There’s no other way around it, times are tough but with every once in a lifetime challenge comes a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being based in Aspen, Colorado, Ski.com is watching an industry sea change in real time and we’re happy to report that the ski and mountain travel industries are adapting in real time as well.
Social distancing is being enforced uniformly across ski resort base areas and bike park operations have continued throughout the summer at places like Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, and Park City without incident. Picnic and outdoor dining areas are allowing some restaurants and bars to open and things are looking up. Are we out of the woods? Not yet but many resorts are looking forward to the 20/21 ski season with some inspired, yet measured optimism.
The good news from these resorts? There will be a ski season. Lifts will spin, skiers will ski, and snowboarders will ride as long as we continue to look after ourselves and one another. Our lodging partners across ski country are currently planning out operational calendars and bookings for the holiday season are filling up fast thanks to flexible cancellation policies. On the ground, resort operations and local officials are working tirelessly to create safeguards built into the system that ensure guest safety throughout winter.
The bad news from these resorts? The 2020/2021 ski season is going to look quite different. Concert events will be re-planned as needed and events with the potential to attract crowds will have to accommodate both local and federal COVID-19 guidelines. Indoor dining and retail settings will not be as boisterous or as social as they have been in years past and in general, we’ll have to stick closer to our households.
“Yes, there will be new procedures this winter, some of them annoying, and a handful of the exuberant social activities we are famous for will be greatly subdued. But there is an overarching opportunity in this new normal that I’m trying to embrace.” – Mike Kaplan, Aspen Ski Co. President/CEO
The news you didn’t consider? How all this will likely create a mountain experience that is more intimate, more authentic, and more memorable. As Aspen Ski Company CEO and President, Mike Kaplan puts it perfectly in the statement below: “I’m looking forward to refocusing on the core of what this sport is all about, what this place enables: a chance to connect deeply—with nature, with our physical selves and movements, and even with our sense of purpose and our roles in society.” We couldn’t have said it better Mike and if you’re a skier or snowboarder, we highly recommend reading the letter below to get inspired for the 2020/2021 ski season.
Skiing, the gift that never stops giving. #ToTheMountains
— Ski.com (@Skicom) July 27, 2020
Kaplan, along with a multitude of other ski area operators, presidents, and corporate officers are singing the same tune, which is: although it will be different, the joy we all find in skiing will remain the same. The President of Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, Win Smith announced last month that snow-making will begin starting on November 1st, weather permitting, and that access may be determined by an online reservation system. According to a prepared letter, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort said it too plans to host a standard, 137 day season with operations that adhere to social distancing and masking requirements. Resort officials did indicate the world famous Aerial Tram will run this season but said they are in the process of putting a plan together that makes doing so safe for guests. Vail Resorts also had a similar message but advised the ski community to “stay vigilant” in order to ensure an unobstructed ski season in 2020/2021.
Needless to say, we’re very happy to see our industry leaders moving towards the 20-21 ski season with a proactive approach that prioritizes guest and employee safety above all else.
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Aspen Snowmass Statement on the 2020/2021 Ski Season:
We’re a month into summer here in Aspen Snowmass, and it’s been unlike any the Roaring Fork Valley has ever experienced. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult, but it’s also created valuable new perspectives. Our country is struggling through economic and social disruption not seen in generations. Understandably, many people want a return to “normal”—but perhaps we can do better than that.
On our journey there, we all try to make the best of the current situation. One way is by getting back to the core of what’s important in our lives. For me, being in the mountains, going up and downhill, soaking in nature, getting closer to family and doing whatever I can to help my community have all taken on a heightened importance. As I bike or hike around familiar trails, I’m seeing new things, listening to perspective-shifting podcasts and wondering what our future holds—what will come back and what will be forever changed. Compared to those almost existential questions, the one I’ll attempt to answer here seems pretty straightforward: What’s the plan for the 2020-2021 ski season?
"What's the plan for the 2020-21 ski season? The short answer: We don't have all the answers, but we are doing everything possible to anticipate how to open on time & stay open all winter." Read our most recent mtn update from CEO/President Mike Kaplan. https://t.co/v2XpjMO4Yz
— Aspen Snowmass (@AspenSnowmass) July 28, 2020
The short answer: We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are doing everything possible to anticipate how to open on time and stay open all winter. Of course, we must do it safely on behalf of our employees, our community, our guests and our partners, which I believe is possible with the right protocols in place. We’re learning valuable lessons during our summer operations, which are going quite smoothly to everyone’s enjoyment. Yes, there will be new procedures this winter, some of them annoying, and a handful of the exuberant social activities we are famous for will be greatly subdued. But there is an overarching opportunity in this new normal that I’m trying to embrace.
Like everything in our lives pre-COVID, skiing and snowboarding had become somewhat frantic. Many of us were caught up in the conquests—tracking our bowl laps and vertical—rather than fully appreciating the moments. I’m looking forward to refocusing on the core of what this sport is all about, what this place enables: a chance to connect deeply—with nature, with our physical selves and movements, and even with our sense of purpose and our roles in society. No doubt, next ski season will be more of an old school experience, but that could also translate to less noise, fewer distractions and, hopefully, more meaning.
“Between now and winter, we would love to see you in person. But if you can’t make it, please know that we’re thinking about you, hoping you and your loved ones are well, and we are looking forward to welcoming you back here again.”
– Mike Kaplan
Ready to book your 2020-2021 ski vacation? Get a free quote today and be matched with a Mountain Travel Expert that can lock in a flexible cancellation policy today using Ski.com’s very own RSVP program.