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On Thursday, Vail Resorts announced its upcoming changes for winter skiing. Yes, you’ll still get to hit the slopes this year, but if you’re still contemplating getting a season pass, now would be the time to invest.
“At the core, Vail Resorts remains dedicated and focused on the company's unrivaled commitment to safety, while still providing a great skiing and riding experience for everyone,” reps said in a statement.
“We are fortunate that our core experience of skiing and riding takes place outdoors, across huge mountains, offering fresh air and wide-open spaces for our guests. However, to help protect our guests, our employees, and our communities amid this pandemic, some changes will be required this season,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz shared. “It has been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of the 2020/21 season. We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactionary changes. Striving for consistency will provide our guests, employees, and communities with as much predictability as possible this season, which we believe is worth the extra effort.”
Changes, the company explained, include requiring face coverings to access all Vail Resort mountains and throughout all operations, including lift lines and while loading, unloading, and riding in lifts and gondolas. (That one is easy. Just sport your gator at all times and you’re all set.)
The company added, ski and ride school will still be offered and on-mountain dining will be open, however, it too will come with unspecified changes to “help keep guests safe.”
And here’s the biggest change of all: To ensure safe social distancing, Vail Resorts is launching a mountain access reservation system and limiting lift ticket sales “in order to prioritize Epic Pass holders.” While it notes that for the vast majority of days mountains will be able to accommodate everyone, it may limit guests if needed. So again, if you’ve been contemplating that Epic Pass and know you want to ski or ride a lot this winter, let this serve as all the inspiration you need.
The limiting of tickets may be crucial this year as Vail also announced changes to how its lifts operate to maintain safe social distancing. It will only seat related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift. It will also sit two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift, or two singles on opposite sides of our larger gondola cabins. This means you may have to wait a bit longer as chairs could go up half full. (Pro tip: If you can, splurge on a lesson, even if you’re a great skier or rider. Not only will it help you improve, but typically ski school lessons get to skip the line.)
The statement added, pass holders will receive exclusive early season access starting Nov. 6 (Keystone’s opening day, weather permitting). Lift tickets will go on sale to the general public until Dec. 8. Pass holders will also get access all season with week-of reservations, and priority reservations for the core season (Dec. 8 – closing day), which can be locked in up to seven days before lift tickets go on sale.
“These priority reservations allow pass holders to plan ahead for that important weekend or annual big trip,” the statement said.
Again, Katz emphasizes that “for the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to. However, we are not planning for the majority of days, we are planning for every day of the season."
Related: 10 Luxury Ski Resorts Worth Visiting for the Après Ski Alone
To help people make a season pass decision, the company extended the Epic Pass Labor Day deadline to Sept. 17. Check out all the details on the new reservation system, and pick up your Epic Pass here.