Vail to use reservation system for on-mountain access, announces opening dates for 2020-21 season

John LaConte

09/10/20

Vail Daily Article by: John LaConte | August 27, 2020. 

Pass holders can reserve up to seven days in advance on their passes — called Priority Day Reservations — and as many week-of reservations as their pass product allows.
Epic Pass holders can reserve seven Priority Day Reservations and as many week-of reservations (up to seven) as they want; the Priority Reservations do not count against Week-of reservations. The booking window for Priority Reservation Days will open Nov. 6 and will be exclusive to pass holders until Dec. 7. 

When one day is scanned, another will become available. Those looking to ski 100 days on the season will need to get in the habit of reserving a new day every day, but those with goals to have a big, 100-day-or-more ski season should be able to do so, say resort officials.

“It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz wrote in a letter published Thursday. “However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now.”

Most days not expected to fill

For the majority of 2020-21 ski days, Vail believes the resort will be able to accommodate every guest. But on days where a large numbers of people decide to make the trip to Vail that morning (powder days), there could be a benefit to the guest experience (less crowds) for those with reservations.

“For the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to,” Katz said. “However, we are not planning for the majority of days, we are planning for every day of the season. We want to provide assurance to our guests that we will do our very best to minimize crowds at all times — be it a holiday weekend or the unpredictable powder day. We believe this approach will help ensure a safe experience for everyone, while prioritizing access for our pass holders.”

Vail did not release details on capacity limits at its resorts, with a company spokesperson saying the calculation requires an examination of how much terrain is open and how many lifts are running, which is yet to be determined.

“As always our goal is to open all terrain and all lifts as quickly as conditions permit,” the company wrote in a release.

Same day ‘subject to availability’

Walk-up tickets will no longer be available for purchase at the window, but day-of guests can purchase tickets from call centers or mobile devices and pick up their day-use tickets at the window.

“We will be encouraging guests to purchase in advance — though guests can purchase a same-day lift ticket online or through our call centers, subject to availability, and then pick up the lift ticket at the ticket window,” Katz said.

The resort will ask guests to cancel their reservation by midnight the night prior if they can’t make it.

“We certainly understand that life events happen, and don’t want people to arrive to the mountain feeling sick,” said Senior Communications Manager John Plack.

“We’ll share additional details around cancellation policies prior to the start of the season, but right now we’re asking passholders who no longer plan to use their reservation that they cancel by 12 midnight, the day prior,” Plack said.

Plack said skiers and riders who have a reservation will have their pass or ticket turned on all day, even if they are an afternoon skier or rider.

Merchant Pass, uphill access details coming

Vail will offer the Merchant Pass again this season, Plack confirmed. The Merchant Pass allows Vail Chamber and Merchant Association and Vail Valley Partnership member businesses to purchase passes for employees. A Merchant Pass can be transferred or cancelled if the employee leaves the business.

Merchant Pass holders will also be required to participate in the reservation system to access the mountain. The full details of the Merchant Pass program will be released in the coming months.

Vail will also issue details on uphill access in the coming months, Plack said, following conversations with the U.S. Forest Service regarding safe access.

Other announcements:

  • Guests will be required to wear face coverings to get on the mountain and in all parts of resort operations, including in lift lines and riding in lifts and gondolas.
  • To maintain physical distancing on chairlifts and gondolas, Vail will only be seating related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or: two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift; two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift; or two singles on opposite sides of the larger gondola cabins.
  • Ski and ride school will be offered and on-mountain dining will be open, but with changes to help keep guests safe.

Vail also announced estimated opening and closing dates:

  • Vail- Friday, November 20, 2020 – Sunday, April 11, 2021 Beaver Creek- November 25, 2020 – Sunday, April 4, 2021
  • Breckenridge- Friday, November 13, 2020 – Monday, May 31, 2021
  • Crested Butte- Wednesday, November 25, 2020 – Sunday, April 4, 2021
  • Keystone- Friday, November 6, 2020 – Sunday, April 4, 2021

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