Breckenridge community update answers questions about ski resort plans, discusses COVID-19 trends
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Ski Resort operating plans, rising case numbers in Summit County and travel trends were discussed at the Breckenridge community update meeting on Thursday, Oct. 29.
Breckenridge Ski Resort spokesperson Sara Lococo went over the resort’s operating plan ahead of the resort’s opening day on Nov. 13. She listed the priorities as: safety, a successful season from start to finish, and prioritizing passholders. Lococo added that as part of operation plans, facial coverings are required on the mountain, a reservation system will be in place to manage access and physical distance, and there will be cashless transactions to limit touch points.
“This year safety is really the ultimate guest service,” Lococo said.
Lococo answered questions about operations, explaining details about lift tickets, chairlifts and trail maps. Passholders can make advanced reservations for peak season times and, pending availability, can make day-of reservations or reservations as early as a week out. When lift tickets are sold, those tickets will serve as a reservation because they will be for a specific date. An Epic Day Pass will count as a pass rather than a lift ticket and Epic Day Pass holders will receive the same benefits as season passholders, such as priority reservation days. The two pass types that won’t require a reservation are employee passes and Summit Foundation medallions.
As capacity limits at the resort haven’t been specified, Lococo responded to a question about this by saying that capacity at Vail Resorts mountains will vary based on resort size, open terrain and typical visitation numbers. When discussing chairlifts and gondolas, Lococo said “if you live together, you ride together.” An attendee of the virtual meeting asked if this meant people were not allowed to ride with people they came to the resort with if they don’t live together. Lococo said that the resort likely won’t ask everyone who wants to load a chairlift or gondola if they live in the same household, but that it is recommended to stick with people who are in your household.
Bars will not be open at restaurants. The dining spots that will be open with limited capacity are: Ski Hill Grill, Vista Haus, The Overlook, The Maggie, Ten Mile Station, Pioneer Crossing and Sevens. The TBar restaurant will not open, but the space will be used for additional seating. The resort will be using the Time to Dine app, which will be accessed through the Epic Mix app, that will allow people to book tables at restaurants for a certain time. Rental equipment delivery programs will be expanded so that ski and snowboard rentals can be delivered to a location where a guest is staying.
Lococo added that winter operations are planned to run from Nov. 13 through May 31, and during construction of the South Gondola Lot parking structure the resort is directing people to park at the Airport Road lot. Merchant Passes will be available this season and uphill access will be allowed outside of operating hours. In addition, the resort will not host any events this year.
The resort won’t be printing paper trail maps this year and will use digital trail maps that can be accessed via QR codes. Lococo said the resort is encouraging more people to start their ski and snowboard days this year at Peak 9 and make their way over to Peak 10 once it’s open to spread people out and away from the popular Peak 8. When asked what constitutes a face covering, Lococo said anything that covers the nose and chin area works and that the resort won’t be policing the types of masks people wear. Lococo also spoke to the supply of workers and said that the pool is different this year because the resort can’t rely on an international workforce, so the employee pool is made up of more local and domestic workers.
Lococo assured people that while it will take advanced planning to get on the mountain this year, there will be a ski and ride season. The community update also discussed the COVID-19 case numbers in the county as new restrictions were rolled out on Thursday, Oct. 29.
“Our spread right now is community spread that looks like the majority of it is coming from gatherings of locals in houses after work, house parties, those kinds of things, and we need to really clamp down on this,” Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said. “I know the fatigue has been terrible. I know people are bummed out, this is going on forever, it seems like we have lived in COVID our entire lives now, but this is definitely not the time to drop your guard.”
Mamula said this is a critical time and the county needs to get its cases under control before Thanksgiving. He said that at this point, employers should know that if an employee isn’t feeling well, they should stay home. Mamula also asked people to quit wearing their masks below their noses as proper mask wearing includes wearing a covering over both mouth and nose.
Town Manager Rick Holman said the town is working hard with businesses to make sure they’re in compliance with public health orders. Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes added that if cases aren’t controlled, planning for the ski season no longer matters. She said the town has established 10-minute pickup parking spots for restaurant takeout orders. The spots are labeled and Haynes said maps will be made available. Haynes announced that the town received a grant to put in lighting on the Riverwalk pathway to spread pedestrian traffic beyond the sidewalks of Main Street.
Breckenridge Tourism Office CEO and President Lucy Kay pointed out that air travel is still down and the tourism office isn’t expecting anything close to “normal” in Breckenridge until next summer at the earliest.
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