Ski season is just around the corner and while this year will certainly look a little different than winters’ past, the head of the Alterra Mountain Company — creator of the Ikon Pass — told Travel + Leisure the slopes will be ready for visitors.
Season pass holders are in luck: most of the company’s resorts (as well as the Ikon Pass’ 38 North American mountains) won’t require reservations in advance, Rusty Gregory, the CEO of the Alterra Mountain Company, told T+L. Rather, the company will limit or eliminate individual day passes in an effort to control the number of people on the mountain.
“I'm very optimistic about the season — It's the responsible thing to do to make sure we're careful and conservative, particularly at the beginning of the season, that we undercut capacities,” Gregory said. “The demand to get outside and into mother nature is very, very high, but that's also our challenge. So many people want to get away from their urban and suburban settings that we need to be able to do that in a safe and socially distanced manner.”
The Alterra Mountain Company owns and operates 15 resorts across the country, and has partnered with dozens of others to offer visitors the Ikon Pass. The pass cost $1,049 for adults for unlimited access to 15 resorts as well as up to seven days each at 28 different mountains.
To assure visitors, Gregory said certain “baseline best practices” will be observed, including requiring masks and regulating how often areas like bathrooms need to be disinfected. In fact, he said there are more than 200 pages of operational protocols associated with COVID-19. Each mountain resort, however, will come up with and implement their own additional rules.
“It’s a very collaborative approach, it has to be,” he said. “We take a very similar approach within the company and with our partners. We're all struggling with achieving the same balance.”
At Alterra’s Stratton Mountain in Vermont, for example, new, outdoor spaces to gather will be created due to capacity limits on indoor spaces and restrictions on who can visit the state have to be taken into account.
Specifically, the company’s Steamboat resort in Colorado is expanding the mazes at chairlifts to promote social distancing and spraying down gondolas at the end of the day with an Electrostatic Disinfectant sprayer.
Conversely, at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a partner mountain in Wyoming, reservations will be required for Ikon Pass holders.
The decision to mostly limit mountain access to season pass holders follows a similar one made by Vail Resorts. There, a reservation system will be utilized to prioritize Epic Pass holders, but the resort said most mountains will be able to accommodate everyone on most days.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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