Vail Resorts today announced its Winter Operating Plan for the 2021-22 ski and ride season across its 34 North American resorts.

The protocols, which Vail says are centered on its commitment to safety and the guest experience, were shared in a letter to guests Monday, and focus on the spaces most prone to transmission – those located indoors. 

“We are fortunate that the core of our experience takes place outdoors in vast mountain settings,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts in a statement. “However, as we welcome guests from around the world to the indoor experience at our resorts, we feel it’s important to do our part to combat the spread of COVID-19. We all need the opportunity to enjoy and experience the great outdoors, and we could not be more excited to welcome guests back to our resorts for the 2021-22 ski and ride season.” 

All safety protocols outlined in Vail Resorts 2021-22 Winter Operating Plan are subject to change based on the evolving nature of the pandemic as well as federal, state and local public health guidelines.

Key details include:  
 

  • Mountain Access: Vail Resorts will not have a mountain reservation system this season and will load lifts and gondolas at normal capacity, optimizing guest movement around its resorts.  
  • Face Coverings: Face coverings will be required in indoor settings, including in restaurants, lodging properties, restrooms, retail and rental locations, and on buses. Face coverings will not be required outdoors, in lift lines, or on chairlifts or gondolas, unless required by local public health. (For example, Whistler Blackcomb requires face coverings on gondolas due to orders from the Provincial Health Authority of British Columbia). 
  • Dining – Reservations: Like last season, guests will be required to book a reservation to eat at many on-mountain restaurants. However, based on current regulations, the company is expecting significantly more seating and dining capacity than last season, and intends to open reservations one day prior, versus the day-of last season.  
  • Dining – Vaccinations: Guests will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to dine at indoor, on-mountain quick-service (cafeteria-style) restaurants. Proof of vaccination will be required for guests ages 12 and over at those locations. This requirement includes those guests 12 and over in ski and ride school programs that include lunch. More details on the verification process will be released ahead of the season on resort websites. Consistent with many other large-scale indoor activities and venues, Vail Resorts believes the vaccine requirement is important for the protection of its guests and employees, given the number of people using these facilities and the fact that guests will not be wearing face coverings while eating and drinking. This is currently the only part of the resort experience that will require proof of vaccination, unless required by local public health. (For example, Whistler Blackcomb requires proof of COVID-19 vaccinations in all indoor restaurants, restaurant patios and bars due to orders from the Provincial Health Authority of British Columbia). 
  • Employee Safety: All Vail Resorts employees will be required to have COVID-19 vaccinations for their safety and protection as well as the safety and protection of guests and resort communities, and in compliance with the recent rules announced under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Indoor face coverings, enhanced hygiene practices, daily employee health screenings, and other health and safety measures will also continue.    

With cooler weather on the way and winter around the corner, the season will kick off at Keystone this October, with the resort set to open as early as possible in the month thanks to recent investments in a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient snowmaking system. Breckenridge and Vail will open on Nov. 12, followed by eight more resorts from the West Coast to the East on Nov. 19. All resort opening dates can be found HERE 

Epic Pass products are currently still available to purchase for the 2021-22 season, with prices reduced by 20 percent as compared to last year’s prices during the same purchase period. Offering the best deal in skiing and riding, the price reset applies to the entire portfolio of the Vail Resorts’ North American pass lineup, including Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass and Epic Day Pass; Whistler Blackcomb Unlimited, Whistler Blackcomb Day Pass and EDGE Cards; Summit Value Pass, Tahoe Local and Value Pass, and Northeast Value and Midweek Pass; Military Epic Pass and Adaptive Pass; and many more. More details can be found at EpicPass.com

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).