Blue Mountain, Ontario’s largest resort, announces winter operations changes in response to COVID-19.
words :: Laura Raimondi.
As the leaves fall, we begin to consider what our new normal might be heading into the cold months. Many team sports and indoor activities remain cancelled or limited this year due to COVID-19—meaning we need to take our recreation outdoors. In our peaceful corner of the world we love to ski and snowboard and are lucky to have Blue Mountain Resort right in our backyard. As of now, Blue will be open for the 2020/2021 winter season [insert collective sigh of relief here] and celebrating its 80th anniversary.
As we know, the winter scene at Blue is a vibrant one, especially on weekends and holidays. And as we know, people gathering in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic is considered a real faux pas. Operations at Blue will be modified for the upcoming winter season with procedures and protocols put in place that are in line with regional regulations and public health guidelines.
There were many lessons learned at Blue over the summer and fall that will be carried into winter operations. This includes online lift ticket purchases and rental bookings, physical distancing, face covering requirements, enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures and limited indoor capacity.
“The health and well-being of our guests, employees, and community remains our top priority,” states Dan Skelton, Blue Mountain Resort President and COO. “Along with our enhanced protocols, the management of capacity at the resort will remain an integral part of our operation.”
So: There’s fresh powder on a bluebird day and you want to hit the slopes. Firstly, you will need to purchase a day lift ticket online or have a season pass to gain access to the mountain. Day lift ticket sales will be limited allowing more access for season pass holders including IKON Pass, IKON Base Pass and 5×7®. Purchasing tickets and passes online helps to manage capacity and as of now, the resort doesn’t plan to require a reservation system to book your days at the hill.
NEW COVID-19 PROCEDURES
While enjoying your mountain experience you will notice a number of new COVID-19–related procedures and protocols in place to help keep everyone safe and healthy while on a shred session with your friends and family. To start, you will need a face covering while in the lift line and while loading, riding and unloading the chairlift. A neck gator or buff will do. Lift lines will be spaced out using a general “tip to tail” rule and loading procedures modified to allow for physical distancing. Food service and seating areas will be available at indoor facilities, but capacity will be limited.
Remember to keep your face covering handy if you head indoors as it’s required. And you will notice additional outdoor spaces so you can take your après outside. Expect more signage and floor markers to promote physical distancing as well as contactless payment options. Enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols will be in place for indoor facilities, chairlifts and high-touch points. And you’ll find sanitizing stations throughout the resort.
RENTALS & LESSONS
Need gear? Blue will still offer rentals, though a little more limited this year to allow sufficient time between uses for cleaning and sanitizing. New this season will be outdoor fitting and pick-up. And the resort is exploring in-room services for lodging guests as well. And if you’re picking up some rental gear it might be a good idea to book a lesson or two. Expect group and private ski and snowboard lessons as usual, but with guests required to undergo and confirm a health screening prior to arriving. The student-to-instructor ratio will be reduced to allow for physical distancing and face coverings are mandatory. Day, multi-week and freestyle programs are a go for the kids which is great news for their grown-ups. Blue offers nine-week programs for ages three and up, with weekend and weeknight options available.
We’re eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic. By now, we should all recognize the additional procedures and protocols needed to protect ourselves and our communities. Our advice for staying safe and healthy while on the slopes is to practice good hand hygiene, be mindful of yourself and others and please stay home if you’re feeling unwell. And most importantly be safe, be kind and have fun.