugarloaf, Sunday River
    New Hampshire: Loon Mountain
    Vermont: Stratton, Killington/Pico, Sugarbush
    New York: Windham
    West Virginia: Snowshoe

    Boyne Resorts includes The Summit at Snoqualmie, Big Sky, Brighton, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Loon. Boyne has season passes than cover Sugarloaf and Sunday River, and/or Loon (all driving distance from Boston).

    Powdr owns Mt. Bachelor, Copper, Killington/Pico. The family that owns Powdr also owns Snowbird. Copper and Killington intend to use parking reservations to limit the number of people headed to the lifts.
     
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  20. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    U.S. destination resorts are getting their websites updated for the 2020-21 season. Definitely a lot more to read than usual. They are also sending pretty detailed emails to their elists. I stayed on a few elists for resorts I would like to return to in the future. Here's the complete email from Steamboat on Sept. 16 as an example. It is a followup to the general Sept. 14 announcement by Rusty Gregory, CEO of Alterra, that applied to all Alterra resorts. Steamboat is using the phrase "The Trail Forward" for 2020-21.

    Steamboat is a destination resort in northern Colorado. There are a lot of slopeside lodging options and condo complexes just a few minutes away. Not known for expert terrain but has a wide variety of tree skiing and groomers of all levels, all terrain is below treeline. Steamboat is very family friendly. Their catch phrase is Champagne Powder® (yes, it's a registered trademark). While it's possible to fly into Hayden and not need a car (assuming town buses are running), people also make the 3-hour drive from/to Denver where flights are plentiful and cheap. Steamboat Springs is a nice ski town. There is even an "old school" ski hill right in town. Howelsen Hill has produced a number of world class ski jumpers and also has nordic trails. I was at Steamboat last season and have friends going in Dec using Ikon.

    https://www.steamboat.com/the-trail-forward

     
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  21. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    For time since 2012 I won't be there this coming season. To make matters far worse, my MIL is selling her house there. It's been an amazing ride, but I am absolutely devastated. I feel more at home at Steamboat than I do in melbourne, where I have lived all my life.
     
  22. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Seems like a nice town. One reason I was interested in to check it out is that it's one of the few places where I can get a timeshare trade for a ski trip.

    Sorry to hear the house won't be an option in the future. I get the sense that this can be a good time to sell in certain markets. A fair amount of people who can WFH who are deciding that being in the city or suburbs isn't where they want to be right now.
     
  23. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Folks in SLC are starting to think about the ski season. Still no announcement from Alta, but plans for Park City (VR), Deer Valley (Alterra), Solitude (Alterra), Brighton (Boyne), and Snowbird have been reported in the last few weeks. Alta and Solitude will be the first to open, which is typical. Goal is to open Nov. 20/21, the weekend before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.

    Sept. 14, SLC Tribune in Utah (USA)
    Solitude, Deer Valley ski areas end walk-up ticket sales, won’t require reservations
    https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2020/09/14/solitude-deer-valley-ski/
    " . . .
    Deer Valley has long capped the number of skiers it allows daily. Solitude, on the other hand, has been seeing a noticeable influx of visitors since joining the Alterra family prior to the 2018-19 season. Spokesperson Sarah Huey said Solitude will not turn away season-pass holders but will limit sales of online, single-day lift tickets if large crowds are anticipated. In a phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Gregory [CEO Alterra] said Alterra’s 15 resorts will have capacity restrictions, but he believes they can adhere to those caps by regulating ticket sales.
    . . .
    “Every resort is different, every company is different. But it worked out that the most effective way for us to regulate was visitation,” Gregory said. “And we went through all sorts of discussions: reservations, parking restrictions, other ways to reduce capacity effectively. And we felt that this was the one that made the most sense and that was the most executable.”
    . . ."
     
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  24. oreo

    oreo One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hey that's me... and Snowbird (and alta) have not reported their operating procedures. They have reported to ikon that you don't need a reservation 'at this time', but there has been zero announcement from snowbird as to their operating plans for this winter. All of their season passes are refundable until 1 december for any reason but I'd expect them to come out with a Press Release in the next week.
     
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  25. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not only does Mammoth have to deal with COVID-19 for the winter season, they were forced to close green season operations recently due to the heavy smoke from California wild fires.

    For the ski season, other than only selling day tickets in advanced online and requiring face masks and distancing, doesn't seem that different. Ikon is the "season pass" for Mammoth. Did see that buildings will be limited to people with a pass or ticket. I supposed that's to discourage non-skiers from hanging about a table for a few hours. Mammoth has multiple bases. There is a good bus system that has been running at 50% capacity the last couple months. So relatively few people boot up inside a base lodge.

     
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  26. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes - it seems like Vail Resorts have dropped the ball a bit with their reservations system, and they are getting a lot of criticism on US forums. It seems like other ski resorts have decided to prioritize their customers i.e. only sell the number of passes that they know they can comfortably accommodate due to COVID restrictions, whereas Vail keep selling the EPIC pass knowing they cannot fully honor the pass promise i.e. "unrestricted, unlimited, skiing all season long".
    Good to see the option to refund right up to the start of the season @Snowbird
     
  27. oreo

    oreo One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Snowbird just released their press release
    https://www.snowbird.com/winter-exp...t5VHQM_gmxoi9vC4bLRSc007t6uGqk8bHQ2jEWxpopSZs

    Boils down to masks required, limited day ticket sales, a parking reservation system but no ski reservation system (parking is one of the biggest problems facing big and little cottonwood canyon regardless of covid). Of note the tram has a capacity of 25 people (25%) which basically writes off riding the tram unless there’s no one skiing that day.
     
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  28. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Saw somewhere that Big Sky may allow hiking to the peak of Lone Peak since their tiny "tram" barely can handle the number of people interested when running at full capacity since it only holds 15 max. It's a "can" not a big "box" like Snowbird and JH have.
     
  29. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There are N. American ski forums where anything VR does gets criticized. In many cases, the critical people don't want to ski at VR locations for any price.

    There are Americans who are quite happy with the VR reservation system because they feel it seems more likely to work all season. I've seen comments by people who live near an Epic location and those who plan to travel away from home to ski in 2020-21. They are not hard chargers. They are resort skiers who actually spend most of their time on groomers. Some are seniors, some are cautious intermediates, some are parents with younger kids, some learned to ski as adults. They post on smaller forums, some of which are regional. A few are a little confused by the "week of" and 7 Priority Days concepts. But in general they are relieved at the level of control VR plans to have over the number of people at a location on any given day.

    The Alterra approach of not have any sort of reservations even where Ikon is essentially an unlimited season pass for locals and is also used by travelers makes some people nervous. They aren't convinced that holiday periods and weekends will not be an issue in terms of too many people at the base. Be interesting to see if Ikon pass sales are paused or end earlier than the past couple seasons. That's the approach JH and Boyne Resorts has taken to limit season pass sales.
     
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  30. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Interesting. Wonder whether Alta is also thinking of parking reservations.

    Noticed that Opening Day won't be until Nov. 30 according to the Ikon reservation webpage, which the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving week. Snowbird said "Our early-season snowmaking and terrain plan is different than recent years. We will focus on getting multiple lifts open and spreading out guests across the resort."

    Last Nov, Snowbird tried to open by mid-Nov. But the weather didn't cooperate so they had to keep pushing back Opening Day.
     
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  31. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    If Ikon do pause sales to ensure that restrictions are not needed then that would be commendable & they are looking to prioritise their customers.
    I also like that Ikon are allowing people to essentially rollover their pass into season 21/22, if they can’t ski for whatever reason. I think that flexibility is helpful and needed in the current environment - Ikon gets to keep the money for another 12months and retain customers loyalty.

    Unfortunately Vail haven’t done that - the use it or lose it approach for credits from 19/20 is particularly disappointing. I appreciate that it’s a business decision but I don’t believe it’s reasonable to keep selling unlimited ski passes when they know that some of these customers will be turned away. Not a good look and it stands in contrast to other resorts who ceased selling passes to ensure they can deliver the product. Despite being asked publicly, VR have also refused to state what the various capacity limits will be (even though they already know) so people can make an informed judgement prior to purchasing. Why is this a secret...
     
  32. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    As far as I know, no destination resort has said what the capacity limit will be. Probably because they can't know. The limit will be based on whatever the local government rules are when the season starts and as it progresses. Could be based on state rules or could be more local.

    Besides would it really help to know that the capacity limit is 50% or 75% or whatever? What matters is the level of demand for the timeframe someone wants to make advanced reservations. No one can predict that.

    Note that I have never had an Epic pass. But I have friends who do, partially because it can be used a three small hills near Washington DC or resorts in the northeast. I happen to like the destination resorts in the Rockies on Ikon/MCP better. Plus I avoid Colorado due to the relatively high elevation. The cheap plane fares to Denver aren't an incentive for me. I pay attention to Epic out of curiosity since it's obviously become a huge part of the ski industry for N. America. Changed everything when it was initiated in 2008. Although there is more to what VR does as a multi-resort company than just having Epic passes.

    Are you planning to ski using Epic in N. America this season? I noticed you are in DC. Have you ever skied at the former Snowtime ski areas in PA?
     
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  33. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    With Alterra if you wanted to get the $200 renewal discount, then people had to make a decision in May. Back then the timing for requesting a rollover to 2021-22 was based on a deadline of Dec. 10. The uproar eventually led to allowing a rollover all season if someone doesn't use their Ikon pass for every one day.

    I and my primary ski buddy had Alta passes last season. We had to decide whether to use a credit for 2020-21 by August 12. It was definitely "use it or lose it." Can ask for a credit towards 2021-22 before Dec. 31, 2020 but only for the cash amount paid for the 2020-21 pass. The credit will not be refunded.

    In short, I don't see the way Epic is handling refunds or credits as that different from other major ski resorts in the USA.
     
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  34. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    Not yet - wasn't worth the drive in Jan/Feb this year, i think they really struggled with little to no natural snowfall. Definitely keen to try them this season. I have an EPIC pass for this season - not really by choice & i believe Ikon offers a much better selection of resorts overall. We did Big Sky in 2018 and absolutely loved it. Would also like to get back to Alta at some stage too
     
  35. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    Well, you are clearly a more generous man than I.

    At the end of day, Vail have chosen to keep selling a product that they know they cannot fully deliver - that is my issue. Its the equivalent to an airline knowingly over booking a flight - i know it happens but it doesn't make it right and should be called out. Lots of resorts have now stopped selling additional passes to ensure they can provide access within this seasons capacity limits or have confirmed that reservations will not be required. Vail has refused to do either.

    How they treated their employees back in March hasn't been forgotten either - remember this https://www.vaildaily.com/news/vail-resorts-snowstake-cam-broadcasts-blowback-from-eviction-efforts/
    They may find it more difficult to attract Southern Hemisphere staff in the post-COVID world...
     
  36. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    But Ikon passes are also continuing to be sold as much as possible. The push to make a purchase decision early was pretty intense. There are people who really wonder if Alterra will be successful with the concept of no reservations at all for their resorts. It says something that all the independent destination resorts all plan to require reservations of some sort, either for parking or lift access.

    VR gets far more press because it's a public company. I remember what happened after Peak Resorts went public. The negative press after Peak bought Snowtime was pretty intense. Alterra can slide under the radar much easier, as can Boyne Resorts. There are a lot of smart people who have been with VR for the better part of their career. There are a lot of people who are in fact loyal Epic pass customers in multiple regions. I don't think most of them were forced to buy Epic or think badly of VR all the time.

    Did you follow the mess at Crystal in WA last season? Way too little parking available for the demand. But no reservations required is the current Alterra plan.

    By the way, I happen to be an older woman. :) Also a New Yorker, so I can be quite cynical at times. My experience with how things changed when my company went from private to public may influence how I think about news that makes headlines. My company had 40 people when I started, and had 17,000 with multiple offices worldwide six years later. I saw what the headlines were after the company was public . . . and knew what the truth was about some of the stories.
     
  37. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you want to learn the latest about skiing within day trip distance of DC, can usually get good info from DCSki.com.

    My home mountain is Massanutten. It's one of the Mid-Atlantic locations on the Indy Pass. They will have to do something on weekends and holidays to keep the numbers down.

    Probably won't know what Indy Pass locations plan to do related to limiting capacity until much later in the fall. Those are all small independent ski areas/resorts. Often don't really start pushing season pass sales until Sep or Oct. Quite a few probably won't need to have a reservation system. But the small hills near cities in the east do get lift lines on weekends and holidays.
     
  38. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hey - thanks for the reply & very sorry that i assumed your gender :)(incorrectly).

    We actually went down to Massanutten in August with some friends. Hired a condo, enjoyed the adventure centre, ziplining and pools. Great meal at the campfire grill which was sadly only doing 20% of its normal turnover. It would be interesting to see what Massanutten is like with decent snow.
     
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  39. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not much detail on the Squaw/Alpine (yes, I know the name is supposed to change soon) website as of mid-Sept. Early season could end up mainly for passholders. The obvious question is what will happen when someone needs to cancel a day ticket bought far in advance. There are two completely separate bases, each with a decent amount of parking.

    Opening Day is Nov. 25, just before U.S. Thanksgiving Day. Usually open by mid-Nov so a bit of a delay, presumably for more snowmaking to allow more terrain to be open for early season.

    https://squawalpine.com/2020-21-winter-experience/?tab=ui-id-2

     
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  40. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you are curious to see what a small hill near Washington DC is going to do this winter, my home mountain Massanutten has posted winter guidelines.

    Massanutten really is a small hill: 70 acres, 4 chairlifts, 1100 ft vertical, 100% snowmaking, takes me 3 min to get from the top to the base lodge (hard to take longer than 5 min if not stopping). However, it's a large resort with a lot of non-skiing activities all winter long including a golf course in the valley that's open year round, and an indoor water park. Massanutten is a timeshare resort that was founded almost 50 years ago starting out with a mountain golf course and a ski hill with a J-bar and 3 chairlifts. Normally on weekends, the wait for a lift ride for the two base lifts is 15-30 min from 11:00am-2:30pm. Perhaps 90% of the skiers/boarders who aren't locals are beginners and intermediates.

    I became a timeshare owner at Massanutten in 2002. Have already bought my season pass (about US$350 with owner discount). Plan to be there in early January, one of the weeks that I own. It's a 4-hour drive from my house.

    Only the start of the Massanutten winter guidelines . . .
     
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  41. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Crystal Mountain in Washington State is an Alterra resort and on Ikon. However, this season Crystal decided to offer a a limited number of Crystal-only season passes for midweek skiing only for US$499. There is also a midweek pass that can be shared by "two individuals," meaning only one person can use it at a time. It's US$599 so $300 per person. Ikon Base is US$749 right now. People who bought Ikon can switch to the Crystal season pass and get a refund for the difference in price.

    The plan is no reservations required for passholders, including Ikon.
     
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  42. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Not surprisingly, small ski areas/resorts that are are part of a multi-resort management team may be having an easier time making decisions about how to approach a ski season during an ongoing pandemic. Several well known independent destination resorts such as Jackson Hole, Telluride, or Alta have had to do a lot of work over the summer and are probably not completely done implementing plans for any applicable reservation system or day ticket purchases.

    The websites for the three "urban" ski resorts on Epic in the midwest have different color schemes but it's clear that the same website design and operational plans apply. Wilmot, Mt. Brighton, and Afton Alps serve the Chicago, Detroit, and Minn/St. Paul metropolitan areas respectively. All three were family-owned with long histories but short on capital for major projects such as new lifts when they were bought by VR. Mt. Brighton and Afton Alps were bought in 2012 and Wilmot in 2016. So they are fully integrated into VR systems and operations.

    Two small mountains in the mid-Atlantic are operated by Pacific Group Resorts, Wintergreen in Virginia and Wisp in Maryland. The letters posted recently about the upcoming winter are signed by different General Managers but are essentially the same text. Found the same letter on the websites for the other skis areas operated by PGR in New Hampshire and Colorado. PGR installed RFID gates in recent years. If those small locations were completely independent, I doubt that would've happened.

    RFID makes online ticketing much easier. I've read a statement by a resort saying that RFID info might be used in some way related to COVID-19, but not details. My guess is that RFID data could be used as part of contact tracing or communications if a case of COVID-19 is detected for someone who rode lifts. For example, could announce lifts that someone who tested positive rode with the date(s). That could encourage people who were on the lift at around the same time to consider getting tested as a precaution.
     
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  43. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon crunched numbers from last season to come up with both season pass options and day ticket discounts designed to encourage people to start skiing later in the day. For instance, the Value pass is good on less busy days starting at 9am, but on busy days--weekends and holidays--it still can be used but not until 2pm. The last couple seasons it was 3pm. So the goal is encourage more people to buy a Value pass instead of an unlimited pass good all day on weekends. Meadows has night skiing and the Night Pass will start at 2pm instead of 3pm. The season pass webpage shows Value passes as the default, with the usual all-access pass as an "add-on" that almost doubles the price. Nov. 8 is the deadline for renewals.

    For day tickets, the choice will be 4-hour, 7-hour, or open-to-close (including night session). Start times will be 9am, 12 noon, 2pm, or 5pm. People who want to start at 9am will pay a premium. Or put another way, there will be more of a discount the later someone starts. For example, for a Wed in Jan the price for 7-hours could be $89 for 9am, $59 for noon, $39 for 2pm.

    My home hill, Massanutten, went to 4-hour or 8-hour lift tickets about ten years ago. Helped to spread out people starting out in the morning.

    Mt. Hood Meadows is one of three ski areas on Mt. Hood. It's mainly a mountain for locals from the Portland area. It's usually open well into late May. Timberline at Mt. Hood can be seen from the upper section of Meadows. I had a good time checking it out one day a few years ago as a day trip from Sun River near Mt. Bachelor. Would love to go back a bit earlier in the spring season.

    What's unusual is that Meadows made a video explaining the thinking that went into the plan. Complete with graphs of usage from past seasons.

    EDIT: Meadows installed RFID in 2014. So that's why they have data about lift usage for multiple seasons available.

    Managing visitation by spreading out demand to responsibly accommodate the most skiers and snowboarders possible
     
    #43 MarzNC, Sep 26, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
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  44. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    As an aside, but will clearly impact the ability of Mt. Hood Meadows to have a great season while limiting capacity, this happened to be the off-season when a major expansion of the main base lodge facilities was planned. Clearly that will be an advantage for 2020-21. The update video below was created in late May 2020.

    While the population of the city of Portland is about 700,000, the metropolitan area has about 2.5 million people. That's about the size of Brisbane. There are other a few other ski areas on Mt. Hood in addition to Meadows. Skiing on the Palmer glacier at Timberline on Mt. Hood has been open most of the summer, mid-May thru August. It's a huge volcanic mountain.

    Mt. Hood is 1.5 hours drive from the Portland airport. Southwest flies there . . . hmmm. :)

     
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  45. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Whitetail (109 acres, 900 ft vert) is one of the urban market ski resorts in Pennsylvania that Vail Resorts acquired in 2019 when they bought Peak Resorts. It's under a 1.5 hour drive from people who live in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Since Whitetail has only been on Epic for one season, "brand loyalty" has not really been established yet. Locals are still annoyed that season pass prices when up when Peak took over in 2018. There used to be a 3-location pass that included Whitetail that was a very good value.

    Sounds like there are people who ski/board Whitetail who don't quite understand the Epic reservation system yet. Like many mid-Atlantic ski areas, more than half of the people on the slopes are boarders.

    I have friends who live in the DC area. I've skied a few times at Whitetail and Roundtop meeting up with friends since it's close to my home hill. There used to be a 3-location company called Snowtime that developed Roundtop in the 1960s, and then incorporated Liberty and Whitetail. All three are under 2 hours drive from DC. Liberty is the smallest but also the closest so night skiing and race leagues after work are popular. More money was put into building slopeside lodging at Whitetail, which makes it popular with families. Lots of kids arrive on school buses in the afternoons from the immediate area.

    Snowtime was sold to Peak Resorts when the founder thought the time was right to retire (he was over 80). Peak was a public company but was a family operation run by the father and his sons. The Peak founder started out with one ski area in Ohio in 1977 (100% snowmaking). Peak had grown to include Mt. Snow and Hunter, which serve the New York City market, two ski areas in New Hampshire popular with people driving from Boston, the three PA locations, and several small hills that serve the Ohio market in Cleveland and Columbus. Snowtime regulars weren't happy when Peak Resorts was bought out completely by Vail Resorts just a year later.
     
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  46. oreo

    oreo One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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  47. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think it depends on the geographic distribution of the Epic passholders for 2020-21. My guess is that you aren't that aware of how people who live east of the Mississippi think when it comes to skiing and ski travel. I grew up in New York City and have quite a few skier friends who live in Washington DC, NYC, or Boston. I have been taking advantage of being retired to sample mid-Atlantic and northeast skiing in the past decade when my daughter was in school either in Lake Placid, NY or Boston.

    I know there are a lot of folks in the northeast who got the new Northeast Value Pass or Northeast Midweek Pass. Many people living in NY or New England have no intention of getting on an airplane until the 2021-22 season, perhaps not even then. Buying Epic to use in the northeast means knowing a reservation system will be in place. Some like having some possibility of variety instead of committing to just one local ski area with a 1-location season pass.

    There are also people in the Washington DC area who would benefit from the Northeast Epic pass options. The three local ski areas/resorts (former Snowtime) have always been quite busy on weekends. Having Epic means not only being able to make reservations but potentially could consider driving farther north for bigger resorts. I know of a senior who just bought one who wasn't aware it even existed until last week. Essentially replaced the regional pass that Peak Resorts had for a few seasons after they bought ski resorts in New England and Pennsylvania. Last season VR still had to honor those passes given the timing of the acquisition of Peak.

    Philadelphia and NJ/NYC are also markets where the Northeast passes may be of interest. There are places on Epic in eastern PA and in the Catskills just over an hour north of NYC.

    May well be more Californians who went for the Tahoe versions of Epic too. Some Californians fly to the Rockies for powder skiing at least once or twice a season.

    There are a LOT of skiers/boarders in New England who don't go west to ski in general. A few years ago I had an unexpected chairlift conversion with an older man curious about skiing out in the Rockies. We were at a small independent hill in western MA during early season so ended up taking a few runs together. His son was making good money as an IT professional and was thinking it would be fun to fly west to ski. When I said Alta was my favorite out west, he said "Must be small, I've never heard of it." Took me completely by surprise. He was a college teacher and athletic coach who had been skiing all his life. But not a traveler so always only in New England. I've run into many people in New England over the years who have never driven farther south than NYC.
     
    #47 MarzNC, Sep 28, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
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  48. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The midwest is another big market for Epic at this point. The markets served directly include Chicago, Detroit, Minn./St. Paul, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. VR moved into the midwest starting in 2012 so brand loyalty pretty well developed in the region. The first season VR was in charge, people were a little nervous. But with millions spent on new lifts and base lodge renovations, plus the Epic pass, by the end of the season all the news reports were quite positive.

    What's different for the midwest (IL, MN, WI, IN, OH) compared to cities farther east, it's actually possible to drive to Colorado in a long day. My brother-in-law who lives in Chicago used to do that with another father when their sons were in high school. Made for a good father-son spring break adventure. The Ohio ski areas were added to Epic after the acquisition of Peak Resorts. Those are very well established since the founder of Peak started in Ohio back in the 1970s. He turned land that was originally for a golf course into a ski area after learning all about snowmaking. Liked the machinery for snowmaking and grooming, but never really did much skiing. His sons like to ski or snowboard though so Peak was a family company after they grew up.
     
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  49. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Arapahoe Basin has decided how to handle their own season pass, Ikon, and the MCP. ABasin passholders won't have to worry about reservations. The number of ABasin passes sold with be capped. Same for the MCP. But Ikon holders will have to make a reservation for lift access after Nov. 9. Al said the concern is mainly holidays and weekends in mid-season. Target for Opening Day is mid-October per usual.

    What I found even more interesting is that ABasin is moving to RFID starting with 2020-21. They are working with SkiData. Gates will only be added for the base lifts.

    No parking lot shuttles this season. ABasin may limit parking if necessary to keep the number of people on the slope manageable.

    The new Pali lift installation work is continuing.

    http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/2020/09/ikon-pass-reservations.html
    " . . .
    Overall, there is plenty of room for Ikon Pass visitors. For most days, the reservation system will be a non-issue. We are concerned about those 20-30 mostly weekend days after the first of the year that are our busiest days of the season. We are really trying to migrate visits away from those days.


    The Ikon Pass is a tremendous part of The Basin experience. We value all the Ikon Pass guests that visit and we want to get them on the hill. Some might think we are doing this to single out Ikon Pass holders in a negative way. That simply is not true. The Ikon Pass community is large and we just need to be careful that not too many people show up at the same time.
    . . ."
     
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  50. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Alta announced their winter plan today. Hard to say how it's really going to work. Snowbird is not requiring lift access reservations but has plans for parking reservations. Alta is going to use parking but on a "first-come, first-served basis." Seems like the potential for a mess unless it's made very clear when parking lots at Alta are full so people don't drive up the canyon only to be disappointed. That happened in BCC for Brighton/Solitude in the last couple seasons more than once. Solitude went to paid parking as an attempt to solve the problem of too many cars.

    There won't be any singles lines for loading lifts. Only private lessons, at least at the start of the season.

    I have two trips scheduled to ski LCC with friends. The first is in Dec staying at Snowbird and then my usual late season trip in April staying at Alta Lodge. Will be interesting to see how things are set up in Dec. It will be the first time going to Utah during early season. I have an Alta Midweek pass. Mostly because I had one for last season and ended up with a credit so thought I might as well apply it to 2020-21 since it was use it or lose it.

    https://www.alta.com/winter-2020-21

     
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