Vail Resorts announces closure for the remainder of 2019-20 ski season

Breckenridge, Heavenly and Whistler Blackcomb could reopen later in the season

The Breckenridge Ski Resort gondola sits empty March 16. Vail Resorts announced March 17 that most of its mountains in North America will close for the rest of the season.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional information about Vail Resorts employees and lodging facilities.

AVON — Nearly all of Vail Resorts’ mountains in North America will close for the rest of the season, according to a statement from CEO Rob Katz on Tuesday morning.

“We have made the decision that all our North American resorts and retail stores will remain closed for the rest of the season,” Katz stated.

There are a few exceptions: Breckenridge, Heavenly and Whistler Blackcomb could reopen later in the season “depending on snow conditions and the situation at that time with COVID-19,” according to the statement.

Vail Resorts’ owned and operated lodging properties in Summit County will close by noon Thursday in accordance with the Summit County public health order. Epic Mountain Express, the company’s transportation service, will run through Wednesday. Both will closed indefinitely.

“Our decision to end the season now is evidence of the fast-moving situation involving COVID-19, and it was not an easy one to make as we deeply considered the extended impact it will have on our guests, employees and communities,” Katz said in the statement. “While it is incredibly disappointing for our company to mark the end of the season so early, we know it is the most responsible path forward.”

A webform for guests to submit requests for refunds or credits on prepurchased lift tickets, lodging, ski and ride school, equipment rentals and more is available on the resorts’ websites, according to the statement.

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According to Vail Resorts spokesman Ryan Huff, employees who do not live permanently in the area are asked to return home. Anyone who is living in Vail-owned employee housing and is unable to leave is permitted to stay.

According to a FAQ page provided to employees, seasonal employees who work for the resort in winter and summer will maintain their active employee status and will be asked to help close the resort, for which they will be paid hourly. The company acknowledged that it is unknown when summer operations will begin.

Full-time, year-round employees will continue to be employed and paid. Seasonal employees will be paid for any time worked or scheduled through March 22. They then will be paid out any unused paid time off and will stay enrolled in the company medical insurance plan through April.

Breckenridge spokeswoman Sara Lococo said the EpicPromise Employee Foundation would review financial and other hardships of seasonal employees and work to provide support.

This story is from Taylor Sienkiewicz contributed to this report.

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