Vail Resorts reservations system eases some anxieties, creates others |

Vail Resorts reservations system eases some anxieties, creates others

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Skiers and riders enjoy springlike temperatures in the mid-50s and controlled crowds as the 2020-21 ski season kicks off at Keystone Resort on Friday, Nov. 6.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that priority bookings are available from Dec. 8 to April 4. Reservation bookings will remain exclusive to Vail Resorts passholders until Dec. 7.

EAGLE — When Keystone Resort opened its new reservations system less than 24 hours ahead of Friday’s opening day, Summit County snowboarders Nate “Dogggg” Nadler and “Trailer” Tom Miller were already camped out in line, as tradition would have it.

Miller said when the reservations system went live Thursday, an employee at the ticket window helped him reserve in person, as part of a test of the system.

Miller said he felt his rightful place was there in line, camped out with Nadler, a tradition they have been carrying on for more than two decades.

“I was able to be part of the test,” he said.

The test proved to be a success, by most accounts. Appropriate distance appeared to be mostly maintained, mask use had high compliance, and crowd numbers were limited.

“Honestly, for a typical opening day, this feels very calm and untraditional,” Keystone spokesperson Nicole Stull said.

Reservation scramble

Some of the anxiety around securing a place in line for Keystone’s opening day had been dissipated by the reservations system, Stull said, which kept lift lines short throughout the day. For guests who did receive access to Keystone on Friday, that meant a lot of skiing or snowboarding could be completed with minimal time spent in line.

Stull said Keystone will not reveal the number of guests currently allowed on the mountain, as parent company Vail Resorts considers that number to be proprietary information.

Some frustration was expressed by those who objected to the withholding of that number, and other complaints were lodged by those who weren’t able to take part in the opening day festivities due to the full reservation queue.

The new Vail Resorts reservation system made a partial debut Thursday with Keystone accepting week-of reservations, but while a limited number of lucky skiers were out enjoying turns Friday, other Vail Resorts customers were grappling with another part of the reservations system: priority reservations, which went live Friday.

Vail Resorts season pass customers reported lines of more than 120,000 people in front of them in the waiting room to book priority reservations, resulting in a process that took hours.

In an interview Wednesday, Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company was fully expecting to be bombarded with passholders looking to plan their vacations as soon as the system went live.

With that prediction proven correct Friday, Plack said the system was processing 100,000-150,000 people per hour.

Priority reservations

The priority booking window — where guests can reserve seven days between Dec. 8 and April 4 at any of Vail Resorts’ ski areas — will remain exclusive to Vail Resorts passholders until Dec. 7. Plack said that window was created to relieve anxiety around getting reservations processed.

“We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to rush,” he said.

In addition to seven priority days, guests also have week-of reservations, currently available to those looking to ski Keystone through Friday, Nov. 13.

Additional week-of reservations will open up to passholders on Wednesday, Nov. 11, for reservations through Nov. 20.

As of Friday, no days within Dec. 8 to April 4 priority booking window had been filled up, but Vail Resorts reserves the right to cancel one or more of your priority reservation days as a result of capacity constraints or a resort closure. In those cases, passholders would be eligible for a refund under Vail Resorts Epic Coverage plan.

“For the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in September.

However, “If we have very poor (snow) conditions, then we may see the capacity restrictions be more frequent,” Katz added.

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