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Vail Resorts announces opening day; here are the changes you can expect this ski season

The company also announced changes for the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

VAIL, Colo. — Vail Resorts announced opening day for its 2020 ski season is scheduled for Nov. 6.

The company also announced changes that are being made due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New requirements being put in place include wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining physical distancing and undergoing health screenings when physical distancing is not possible (such as ski and ride school). 

No one will be permitted on the mountain without a face covering, and the company also strongly recommends wearing face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in the resort towns.

The company also announced it will be implementing a reservation system at all of its mountains in order to maintain physical distancing.

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Pass holders will have to make a reservation before arriving to the mountain and are able to book as many week-of reservations as their pass allows.

“That kind of makes me a little bit more hesitant to just jump in and pull the trigger on you know a 700 dollar plus ski pass," said Denver Crowder, a Denver resident deciding on what pass to buy for the season. 

Crowder worries a reservation system will stop the locals from being able to go to their mountain of choice after a good winter storm. 

Credit: Loveland Ski Area
Loveland Ski Area sees its first snowfall on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

"While we believe we will be able to accommodate all of our guests on the vast majority of days during the season, we also need to acknowledge that there are still many unknowns, which is exactly why we are putting the reservation system in place," said Ryan Huff, the director of communications for Vail Resorts in an email.

Vail Resorts will not disclose how many fewer people per day it expects in the coming year compared to a regular day in the past. 

Pass holders will also have the chance to book up to seven Priority Reservation Days between Dec. 8 and April 4. 

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The booking window for these reservations will be open from Nov. 6 to Dec. 7 and pass holders will be able to book more priority days, allowing them to maintain up to seven reserved days throughout the season.

Vail Resorts said that it will provide refunds if:

  • Pass holders are not able to book their preferred Priority Reservation Days during the initial booking window.
  • There is a resort closure due to certain events, including a COVID-19 outbreak, if the reservation was booked before Dec. 7.
  • Pass holders experience an eligible event preventing them from using their pass including job loss, illness or injury.

Lift tickets will not be sold until Dec. 8 to reserve the early season for pass holders, and will be sold with a reservation for a specific resort on a specific date this season.

Lift tickets will only be sold through the resorts' websites and call centers. Lift tickets will not be sold at ticket windows.

Although same-day lift tickets can be purchased when available, the company encourages buying tickets in advance.

The company said it may decide the reservation system is no longer required at some resorts, and could decide to eliminate it at those locations in the future.

"I realize not everyone will agree with our approach – some feeling we are being too conservative or aggressive," Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in a letter. "And I recognize the changes we are implementing will be an inconvenience. But I ask for your understanding and patience."

Vail Resorts fall under the Epic pass, and the other pass popular with Coloradans is Ikon, which is run by the parent company, Alterra Mountain Company. 

According to the vice president of public relations with Alterra, the mountains within the Ikon pass are creating their own plan. 

"Alterra Mountain Company continues to work with our 15 mountain destinations on what operations and safety protocols work best to meet the needs of our guests, employees and communities, while focusing on their health and safety," said Kristin Rust, the Vice President of Public Relations.

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