Many have wondered what the ski season will look like this year as so many players in the resort industry adjust to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Grand Targhee Resort released its winter operational plan on Oct. 8 and it appears that winter 2020/21 will look a lot like this summer did.
Conditions permitting, lifts will start spinning Nov. 20, with a scheduled closing date of April 11.
“It is going to take the cooperation of all guests and employees to keep this a safe and healthy winter,” the resort management team wrote in its Thursday announcement. “The COVID environment is ever-changing and could disrupt operations and our plan at any moment. We may have to make quick operational changes to comply with local, state, and government authorities.”
In the past year that kind of quick operational change included closing the resort a month early in March after health care professionals confirmed the first positive COVID case in Teton County. When the resort reopened with limited amenities for summer operations, visitation numbers were surprisingly high despite event cancelations.
Guests this winter are asked to minimize their time spent indoors in public spaces and to wear masks in communal areas. The plan does not specify whether guests will be required to ride chair lifts with strangers.
“Please use your cars as a basecamp while gearing up for the morning,” the release reads. “We will have additional outside seating and heaters, but access to buildings will be limited due to capacity restrictions. Our mandatory face coverings will continue throughout winter; face coverings will be required inside all buildings, while waiting to load the lifts, riding the lifts, and when a six-foot distancing cannot be maintained.”
Employees will undergo daily health screenings and receive more safety training, and public spaces will be disinfected or sanitized frequently, according to the resort operation plan.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort released its winter plans in September. Strategies at the famed resort over the hill include sanitizing the tram and gondolas multiple times daily, limiting tram capacity (specifics on that are expected to be unveiled in November), spreading out guests in lift lines, requiring masks, and capping day ticket and season pass sales. When it went on sale earlier this month, the JHMR Grand Pass quickly sold out.
Grand Targhee is still selling season passes with no indication of a cap. The flexible refund or deferral date, which allows guests to request a pass refund or push their pass forward a year for any reason, has been extended until Nov. 1. The activity center plans to ship all season passes out this year prior to opening day, rather than allowing the AC to fill with guests picking up passes. The website indicates that shipping will cost an extra $5, although the email announcement does not mention that. For more information on passes visit grandtarghee.com/tickets-passes/winter-season-passes.
“We are asking you to support and respect the decisions we have made so we can continue to operate,” the release says. “It is going to take all of us working together to enjoy every possible powder day we can.”
All resort facilities are closed right now, but some cross country trails are still accessible. Check the website before heading out for a hike or ride; there is a logging company on-site clearing the many downed trees that toppled in the September windstorm and some trails are still impassable.