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Reservations: two philosophies

#21
Can I reserve M-F and cancel on days it's ra*ning? Or days I am too creaky? Unfair to those who didn't get a reservation that day, but it's not weekends or holiday weeks. Hmm.
At this point only possible to know the answer for Epic passes and the VR reservation system. You could use your 7 Priority Days to pick 5 days for a specific future week. Then canceling a day by midnight the night before would get a Priority Day back in your "pool."

But I think the idea behind "week of" Epic reservations for midweek skiing is that they will be available without limitation. I'm guessing the window won't be Mon-Sun, but perhaps opening up Thu-Wed on Wed morning. That's based on what was done for Perisher in early July.

I'm guessing that Fridays and Mondays may be more crowded in VT this season if schools continue to only have classes online.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#22
Honestly, I'd feel much better if our local resorts would require reservations. I certainly will not attempt to go (on weekends anyway) without that and reasonable safety efforts in place.

The thing is here - Alta is so crowded in the last couple of years that my husband has driven up to the ski resort at least a dozen times in the past 2 years only to find that there is no parking left and he's gotten turned around to go home without skiing. YES - this is his fault for heading up too late instead of well before opening, but it's an idiotic waste of gas and added traffic for no reason at all. And when you do get up there to ski, you can be stuck in 2-4 hours of traffic on the way back down the canyon (and it's only 12 miles). This is a huge part of why I don't really ski that often anymore. I can only go on weekends and weekends are THAT crowded on a regular basis. I do take vacation days to be there on weekdays sometimes, but that's obviously limited.

IMHO - they need to implement a reservation system here whether COVID is an issue or not. It's utterly wasteful to have hundreds of people driving up and down the canyons on weekends only to find they can't park and can't ski and then sit idling in gridlock for hours on the way home. Our environment is too fragile for this nonsense. Yes, I miss the good old days when I could just jump in my car on a whim, be in the lift line in 20 minutes and ski for a few hours and then head home. It's nothing like that anymore and we have to adapt.

I've heard (rumor only) that they've sold more passes this year than ever before. There has to be something to make this work. Unrelated to COVID I know they do send out texts when the lots are full to hopefully turn people around earlier, and are looking at various plans for a gondola up the canyon or a covered road or other options to make something work better, but I honestly like the idea of reservations. It may sound like a hassle, but I think you get turned around without skiing a few times and suddenly the idea of having a reservation sounds lovely! And WITH COVID... it sounds like it will be as crowded as ever, so if they are going to limit attendance for safety, I think it should be done in some way you can actually make plans around, not just a first come first served free-for-all.

(Though I guess to be fair, I also golf and like tee times...)
 
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#23
Thinking about all the things I already needed reservations of some sort for (everything from medical appts to Pilates classes to restaurants to ferries to car repair to flights and hotels to backcountry camping permits) and all the extra things I need them for during Covid (food pick up, library book pick up, Zoom classes, for a while grocery shopping), ski reservations seem natural and a logical way of crowd control to me. Geez after looking at that list I'm almost wondering what I don't need a "tee time" for anymore.
Oh dear!

Reading this is making me tired, and my brain hurts. (In fairness, I already have a migraine.) I don't blame you! I think I'd crawl under the covers in the face of all that planning!

(I'd probably manage it without the migraine. . . )
 
#24
Snowbird is following the Powdr model and opting for parking reservations but no lift access reservations for passholders. Snowbird, Ikon, and MCP passholders all have to make a reservation if they want to drive up the canyon.
 

jskis190

Certified Ski Diva
#25
The idea of making reservations for every day I want to ski would probably mean the end of skiing for me. We like to go for a 4-6 week time frame and do all our skiing for the season in one shot. It involves renting a condo which we won't do without guaranteed skiing. I also like to have the freedom to decide in the morning whether or not I want to ski on any particular day. Reservations might be okay for locals and those who do one week or less vacations, but I sure hope this is the only season it's in place.
 
#26
you can be stuck in 2-4 hours of traffic on the way back down the canyon (and it's only 12 miles).
This is terrible, and reservations sound very necessary here. But why don't they have any kind of traffic control at the beginning of the canyon? Crystal has only had to deal with full parking and people turned away since last year, when they went on Ikon, but after a few days of people being furious they partnered with the DOT to put up electronic signs on the only road in and about 50 minutes away, so that people could turn around well before they go there if it said "parking full." (They would estimate based on how full the lot was and how many cars they thought were on the road). With only 12 miles and one road in a canyon, it seems like it would be really easy for the resort to estimate when parking would fill up then turn on a sign.
 
#27
Honestly, I'd feel much better if our local resorts would require reservations. I certainly will not attempt to go (on weekends anyway) without that and reasonable safety efforts in place.

The thing is here - Alta is so crowded in the last couple of years that my husband has driven up to the ski resort at least a dozen times in the past 2 years only to find that there is no parking left and he's gotten turned around to go home without skiing. YES - this is his fault for heading up too late instead of well before opening, but it's an idiotic waste of gas and added traffic for no reason at all. And when you do get up there to ski, you can be stuck in 2-4 hours of traffic on the way back down the canyon (and it's only 12 miles). This is a huge part of why I don't really ski that often anymore. I can only go on weekends and weekends are THAT crowded on a regular basis. I do take vacation days to be there on weekdays sometimes, but that's obviously limited.

IMHO - they need to implement a reservation system here whether COVID is an issue or not. It's utterly wasteful to have hundreds of people driving up and down the canyons on weekends only to find they can't park and can't ski and then sit idling in gridlock for hours on the way home. Our environment is too fragile for this nonsense. Yes, I miss the good old days when I could just jump in my car on a whim, be in the lift line in 20 minutes and ski for a few hours and then head home. It's nothing like that anymore and we have to adapt.

I've heard (rumor only) that they've sold more passes this year than ever before. There has to be something to make this work. Unrelated to COVID I know they do send out texts when the lots are full to hopefully turn people around earlier, and are looking at various plans for a gondola up the canyon or a covered road or other options to make something work better, but I honestly like the idea of reservations. It may sound like a hassle, but I think you get turned around without skiing a few times and suddenly the idea of having a reservation sounds lovely! And WITH COVID... it sounds like it will be as crowded as ever, so if they are going to limit attendance for safety, I think it should be done in some way you can actually make plans around, not just a first come first served free-for-all.

(Though I guess to be fair, I also golf and like tee times...)
Wow, that sounds HORRIBLE! I guess that's one good thing about skiing in ME, I've never had any trouble pulling up and parking whenever I want to. I mean, you won't get good parking if you don't go early and when I was off mountain I would surely get there before first chair because I like good parking and first tracks. However, if I did want to go later I also wouldn't ever get turned away.. Of course this is all non-Covid years. We'll have restrictions this year, but passholders are still supposedly not going to require reservations while day tickets will be what controls things. I'm totally onboard with that approach, but we'll see if it can work.
 
#28
It probably mostly has to with geography, and also some to do with occupying public land. Both Alta and Crystal are in similar narrow dead end valleys; I know with Crystal there's only so much room. Stevens Pass, which has run out of parking for years, has a relatively limited amount of buildable land at a mountain pass. And all of these occupy public lands, so even if there was room to build, they need permission which can take years and may not be granted.

On the plus side having only so much parking means it can only get so crowded.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#29
This is terrible, and reservations sound very necessary here. But why don't they have any kind of traffic control at the beginning of the canyon? Crystal has only had to deal with full parking and people turned away since last year, when they went on Ikon, but after a few days of people being furious they partnered with the DOT to put up electronic signs on the only road in and about 50 minutes away, so that people could turn around well before they go there if it said "parking full." (They would estimate based on how full the lot was and how many cars they thought were on the road). With only 12 miles and one road in a canyon, it seems like it would be really easy for the resort to estimate when parking would fill up then turn on a sign.
Honestly - they do have some traffic control, it's just... inconsistently managed as far as I can tell. (And talking to DH last night about it he says last year was better with this than the year before, so that's progress, I guess.) One of the huge issues with traffic is 2WD vehicles sliding off the road and creating gridlock in bad weather, when they have clearly marked signs at the base saying 4WD or chains only when it's snowing or forecasted to snow. Sometimes there is someone at the base checking vehicles and only allowing appropriate ones up... most of the time there isn't. Lots of folks take their chances (especially in rental cars) and it creates a mess. I suspect a large part of the problem is people being overly optimistic. Yeah, it says the lot's almost full and there are hundreds of cars in front of me, but I'll make it! In my 2WD car with bald tires...

They do also send out text alerts and twitter alerts when lots are nearing and at capacity (admittedly this could be part of DH's problem, because I had to install twitter on his phone for this purpose....) and have signs at the base and all the way out on the interstate, but only close the canyons to uphill traffic when the entire canyon is full. They allow parking on the sides of the roads and there are 2 resorts, and there is public access (backcountry/non-ski resort) parking and hotel lots and that type of thing, so it's a bit of a mess guessing which cars are trying to go where, I'd imagine. Declaring a specific lot to be full is easy enough and they have parking staff to do that. I don't know the details of how they determine "CANYON FULL" but I'd guess part of the issue is that there is probably a few parking spots available SOMEWHERE, so there are people milling around looking over several miles or waiting for folks to leave.

Just throwing out ideas, but they could have online reservations tied to your ski pass AND put in a pass sales kiosk and a pass reader for those without passes at the base of the canyon and you get a reservation to park at whichever resort lot you've reserved or for the backcountry access parking or hotel or business you're visiting up there... Haha, maybe somehow tie it to driving a vehicle with appropriate tires for storm days while I'm wishful thinking....

Interestingly, DH hated this whole idea (he prefers time travel to 20 years ago as his ideal solution...), but he conceded that if he knew he'd have a parking spot waiting (even a terrible parking spot), he'd pay good money for that. His concern was that they'll take reservations, but not enforce them and therefore you could have a reservation AND no parking spot. Which would be the worst of both worlds... Hence my whole "gotta have a pass you can scan to get into the lot" idea. And really, we should be figuring out how to entice people to ride the ski bus more often... so there is that too. But that's probably a really difficult sell with COVID....

And back to the original COVID part of this - with a well managed reservation website, you could handle reservations to limit skiers on the mountain well, even with some flexibility. Paying for in-canyon lodging or maybe in-town lodging with reserved tickets? you automatically can reserve a lift ticket reservation for each day of lodging. Don't want to ski that day? You release that lift ticket reservation and it opens up to the public. Even last minute in the morning or mid-day - there would be locals who could pick it up. Maybe your season pass comes with a certain number of days of guaranteed reserved skiing and the rest are a lottery, plus last minute pickups from released reservations, etc...

Anyway, obviously I'm just rambling about possible ideas. But it's feasible that for extra busy resorts, they come out of this better than they were because it forces them to come up with plans for limiting attendance in a reasonable way that could make it a better experience. Until someone invents time travel...
 
#30
he prefers time travel to 20 years ago as his ideal solution...)
That would be my #1 pick as well! Let me know if he figures it out.

His concern was that they'll take reservations, but not enforce them and therefore you could have a reservation AND no parking spot.
I hadn't even considered that, but given that people have gone INSANE in the outdoors this summer, and have generally disregarded every rule and regulation there is, including not having a backcountry permits where needed (so, when the rightful permit holder shows up to their designated campsite, someone is already there, and that someone is an angry a$$$ole who won't leave)... Ski resort parking is going to be easier to enforce, but they will need to enforce it and I bet there will be ugliness.

But it's feasible that for extra busy resorts, they come out of this better than they were because it forces them to come up with plans for limiting attendance in a reasonable way that could make it a better experience.
That's my hope too.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#31
Snowbasin is not planning on requiring reservations.
I am wishing I had bought a Powder Mountain pass this year...
We will see what happens. Honestly, a reservation system would make me very happy on ANY given day. Even if you HAD to show up, and if you had X number of no-shows, you'd have your pass restricted for a two week period (or something like that.) As close as I am, I'd go up and take one run if I had to but conditions ended up being sub-par just to avoid being penalized. And I'd book every single day except Saturday.

Why CAN'T it be like Tee times?
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#32
As a non-golfer, I ask, what is it about it that's so distasteful? I've been wondering how this will affect me.

I tend to decide to ski based on what time I wake up, the weather, and how this creaky body is feeling in the morning. (I almost never regret deciding to go, but do regret skipping it!) Making reservations will make a big difference, I imagine. Can I reserve M-F and cancel on days it's ra*ning? Or days I am too creaky? Unfair to those who didn't get a reservation that day, but it's not weekends or holiday weeks. Hmm.
I used to play golf and plan to again. Golf is very different. Having a tee time for golf is not a deal-breaker and, when I went at non-prime times, I didn't need to reserve a tee time at all. I don't have to drive far or deal with rush hour traffic or bad weather conditions.

For local skiing, I have to allow 2 hours from driveway to lift on weekdays. But I have to be up even earlier to check traffic and road conditions in case 2 hours will become 3. Add in an appointment time and I have to allow for more to ensure I'm not late. Of course, if I'm early, I'd have to sit in the car and wait. And wait. For a 9:00 ski time, I'd have to get up as if I was leaving by 6:00 to check for those road/traffic conditions.

For both golf and skiing, it comes down to ROI. My Return on skiing is much higher than golf, but my Investment is way higher. I'm not sure how much more investment I can tolerate each ski day. Having an appointment I have to get to -- and the annoyances that entails -- may be the deal-breaker.

The other factor is that I'm not willing to ski just 3 or 4 times a year. I expect to ski twice a week, sometimes three times. So it's not 3 appointments per ski season, but 2 or 3 per week.
 
#33
The other factor is that I'm not willing to ski just 3 or 4 times a year. I expect to ski twice a week, sometimes three times. So it's not 3 appointments per ski season, but 2 or 3 per week.
Clearly the situation with or without reservations will be very different for people depending on the travel effort required. Here's my thoughts as someone who has a home mountain that's a 4-hour drive who has also done ski safaris in other regions and has been flying out west for 1-3 week ski trips.

I can think of the following categories:
  1. less than an hour drive from a local mountain
  2. 2-3 hours drive but day trip possible
  3. 4+ hours driving, so an overnight stay is standard practice
  4. flying only practical travel option for a 1-week ski vacation although driving 2-4 days cross country can be done if have no time constraints and plan to stay for a few weeks or the season
The Epic reservation system applies to Types 1-2 in the midwest and mid-Atlantic, Types 1-3 in the northeast and Types 1-4 for the destination resorts out west. The reason for having the 7 Priority Days is clearly for the people who fit into Types 3-4.

Alterra resorts also include several types. Not sure a blanket decision not to have any reservations for passholders will work. The complication is that Ikon is a local pass for some resorts while at the same time is used by travelers of Types 3-4. Deer Valley limits access for even Full Ikon. So as a multi-resort company Alterra has experience with a reservation system.

Have yet to hear plans for most of the Type 1 small independent ski mountains east of the Mississippi. I think most will have to think about how to limit numbers on weekends and holidays.
 

Kiragirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#34
Just saw this from Jay Peak:

Return to Winter with a 2020+21 Jay Peak Season Pass. No reservations required to ski or ride this winter.
 
#35
Just saw this from Jay Peak:

Return to Winter with a 2020+21 Jay Peak Season Pass. No reservations required to ski or ride this winter.
What I've seen is that since about half of Jay's guests are usually Canadian and they don't expect the US/Canada border to be open this season, the expectation is that not much needs to be done to limit the number of guests.

Here's what is happening for the Jay tram for fall colors.

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 12.00.11 PM.png
 
#36
What I've seen is that since about half of Jay's guests are usually Canadian and they don't expect the US/Canada border to be open this season, the expectation is that not much needs to be done to limit the number of guests.

Here's what is happening for the Jay tram for fall colors.

View attachment 13662
Additionally they are also taking contact information for all who ride the tram this fall.
 
#37
Additionally they are also taking contact information for all who ride the tram this fall.
Makes sense.

In Australia, people who went into the few restaurants open for indoor dining had to fill out their contact info in the event contact tracing was needed. Never happened for the ski resorts that stayed open for the entire season. For those that had to close after only 4 days, that was because of travel restrictions of their major market so no positive cases there either.

I think it's New Zealand that has QR codes at the entrance of base buildings that can be scanned to assist in the event contact tracing were required for that location.

Pretty sure I read that the fact that Epic passes are RFID can be used if any pass holder is ever known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Never an issue at Perisher, which is in the final weeks (days) of the season due to warm weather melting the late season snow very quickly.
 
#38
Yes, since the border with Quebec is closed, Jay has a much smaller clientele, and they are hoping the no-reservations-needed policy will bring them more business. I hope so too! It must be so difficult to be in business now.
 
#39
For both golf and skiing, it comes down to ROI. My Return on skiing is much higher than golf, but my Investment is way higher. I'm not sure how much more investment I can tolerate each ski day. Having an appointment I have to get to -- and the annoyances that entails -- may be the deal-breaker.
I can totally grasp this! My preference for checking the weather on my phone while lying in bed . . . you get the idea! And my stress meter is off the charts, and one more thing to mess with won't be working well for me.
 
#40
Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon won't have a reservation system. However, they aren't just limiting passes and day tickets, and hoping for the best either. After crunching numbers from past seasons, adjustments are being made to both season pass options and day tickets. The goal is to encourage people to start skiing later in the day. Read on or check out the video for details.

While an unlimited pass will still exist, the emphasis is on the Value pass. The season pass webpage shows Value passes for the different age categories as the default, with the usual all-access pass as an "add-on" that almost doubles the price. Nov. 8 is the deadline for renewals. A Value pass is good on less busy days starting at 9am, but on busy days--weekends and holidays--it still can be used but not until 2pm. The last couple seasons the starting time was 3pm. The hope is that more people will opt for the much cheaper Value pass.

For day tickets, the choice will be 4-hour, 7-hour, or open-to-close (including night session). Start times for a given day could be 9am, 12 noon, 2pm, or 5pm. People who want to start at 9am will pay a premium. Or put another way, there will be more of a discount the later someone starts. For example, for a Wed in Jan the price for 7-hours could be $89 for 9am, $59 for noon, $39 for 2pm. What start times are offered and pricing will be very dynamic, meaning could be different every day of the week and change week to week. People willing to commit farther in advance will have more options.

My home hill, Massanutten, went to 4-hour or 8-hour lift tickets about ten years ago. Helped to spread out people starting out in the morning.

Mt. Hood Meadows is one of three ski areas on Mt. Hood. It's mainly a mountain for locals from the Portland area. They have RFID for lift access. It's usually open well into late May. Timberline at Mt. Hood can be seen from the upper section of Meadows. I had a good time checking it out one day a few years ago as a day trip from Sun River near Mt. Bachelor. Would love to go back a bit earlier in the spring season.

The video explaining the thinking that went into the plan includes graphs of usage from past seasons that were the basis for the plan.

Managing visitation by spreading out demand to responsibly accommodate the most skiers and snowboarders possible
 

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