USA 2020-21 plans for limiting capacity

MarzNC

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Capacity for the Epic Reservations "waiting room" was noted as 50,000 to 150,000 per hour at one point, but mostly "Serving: ~50k guests per hour". Biggest number I saw for the queue was close 130,000. Wait times I heard about were on the order of 3-4 hours through the afternoon.

There is an entire month for people to book up to 7 Priority Days during the "core season" before any day tickets are made available. If someone cannot get their desired days by Dec. 7, they can request a full refund. At the end of Day 1, none of the Tahoe resorts, W-B, or Breck had days that were sold out.

I think the idea is that most reservations after Dec. 7 will end up "week of" reservations, meaning the window opens up on Wed for the following Friday-to-Friday. After early Jan, there may be people picking more Priority Days after using the first days up during the Christmas holidays. But then again perhaps that will be relatively few people since many American Epic holders only take one big ski vacation a year. Those who have to fly to resorts in the Rockies are likely to just ski locally the rest of the season in the midwest, mid-Atlantic, or northeast.
 
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MarzNC

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The parking system being used by Powdr is starting to make sense. They are using the Advanced 7-Day and Week Of concept. Killington in Vermont will be the first to put it into action. Can reserve parking for any time in the season already, but only starting Nov. 23. Killington expects to open before then but how much terrain can be covered with snowmaking is a bit unknown. The goal is to wait until more trails are open than the usual single trail with a few short upper mountain trails on one peak.

The system is based on a commercial app called ParkWhiz. Reservations can be made in the app, online, or even by making a phone call. Cancellations are highly encouraged so that a parking spot can be made available to someone else, even on the same day. The usual caveat applies in case a pattern of abuse is noticed if someone cancels a bit too often.

Only some parking spaces were made available early. The rest will be released much closer to the actual date in order to have control based on terrain and lift availability and other factors related to capacity limits.

Automatically turning Advanced Days into Week Of Days is an interesting twist. Wonder if VR noticed.

https://www.killington.com/plan-your-trip/getting-here/parking-reservations
All guests can have up to a total of 14 days reserved at a time during the season, which can be done by reserving parking for seven “Advance Days” and seven “Week-Of Days.” Our goal is to allow guests to ski and ride on the days they wish, therefore additional parking inventory will be released on a limited, rolling basis. Check parking availability often so you can reserve your spots.

The Seven “Advanced Days” let you plan for important days, like a family vacation, throughout the entire season. The seven “Week-Of Days” let you have spontaneous days of skiing and riding during the next rolling, 7-days starting that day. This means you can have up to 14 Total Reserved Days at any given time.

Insider scoop! As your Advanced Days fall into the current 7-day window, they become Week-Of days and you can book another Advance Day. With Week-Of Days, a new day becomes available to book every day (the 8th day out).
 

MarzNC

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Here's a first look at how early season skiing can be based on the Epic reservation system. Note that Epic is an advertiser on the Points Guy website.

The Points Guy had a good time at Keystone yesterday. He made a reservation for lunch at the Summit House, which ended up being quite relaxing. I would guess he was keeping close tabs on when it became possible to get a reservation the morning before. He also made Priority reservations for Feb and March with his daughters.

Nov. 7, The Points Guy
Ski season has begun — here’s what it’s like to hit the slopes in a pandemic
https://thepointsguy.com/guide/skiing-pandemic/amp/

There are plenty of screen shots of the actual process in the article about the Epic Reservation system. As far as I can tell reading articles and a few ski forum threads, people who didn't have account issues or account linking problems were pretty happy. For those who needed to contact Customer Service . . . there are plenty of complaints. One person was stubborn enough to get the problem escalated. Turned out that some people with the Tahoe Value Pass had an issue that require a fix at the IT level.

Nov. 5, The Points Guy
Epic Pass reservations open today: 5 reasons why you should buy yours right now
https://thepointsguy.com/guide/epic-ski-pass/

By Day 2, there was no queue to worry about. All resorts still have reservations left for all days.

Reading thru the FB posts, not surprisingly there are people who haven't even figured out that skiing with an Epic pass requires making reservations. The "week of" concept is also still pretty confusing for a fair number of people.

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 5.37.24 PM.png
 

MarzNC

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For Eldora in Colorado, having a free parking reservation system may be far better than having frustrated customer finding that there are no spaces left on a busy weekend. Copper is the other Powdr resort within day trip distance of Denver and Colorado Springs that is using parking reservations as the way to limit the number of people skiing on a given day instead of lift access reservations.

Nov. 9 is the day that all reservations systems will be open (Epic, Powdr parking, Ikon).

Nov. 2, The Know, Denver Post (USA)
Copper Mountain, Eldora share details on their parking reservation systems for this ski season
The two resorts are using parking reservations to manage numbers of visitors during the pandemic

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020...n-eldora-parking-reservation-policies/248132/
 

MarzNC

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Oh My...when did going for a ski get so complicated
Only need reservations for Epic and some of the larger destination resorts in the big mountains. There are several hundred ski areas/resorts in the USA. Most of them limited season pass sales, and then will control the number of people on the slopes by requiring advance purchase of day tickets online. In the regions east of the Mississippi, most skiers are doing day trips or a few weekends. Some people won't bother to make the effort to ski their usual 4-5 days this winter. Others have bought a season pass for a local mountain for the first time and will stick to that location.

Of course, the news reports right now are mostly about Epic and Ikon resorts.

For someone who wants a multi-resort pass without hassle, there is the Indy Pass for US$199. It's designed for people who can only squeeze in a few ski days because of other priorities in their lives. Indy provides 2 days at a long list of locations. For most regions, there are 2-3 within day trip distance. So not hard to get your money's worth. The Indy ski areas are smaller or less well known places that are not likely to require reservations.
 
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MarzNC

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The details for the Week Of reservations for Epic have become clear. In particular that there is deliberately overlap on Thursdays and Fridays. Beginning on Nov. 18, starting every Wed, can book for Thu or Fri later the same week, as well as Thu or Fri the following week.

There seem to be people who think the Priority 7-Day reservation concept is too much trouble because they aren't parents or travelers. They are thinking they must decide weeks in advance when they want to ski for a day trip. Since the first few days at Keystone sold out quickly, that was used as the model for how things will be during mid-season. Seems highly unlikely.

Nov. 10, Summit Daily
Vail Resorts’ full reservations system set to debut Nov. 18
Every Wednesday, pass holders will receive nine week-of reservations
https://www.summitdaily.com/news/vail-resorts-full-reservations-system-set-to-debut-nov-18/
 
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MarzNC

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The Ikon reservation system opened on Nov. 9. I and several friends had no problem getting reservations for a few places in Dec. Also for Taos in early Feb. Applies to most of the Partner resorts that aren't Powdr. Powdr is using parking reservations.

Making an Ikon reservation at a Partner resort doesn't mean that someone can't still decide to defer their Ikon to 2021-22.

My friends and I are well aware that the Taos trip may not happen if New Mexico doesn't change their travel restrictions policy by mid-Jan. Currently requires a 14-day self-quarantine based on the status of a traveler's home state. Enforcement is pretty much non-existent but those I know who have to fly don't want to go into states that are that disorganized.
 
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MarzNC

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It's become clear that the number of reservations or day tickets released during early season will generally be based on plans to open more terrain. Meaning the weather report for an upcoming week is a factor for deciding how many spots are made available. Obviously Mountain Ops knows what they plan to do, assuming Mother Nature doesn't throw a curve ball related to planned snowmaking or building up the base on groomers from a snowstorm.

Nov. 12, Summit Daily
Keystone Resort to open Mountain House base area, Peru Express lift Friday
Resort expansion won't open up additional reservation slots this weekend

https://www.summitdaily.com/news/ke...ain-house-base-area-peru-express-lift-friday/
". . .
Lococo [Keystone spokesperson] wrote in an email that the opening of Mountain House and Peru Express will allow the resort to be able to accommodate more guests. However, Lococo said Friday’s terrain opening won’t create any new reservation slots because it already had been factored into the reservation system.
. . ."
 
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MarzNC

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Noticed a significant difference between Day 1 of Epic Reservations and later days. On Day 1, going to the URL for the Epic homepage automatically was re-directed to the Queue-It Waiting Room, also known as the "Epic Lobby." Had to click again to get to the usual home page if someone wanted to buy an Epic pass or find out more info about Epic. I think by Day 2 that no longer happened.

By the evening of Day 1, there was essentially no queue. On the morning of Day 2, a note on the Epic FB Page said that reservations were available for all "core days" at all resorts. There were no headlines after Day 1 about the Epic Reservation system. Probably because reporting on a system that works doesn't pull in readers.
 
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MarzNC

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Fair to say that there are still people who are totally confused by the Epic reservation system. Probably a relatively small number. I read thru FB posts from the past few days. Clearly some people haven't really understood the fact that capacity is severely limited during early season when not all the lifts and terrain is open yet. Perhaps some of the same people who used to complain that the lift lines were too long on Saturdays in Nov and Dec, or that not enough terrain was open.

Do wonder what percentage of Epic holders are having account issues. Those people are quite upset, and that's understandable. Especially those who have been trying to cancel for a while. People do manage to get someone on the phone seem to get help. But need to be pretty stubborn. I remember reading about Aussies having problem in June.
 

MarzNC

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Day tickets for Mammoth sold out for the first weekend, Nov. 14-15, fairly quickly. Opening day was Nov. 13, a day earlier than originally announced. With 6 lifts running, probably not too bad in terms of lift lines but haven't read any first hand reports. No reservations required for Ikon holders. Ikon folks can also get Friends & Family tickets even if day tickets are sold out.
 

MarzNC

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I checked out the Ikon Reservation system a little more. Made reservations at two Partner resorts on the first day, Nov. 9, without any issues. My friends also had no issues.

Noticed that all Ikon locations are listed alphabetically by region, with USA Rockies at the top of the list. Even includes countries outside N. America, including Australia. If you have selected Favorites in your Ikon account, then those show up at the top. There are three possibilities after selecting a resort. Examples below for Mammoth, ABasin, Copper.

* No reservation required - Alterra resorts
* Reservation required - most Partners
* Resort using a separate reservation system - Powdr resorts using parking reservations

Alta Snowbird could be confusing for an Ikon holder who has never been to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Ikon operates as a combo pass, so can ski Alta and Snowbird on the same day. But only Snowbird is requiring parking reservations. Alta plans to start the season with no lift access reservations or parking reservations. Parking will be first-come, first-served per usual. More communication about the status of the Alta parking lots will be available. Ikon Reservations implies that "Alta Snowbird" is using a "local reservation system" and the link goes to the Snowbird parking reservation system.

Screen Shot 2020-11-15 at 8.16.25 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-11-15 at 8.17.05 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-11-15 at 8.21.49 AM.png


Selecting a resort when Favorites exist
Screen Shot 2020-11-15 at 8.34.32 AM.png
 

MarzNC

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Big Sky is requiring Ikon reservations. MCP and Big Sky season passholders don't need reservations. At least that's the current plan. There is a clear warning in the Winter FAQ that the situation could change and day tickets will be limited. Boyne has limited season pass sales for all their resorts, with much earlier cutoffs than usual. Boyne started implementing a custom RFID system last season.

With opening days coming up in late November at a few of their resorts, Boyne Resorts has a big problem. They were hit with a ransomware attack in late October. As of Nov. 15, still not able to purchase a day ticket. Heard that season passholders who bought a pass a bit later haven't been able to get their pass. Following article is a local paper near the home base of Boyne Resorts, which is near Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan. Boyne has 11,000 employees, has resorts in multiple regions, and the destination resort that is best known is Big Sky in Montana.

Oct. 26, Record Eagle in Michigan (USA)
Boyne Resorts hit by ransomware attack

https://www.record-eagle.com/news/b...cle_d4dda9e2-15af-11eb-83e8-4378107f1b7f.html

Boyne has three resorts in New England in states with travel restrictions at the moment. Many people who ski at Loon, Sunday River, or Sugarloaf drive from Boston. That may limit the interest of people who don't have season passes in bothering to get day tickets for a weekend trip this season. There are a few small mountains in Massachusetts that are quite fun, so I have friends in the Boston area who plan to ski in-state instead of driving to Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont.
 

MarzNC

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In the midst of increasing COVID-19 cases and going backwards on restrictions in certain counties, VR is ramping up the marketing effort as the opening day for Vail approaches. The window for Week Of reservations opens on Nov. 18, 2:00pm MST, for the Vail opening weekend, Nov. 21-22. Friday, Nov. 20 is opening day. All three bases will be open and there will be top-to-bottom runs.

That fact that VR used a reservation system for their Australian ski resorts is noted in the article below. Rather funny that Vail Daily keeps writing "cues" when talking about reservations instead of "queues." ;)

Breck opened on Nov. 13. All reservation slots were taken for the first weekend. That was also true for Keystone the week before.

Nov. 14, Vail Daily in Colorado (USA)
Ski resort reservations filling quickly as experts predict a busy winter on the slopes in Colorado
Reservations begin Wednesday for Vail Mountain's Opening Day on Friday

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/ski-...dict-a-busy-winter-on-the-slopes-in-colorado/
 

MarzNC

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Interesting tidbits about elements of the winter operating plans for the four ski resorts in Summit County in Colorado. As of last weekend, ABasin, Loveland, Keystone, and Breckenridge are open. For instance the "carrying capacity" of a lift is adjusted from the normal assumption that all chairs are fully loaded to an average that is lower. Could be 3 for a quad, or even closer to 2 for a ski area midweek that is mostly solo skiers or people arriving with only 2 in the car.

Nov. 16, Summit Daily in Colorado
A look inside Summit County ski areas’ approved winter operation plans
https://www.summitdaily.com/news/a-...ty-ski-areas-approved-winter-operation-plans/
 

MarzNC

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@MarzNC so have we now got some clarity on what a "week of" reservation option actually is?
Yep, posted in Post #107. :)

The window for Epic Week Of reservations opens up at 2pm MST on Wednesdays for the Thu-Fri that week plus Sat-Fri of the next week so 9 days total. There is deliberate overlap for Thu-Fri. So someone could use Week Of for a 1-week ski trip skiing Sat-Fri, or a weekend trip Fri-Sun, Sat-Sun, or Sat-Mon.

If I were local to a destination resort and had Epic, I would've booked a few non-holiday Saturdays using Priority Days for weekends that I was thinking seriously about going and staying for a few nights. Or even holiday weekends if I were going with friends who had kids doing school.

For Powdr parking reservations, it's been a little more confusing during early season. They are only releasing a minimum number of spots for the core season, then will add as conditions allow. People can cancel even on the day of. So it will pay to keep checking if closed out initially. I noticed that Snowbird parking is gone for Saturdays thru January. But still spaces for Copper, Eldora, and Bachelor. Of course, Snowbird has a lot more local passholders who live less than an hour's drive.

Alterra is continuing to not require reservations for Ikon holders for their resorts. Locals usually use Ikon as their home mountain season pass. Too soon to know if that's going to work at all locations. A few can have parking and/or lodging capacity issues. But perhaps those are also places where more day tickets are sold than people realize.
 

MarzNC

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Headline says it all for those who normally drive to Alta or Snowbird. The idea is to try and avoid people driving all the way up the canyon road, only to have to drive right back down because there is no parking left. There will be monitoring to allow employees, parents picking up kids, and others who don't plan to park to drive up after all the parking lots are declared full. Snowbird is using a parking reservation system. But so far Alta doesn't plan to have any sort of reservation system for local passholders or Ikon.

I have two trips planned to Utah. One in Dec staying at Snowbird and the other in April staying at Alta Lodge.

Nov. 16, The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah (USA)
Officials warn they will close Big and Little Cottonwood canyons this ski season when parking is full

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/11/16/officials-warn-they-will/
 
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MarzNC

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Not exactly a capacity limitations plan that ski resorts wanted, but there are counties in Colorado with ski resorts that are going to Code Red. Lifts can still run, but lodges can only be open for restrooms and a quick warm up. No more indoor dining based on a reservation for Keystone starting this week.

This article about Steamboat include the full list of the different Code levels from Green to Purple. Purple requires Stay At Home and is based mainly on whether hospitals are at capacity.

Nov. 17, Steamboat Pilot (USA)
Routt County moves to ’severe risk’ Level Red of state’s new COVID-19 dial; local 2-week count explodes to 168 cases
https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news...ial-local-2-week-count-explodes-to-168-cases/

Eagle County where Vail and Beaver Creek are located is still Code Orange.

Nov. 18, Vail Daily (USA)
Can the Vail Valley save its ski season?
https://www.vaildaily.com/news/can-the-vail-valley-save-its-ski-season/

Summit County is also in Code Red, which is no surprise. Took until late afternoon to get clarification that ski lifts can continue running. But lodges can only be open for restrooms and a quick warm up.

Nov. 18, The Know, Denver Post (USA)
Colorado ski areas allowed to stay open under Level Red COVID-19 restrictions
Ski resorts in Level Red counties will have to suspend indoor dining, but on-mountain activities can continue

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020/11/18/colorado-ski-resorts-covid-restrictions-level-red/249100/
 

MarzNC

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Vail Mountain opens this weekend with twice as much terrain as usual. Combination of snowmaking and help from Mother Nature. Three bases will be open. When completely open, Vail has 5200 acres of skiable terrain.

Nov. 19, Vail Daily (USA)
Vail Mountain to open season Friday with 200 acres of terrain
https://www.vaildaily.com/news/vail-mountain-to-open-season-friday-with-200-acres-of-terrain/
" . . .
Vail Mountain will open Friday at 9 a.m. with 200 acres of terrain, top-to-bottom skiing and access to terrain from all three base areas — more than doubling last year’s Opening Day acreage.
. . .
Eagle County is currently in the orange, high-risk phase of the state’s COVID-19 dial, with daily case numbers surpassing previous highs in March and July, and neighboring counties entering the red phase — with full shutdowns looming.

But after eight months of reinventing the entire on-mountain experience, Vail will open with its new reservations system in place to control crowds and with face coverings required for mountain access. On-mountain dining, equipment rentals and the ski school experience will also look different, all in an effort to prioritize safety and social distancing protocols.

John Plack, the senior communications manager for both local mountains, said Vail Resorts is measuring success this season by opening and staying open.

Only passholders will be able to access the mountain Friday and through Dec. 7.
. . ."
 
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I think Eagle county is shifting into Red on the Colorado COVID dial tomorrow (11/20) for an initial 14 day period. Let’s hope the number starts to level out and reduce soon!! Many of the small businesses in the area will go under if they lose another season
 
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MarzNC

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The Epic Week Of reservation limit was adjusted to account for the American Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of the usual 9 possible days starting Nov. 18, could get up to 11 days if someone wanted to include Nov. 26-29 due to holiday vacation time providing a 4-day weekend. Only applies for this particular Week Of period.

Nov. 19, Summit Daily in Colorado (USA)
Vail Mountain reservation system debuts with a surprise: more week-of slots than previously announced
https://www.summitdaily.com/news/va...more-week-of-slots-than-previously-announced/
 
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summit_32

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I'm just about to cancel my Xmas trip and push back to late March/April. Colorado is really hurting and the restrictions are only getting tighter. I was so optimistic after a relatively calm summer in Colorado but the numbers are peaking again at the worst possible time...very sad for the entire industry
 

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Have just cancelled and pushed the trip back to late March / early April. Never done a spring trip before so hopefully lots snow & sun. The latest COVID wave will hopefully be on the way down by then....
 

MarzNC

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Have just cancelled and pushed the trip back to late March / early April. Never done a spring trip before so hopefully lots snow & sun. The latest COVID wave will hopefully be on the way down by then....
Spring skiing in late March and April can be really fun. First time I went to Snowmass was in late March and we were there after a powder storm.
 
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MarzNC

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Going forward, the differences between resorts with the VR reservation system, the Ikon reservation system, the parking reservation system being used by Powdr resorts on Ikon, and other approaches are becoming more obvious.

In the first week or two that VR had resorts open, there were still some people who didn't understand how Priority Days and Week Of Days worked. Read one story of someone who flew to CO without a reservation and was surprised to be closed out for Day 1 and Day 2. But in general, those sort of stories are rare. More of the complaints I've noticed have to do with later opening days than usual, but VR clearly wants as much terrain open as possible from Day 1.

This week issues came up at Big Sky and Crystal, but for very different reasons. They are both on Ikon but only Crystal is owned by Alterra.

Crystal is using a separate reservation system for Crystal-only passholders, as well as the Ikon reservation system. The local system is easier to circumvent, plus there are some people who are showing up without even trying to make a reservation. Crystal will need to make adjustments. There was a major apology on the Crystal Facebook page. Crystal has had parking issues in recent years since it's a ski area mainly for locals who drive for day trips.

Boyne Resorts seems to be prioritizing Big Sky passholders over Ikon. No reservations are needed for Big Sky folks. I heard there were complaints that Ikon reservations were full but day tickets are still being sold. I'm guessing that a few locals bought Ikon intending to only ski Big Sky for 5/7 days and then use it at other Ikon locations within a day's drive (JH, Alta, Snowbird, etc.). The local ski area, Bridger (non-profit, 2000 acres), typically doesn't open until early or mid-Dec.

* Epic
** Ikon, Alterra - mostly no reservations
*** Ikon, Partners - mostly some sort of reservations required

SELECTED OPENINGS IN NOVEMBER

Nov 4: Wolf Creek, CO - began 7-day operations, lifts were open Oct 31-01Nov
Nov 6: *Keystone, CO
***Nov 9: Arapahoe Basin, CO
Nov 11: Loveland, CO
Nov 13: *Breckenridge, CO
**Nov 13: Mammoth, CA

**Nov. 18: Crystal, WA - EventBrite lift access reservations
***Nov. 19: Brighton, UT
Nov 20: *Vail, CO
***Nov 20: Killington, VT - Powdr, parking reservations
Nov 20: Brian Head, UT
Nov 20: Grand Targhee, WY (first year MCP)
**Nov. 20: Solitude, UT
Nov 20: AZ Snowbowl, AZ
Nov 20: Mount Baker, WA
Nov 21: Purgatory, CO
**Nov 21: Steamboat, CO
**Nov 21: Sugarbush, VT
***Nov 23: Eldora, CO, Powdr, parking reservations
***Nov 23: Jackson Hole, WY
***Nov 23: Alta, UT - no reservations, was Nov 21
Nov 25: *Beaver Creek, CO
Nov 25: *Crested Butte, CO
**Nov 25: Aspen Mountain, CO
**Nov 25: Snowmass, CO
**Nov 25: Squaw/Alpine, CO
Nov 25: *Stowe, VT
Nov 25: *Okemo, VT
**Nov 25: Stratton, VT
**Nov 25: Mount Snow, VT
**Nov 25: Snowshoe, WV

**Nov 26: Big Sky, MT
*Nov 26: Sun Valley, ID - Epic Partner
Nov 27: Jay Peak, VT
Nov 27: Smuggler’s Notch, VT
Nov 27: Schweitzer, WA
Nov. 27: *Snowbasin, UT - Epic Partner
Nov 28: Mount Hood Meadows, OR
Nov 30: Bolton Valley, VT
Nov 30: Mt. Hood Meadows, OR

EDIT: Alta delayed a couple days. Have been a few slight changes that were due to weather, either early season storms or not enough cold weather for snow making.
 
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MarzNC

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Took a look at a few Ikon Partners to see what days are already booked for Ikon reservations. For Snowbird, the parking reservations are currently full for all weekends thru January. Most likely more spots will open up later on as more terrain becomes available.

Jackson Hole is only booked up Dec. 28 thru Jan. 1. JH-only passholders do not need to make reservations.

Boyne Resorts has season passes for their resorts. They cut off sales earlier and are promising those folks that reservations won't be required this season. Ikon holders who need to make reservations for holiday periods or weekends needed to start early. Seems as if Boyne is prioritizing local passholders or people willing to pay for a day ticket over travelers with Ikon.

Big Sky has quite a few holiday period days unavailable for Ikon reservations already. Includes Dec. 20-24, Dec. 26-31, Jan. 1-2, Jan. 18 (MLK Day holiday Monday), Feb. 13-20 (U.S. Presidents Day holiday week). I know of people who renewed Ikon for 2020-21 who were thinking Big Sky would be a good place for a ski vacation that is typically consider less busy since it's not close to a major international airport such as SLC or Denver. Day tickets are only sold out for Dec. 28-31.

Brighton in SLC is also a Boyne location. It's mostly a ski area for locals and there are Brighton-only pass options. Ikon reservations are gone for Dec. 24-31, Jan. 1-2, Jan. 8-10, and Saturdays thru January. Day tickets are available for all of those dates. Day tickets have only been released thru Jan. 10. Brighton is having a sale this week on a 2-day Go Card, good for any 7-hour period (Brighton has night skiing). The deal is US$159 for any 2 days, no reservations required.
 

MarzNC

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A friend (also retired) checked out a few destination resorts for Epic reservations. As of Nov. 27, all have availability during the holiday periods in late Dec, mid-Jan, and mid-Feb. The list checked included:

Whitetail, PA - DC, northern VA
Hunter, NY - Philadelphia, NJ, New York City
Stowe, VT - NY, NJ, CT, Boston
Keystone, CO - Denver
Park City, UT - Salt Lake City
Northstar, CA - San Francisco

PA and VT have COVID-19 travel restrictions that make going for a weekend ski trip pretty impractical if following the rules.
 

MarzNC

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There are three Epic Partners that allow limited days for Full Epic (7), Epic Local (2), and Epic Day Passes (up to days purchased, max 7). None of them are requiring lift access reservations. Snowbasin and Sun Valley are owned by the same company. Telluride is the third Epic Partner.

Telluride switched from the MCP to Epic a few years ago. At the time, the CEO of Telluride had close ties to Vail Resorts. Sun Valley was also part of the MCP for a little while. When the changed happened, it was said to be a long term arrangement.
 

MarzNC

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Mt. Hood Meadows near Portland is getting ready to open. Buying a day ticket online during a pandemic for Meadows is unlike any other dynamic pricing system I've come across. Day tickets that start at 9:00am are only available for Jan. 1-3 at the moment. Season passholders do not need reservations. There were much less expensive pass options that started at 2:00pm. Night skiing starts Dec. 19 and goes until 9pm on Wed-Sun and during holiday periods.

For more about how Meadows came up with their approach, see Post #43. I was curious because I had a very good time skiing Meadows in May a few years ago. Would like to go back when more terrain is open.

https://www.skihood.com/store/dynamicpricingproductselector

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 10.37.49 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 10.38.10 AM.png
 

MarzNC

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Boyne limited the number of Big Sky passes they sold in the hope that no reservations will be needed. Ikon holders will need to use the Ikon reservation system, but other than holidays probably don't have much to worry about. The MCP access is unclear as of early October.
Big Sky is ending season pass sales on Dec. 3. Ikon pass sales end on Dec. 10.

No reservations will be required for MCP holders.

Day tickets for Dec are noticeably higher as of late Nov compared to mid-Oct (Post #75). Well over US$100 starting Dec. 11. Changed from $165 to $170 the week of Dec. 21.

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 11.07.02 AM.png
 

MarzNC

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First look at Alta's website since they opened a few days ago. Note the parking info for this first Saturday of the season. While neighboring Snowbird is requiring parking reservations, Alta is going with the usual first-come, first-served approach but with much more warning online and at the base of the canyon so that people don't drive all the way only to find there is no parking available and they have to drive all the way back in a bad mood. The thinking is that by early afternoon, people who want to drive up for a couple hours on the slopes will be able to find a spot left open by someone who arrived early in the morning and went home after 3-4 hours.

Snowbird parking spots were gone for weekends in Dec and Jan pretty quickly after the parking reservation system opened up. A parking reservation is easy to cancel, and spots open up dynamically. So checking back if closed out initially is recommended.

Screen Shot 2020-11-28 at 11.21.22 AM.png
 

MarzNC

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VR is getting ready for the "core season" that is set to start on Dec. 8. That's when day tickets will start to be available for online advanced purchase. The other change that wasn't announced before is for the Week Of reservations for Epic holders. The pattern has been to release 9 days on Wednesdays. Going forward the Week Of period will be a rolling 7-day window, with a day added at the end of the period every 24 hours.

In case anyone wonders, I don't spend all my waking hours tracking what VR is doing. But I do spend a lot of time on a few American ski forums. Learn about different topics from the different forums. Most have relatively little traffic and very different communities so not hard to keep up with the latest news.

Dec. 3, VR Twitter
Quick update on our reservation system: As we get ready for the core season, pass holders can now book week-of reservations daily for the following seven days. A new day will be available for week-of reservations each night at midnight MT instead of a once-a-week release.
 

MarzNC

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Big Sky quietly opened on Nov. 26 with a few hundred acres. The Challenger lift opened Dec. 2 and that adds almost 500 areas of advanced/expert terrain. Certainly helps to have over 5000 acres with lots of lifts on three mountains to work with, especially when there is skiable terrain on most sides of the two taller peaks. Boyne cut off season pass sales pretty early. Ikon reservations are required. Day ticket availability will be limited as needed. The goal is clearly to do whatever it takes to stay open all season.

https://bigskyresort.com/were-ready-to-open-letter

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MarzNC

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As of early Dec, Afton Alps near Detroit has plenty of local Epic holders interested in skiing on weekends. Dec. 5, 11-12, 19 were already taken in terms of Priority reservations. The Christmas holiday period is available. Afton is one the three original "urban" resorts in the midwest bought by Vail Resorts around 2012. A lot of midwestern like to take one ski vacation in the Rockies annually to a destination resort. Some people even drive to Colorado, which takes 15-20 hours.
 

MarzNC

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Took a quick look at how parking reservations are filling up for the Powdr resorts. In the west, Fri-Sat-Sun are gone for December, as well as most of the two holiday weeks. Spaces are still available for Dec. 24-25. In January Saturdays are gone for Copper, while current inventory for Mt. Bachelor and Snowbird are booked for Sat-Sun. Apparently new spaces are supposed to be opened up every Monday on a weekly basis.

Killington is in a very different situation because of Vermont travel restrictions. Right now there are lots of days with open spaces in December, including during the holiday period. Out-of-state folks are supposed to quarantine for 7 days even with a negative COVID-19 test, or 14 days without testing. Can self-quarantine at home before entering Vermont. While there will undoubtedly people who drive to Vermont without following the rules, but there are plenty of people in the region saying they won't bother to ski in Vermont this season.

People who are going to use Ikon at Killington, Stratton, or Sugarbush are required to sign an online "attestation" that they will follow Vermont travel restrictions before their Ikon pass is activated for use in Vermont.
 

oreo

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Aspen town requiring guests staying overnight to supply negative covid test dates <72 hours or onsite rapid testing.

Mammoth in California continues to operate despite 'stay at home' order in effect in California. Mammoth run accomodation will be limited to owners.
 

MarzNC

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As of Dec. 7, looking at a sample of Epic resorts, there were reservations available during holiday periods for all of them. Friend of mine who is also retired got an Epic pass for a trip to Colorado has been keeping on eye on the status. For the Jan. 18 and Feb. 15 Monday holidays she's looking at the entire long weekend.

Day ticket sales start on Dec. 8. Epic pass sales ended Dec. 6.

Snowmaking just started in Pennsylvania (PA) because it's been rather warm lately. Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop usually draw from Washington DC. But PA has travel restrictions so that is likely to be a big issue for at least the next couple months.

12/20 - 1/2 1/18 2/15
Northstar, CA Unavail 12/12 Totally open Totally open Totally open
Park City, UT Unavail 12/11 Totally open Totally open Totally open
Keystone, CO Unavail 12/12, 13, 19 Totally open Totally open Totally open
Afton Alps, MN Unavail 12/12, 13, 19 Totally open Totally open Totally open
Hunter, NY Totally open Totally open Totally open
Stowe, VT Totally open Totally open Totally open
Whitetail, PA Totally open Totally open Totally open
 

oreo

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Tahoe closed to tourists for next three weeks (at least) due to covid numbers and governors orders in California.

https://unofficialnetworks.com/2020...sts-for-next-3-weeks-ski-resorts-remain-open/

Resorts to stay open, hotels etc closed to tourists.

And for the completely ineffectual piecemeal approach to covid, the Nevada side of Tahoe is open.
https://tahoesouth.com/explore/featured-blog/articles/healthy-travel-information/#:~:text=Currently, the Nevada side of,mandated Regional Stay Home Order.

So... people are just going to stay in accomodation in the nevada side and ski in California / wherever they want.
 

summit_32

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Glad i postponed our Colorado trip - recent reports suggest the snow levels are more like early Nov than late Dec at most resorts in CO (Wolf Creek excepted).
 

MarzNC

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Going to be testy over the next couple weeks in Colorado. VR wants to get back to the capacity limits that are in their winter operating plans that were approved a while back at the state level. Summit County and other counties with ski resorts in Colorado have been Red Zones for several weeks. Not likely to change until mid-January, if not late January.

More outbreaks in Summit County seem to be associated with Breckenridge, both town and resort. An "outbreak" is consider 2 or more cases traced to a single location or business.

Dec. 22, Summit Daily (USA)
Vail Resorts asks Summit County to remove ski area capacity restrictions
https://www.summitdaily.com/news/va...nty-to-remove-ski-area-capacity-restrictions/

Started in late Oct, updated regularly, Summit Daily (USA)
A complete list of COVID-19 outbreaks in Summit County
https://www.summitdaily.com/news/ev...ow-about-covid-19-outbreaks-in-summit-county/
 
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MarzNC

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Here are examples of Alta Alert tweets on early season powder days. There is a patrol car at the bottom of the canyon road on days when parking is expected to fill up by mid-morning. There are exemptions that allow people to drive up, but have to explain why don't need to park or show a lodging reservation. UTA buses from SLC run about up canyon every 15 minutes 7:00-10:00am and then 30 minutes starting at until 3pm. Ikon holders can use their Ikon pass as a bus pass for free this season.

My primary ski buddy drove up to ski Alta today. He's on his way home (to NM) at the end of a 2-week ski trip (CO, JH/GT, Alta) with another ski buddy (flew home from Jackson). Got one of the last spaces in the Wildcat lot at around 8:30am. The traffic cams in LCC show that essentially no cars were driving up canyon after parking filled up. Clearly people are figuring out the system

Snowbird is using parking reservations. A few people are complaining they got closed out, but it's a holiday period so that's nothing new.

The UTA bus continues to be an option, but running at 50% capacity so really do need to plan in advance. Can't just roll out of bed and decide that morning to go skiing in LCC or BCC. BCC parking is filling up by mid-morning as well, with similar social media info available.

Wed, Dec. 23, 2020 - a few inches new snow
8:32a
The Wildcat lot is almost full. It is estimated that all parking will be full by 10:00 am.
9:38a
It's a powder day over the holidays. All parking is now FULL. Try skiing this afternoon.

Sat, Dec. 12, 2020 - 6+ inches new snow
5:00a
The traction law is now in effect for both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Make sure you’re properly equipped with traction devices before heading up OR down canyon!
8:14a
Parking is limited today. Plan to arrive early or ski this afternoon.
9:00a
Parking is expected to be full by 10am. Please plan to arrive at Alta soon, take the Ski Bus or ski this afternoon.
10:22a
Parking is now full. Take the Ski Bus or ski this afternoon. Follow the Parking and Road page for updates throughout the day.
12:36p
Parking spots have opened up in Wildcat, Albion and the Town of Alta. And it's still snowing! Spend your afternoon enjoying the fresh snow at Alta.
 

summit_32

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Going to be testy over the next couple weeks in Colorado. VR wants to get back to the capacity limits that are in their winter operating plans that were approved a while back at the state level.
Thanks for sharing the link - agree that it will not change until late January. Hard for the businesses who were hoping for a decent Christmas trading period after all the disruptions. I'm sick of 2020, bring on 2021ASAP !!
 
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MarzNC

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Turns out there are consequences for an Epic pass holder who books multiple days in the same week and then doesn't go, or shows a pattern of cancelling. This email notification was posted on a regional forum in the U.S. northeast recently.

Dear Valued Pass Holder,
Over the last three weeks, you have missed or canceled two or more of your pass reservations each week.
Unfortunately, since you have missed or canceled multiple week-of reservations (or multiple Priority Reservation Days booked within two weeks of the reservation date), for the next three weeks you are only able to make week-of reservations one day prior to your ski or ride day. Rest assured that you are still able to make reservations – based on availability and your pass type – but your ability to make advance week-of reservations has been restricted.
Our goal is to accommodate everyone who wants to ski and ride at our mountains this season. To ensure all skiers and riders have the opportunity to experience our mountains, we ask that you please only make reservations for days that you are able to ski or ride in the future.
We appreciate your understanding – this season we’re all in this together!
 

MarzNC

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Not unexpectedly, there are people who are surprised that they can't get a reservation or lift ticket for weekends. Presumably people who weren't reading websites or news related to skiing until December. Since online tickets, lift access reservations, and parking reservations are being released both well in advance and in batches as the season evolves, it's pretty confusing for people who aren't paying close attention. Batches are being released daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the ski area/resort. Mainly locations are very much still have limited terrain due to low snow coverage and/or warm temps that have limited snowmaking, depending on region.

VR even had to cancel some Epic reservations in Colorado for Dec 12-13 because terrain was so limited and their resorts are in Red counties with stricter capacity limits than before. VR also limited access to the slopes by their employees for a while until more terrain could be opened.

For the most part, reservation systems are working in the northeast. What's surprising people is the relatively high price of day tickets. Those are severely limited. Especially during the normally super crowded holiday period.

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/vail-resorts-cancels-some-guest-reservations-at-breckenridge/

https://kdvr.com/news/local/weekend...kon-ski-resorts-unavailable-until-late-march/

https://ktvz.com/news/deschutes-cou...-revises-disputed-parking-reservation-system/
 

MarzNC

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Steamboat has come up with a special queuing system for the gondola. That's the primary way out of the main base. Seems geared to people with slopeside lodging, which is probably a reasonably large percentage of families who do ski vacations at Steamboat. Presumably will be needed only for busy holiday periods and weekends.

https://www.steamboat.com/the-mountain/virtual-gondola-line

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MarzNC

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There is a lot of discussion right now about the new Epic policy related to cancellations and no-shows. Seems to be based only on emails received by people who had either cancelled or missed multiple reservations in the last three weeks. I can't find any official announcement. The regional forums I read that have Epic locations are in the northeast. But usually Epic policies apply to all locations.

The idea is that if an Epic holder cancels or is a no-show for 2+ days during a consecutive 2-week period, then their ability to make Week Of reservations will be limited for the 3 weeks following a notification email. The limitation will only allow one Week Of reservation to be made a day in advance. So couldn't decide on Mon that Wed or Thu would be a good day to go skiing.

What's confusing is that a cancellation is being treated the same as a no-show. Even though VR was actively encouraging people to cancel when they knew they weren't going to make it for whatever reason.

My impression is that VR customer service has been totally overwhelmed the last few weeks. Going to be a lot of damage control needed.
 
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