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The experts speak: what's going to happen next season

marzNC

Angel Diva
#21
unfortunately a second Covid outbreak in Victoria has caused the boarders to other states closed and Melbourne placed under a stay at home order, which essentially prevents ~90%of people who ski at Vails mountains in Victoria (Hotham & Falls Creek) being able to go and they announced at around 4:30pm Thursday 9th July that was the last day they would find lifts and that all staff were to leave the mountain by Sunday, with a reassessment from 19th August when lockdown ends. We’ll see what happens, but it’s so close to the end of the season that I don’t think it will be worth starting up again an rehiring staff. Unfortunately as someone who lives in Melbourne that’s my season done :cry:
So sorry the plans to open up Hotham and Falls got completely messed up. :frown:

No doubt Vail Resorts is learning as much as they can from the situation in Australia.
 

Daniele

Certified Ski Diva
#22
So sorry the plans to open up Hotham and Falls got completely messed up. :frown:

No doubt Vail Resorts is learning as much as they can from the situation in Australia.
Hopefully they can learn and do better. I should have also mentioned that Australia is being much more conservative in their response to Covid. It’s fair to say Vail were forced into closing due to the decision of the government to lockdown, so not necessarily an indication of what will happen for the northern season.
 
#26
Came across a couple of articles related to the upcoming season. Steamboat Springs (town) is worried about not having enough money for the bus system. The city government is talking about severely cutting back on service hours. Aspen Ski Co. is trying to figure out if domestic travelers will make up for the loss of international travelers. After re-opening, the level of summer business is higher than expected. Apparently the top two countries for ASC have been Australia and Brazil in recent years. Australians aren't expecting to be able to fly to other countries until well after the 2020-21 season is over. COVID-19 is totally out of control in Brazil.

July 22, Steamboat Pilot
City Council asks Ski Corp. for money to avoid making deep cuts to public transit
https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news...-to-avoid-making-deep-cuts-to-public-transit/

August 5, Post Independent in Colorado
Aspen Skiing Co. expects to lose most international business this winter
https://www.postindependent.com/new...lose-most-international-business-this-winter/
"Aspen Skiing Co. officials are acknowledging that one of their bread-and-butter markets could be reduced to crumbs this winter.
International travelers comprise between 10 and 20 percent of Skico’s annual skier visits, typically fluctuating due to the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies and the condition of the world economy. But international travel has been highly restricted by governments around the globe and airlines have drastically cut back on international flights in response to the coronavirus crisis. No change in conditions is anticipated soon.
“January is going to be significantly impacted by our lack of international,” Rich Burkley, Skico senior vice president of strategic planning, said at a community teleconference meeting last week in Aspen. “We’re expecting international business to be about zero.”
. . ."
 
#28
Ugh. Glad I already bought my pass, but am curious what the 4 session times will be. I’m guessing that my usual ski times will span part of two different sessions. More reason to set my alarm and head out earlier. I just hope that if passholders are indeed limited to one session per day, the sessions will be long enough to fall under my rule of time in car has to be less than (preferred) or at least equal to time on hill.
 
#29
Ugh. Glad I already bought my pass, but am curious what the 4 session times will be. I’m guessing that my usual ski times will span part of two different sessions. More reason to set my alarm and head out earlier. I just hope that if passholders are indeed limited to one session per day, the sessions will be long enough to fall under my rule of time in car has to be less than (preferred) or at least equal to time on hill.
Yeah, if it’s a 4 hour session I’d be okay with that, perhaps even 3 hours if it were a night session because I get colder at night on the mountain. I’m really interested in that weekly adult clinic on Tuesdays nights still, not sure if that will happen or how it’d work with this whole thing now though. Guess we will see, I’m just happy to have something in state. I was thinking of it as a pretty sure thing, but if people in MA don’t start behaving.. well I’ll just say I’ve been a little more worried about it recently than I was a month ago. There’s always the option to hike up I guess.
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#32
I kind of hope they have the lodges open for bathroom access only--no lingering. In my experience there are rarely lines to have to wait for a stall---at least when I'm accessing them (even if only every other stall was open). You could be in and out in 5 minutes or less. That's not a very long exposure as far as the virus is concerned and having access to indoor plumbing with the ability to wash your hands is a better option as far as health is concerned than porta potties I think.
 
#33
I kind of hope they have the lodges open for bathroom access only--no lingering. In my experience there are rarely lines to have to wait for a stall---at least when I'm accessing them (even if only every other stall was open). You could be in and out in 5 minutes or less. That's not a very long exposure as far as the virus is concerned and having access to indoor plumbing with the ability to wash your hands is a better option as far as health is concerned than porta potties I think.
Agreed! I have just seen mention of porta potties as a possibility in a few places, so not sure what the deciding factor will be on if they are needed or not.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#34
Tremblant opened for the summer with precautions in place. Your bubble only on the gondola. None of the cafeteria's are open. Only the lower floor washroom at the Grand Manitou. All "tickets and reservations" made ahead of time.

So it will be interesting how they (and anyone) else is going to handle the winter season. As you know we are doing much better here in Canada. I don't see the border opening anytime soon. Last winter I know walking through the parking lot and 2/3 cars were either American or rentals. So if the border doesn't re-open then the crowds might be less.

And the condo sales have started. Notice a couple more Sunday morning that weren't there before. Stupid prices yet.
 
#35
Yeah, my gang are all keen to ski, but don't know what the season will bring. I cannot see us booting up in the car, but who knows what we'll accept. I must confess that the idea of fewer people has its appeal!
 

MoreSkiing

Certified Ski Diva
#36
Late this afternoon I had the opportunity to attend a ZOOM meeting with Pat Campbell,
President of Vail Resorts Mountain Division; Kelly Pawlak, President & CEO of the National Ski Areas Association; Nicholas Sargent, President of Snowsports Industries America; and Rick Kahl, editor of Ski Area Management.

The topic was what's going to happen next season, which is something we're ALL interested in. I've transcribed it here (most of it, anyway), so you could get some insight into this, too:

First up, Pat Campbell, Vail Resorts:

Question: So things are getting started in the southern hemisphere now. How's that going?
Pat: Right now we’ve been open for 3 days at Perisher in New South Wales. We thought the brush fires in the summer would be the worst we experienced, and then we went right into COVID. Our team there has done some great work in putting together a safe operating plan for the season. It’s been a collaborative effort not only in the resort but with the entire Australian ski industry. The resorts have worked hard together to come up with some operating standards and also partner with public health agencies to deliver a new experience. People are excited to be back on the snow. We’re doing everything we can to ensure social distancing, safe practices, and in the few days we’ve been open, we’ve seen people are ready and excited.

Question: What can we expect to see in the Northern hemisphere next season?
Pat: I wish I knew. I think we are of course learning a lot from the planning and how we’re executing in the southern hemisphere, which we think will be a huge benefit for our operations for the winter. Right now we’re trying to plan around some basic assumptions, because we don’t know, as things related to COVID change on a daily basis, I think the most important thing for us is to plan for different scenerios and remain really agile so that we can adjust to changing expectations for our guests around their safety, which is the most important thing. Of course we’re always going to comply with and collaborate with public health on what they need. That’s understood. But as important as what our guests need is what they expect. How can we make them feel safe and provide them with a compelling experience? You know, we plan to be fully open. Even if demand is lower because people aren’t travelling as much or they can’t travel as much, we know if there’s one person on the mountain or 100 people on the mountain, they expect the full resort experience, and that’s what we’re focused on: how can we deliver up that great experience across our mountains, regardless of the conditions or requirements of COVID. And we think we can do that.

Question: What’s been the reaction to the way Vail has been handling the season pass issue?
Pat: You know, you’re never going to make 100% of the people happy, but the vast majority have been very appreciative of our process to come up with the credit strategy and be forward looking. We considered a lot of feedback along the way and we know that flexibility and security are important for our customers, and we've tried to build that into the coming season. The response has been very positive.

Question: If I buy an Epic pass, will I still need to reserve a day before I drive up?
Pat: I wish I had the answer…there are so many unknowns still in terms of whether or not we’ll have operating constraints but I’d say first and foremost we prioritize safety and then for those guests who’ve committed in advance to us, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that they get the value and service they expect. So largely, it’s still to be determined if there are things we need to do to manage capacity at our resorts. We just don’t know. We hope not. But we’re prepared to do that in a way that will deliver on that value for our season pass holder.

Next up, Kelly Pawlak, NSAA:

Prior to the industry wide COVID shutdowns in March, we were on track to hit the fourth best season ever and finish off with about 59.7 million skier visits. Instead, we finished at 51 million skier visits. So that was down almost 14% from the previous year, and when you look at our ten year average, we were down about 7%. So the 2019/20 season was the lowest we’d seen since 2011/2012, which was a very low snow season across the country. We’ve calculated that missing the very important spring break and the decline in the summer business will cost the ski industry well over $2 billion. But we have to acknowledge that the timing is also helpful, because we can look ahead, we’re able to launch a soft summer opening and learn from those experiences. There are really good examples that the ski industry is sharing right now, to figure out things from parking lots to guest check ins.

This week’s news of President Trump’s executive order to not allow international workers to come into the US until the end of 2020 -- that’s very concerning as we plan to reopen. We don’t think that American workers are going to be enough to fill the void. Historically, ski areas have a hard time filling all the positions, so we’re concerned. Some of the reasons that we’re not sure we’ll fill all these openings with Americans is that people may not want to make the commute every day or they may not be able to find lodging or affordable lodging. Or they may be looking for a year ‘round job versus a seasonal job. The other barrier is that our jobs are tough. It can be an eight- or nine-hour shift in the cold. And then some of the indoor jobs are very similar to the jobs they can get in their hometowns. So we know we have a big challenge ahead of us. We’re going to try to recruit Americans for those jobs, but we’re also going to be advocating with Congress and try to get some exceptions to get some foreign workers in here by December.

During this time, it’s important to understand the benefits that ski areas offer. Like space, that room to spread out. The average ski area in the US has over 1,000 skiable acres, and many of them have thousands more than that, and the majority of time you spend at a ski area is outside. We all know that it’s an excellent source of physical activity. I think that the fact that face coverings are part of our culture is going to help us to achieve employee and guest compliance in that area, and every ski area has full time, on site patrol and rescue staff. So if there is a COVID 19 related problem, we can have our staff there quickly and give them professional attention.

Because we don’t know if there will be those capacity limitations, the best advice is to plan ahead. This is not the year to roll out of bed and say “Hey, I think I’ll go to my favorite ski area today!” That’s not a good plan. Those who do just a little pre-planning will enjoy the best days. The capacity may be limited, so advance on-line tickets may be part of the new reality, at least for part of the season. Depending on what the restrictions are, that may be the only way to get access. I encourage everyone to check out the resort website not only when they make the reservation, but right before they go out because the information is changing day by day, and I think it’s important for our guests to do their part when it comes to virus protection and prevention. I’d encourage them to choose their trip dates carefully. Skiers should really consider a mid week, non holiday vacation. That’s when it will be less crowded.

(continued below)
Some seemingly "good" news -- excerpts from Winter Park President from a few days ago since letter was too long to use as a reply...

To Our Community of Mountain Adventurers,
...That unique annual excitement and giddiness is beginning as all mountain enthusiasts look towards winter. ...What we do know is that Winter Park Resort is built on the transformative nature of venturing out: the power of nature, movement, and mountains to help us restore, recharge and reset. And now more than ever, it feels like that is what we all need.
...Winter Park plans to open for the 2020/21 winter season as we usually do in mid-November, Our priority remains the health and well-being of our guests, employees and community, ...pivot operations, modified ...working diligently to create a memorable 2020/21 winter season.
  • Winter will come, and our mountains will soon be covered with snow!
  • reduce the number of people able to gather in a space, more time outdoors
  • 3,000 acres to spread out on
  • new contactless dining and lodging check-in options.
  • enhanced cleaning
  • modified ski and ride lessons, tours, tubing and rentals smaller group interactions
  • pre-booking method daily lift tickets, lessons, rentals and activities/tours to limit lines and in-person contact.
  • effectively manage lift lines and indoor spaces in hopes of not limiting the number of skiers and riders on the mountain, preparing for several potential scenarios
  • face mask, hand washing six feet of distance from others
Based on our successful summer, we’re reflecting and learning how to modify our winter operations to give our guests a place to venture out.
...pioneering spirit will help us plan and open Winter Park Resort for an unforgettable 20/21 winter season. Sky Foulkes President and COO Winter Park Resort
 

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