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Ikon 2020-21, Alterra vs Partners when it comes to lift access reservations


Angel Diva
As you may already know, Alterra announced their approach to lift access for season passholders on Sept. 14. Those who use Ikon as their season pass for a local Alterra resort should be happy that lift access reservations won't be needed. However, many people jumped to the conclusion that meant all Ikon locations would not require reservations. That is not true.

The new Ikon webpage about reservations is in alphabetical order by name of resort. I find it very confusing and like geographical order better. It also doesn’t have any indication which location is owned by Alterra and which are independent resorts that are Ikon partners. This season, the distinction matters a great deal.


Essentially all 15 Alterra destination resorts will not require reservations for Ikon holders. Here’s the list for the U.S. Alterra resorts in bold. Locations not requiring reservations of any kind in italics. Hopefully I didn't make any mistakes. Took a while to think through the ownership connections vs the true independents. Note that Alta and Aspen Ski Co. haven't made any public decision 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


Angel Diva
For the Ikon partners, some are part of a multi-resort company while others are true independent resorts. However, it’s pretty clear that regardless of ownership, each location is making a decision based on the local situation. As opposed to the Vail Resorts approach of having the same reservation system and policy across all VR locations in N. America. The goal is the same: keep local season passholders happy while limiting the number of people on the slopes on a given day.

For people using Ikon to ski somewhere that's not a day trip, it will be a bit more complicated. Essentially similar to what was needed for Deer Valley for a busy day last season. However, those who figure it out will probably have a great time since there will be fewer people on the slopes.

The resorts that are Boyne Resorts or Powdr are mostly doing some sort of reservations.

The Powdr resorts Copper, Killington/Pico will require parking reservations, but not lift access reservations. Mt. Bachelor isn’t planning on any reservations.

Pretty clear that Boyne Resorts will have a reservation system in place, but will only use it selectively. The Ikon reservation webpage as of today shows that Big Sky, Brighton, and Loon will require reservations, but Sunday River and Sugarloaf will not. Neither will Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands. I haven't seen any info yet about how the Boyne reservation system will work for season passholders or Ikon holders. There are two models that have been detailed so far, Epic and JH.

The independent partners are clearly making their own decisions so the statement from Alterra about not requiring lift access reservations doesn’t apply.

Snowbird doesn't intend to require reservations for Ikon. Alta hasn’t announced any decision yet.

Aspen Ski Co. is still working on their plan. Be interesting if they decide on different approaches for the four mountains. Don’t see much reason for reservations for Buttermilk. Perhaps Snowmass could get away with no reservations as well.

ABasin. JH and Taos will require reservations. Note that ABasin and JH are not requiring reservations for season passholders, meaning a 1-location pass.
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Angel Diva
The exception for Alterra has always been Deer Valley, which has a tradition of limiting capacity. Even Full Ikon holders are limited to 7 days at DV. Reservations weren't required last season but were highly recommended for known busy days such as during the Christmas week or holiday weekends. What I heard was that they reach capacity no more than 10 days, might even have been less. A season pass for unlimited access to DV runs about $2500.


Angel Diva
Very interesting . . . on the Windham website there is mention of an Ikon reservation system. Hard to tell if that's Windham specific or software that other Ikon partners will use as well. People with a Windham season pass will not need to make lift access reservations.

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Staff member
This just in from Tremblant.

As all winter sports enthusiasts begin to think about winter, we suspect many questions come to mind. While we are working on getting you answers, we can assure you the health and safety of our employees, guests and community remain at the forefront of our decision process as we prepare for the 2020/21 season.

We understand that you may need now more than ever to reconnect with the mountain air and the thrill of hitting the slopes. It is why we are happy to announce that we plan to open as per usual in November whilst respecting appropriate safety guidelines.

We have prepared, analyzed and planned various winter scenarios, taking into account physical distancing and other health measures according to the recommendations of Public Health authorities. We are working closely with the entire Alterra Mountain Company family to make the experience more user-friendly and to promote accessibility to our mountain.

Here are some highlights to date when operating in green, yellow and orange zones:

  • Access to the usual ski terrain.
  • Controlled resort visitation levels to reduce contact between people.
  • Priority to season pass holders, no reservation required.
  • Advance lift tickets purchase for specific dates as quantities are limited. Tickets can only be purchased on tremblant.ca and through the call center starting October 19.
  • Sale of most undated lift ticket products will be discontinued this season, including the Latitude card, tickets sold at Costco and corporate tickets (SkiMax).
  • Loading lift capacity as usual with the exception of the gondola running at 50%, as per Public Health recommendations. Related parties can sit together, unrelated guests may also elect to sit together but it will not be required.
  • Modified interior eating spaces, in compliance with Public Health standards including 2m physical distancing. All personal effects must remain in your vehicles, no bag can be left in common areas.
  • Ski and snowboard rental will be offered. Equipment will be disinfected between each use.
  • Increased cleaning in all common areas.
  • Guests to respect the health measures in place such as frequent hand washing and compulsory face covering in closed public spaces, in the lifts and in the lift lines. The neck warmer or hood covering the mouth and nose can replace the face coverings while skiing and in the lifts, as per Public Health recommendations.
  • Daily monitoring of all employees to ensure they are free of symptoms. All employees will wear the required personal protective equipment and will be trained on health protocols related to COVID-19.
  • Continuous updates of our sanitary measures by staying up to date with all government announcements.
When operating in red zone, the following will override some of the above plan:

  • Only related parties can load the lifts together. For unrelated guests, the 2m rule will apply.
  • Day lodges will only be used as shelter for guests to warm up, with limited access time. Food and beverage services will be closed.
You will notice there are no details regarding Snow School, the information will be communicated shortly.

We learned a lot from our operations this summer. These valuable experiences are being used to build a strong winter plan so we can reconnect with the passion that fuels us all. We are committed to keeping you informed and thank you for your loyalty and understanding during this unprecedented time.

We look forward to seeing you on the slopes,

Patrice Malo
President and Chief Operating Officer for Station Mont Tremblant


Angel Diva
@marzNC what does bold mean on your chart?
You mean the list of resorts in Post #1? Those are the resorts owned and operated by Alterra. The other Ikon resorts are "partners" that are either owned by other multi-resort companies like Boyne Resorts or Powdr, or independents like Jackson Hole or Alta.

The Alterra company stance is that no reservations will be required for passholders. That means people who get Ikon as the season pass for their home mountain won't need to use the Ikon reservation system for that location or any other Alterra resort. But they will need to make reservations at Partner resorts.

For me, the LCC/BCC resorts are of most interest since I have more than one trip planned flying to SLC. Snowbird will have a parking reservation system. Alta is going to limit day tickets but doesn't plan to have a parking reservation system. But once the Alta parking lots are full, no one else will be allowed in. We'll see how that pans out. I'm a little surprised Solitude isn't going to try a parking reservation system. But perhaps having only paid parking will be enough, which started last season. Boyne Resorts probably limited season pass sales for Brighton and then can limit day tickets for traditionally busy days.

Note that Ikon is an unlimited pass for Alterra resorts, except for Deer Valley. Only way to get unlimited access to DV is to buy a 1-location season pass, which runs over $2000. Can also get a 1-location pass to Snowshoe in WV for quite a bit less than Ikon Base.

Powdr is using parking reservations more than lift access reservations.
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Angel Diva
Interesting, Deer Valley won't be requiring Ikon holders to make a reservation. Last season it wasn't required but was highly recommended for busy times like weekends. I heard that reaching capacity only happened during the Christmas holidays and perhaps one holiday weekend. Of course, Ikon holders are limited to 5 or 7 days.

Advanced day tickets are $169-219, with $189 as the midweek price in January.

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@marzNC it is interesting that you mention parking. For JH it has always been a major challenge on powder days or peak days. There has been no mention of a reservation based system. I suspect a lot of us employees will be filling up the spots early in the morning instead of using the bus system like we used to. I hope it does not prove to be the true limiting factor for numbers of skiers on the hill.

Hopefully they are planning on plowing additional spots. Fingers are crossed that they have a plan, or the visitors not staying at the mountain will be very frustrated, at least the ones who don't feel safe on a bus.


Angel Diva
@marzNC it is interesting that you mention parking.
So far, only the Powdr resorts are using parking reservations as a way to limit the number of people coming on a given day. Anyone driving needs free parking reservation in advance, whether they have a season pass, an Ikon pass, or a day ticket. But obviously only one parking spot per car regardless of the number of people driving together.

Powdr is using a parking app that was clearly created for other situations, so if any ski resort wants to make use of the concept it doesn't seem like it would take long to set up. There are clearly variations that are unique to each location. For instance a parking reservation is required at Killington even if only dropping off people. That's not true at Mt. Bachelor where there are separate entry ways for drop off only at both bases.

JH has been using RFID for a few years. That means they have detailed historical records of the number of people each day, plus the number of cars parked in the lots, as well as the number of season passes, and the number of day tickets sold. Hopefully someone made good use of the data available from the last few years.
@marzNC let's sure hope they have. In the spring I was informed that they do not have enough spots if employees starting driving to the ski area. A lot of locals would also ride the bus. We will know soon enough.


Angel Diva
Used the Ikon app tonight to make reservations for a couple trips out west. Very easy process. Got separate emails for each resort. Cancellations can be made any time. There is one date on a weekend that I reserved just in case. If the weather cooperates for that particular day, the trip plan is to do a day trip to a nearby resort. In that case I'll cancel at least a few days beforehand.

There is no limit on the number of reservations that can be make. Of course, the Ikon Partners using lift access reservations and Deer Valley only allow 5/7 days so there is a natural limit for each Ikon holder.
A few days in Dec are already gone for parking reservations at Snowbird. Might be related to the fact that up to 2 feet of snow is expected this weekend. Opening day is planned for Nov. 30 and that's fully booked too. Looks like pend up demand for the Fri-Sun, the first weekend of Dec. My understanding is that only a minimum number of spots have been released. More spaces could be made available after more lifts are running as terrain is added.

Copper is using the same parking reservation system. Also opening on Nov. 30, but only Dec. 5 is already sold out. Copper probably has more parking spaces than Snowbird.

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The new Covid restrictions in WA made Crystal cave! They are now requiring reservations. I'm very happy about this. There are plenty of slots open for the next couple weeks.

Daily Reservations for 20/21:

In order to fully comply with the Governor’s most current reopening requirements as of November 15th, 2020 which require reduced chair-loading capacities and use of a reservation system in order to limit crowd size, Crystal Mountain will be utilizing a reservation system to regulate crowd size for the foreseeable future. We have committed to priority access throughout the season for season pass holders, Wild Card holders and other pre-ticketed guests such as Founders. Anyone coming to the mountain to ski or snowboard must have lift access and a reservation. We will open the calendar up to 30 days at a time.

Be aware that unused reservations or attempts to visit without a reservation for the day could result in loss of access to the mountain.

There is a separate reservation system for Ikon Pass holders which can be found here:

The new Covid restrictions in WA made Crystal cave! They are now requiring reservations. I'm very happy about this. There are plenty of slots open for the next couple weeks.
Very interesting! For early season, it really makes more sense to use a reservation system for passholders as well as limiting day tickets, if there are any day tickets sold. 30 days at a time is a bit different.

Snowshoe in WV delayed their opening day. Since snowmaking has been happening and it's cold this week, I wonder if the concern was not quite enough terrain for Thanksgiving weekend. A lot of pent up demand with no reservations seems like a bad idea.
Whatever Snowbird parking spots that are currently available for January weekends are gone. Also all Saturdays for February. I would guess that news that LCC and BCC roads will be closed to uphill traffic when there is no parking left is one reason. Idea is to avoid what happened in past seasons when people drove all the way to a parking lot and then had to drive back to the city. There are exceptions for employees and other situations where the driver is not going to park. Roads are likely to be open again to uphill traffic in the afternoon when people are starting to leave parking lots.

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

Be interesting to see if Solitude also starts using the Ikon reservation system since it's owned by Alterra. Would be simpler than implementing the parking reservation system that Snowbird is using. Brighton is requiring Ikon reservations.
It's nice to be able to look at webcams and see how things are going. The snow level has risen and they are getting some rain at the base, which is not my idea of a good time, but should make for a more mellow opening day.

For early season, it really makes more sense to use a reservation system for passholders as well as limiting day tickets, if there are any day tickets sold.
No day tickets will be sold for the foreseeable future, they say. Surprisingly on Facebook the response to the reservation system has been very positive. Usually there are so many complaints about everything there. It's very easy to use--it's Eventbrite. I bought a 3-pack of tickets so I get to make a reservation, and made 2. I'm curious about next week and might try to get one depending on what I hear about these opening days.

The reservation system inspired my husband to buy a 3 pack and make 3 reservations as well. It just seems so much safer and more manageable if you know they are limiting people.

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