Winter ski trip? You may need a reservation

In an open letter to guests, Vail CEO Rob Katz announced that Vail Resorts will require skiers and snowboarders across its 34 North American resorts to reserve mountain space during the 2020-21 season. The need for reservations will be mandatory for pass holders as Vail aims to limit capacity in response to Covid-19. In making this announcement, Vail Resorts became the first major ski resort operator in Colorado to release details of the COVID-19 protocols it plans to implement for the upcoming ski season. Vail Resorts owns five resorts in Colorado, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte.

Holders of individual lift tickets will reserve their mountain space at the time of purchase, while pass holders will use a new reservation system to schedule ski days. Epic Pass holders, as well as holders of other pass products, will be able to reserve mountain space only a week in advance. But they will get some advantages under the new procedures. Vail won’t sell any daily lift tickets until Dec. 8, meaning that mountains will be for pass holders only from opening day until that time. Furthermore, pass holders will be able to reserve mountain space for up to seven different days of Vail’s core Dec. 8 to April 4 ski season before daily tickets go on sale on Dec. 8. That policy should provide assurance to pass holders wishing to book a weeklong ski trip that the mountain they are visiting will be open to them.

“It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts,” wrote Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in a letter published Thursday. “However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now.”

Walk-up tickets will no longer be available for purchase at the window, but day-of guests can purchase tickets from their mobile devices and pick up their day-use tickets at the window. The resort will ask guests to cancel their reservation by midnight the night prior if they can’t make it.

Vail provided no specifics on the capacity limits it will set at ski areas but did announce several other operational adjustments for the 2020-21 ski season, including face coverings to be required on the mountain, in lift lines, on ski lifts and at resort amenities. Physical distancing will also be required. On chairlifts, parties staying in the same room may ride together. But singles will be separated. Just one single will be allowed on two-seat lifts. On four-seat lifts, two singles can sit on the opposite side of each lift. On six-seaters, either two singles or two parties of two can sit separated on opposite sides. As of now, Vail will continue to offer on-mountain dining and ski school this coming season but with changes geared toward safety.

As you look ahead towards winter activities and the possibility of travel, it is important to rely on AAA. You’ve trusted us with your car and relied on us when plans didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. With the helping hand of a AAA Travel Agent, you can find safe yet fun adventures for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. To speak with your agent, please call 1-800-222-7448.