(Update: Adding video)
Among changes: No tubing, child care, limited food -- 'use your vehicle as a lodge'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A year unlike any other has led to plans unlike any other for the winter season at Mt. Bachelor, as resort officials announced Wednesday they won’t even shoot for the lucrative Thanksgiving weekend and instead plan to open for a “Back to Basics” season on Monday, Dec. 7.
In a letter to Mt. Bachelor passholders, President and General Manager John McLeod outlined the details of the winter operations plan, including the opening-day target, if there’s enough snow to open all three base areas – Sunrise, Skyliner and West Village, with a lift and terrain footprint that will accomplish effective physical distancing.
In another new move, the resort plans to open for passholders only for the first four days, then open that Friday, Dec. 11, to non-passholders as well.
Among other changes: No tubing or child care and limited food service, retail and ski lessons. Like the resort's early days, guests will be encouraged to use "their vehicles as a lodge this season, for booting up, warming up and refueling up," McLeod wrote.
McLeod's letter (in full below) also provided the details of ticket limitations and a requirement to reserve a parking space online before going to the mountain.
But no effort to open for the Thanksgiving weekend holiday may surprise some.
"Our goal is to open and stay open the duration of the season, while creating a safe resort experience for our staff, guests and community in the midst of a global pandemic," Leigh Capozzi, director of brand and communications for the resort, told NewsChannel 21.
"This season, it’s critical that on opening day we have a minimum of Sunrise, Skyliner and Pine Marten base areas open to ensure physical distancing of guests," Capozzi said. "If Mother Nature is good to us, it’d be great to have Cloudchaser to Outback on opening day to further spread out our passholders!"
Also, she pointed to McLeod's statement that "we will allow uphill travel during Thanksgiving week - unpatrolled and uncontrolled - for those looking to get on snow during the holiday week."
The resort will close all access the week before opening, because it "will have active machinery on the hill and in the base area to prepare for a smooth and safe opening day," Capozzi said.
Here's the full letter with details about the operations plans:
Dear Mt. Bachelor Community,
Outside the mountain is blanketed in smoke from the wildfires that are raging around our state. Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the blazes and also with those engaged in battling them. We hope for a change in the weather to prevent further loss of life and property. Thankfully, we know that the weather will change, and winter will be upon us sooner than we think.
The focus of my letter this month is looking ahead to winter operations and sharing details around how Mt. Bachelor will open this winter, providing maximum opportunity to enjoy the incredible outdoor experiences of skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic while we face the daily challenges of living in the midst of a global pandemic. While many aspects will look and feel the same there will also be many things that look different this season as we strive to deliver the best Mt. Bachelor has to offer while maintaining a steadfast focus on the safety of our staff, guests and community.
Well Informed Collaboration
Over the summer, the ski industry worked together in unprecedented effort to develop a shared set of operation guidelines called Ski Well, Be Well, and both Mt. Bachelor and POWDR were engaged in this important work facilitated by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Our operating plans are based on the principles outlined in this document. In addition, our operating plan has been developed in collaboration, and in compliance, with applicable Oregon Health Authority and Deschutes County Health Department officials and guidelines.
Back to Basics - Lodges and Food & Beverage
Heading into our 62nd season, we will be taking a “Back to Basics” approach with the goal of maximizing the on-snow experience, while minimizing ancillary services, especially those involving indoor congregation. Our lodge plans thoughtfully manage volume and enable physical distancing in accordance with Oregon Health Authority guidelines for restaurants and indoor spaces, and we have worked directly with County Health Department officials to validate our specific plans for each lodge this season.
As such, and consistent in the early days of Mt. Bachelor, we expect and encourage guests to be prepared to be based out of their vehicles as a lodge this season, for booting up, warming up, and refueling up. While we will be offering some food service in our lodges, services will be simplified and occupancy will be limited, with the focus on preserving lodge capacity for quick warmups and/or restroom access. We intend to supplement this with outdoor food service, including our Egan’s Outpost food cart, and possibly some of your other favorite local food cart vendors, in true Bend fashion.
Daycare, Lessons, Tubing, Rentals and Retail
Lessons and Childcare - To minimize contact, we will not offer all-day or regular group ski school lessons. Gravity Sports Ski and Ride School will offer modified half-day multi-week programs for kids and pre-booked private lessons. At this time, we will not offer beginner lessons or lessons for youth 6 and under. We will not offer our Ski or Ride in 5 program this year or childcare.
Rentals - Rentals will be limited this year, with pre-arrival reservations required.
Retail - Gravity Sports Retail shop will be open and offering a full range of products, inside access will be limited, and the shop will be open on weekends only in late October and early November so guests can come up early and enjoy the best deals on gear for the coming season.
Tubing - Tubing will not be offered during the 2020/21 winter season.
Opening Day and Terrain Footprint
The big question on everyone’s mind is likely “When will you open?” Our goal this year is to open safely and stay open for the entire length of our season. This means that everything we do must reflect a responsible approach to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 for our guests and staff. One of the primary ways we can do this is via physical distancing. Thankfully our mountain lends itself extremely well to dispersing crowds when we are able to open a majority of our lifts and terrain. This year we plan to open the resort on December 7, provided we have enough snow to confidently open ALL THREE base areas, Sunrise, Skyliner and West Village, and with a lift and terrain footprint that will accomplish effective physical distancing. We also plan to open for passholders only, including Mt. Bachelor (Outplay 365, Full Season, Midweek, 12-Day, 4-Day) and Ikon passholders for the first four days - Monday, December 7 through Thursday, December 10. This opening plan is a way to thank you for your loyalty for being a season passholder.
Policies and Personal Responsibility
Ensuring the longevity of the season means we all must take action and we appreciate your support and cooperation. We expect all guests to follow our guidelines for COVID-19 operations, including wearing face coverings at all times in and around the resort. This includes in parking lots, all base areas, ticket lines, and while on or around lifts, as well as indoors (except while seated to eat and drink). We have seen great compliance by guests throughout the summer, and we expect the same this winter. I ask every one of you, please keep yourself and others, including our staff, safe by wearing face coverings at all times.
Physical distancing in lift queues occurs organically due to the length of skis and snowboards and guests will notice additional spacing measures, including extended maze designs, more lateral spacing and increased signage, to further ensure a consistent flow of appropriately spaced traffic. Guests will self-group and load chairlifts with their traveling party. Lift attendants will not require guests to ride a chairlift with people they do not know.
Cleaning and Sanitization
If you visited us this summer, you probably noticed the increase in sanitation stations, increased facility cleaning frequency, and new signage around the resort. We will continue to uphold the highest standards of sanitization and have in place a number of protocols to keep our staff and guests safe. Staff will continue daily health screenings before work in resort and follow various new staff safety policies.
We are doing our best to ensure a safe resort experience and we ask you also do your part. As a member of our winter community, please become familiar with CDC, Oregon Health Authority, and Deschutes County Health Department recommendations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself and our community safe.
Resort Access and Parking
To ensure the wellbeing of all and protect the longevity of the season we are taking a number of actions to manage volume and enable physical distancing. We are significantly limiting the number of single-day dated tickets we make available and we are not planning to sell undated tickets, like in years past. We have increased the typical number of black-out days on Ikon Base pass visitation, 12-Day and 4-Day passes, and limited the sale of the 4-Day pass. We are also implementing an online car parking reservation system. Please note this is a “car” and not an individual passholder reservation system. This system means that whether you’re coming up for a Cone lap, a few powder runs, a morning Nordic ski, or a lesson, you will need a car reservation to let us know you’re coming. Doing so will help us track and manage overall resort visitation levels. The full details of our parking reservation system are forthcoming, and we will share more information in the coming weeks.
With a planned opening date of December 7 - pending snow coverage and depth to open Sunrise, Skyliner and West Village base areas - we intend to offer uphill access to our community through Sunday, November 29. Our uphill policy of “unpatrolled and uncontrolled” will be in effect during this time period. Mt. Bachelor will close all uphill and guest access beginning Monday, November 30 to prepare the resort for opening day. At this time active machinery will be on hill and we will complete base area preparations to ensure a safe and smooth opening day.
Pray for Snow
Thank you for your interest in this extensive update on the 2020/21 season, I hope this has answered many of your questions. We will continue to provide more information and details in the coming weeks and months, and the most comprehensive up to date information will always be available on our website. For those of you that have already purchased your season pass this season, thank you for your confidence and if you have not yet purchased your pass hopefully this gives you enough information to make that decision. Please keep in mind our pass deadline is September 30, and our new Passholder Promise offers refund assurance prior to November 20 and in-season COVID-19 coverage for qualifying pass products. We hope this assurance gives you the comfort to purchase with confidence.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, we look forward to being in position to deliver the most important aspects of the ski season, which is the mountain itself and the opportunity to slide on snow. As always, the entire Mt. Bachelor family is committed to providing you with an exceptional winter experience this season. We look forward to seeing you on December 7. Until then, let’s all Pray for Snow!
John McLeod – Mt. Bachelor President and General Manager