Vail Resorts reveal 20/21 Covid operating plans for North America

Whistler. Photo: Shutterstock/EB Adventure

Vail Resorts have today announced operational plans for their 34 North American resorts during the 2020/2021 season in a letter from CEO Rob Katz. 

Australian skiers and snowboarders will already be familiar with many of the changes, having commenced operating in a pandemic season back in July. Face coverings, limited tickets per day, social distancing on chairlifts are just some of the operational plans to be implemented in the USA and Canada when resorts open.    

“It has been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of the 2020/21 season” said Katz in today’s statement.

“We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactionary changes. Striving for consistency will provide our guests, employees and communities with as much predictability as possible this season, which we believe is worth the extra effort.”

Your ski days must be reserved

To manage crowd capacity at all times Vail Resorts will be utilising a season long mountain reservation system with limits on lift tickets for each day. This includes pass holders.

The good news for all Epic Pass holders (Epic, Epic Australia, Epic Local, Epic Military, Epic Day etc) is they receive exclusive early season ski and snowboard access at Vail Resorts mountains until December 8 when individual lift tickets go on sale.

The reservation system will also prioritise pass holders who will receive access all season with week-of reservations, priority reservation days (from November 6 to December 7) to lock in days for the core season before lift tickets go on sale and, according to their statement an easy-to-use reservation system.

Unlike Australia, the tickets will not be staggered. All dates for the season will be offered to pass holders first. If all inventory for a specific day is reserved by pass holders then no more tickets will be released for that day. If inventory remains then it will be released for ticket sales from December 8 for those dates.

To give guests more time to consider the changes, the Company’s Labor Day deadline for the lowest price pass offerings, has been extended to September 17, including the deadline to use pass holder credits from last season.

Face coverings required

All guests will be required to wear face coverings to get on the mountain and in all parts of resort operations including lift lines and riding in lifts and gondolas. A move Perisher also implemented half way through this season.

Social distancing on chairlifts

To maintain physical distancing on chairlifts and gondolas, the resorts will only be seating related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift, two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift, or two singles on opposite sides of our larger gondola cabins.


On mountain dining will be open, but with changes to help keep guests safe. Vail Resorts has yet to reveal these changes but given their Aussie resorts implemented social distancing measures applicable to their relevant Victoria or New South Wales state then you can expect similar.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.