By Redacción Panorama Editorial Staff
Photos: Courtesy Aspen Showmas, Vail Resorts, Shutterstock
Fortunately for aficionados, skiing and snowboarding are outdoor sports. They also call for gloves, protective masks that cover the mouth, and thermal insulated clothing, all of which minimize the risks of contagion in the COVID-19 era. Last spring, however, figures from the slopes showed contagion was high enough to merit closing resorts before the end of the season. In response, the industry has prepared health and safety measures to help ensure a risk-free season.
©Aspen Snowmass – Matt Power
The National Ski Areas Association’s “Ski Well, Be Well” campaign offers best practices for operators and guests this winter, but emphasizes that “people must remain flexible and comply with the social contract, meaning individuals must all take precautions to protect themselves and others.”
In general, measures include thorough disinfection of ski areas before resorts open to the public and after they close, disinfection of rental equipment, hand sanitizer stations, mandatory use of masks in crowded areas, social distancing between skiers who are not from the same family unit, and the use of gloves. Most operators will sell tickets online and limit the number of people allowed indoors and at restaurants, and some will require reservations.
Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Aspen Snowmass is the self-proclaimed COVID-19 safety leader of U.S. ski resorts, due to the new Aspen Snowmass Account Portal and the AspenSnowmass App, which allow contact-free registration for accommodations, waiver signing, food and beverage orders, equipment rental, ski school enrollment, and lift tickets, all with no waiting in line. New safety protocols have been instituted, including social distancing, face masks, limited occupancy in buildings, and redesigned operating procedures at ski schools and in chairlift lines, mountain restaurants, and equipment rental stores.
©Aspen Snowmass – Dan Bayer
Unlike other ski resorts, Aspen is made up of four mountain resorts, offering more than enough open spaces to respect social distancing measures, and a variety of terrains to ensure diversity during a one-week ski vacation. And unlike other ski resorts, a daily reservation is not necessary to ski Aspen’s four mountains.
Vail SKI Resorts
The 34 Vail Ski Resorts, which are located in Colorado, Utah and other states, found reservations to be the best way to protect skiers against COVID-19. Pass holders will enjoy exclusive access from the start of the season, unlimited week-of bookings, and a continuous selection of priority days. “Forfeits” will go on sale online after December 8. Day-of guests will be able to buy passes from their mobile devices and collect them at the window.
©Deer Valley Resort Winter – Eric Schramm
Masks are required to access the slopes and must be worn in all the resort’s communal areas. Ski students must confirm online that they have a negative COVID-19 test result before attending classes.
Park City, Utah
The town of Park City, located 35 minutes from the Salt Lake City (Utah) airport, is known for having the best snow in the world. It boasts two luxury resorts, Park City Mountain and Deer Valley.
Both resorts will require visitors to wear face masks while waiting in line for the chairlift or gondola and in indoor spaces, restaurants, “spas,” and common areas. At Park City Mountain, masks will also be required during skiing and snowboarding lessons.
Park City Mountain will require advance reservations for lessons and advance purchase of lift tickets, which will be available on a limited basis. Epic Pass holders will be given priority; the resort recommends this pass be purchased in advance. Deer Valley will not require reservations for visitors but will give priority to valid Ikon Pass holders.
Resorts will disinfect all equipment between each use, limit the number of visitors, and offer home equipment delivery to limit contact.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This ski resort boasts stunning scenery and abundant wildlife thanks to its privileged location near the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, two of the best known national parks in the United States. It is quite common to spot mountain animals in and around the resorts, guaranteeing a unique experience.
The resort’s health and safety measures are in keeping with guidelines from the National Ski Areas Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Wyoming Department of Health, and the Teton and St. John’s County Departments of Health. Measures include the use of masks in all public areas and social distancing between unrelated parties. In addition, all lines inside the complex will use a labyrinth formation to facilitate social distancing and all of the resort’s shops, restaurants, and commercial spaces will adhere to official occupancy regulations.
For easier coordination and communication, guests are encouraged to download the JH Insider app. Guests will also be able to receive SMS text notifications, take advantage of an improved online store, use QR codes for hands-free touch points, make mobile payments, and use other technological tools.
Guests may experience longer wait times, especially on weekends and during holiday periods.