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So what's going to happen next season?

Given where I've been driving to the most in the past few months, Biltmore Estate and Gardens in Asheville, NC has been an interested contrast to the state parks in the NC mountains. The mountain trails were pretty busy on weekends, but not too busy midweek. On weekends people were not only doing day hikes but were also tent camping. Biltmore is private and a day ticket is $65-100 depending on the date (weekends are higher). There have been capacity limits in place ever since Biltmore was allowed to re-open in late spring. An annual pass is roughly $200. I have one because my daughter is in college in Asheville, and I like spending time in the mountains.

Since Biltmore has several thousand acres for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities, it's used by local families with annual passes quite a bit. I get the sense that Biltmore is somewhat busier during the week because more kids are doing school online and parents are working from home. But there are also a lot of first-time visitors. They are easy to spot trying to figure out where to go when they get to the house and gardens.

I'm guessing that the situation at many ski resorts will be similar. The variation will be based on multiple factors, for instead whether or not reservations are required, whether or not slopeside lodging exists, and what percentage of people on the slopes are local (<3 hour drive) versus travelers who opt to stay overnight.
 
Yep, I agree that is a great resource. For PA the 14-day quarantine is not required but recommended, if coming from the high risk states. That is the verbiage on the official PA government site. It may have been required previously though, I wasn't following the restrictions closely until recently.
https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx
I live in PA and didn't even know about this. I travel from NY to PA on occasion and have never encountered any kind of interference with my travels.
 
I live in PA and didn't even know about this. I travel from NY to PA on occasion and have never encountered any kind of interference with my travels.
Travel restrictions are not making headlines for the most part. There are not going to be police at every road that crosses a state border checking for someone's residency, even for states in New England that have a long list of states within a day's drive that are considered "high risk." Like mask mandates, while there may be fines possible that won't happen often. It's no different than driving over the speed limit on a major highway. The likelihood of getting a speeding ticket is pretty low. But the law serves as a deterrent.

My local friends had to stay in update NY when they took their daughter to boarding school in early September. They called a motel and were told that it was fine to stay overnight without worrying about quarantine. In general, taking a child to college was acceptable in New England but the idea was that the trip wasn't supposed to tour into a vacation opportunity.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
.... I think this will be the year that everyone that doesn't know how to ski decides to learn.....
How are those beginner lessons going to go I wonder? If there are more new skiers signing up for beginner group lessons than usual, and the ski school is cutting back on group lessons, that right there is going to pose a problem. I wonder how surprised never-evers will be when they discover the group beginner lessons are filled up and they are going to have to buy a private lesson to learn to ski on their first day. I guess newbies will need to work this out ahead of time online. If they don't and just show up expecting to take care of getting their rentals and lessons on the spot, oh no!

I'm glad I'm not going to be teaching this season.
 
How are those beginner lessons going to go I wonder? If there are more new skiers signing up for beginner group lessons than usual, and the ski school is cutting back on group lessons, that right there is going to pose a problem. I wonder how surprised never-evers will be when they discover the group beginner lessons are filled up and they are going to have to buy a private lesson to learn to ski on their first day. I guess newbies will need to work this out ahead of time online. If they don't and just show up expecting to take care of getting their rentals and lessons on the spot, oh no!

I'm glad I'm not going to be teaching this season.
Have not been paying close attention to ski school plans or rentals, but for the few ski resorts where I've read the plans or FAQs more carefully there are no group lessons for any level or age. Rentals will require a reservation, often with an arrival time. Have seen an article geared to ski industry management that has suggestions about how to get people to provide more info beforehand so that the first pair of boots they are offered is in fact a decent fit <don't laugh>.

I would guess that most beginners who aren't children usually buy day tickets, which they will have to buy in advance online this season. Parents who want their kids to learn presumably has some awareness that things will be different. So they should see the relevant info on a ski resort's website long before they arrive at the parking lot.
 

kiki

Angel Diva
Based on what I saw for parks and golf courses this year I anticipate our local mountains will be packed to the maximum that the hills will allow. Many of our local residents will not go south for the winter, and many people are choosing not to do indoor activities like bowling and curling, most people will not do foreign holidays which will leave surplus income and time for skiing.
 
Here's what Plattekill in NY is doing for renting gear and lessons. Fairly typical for the small and medium size ski areas/resorts I've looked at so far. Plattekill is old school and mostly serves locals and dedicated folks who do day trips from the NJ or metro NYC region. The terrain and vibe is well worth driving past Hunter (Epic), Windham (Ikon), or Bellearye (ORDA).

Plattekill expects that season passholders won't be limited. They will limit online day ticket sales to stay within acceptable numbers.

Screen Shot 2020-10-11 at 12.24.13 AM.png
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Based on what I saw for parks and golf courses this year I anticipate our local mountains will be packed to the maximum that the hills will allow. Many of our local residents will not go south for the winter, and many people are choosing not to do indoor activities like bowling and curling, most people will not do foreign holidays which will leave surplus income and time for skiing.
The golf courses being busy could be because of working from home. Works done, lets go. So depending on how far the ski area is from home, it might not be as busy. Most golf courses are close to an urban area.

But if people are working from their home mountain......
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I emailed my ski school director at my mountain to ask what the new arrangements would be this season and got a wait and see answer. Evidently the powers that be are still thinking about it.

Summer and fall activities on the mountain look online like they have been going strong, continuing as if there were no virus. I'm wondering about all the weddings that were planned at the new summit function building, accessed by the new gondola. The mountain needs those fees to pay for the building and the gondola. I doubt they will have shut down the weddings unless made to do so by the governor.

Most lessons at this mountain are 1-hour privates, and they are usually bought as advanced reservations anyway because we sell out so frequently. Beginner groups have tended to be filled with walk-ups. Our pricing is high in comparison to other mountains around us. I won't be there to see how this plays out in a winter covid world.

Most of our instructor staff is over 60. I have no idea how many of us will return since we are vulnerable to the virus. A major member of the team died on a ventilator this summer after weeks of illness. He was a full-timer there for 20-so years, quite a character, my best friend in the locker room, and will be sorely missed by all. I have not heard definitely whether it was Covid-19, but that's my guess.

So our instructors may be wary about returning to work, even though this is NH and locals sometimes fancy themselves different (invulnerable to the virus). Some of the instructors rent for the winter (as I do) or own second places up there and live in Massachusetts. Some stay in crowded ski clubs in the area. Maybe the ones that rent did as I did and chose to not secure a winter place this time around. Maybe the ones that stay in ski clubs are thinking strongly about sitting out the winter. We are always short-staffed, thus the sold-out lessons every weekend. So ski school scheduling may get tense this season if New Hampshire stays open while Vermont is closed and people flood in.
 
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ling

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
How are those beginner lessons going to go I wonder? If there are more new skiers signing up for beginner group lessons than usual, and the ski school is cutting back on group lessons, that right there is going to pose a problem. I wonder how surprised never-evers will be when they discover the group beginner lessons are filled up and they are going to have to buy a private lesson to learn to ski on their first day. I guess newbies will need to work this out ahead of time online. If they don't and just show up expecting to take care of getting their rentals and lessons on the spot, oh no!

I'm glad I'm not going to be teaching this season.
Will there even be walk up lessons?

Seems many mountains are only doing advanced booking only for lessons.
 
How are those beginner lessons going to go I wonder? If there are more new skiers signing up for beginner group lessons than usual, and the ski school is cutting back on group lessons, that right there is going to pose a problem. I wonder how surprised never-evers will be when they discover the group beginner lessons are filled up and they are going to have to buy a private lesson to learn to ski on their first day. I guess newbies will need to work this out ahead of time online. If they don't and just show up expecting to take care of getting their rentals and lessons on the spot, oh no!

I'm glad I'm not going to be teaching this season.
Lol who said they'll take lessons? Given the appalling lack of awareness of so many people in the outdoors this summer and fall, I was imagining a lot of people just going for it with whatever gear they get off Craigslist or wherever. (For sure this will happen with Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, etc). The saving grace might be the lack of walk up tickets.
 
I think it's pretty clear that holiday periods and weekends will be very different than recent years. The capacity limits at larger resorts will mean far fewer people, and probably fewer beginners of all ages. At the same time, more local ski areas may be at their maximum capacity more of those days than usual.

In this interview with Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory, he notes that typically there are 15-25 days that are very crowded during an entire season. The number of days depends on location. Could be possible that there might be a few holiday days where no day tickets are available by the time most people start thinking about planning a ski trip. There are also tidbits about food service and how to allow folks on the slopes to warm. One of the interviewers is actually a skier.

Oct. 9, Yahoo! Finance
Alterra Mountain CEO on upcoming ski season: Sales are unbelievably strong
https://finance.yahoo.com/video/alterra-mountain-ceo-upcoming-ski-172851486.html
 
I notice he said they will be leaving 2 spaces between parties on chairlifts. Only gondolas will be single parties only.
Big Sky noted that for the new 6-pack and 8-pack high speed chairs that although space will be left between parties who are not together, solo riders won't be permitted. So there will be at least 2 people on a chair, presumably one on each end. Those lift rides are 4 minutes with no stoppage.

All trams and gondolas will have windows open this season, regardless of how few people are riding together. Pretty sure that's part of the NSAA recommendations.
 
I think it's going to be busier. Between virtual learning and working at home, I think more people than ever are going to have the opportunity to ski during the week. So I think weekdays will definitely be more crowded. Also in the East, I think fewer people will be flying out west for ski vacations. They'll be more likely to take drivable trips, which means the slopes could be busier especially during holiday times.
I completely agree. We had our equipment day at the mountain on Saturday. So many families are parking it at the mountain for the whole season, working and going to school remotely. They'll get out and ski midweek.
 
Here's what Keystone's website has about ski school (Vail Resorts). All lessons must be booked in advanced. No walk up lessons at all. I expect there will be a lot rules to read and accept when signing up for a lesson.

Screen Shot 2020-10-11 at 8.33.16 PM.png
 
Here's what is on the Stratton website (owned by Alterra) about lessons and rentals.

Related to food and lockers:
Where will we have lunch?
We are developing menus and contactless pick-up logistics, while reconfiguring lodge seating and offering new outdoor options, including a location near the gondola with tables and heat lamps. Restaurants throughout the Village offer outdoor seating, firepits and extensive take-out menus as well as dining rooms with greater distancing.
Will you offer bag check?
We recommend booting up in your vehicle or room and traveling light to the Base Lodge.  It is unlikely we can offer bag check this season.

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