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What you need to know about skiing at a Vail Resorts this season

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Vail Resorts CEO Bob Katz outlined plans and procedures in a letter sent out to Vail guests today. It covers the reservations system and policies relating to lift service, lessons, rentals, and restaurants. Doesn't say anything about lodges or bathrooms, though.
 
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#2
I feel like between the initial Epic Coverage news release and this letter, it's clear Vail has been working hard on building a comprehensive plan for the season. It's heartening to hear that they don't "expect" the need for the reservation system to usually restrict people's plans.

It does sound like they're prioritizing passholder access over day ticket access, which could be controversial, but is probably for the best. I don't think this would be a good "first season" for anyone.

I'm especially glad it doesn't sound like there's a blanket ban on group lessons. I definitely need to keep taking lessons this season and was preparing to swallow the unpleasant pill of paying for privates.
 

SkiBabyMD

Certified Ski Diva
#3
Yikes! Wonder how this affects our kids on ski team. We're at the mountain every weekend and during all the holidays. The reservation system is going to make this really challenging!


  • Pass holders will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain.
  • Throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass type and availability allow.
  • The early season will be reserved for pass holders only. We will not sell lift tickets until Dec. 8.
  • In addition to week-of reservations, we will also be providing pass holders with the opportunity to book up to seven Priority Reservation Days for the core season (Dec. 8-April 4), or as many days of access as they have on their pass if less than seven. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7.
  • As pass holders use their Priority Reservation Days, they can book new ones, maintaining up to seven (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass) at any time. In addition, pass holders can always make as many week-of reservations as they choose (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass).
  • Families will be able to book reservations together if they are in the same pass holder account.
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
It does sound like they're prioritizing passholder access over day ticket access, which could be controversial, but is probably for the best. I don't think this would be a good "first season" for anyone.
In Australia there were three different approaches announced about a month before the season began in late June. VR did an early version of a reservation system that gave Epic passholders priority. It was supposed to apply to all three VR ski resorts but two had to close early due to changes in the state because of a major COVID-19 spike. Thredbo refunded all season passes, then went to purely advanced day tickets online with graduated discounted for passholders. The more days paid for, the cheaper the next batch of day tickets. Mt. Buller didn't limit season passholders at all, but it's a smaller and less popular resort.

Someone who buys a 1-location season pass at a local mountain could actually have a pretty good time. Especially if they have friends who also ski that mountain. But I agree it's not the season to start skiing at a destination resort.
 

Abbi

Angel Diva
#5
I’ve read the reservation section a couple of times and it still makes no sense to me how it will work. But they are sending something out on how to closer to the dates. I figure I should be grateful if I have the option to ski at all! That said I’m used to just wandering up to the mountain and hopping on a lift! And being a generally solo skier that may present its own issues. And I don’t have to worry about it for another couple of months anyway!
 

Moonrocket

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Seems like it’s geared to managing powder day crowds - which at least in CO have become insane. If you buy in advance you don’t know which days are powder days.

My plan this past year was get in line 45 minutes before open and get two perfect runs then leave to Nordic on powder days. Maybe head back mid afternoon to hit the trees.

I hope they consider same day afternoon no show passes- if this throttles weekend ticket sales by a lot.

I also hope there is a multiple no show penalty - so people don’t just reserve in case they want to go and no show- leaving others unable to ski.

But I’m on ikon anyway- so I’ll see what they say.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
I’ve read the reservation section a couple of times and it still makes no sense to me how it will work. But they are sending something out on how to closer to the dates. I figure I should be grateful if I have the option to ski at all! That said I’m used to just wandering up to the mountain and hopping on a lift! And being a generally solo skier that may present its own issues. And I don’t have to worry about it for another couple of months anyway!
You mostly ski midweek, correct? What happened at Perisher was that by mid-season there were no advanced reservations required midweek for Epic passholders. Just before that happened, pretty sure it was fairly straightforward to get a reservation a day or two beforehand.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#9
I also hope there is a multiple no show penalty - so people don’t just reserve in case they want to go and no show- leaving others unable to ski.
Can't remember which Australian resort said it, but there was some description that implied that someone who was a chronic "no show" would run the risk of not being able to get another reservation or lift ticket. Pretty easy to track with RFID passes.
 
#10
Seems like it’s geared to managing powder day crowds - which at least in CO have become insane. If you buy in advance you don’t know which days are powder days.
Aren't there also lift lines on weekends?

Being a traveler who has to fly to ski at big mountains, it's less of an issue to decide what days to make a reservation. My trips are planned months in advance. If I catch a powder storm, that's just a bonus. But certainly want to be able to know that I'll be able to ride the lift before being fully committed for lodging and flights. Don't have an Epic pass though. We'll see what happens with Ikon resorts. I little more complicated given that Ikon covers Alterra owned resorts and independent resorts.
 

Moonrocket

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
Aren't there also lift lines on weekends?

Being a traveler who has to fly to ski at big mountains, it's less of an issue to decide what days to make a reservation. My trips are planned months in advance. If I catch a powder storm, that's just a bonus. But certainly want to be able to know that I'll be able to ride the lift before being fully committed for lodging and flights. Don't have an Epic pass though. We'll see what happens with Ikon resorts. I little more complicated given that Ikon covers Alterra owned resorts and independent resorts.
I mostly ski at Winter Park- the lines seem not terrible (I’m an optimist though) as long as it’s not a powder or wind day. When upper lifts close for wind or it snows it can be a disaster. This assumes you know how to avoid the crowds too. But IKON has really helped big Holiday crowds- as more of a Denver resort than a destination - people leave for the destination resorts. I think with COVID we will see less of that and Holidays could go back to pre IKON crowds. I’m also lazy though and tend to head out at lunch a lot if there’s not fresh snow- crowds are worst 10-12 they taper off pretty good by 1:30 or 2.

I really wish they had left Aspen on the pass for March/April only. It’s never crowded and it’s a big locals spring break. I’m holding out they will offer days come spring.
 

jskis190

Certified Ski Diva
#12
Nail in the coffin for us to pay money to ski this season. We would normally go for 5-7 weeks and expect to ski most days. If I wake up in the morning and don't want to go, then I don't. So the possibility of missing powder days because I didn't get a reservation for that day, and possibly being penalized if I don't show up just doesn't work for me. Of course if the border stays closed it's a non issue anyway.
 
#13
  1. Pass holders will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain.
  2. Throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass type and availability allow.
  3. The early season will be reserved for pass holders only. We will not sell lift tickets until Dec. 8.
  4. In addition to week-of reservations, we will also be providing pass holders with the opportunity to book up to seven Priority Reservation Days for the core season (Dec. 8-April 4), or as many days of access as they have on their pass if less than seven. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7.
  5. As pass holders use their Priority Reservation Days, they can book new ones, maintaining up to seven (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass) at any time. In addition, pass holders can always make as many week-of reservations as they choose (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass).
  6. Families will be able to book reservations together if they are in the same pass holder account.
Clearly the process will be quite different for travelers who want to plan a ski vacation well in advance versus someone who lives close enough to a VR resort to do day trips or a weekend trip by driving.

For a "local" with Epic it should be possible to make a last minute decision early in the week about driving up during a non-holiday weekend based on #2. Assuming demand isn't too high. If they want to plan more than a week in advance to ski during a holiday period, then best to use Priority Reservation Days before Dec. 8, as described in #4. The max is 7 Priority Days for Epic Local, so in theory could get reservations for the two holidays weekends. Meaning MLK Day and Pres. Day. After MLK Day, then could reserve a few more days a few weeks in advance.

The FAQ about reservations is well worth reviewing. Probably more than once and in sections in order to find what is most relevant to your situation. Today I noticed the details about cancelling a reservation. Seems reasonable to me. But per usual I'm not planning on skiing VR resorts because I like Ikon locations better. So I'm just curious.

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For ski buddies who plan to travel together but aren't related in the "family" sense, then could be worth figuring out how to be on the same pass holder account. Pretty sure I read about people doing that in Australia in June/July.

An Epic Day Pass counts as an Epic pass. So anyone who thinks they want to ski at a VR resort and has to plan in advance, then it's better to make a decision to buy an Epic Day Pass before Nov. 6. Then can get a reservation during the pass holder period before Dec. 8.
 
#14
For people who are thinking about book resort lodging at a VR resort, important to remember that lift access reservations are NOT linked to resort lodging reservations. Bold is from the FAQ webpage.

Q: If I am a pass holder and plan to book Lodging, should I make a pass reservation before booking lodging?
A: All pass holders should book their reservations to align to their vacation stay. You will not be guaranteed access to use your pass because you booked lodging – you must have a reservation in order to use your pass. For increased flexibility all winter long, we have relaxed our lodging booking and cancellation policies.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
#15
I actually... kind of like this system? After using the A-Basin lotto this past May / June, I don't really trust them to have their technical act together for reservations this year. At least knowing Vail has a reservation system in the works that sounds reasonable makes me want to get the Keystone Plus pass, book 7 weekend days for DH & I, get more as we can, and not worry about it otherwise. With our credit from last season the Keystone plus pass would only be around $250. I'd probably still get an A-Basin pass for myself to use midweek (one of the silver linings of unemployment).

But like -- we knew this season was going to be weird. Hearing an actual plan from VR is great imho.
 
#16
I renewed my Epic Tahoe Local Pass yesterday. It's a little weird with the reservation system but will get used to it. I'm a little <5 hours away from the mountains so don't do day trips and usually do several days or week long trips. I don't ski holidays or weekends so hopefully won't be a problem.
Also, except for my timeshare, I don't usually plan in advance.... just go when the snow is good.... last season planned to use my 5 free days at Crested Butte but that got canceled along with my 10 days at Heavenly......
 
#17
I already had my pass booked, and I feel OK about the lottery. My work is relatively flexible, so I might try getting in a couple midweek trips if weekends are too hard to come by.
 
#18
I wouldn't call the VR reservation system a "lottery." It's no different than buying seats to a performance when there is a period of time when season ticket holders can buy ticket(s) before the general public. There is a group of people who are willing to pay up front who get priority. In general, it's first-come, first-served so people who are planners will do better than people who can't decide if they want to commit or not.

Clearly VR is giving priority to Epic passholders. That seems reasonable to me. The Priority Reservation Days should make people who plan to book lodging feel more confident they'll get on the slopes. Being able to see if a slot is available later in a given week should work for locals with some time flexibility. Of course, if a powder day out west is predicted then someone who dithers may not get a reservation. But those who do won't have to deal with long lift lines. A traveler who gets lucky will end up very happy.
 
#19
At least knowing Vail has a reservation system in the works
It's more than just "in the works." I assume the software that will be used for the N. American season is based on what's been in use in Australia since June. Hopefully with some tweaks and improvements being made in the next couple months. The advantage for VR is that they handle IT work in house. Software can always be improved or tested more. :wink:

When the season opened in Australia, there wasn't a clear cancellation policy. As the season evolved people were able to cancel by phone. Presumably given the clear cancellation policy for N. American resort that is being built into the software.
 
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Après Skier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
Yikes! Wonder how this affects our kids on ski team. We're at the mountain every weekend and during all the holidays. The reservation system is going to make this really challenging!


  • Pass holders will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain.
  • Throughout the season, pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass type and availability allow.
  • The early season will be reserved for pass holders only. We will not sell lift tickets until Dec. 8.
  • In addition to week-of reservations, we will also be providing pass holders with the opportunity to book up to seven Priority Reservation Days for the core season (Dec. 8-April 4), or as many days of access as they have on their pass if less than seven. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7.
  • As pass holders use their Priority Reservation Days, they can book new ones, maintaining up to seven (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass) at any time. In addition, pass holders can always make as many week-of reservations as they choose (or however many days of access are remaining on their pass).
  • Families will be able to book reservations together if they are in the same pass holder account.
Sounds complicated. Isn’t there a team liaison who can negotiate on your behalf to make the pricing more attractive for you?
 

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