USA 21/22 Planning

MarzNC

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Back to skiing . . . anyone planning to ski at Alta may have to deal with parking reservations for 2021-22. Ironically, Snowbird had parking reservations for 2020-21 and won't have them for the upcoming season. Alta will only require parking reservations for 40 days of the season: holidays, weekends during mid-season.

Parking at Alta will be $25 for people planning to buy a ticket at the window after they park, $10 if they buy a ticket online before getting a parking reservation. People who have any sort of pass need a reservation but will get a code that will allow them to park for free. That includes Alta passes, Ikon, and MCP.
 

oreo

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Snowbird doesn't have mandatory reservations for parking; but they drastically reduced the number of free spots and made the other spots paid reservation parking. In addition to their well-established 'preferred parking' pass (for $699 - which is 70% the cost of an adult season pass).

As for religous exemption letters. Shrug, I don't think it would not be as hard as you think. Already in the news, ER doctor in Florida was giving them away for $50 no questions asked and Florida Chiropractor gave out 500 letters for one school-district alone.
In Florida, Venice-based chiropractor Dan Busch signed off on 500 medical exemption forms, roughly one-third of all medical exemption forms, for children attending Sarasota County Schools who did not want to wear a mask, according to district spokesman Craig Maniglia.
 
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MarzNC

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As for religous exemption letters. Shrug, I don't think it would not be as hard as you think. Already in the news, ER doctor in Florida was giving them away for $50 no questions asked and Florida Chiropractor gave out 500 letters for one school-district alone.
Didn't mean to imply it's hard exactly, it's more a matter of how many people feel strongly enough to go to the trouble to avoid getting vaccinated. Florida is not an example how 80% of Americans are operating in terms of handling Delta in their daily lives. For that matter, 65% of the 21 million Florida residents have gotten at least one dose of vaccine.

But can we please leave further discussion of the pandemic totally unrelated to skiing in the USA to the Rona threads.
 
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MarzNC

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The emails from ski resorts are coming pretty regularly. I'm not going to Steamboat this season but a couple of my ski buddies plan to go in January. One spent a couple weeks in a slopeside studio doing WFH in Jan 2020. Skied on the weekends, plus would get in an hour or so during the work week. The fact that Steamboat has night skiing is a draw in that situation.

 

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The emails from ski resorts are coming pretty regularly. I'm not going to Steamboat this season but a couple of my ski buddies plan to go in January. One spent a couple weeks in a slopeside studio doing WFH in Jan 2020. Skied on the weekends, plus would get in an hour or so during the work week. The fact that Steamboat has night skiing is a draw in that situation.

:cry:

Spent approximately 35 weeks at Steamboat over Dec/Jan from late 2012 to Jan 2020. Miss the place enormously. MIL has sold the house. We'll try to get back there once the redevelopment work has finished in a couple of years.
 
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Wardy

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:cry:

Spent approximately 35 weeks at Steamboat over Dec/Jan from late 2012 to Jan 2020. Miss the place enormously. MIL has sold the house. We'll try to get back there once the redevelopment work has finished in a couple of years.
I know little about Steamboat but it's on the list. Is the development work disruptive such that it's worth waiting until it's over before a visit?
 

absentskier

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I know little about Steamboat but it's on the list. Is the development work disruptive such that it's worth waiting until it's over before a visit?
Most of the work will be done by the start of the 22/23 season. The Pioneer Ridge expansion / new lift will be done by the start of the 23/34 season.
 

oreo

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Vail/Epic sent an e-mail out yesterday re: planning for the season.

TLDR version: No reservations to ski. No masks in lift lines/lifts (*unless mandated by local governments - like in BC, Canada). Lifts will be loaded to full capacity. Reservations required for restaurants - can be booked a day in advance (as opposed to only day-of like last year); masks required for restaurants.
 

MarzNC

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Vail/Epic sent an e-mail out yesterday re: planning for the season.

TLDR version: No reservations to ski. No masks in lift lines/lifts (*unless mandated by local governments - like in BC, Canada). Lifts will be loaded to full capacity. Reservations required for restaurants - can be booked a day in advance (as opposed to only day-of like last year); masks required for restaurants.
The big question people seem to have is about sharing gondola rides with strangers. Especially since the announced policy says that masks won't be required in a gondola cabin.

Masking will be required indoors in general. Vaccination required for employees. The complication for indoor food is that vaccination will be required for "indoor, on-mountain quick-service (cafeteria-style) restaurants."

The FAQs cover quite a bit of info. Don't start reading unless you have some time. I don't have an Epic pass so not planning on reading carefully. Waiting to see what Ikon resorts decide. But even for resorts owned by Alterra, the policies are not necessarily the same across N. America.

 

MarzNC

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For a concise and readable summary of the key points of the VR policies related to COVID-19 for 2021-22, check out this article from an American regional ski forum. DCSki has been around for a few decades. The author is the owner/founder. While the focus is on the ski resorts within day trip driving distance of Washington DC, he also mentions differences for Whistler in BC.

September 25, 2021
 
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MarzNC

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Here's a local take on the Vail Resorts policies related to COVID-19. Vail is in Eagle County, Colorado.

September 20, 2021, Colorado (USA)
" . . .
Other key details from the announcement include Vail Resorts’ plan to operate gondolas at normal capacity, “optimizing guest movement around its resorts.”

Face coverings will not be required outdoors, in lift lines, or on chairlifts or gondolas, unless required by local public health orders, Vail Resorts confirmed.

Reservations will still be required for dining, but the company is expecting “significantly more seating and dining capacity than last season, and intends to open reservations one day prior, versus the day-of last season.”

Proof of vaccination will be required for guests ages 12 and over at all indoor, on-mountain quick-service (cafeteria-style) restaurants, and the requirement includes guests 12 and over in ski and ride school programs that include lunch.

The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to fine dining establishments like The 10th at Vail.
. . ."
 
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MarzNC

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Just for fun, here's a pretty comprehensive list of American ski towns. Many have a permanent population of under 3000. Also includes better known ski towns in the Rockies like Breckenridge and Taos. Includes two towns in my home state, North Carolina, Beech Mountain and Blowing Rock. Few skiers who don't live in the southeast know that Beech Mountain (town and ski area) are over 5000 ft (1524m). There has been skiing in the southeast since the 1960s based mostly on 100% snowmaking.

Nov 2020

I'm headed back to Taos in Feb 2022. Going as part of a group of friends for another Taos Ski Week. List is up to about 20, with people coming from all over the USA. Per usual I'll stay in town for a few nights before moving up to the Taos Ski Valley (TSV) base. That's at 9000 ft and town is at 7000 ft. I like to stay lower to start with to help with altitude adjustment. Plus there are more dining options in town.
 
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MarzNC

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The list of destination resorts that will require parking reservations is growing. A few are owned by Powdr, which used parking reservations at all their resorts for 2020-21. Killington in VT, Snowbird in UT, and Mt. Bachelor will use a parking reservation system for some of the lots but not all. Free parking will be available for all pass holders, and in limited areas.

Alta is going to require parking reservations for holidays and weekends from mid-Dec thru late March, about 40 days of the season. Free for pass holders. Not all the details are worked out yet.
 
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summit_32

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Here's a local take on the Vail Resorts policies related to COVID-19. Vail is in Eagle County, Colorado.

September 20, 2021, Colorado (USA)
" . . .
Other key details from the announcement include Vail Resorts’ plan to operate gondolas at normal capacity, “optimizing guest movement around its resorts.”

Face coverings will not be required outdoors, in lift lines, or on chairlifts or gondolas, unless required by local public health orders, Vail Resorts confirmed.

Reservations will still be required for dining, but the company is expecting “significantly more seating and dining capacity than last season, and intends to open reservations one day prior, versus the day-of last season.”

Proof of vaccination will be required for guests ages 12 and over at all indoor, on-mountain quick-service (cafeteria-style) restaurants, and the requirement includes guests 12 and over in ski and ride school programs that include lunch.

The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to fine dining establishments like The 10th at Vail.
. . ."
I think Vail did a good job at navigating the restrictions and challenges of last season in the US. However, its strange to see that 'prior reservations' for food are still requirement for this season. Having to book and specific time and place for lunch each day is a pain when you haven't even thought were you will be skiing until that morning or your plans change. At Breck this year we couldn't get a table most days. If you're happy running the lifts at 100% and no face coverings are required then what's the big issue with restaurants.

Also, if you are 'fine dining', you don't need to prove vaccination status but the kids at the cafeteria do? IMHO its ridiculous and illogical rules like this that make people angry and less likely to adhere to other well intention restrictions.
 

MarzNC

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I think Vail did a good job at navigating the restrictions and challenges of last season in the US. However, its strange to see that 'prior reservations' for food are still requirement for this season. Having to book and specific time and place for lunch each day is a pain when you haven't even thought were you will be skiing until that morning or your plans change. At Breck this year we couldn't get a table most days. If you're happy running the lifts at 100% and no face coverings are required then what's the big issue with restaurants.

Also, if you are 'fine dining', you don't need to prove vaccination status but the kids at the cafeteria do? IMHO its ridiculous and illogical rules like this that make people angry and less likely to adhere to other well intention restrictions.
Based on what I know about transmission, people who are sitting down for a meal and who have to mask when moving around are at low risk of spreading COVID-19. The situation at a cafeteria is quite different.

A possible outcome of the rule is that locals won't bother to eat indoors. Many probably don't anyway. Certainly not in New England, which is a more risk-adverse region. It was the only region to use travel restrictions last winter. Note that no proof of vaccination is required to go indoors to use the restroom.

As for kids, much will depend on when there is a vaccine available for kids ages 5-12. Assuming the FDA gives emergency authorization by mid-Nov, then there will be time for families planning a Christmas ski vacation to get their kids vaccinated. If a family doesn't want to be vaccinated, VR probably would just as soon they go elsewhere during a busy holiday period.

I've seen someone mention the idea that proof of vaccination would be stored somehow on Epic passes.

What will be interesting to see is what the Alterra destination resorts do in terms of dining indoors. I have Ikon and MCP. My ski buddy who is pushing 70 decided to get Epic too this season. He'll be at Park City over New Year's with friends. We usually have a hot lunch. We'll see what he has to report.
 

MarzNC

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What Alta did at all the on-mountain food service locations last season worked pretty well. If you wanted to eat inside, you had to wait for a table. Once at the table, you used a QR code to order. The code was keyed to the table and your name. When the order was ready, you got a text to go pick it up at the usual place in the cafeteria line. Paid the usual way. A table with multiple people was encouraged to only send one person to pickup and pay. Of course masking was required when moving around.

You could also order online without getting a table, and just go in to get the order when it was ready. Tables were available on the porch per usual.
 

MarzNC

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If you're happy running the lifts at 100% and no face coverings are required then what's the big issue with restaurants.
Colorado didn't have any instances of community spread outdoors at a ski resort as far as I know. There were outbreaks/clusters at restaurants and bars.

It's fair to say that there will be unvaccinated folks at VR resorts this winter. Probably more so in the Rockies than in New England or the Mid-Atlantic. What's different between VR and Alterra is that the VR approach is to have the same rules for all locations, large or small, destination resort or local bump hill near a metropolitan area.

People who ski Whistler and a couple of the VR resorts in New England that have gondolas are not happy there is no mask requirement, or any mention of allowing people to opt out of riding with strangers.
 

oreo

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you’ll need face masks on gondolas in whistler unless the bc government relaxes its stance. Says as much in their press release.
 
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MarzNC

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Here's how some people are reacting to the VR policies for 2021-22 at Whistler. They want vaccination to be a requirement for the entire resort. The last paragraph may be relevant to Aussies who are thinking about flying to Vancouver in 2022.

" . . .
International visitors are required to be fully vaccinated to enter the country. They will be more likely to choose Whistler if they know that local skiers/riders and all visiting Canadians have the same vaccination status. Canada's new prime minister says a vaccine certificate will soon be a requirement for all air travel within the country. A proof of vaccine certificate to access the mountain is not only good for public safety but it will also be good for business."
 

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WSJ article about vax and mask stuff this USA season, including Alterra resorts limiting the number of tickets and
Jackson Hole to limit daily capacity and require reservations for Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective pass holders.


But this is an interesting move that some areas may copy.....

Resort operator Powdr is launching dedicated fast-access lanes at four of its mountain resorts this season:
Copper Mountain in Colorado, Killington in Vermont, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Snowbird in Utah.
To access the lanes, which will be located at the most popular lifts at each resort, guests will need to purchase a daily Fast Tracks pass.
They will start at $49 a day, but have dynamic pricing based on peak periods, holidays and day of the week, and go on sale Nov. 1.
 
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MarzNC

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But this is an interesting move that some areas may copy.....

Resort operator Powdr is launching dedicated fast-access lanes at four of its mountain resorts this season:Copper Mountain in Colorado, Killington in Vermont, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Snowbird in Utah.To access the lanes, which will be located at the most popular lifts at each resort, guests will need to purchase a daily Fast Tracks pass.They will start at $49 a day, but have dynamic pricing based on peak periods, holidays and day of the week, and go on sale Nov. 1.
Interesting for sure!

Snowshoe in West Virginia has had a Primo pass for years that provided Express Lane and First Tracks. For 2021-22 it was tied to getting Ikon instead of a Snowshoe-only season pass. Alterra became the owner of Snowshoe when KSL/HCC created the company in 2017.

Wintergreen in Virginia has had express lanes for property owners only for decades. That's an unusual situation partially because it's an upside-down mountain with all the buildings scattered around the upper mountain. Includes a lot of condos owned by people who live 1-2 hours away who spend every weekend skiing. Non-property owners can't even buy a season pass that's good on Saturdays 9am-4pm. Wintergreen was a 4-season resort from the start, with golf courses on the mountain and in the valley a 15-min drive away. Being in the southeast, it's quite possible to ski and play golf on the same day for most of the ski season.

I would expect screaming in New England by the Killington fans and in general by Snowbird regulars. Bachelor probably only has lift line issues at the base on weekends and holidays from what I understand. Will make a difference which lifts have Express Lanes.

Powdr was the only multi-resort company to use parking reservations in 2020-21. Shifted to a hybrid parking approach for Snowbird that allows pass holders to park for free but still have to book a space. Others will have to pay US$10 or $25. There will be some free parking at Snowbird though. Vail Resorts plans to charge more for parking in New England.
 

MarzNC

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Alterra resorts limiting the number of tickets and
Jackson Hole to limit daily capacity and require reservations for Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective pass holders.
Taos is also requiring Ikon reservations. Don't know about MCP yet. I'll find out since I'm planning on using Ikon Base and the MCP for a Taos Ski Week in Feb 2022. I have Oct. 21 set as a reminder because that's when Ikon reservations open up for JH and Taos.

Essentially all ski areas/resorts are saying that day tickets may be limited. All are encouraging people to buy tickets online in advance, especially for weekends and holidays. In general that comes out about 40 days during the season. While most had online ticketing as an option pre-pandemic, I think even pretty small ski areas that cater to locals figured out how to do it during 2020-21. There were 470 ski areas/resorts in the USA in 2020.
 

oreo

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Snowbird fast tracks is a joke because they already have the seven summits club that lets you skip the line. They’re just discounting their several thousand dollars per year clientele, those guys must be a bit pissed at that.

the most important question is will the salad bar be back at the summit restaurant (top of tram) this year. Inquiring ski Bum/ structural engineers / food Tetris players need answers.
 
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MarzNC

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So Copper has had Fast Tracks before. Looks like WSJ may have jumped the gun a bit. Even the Copper website isn't nearly ready for 2021-22 Fast Tracks. The FAQ isn't even done yet.

In general the Powdr websites are still in Summer mode. There is work to do before Nov. 1 when people are supposed to be able to add Fast Tracks for specific dates in advance.
 

MarzNC

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Snowbird fast tracks is a joke because they already have the seven summits club that lets you skip the line. They’re just discounting their several thousand dollars per year clientele, those guys must be a bit pissed at that.
The Snowbird Seven Summits Priority Pass is good for the passholder and a companion on all lifts and the Tram. Will be interesting to see if the daily Fast Pass includes the Tram too.

The open questions are which lifts and what kind of capacity limit will be set for Fast Passes.
 
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MarzNC

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@Sbooker mentioned the issues with car rental for the upcoming N. American season in another thread. That's certainly going to impact ski travel budgets.

The SUV rental prices for Taos were pretty double what they were pre-pandemic for a Feb 2022 trip. Similar situation for Denver. I booked an SUV for Albuquerque in late August using Costco Travel. The situation seems to be getting worse, not better. A couple weeks after I booked, the prices were higher. A friend decided very early to do a Taos Ski Week in late January. Got a good deal on a rental car back in May for Santa Fe. Also got a good airfare flying from a major city on the Atlantic coast.
 

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@Sbooker mentioned the issues with car rental for the upcoming N. American season in another thread. That's certainly going to impact ski travel budgets.

The SUV rental prices for Taos were pretty double what they were pre-pandemic for a Feb 2022 trip. Similar situation for Denver. I booked an SUV for Albuquerque in late August using Costco Travel. The situation seems to be getting worse, not better. A couple weeks after I booked, the prices were higher. A friend decided very early to do a Taos Ski Week in late January. Got a good deal on a rental car back in May for Santa Fe. Also got a good airfare flying from a major city on the Atlantic coast.

Have you guys tried turo.com? I doubt it would be available in Santa Fe but should be easy in Denver and and other large cities. Pretty good 4WD available for $100-150 p/d.
 

Sbooker

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@Sbooker mentioned the issues with car rental for the upcoming N. American season in another thread. That's certainly going to impact ski travel budgets.

The SUV rental prices for Taos were pretty double what they were pre-pandemic for a Feb 2022 trip. Similar situation for Denver. I booked an SUV for Albuquerque in late August using Costco Travel. The situation seems to be getting worse, not better. A couple weeks after I booked, the prices were higher. A friend decided very early to do a Taos Ski Week in late January. Got a good deal on a rental car back in May for Santa Fe. Also got a good airfare flying from a major city on the Atlantic coast.
The rental car situation in North America could be a factor in pushing Oz skiers toward Europe as their public transport situation is a lot better.
 
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MarzNC

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Have you guys tried turo.com? I doubt it would be available in Santa Fe but should be easy in Denver and and other large cities. Pretty good 4WD available for $100-150 p/d.
I've looked at Turo in the past. Not really willing to take the risk when I'm providing transportation for several friends, including someone who's never been to Taos before and rarely does trips in the Rockies.

What I've learned about Albuquerque is that finding AWD/4WD is actually very difficult. Even the national rental companies won't guarantee AWD. In Denver, it's possible to pay a premium to guarantee AWD. When you get to ABQ, if an AWD/4WD is in the lot, that's a matter of luck. The road up to the base is usually not much of an issue so I'm not too concerned. Just have to be careful on the last hill that goes down towards the parking lot, and in the parking lot itself.

The supposed "AWD" category on Turo only includes a few SUVs that might actually be big enough for four people with luggage and ski gear. The prices are comparable to what I got as a Costco member. Costco rates are relatively stable, plus a second driver can be added for free. Comes out about US$125 per day for 9 days. I like to arrive in NM a day or two early to adjust for altitude.

Another wrinkle for 2021-22 is that it's not really possible to leave Taos on Sat morning and fly out on Southwest headed east that afternoon. Southwest just eliminated the 1pm non-stop to DEN that makes connections headed east. I always stay overnight at an airport motel on Sat night and fly out Sun so it doesn't matter to me. But one of my travel buddies had to change the plan. There are major airlines that fly east from ABQ at reasonable fares but then have to pay for checked bags.

A couple weeks ago Southwest eliminated morning flights to Chicago that matched up to a flight to ABQ. Had an impact on my flight from North Carolina and a friend who lives in Ohio. The domestic flight schedules in the USA have not reached a "new normal" yet.
 

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The rental car situation in North America could be a factor in pushing Oz skiers toward Europe as their public transport situation is a lot better.

Kids group lessons in Meribel cost us half what they would have in Vail which was another factor for our Euro trip in 2019. Lesson costs at the major resorts in the US are criminal, but the weak AUD vs USD doesnt help.
 
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