‘Stay Alive and Survive’: Ski Resorts Brace for a Pandemic Season


OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — A trickle of skiers lately zigzagged down the slopes on the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Couples and households wandered by the resort’s village, which was adorned with golden Christmas lights and frosted with snow.

It appeared like the start of a merry season. But a nearer inspection revealed it was something however.

Restaurant patios have been almost empty as masked staff swept by with lime inexperienced disinfectant sprayers strapped to their backs, a part of the $1 million that Squaw Valley has spent on sanitizing tools and different security measures. At ski lifts, sparse teams waited in socially distant strains. The resort felt “so dead,” mentioned a skier, Sabrina Nottingham, partly as a result of it was limiting ticket gross sales to fewer than 50 % of the norm.

Squaw Valley, a marquee vacation spot for winter sports activities lovers, is considered one of many ski resorts throughout the nation bracing for a extremely unpredictable season. Forced to rethink the best way to function within the coronavirus pandemic and with vaccines still rolling out, resorts have made a plethora of changes in places such as Aspen, Colo.; Park City, Utah; Taos Ski Valley, N.M.; and Killington, Vt. Many are setting visitor restrictions and requiring ticket reservations; New Mexico has limited resorts to 25 percent of capacity.

Now resorts such as Squaw Valley are setting their expectations low for the new ski season.

“I don’t think that anybody in the business is looking to have this be their best year ever,” said Ron Cohen, the president of Squaw Valley and neighboring Alpine Meadows, which laid off 2,000 seasonal workers in the spring. “We want to preserve our businesses so that when Covid’s over, we have the opportunity to not have suffered so much damage that maybe we can’t stand back up.”

Mike Pierce, a spokesman for Mount Rose Ski Tahoe, a resort in western Nevada, said the mind-set was “to just maintain status quo and survive.” He declined to provide any financials, but said, “if we break even, that’s almost considered a success.”

For smaller resorts, the pain may not be as severe. The Diamond Peak Ski Resort in Incline Village, Nev., said it came out about $1 million ahead of projections after the spring shutdown. Mike Bandelin, the resort’s general manager, said smaller resorts often operate at a loss in the final weeks of the season, so closing early actually saved money.



Source link Nytimes.com

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