Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) has set a tentative winter opening date of Dec. 5, weather permitting.
The resort is beginning to gear up for winter, with the early bird season pass sales coming to an end this Saturday (Sep. 12).
The resort’s winter operations plan – detailing what measures will be taken to ensure COVID-19 compliance and what a day on the hill would be like for guests – is yet to be released, but senior executive with parent company Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), Matt Mosteller said that their number one priority was safety.
“We have been working diligently on our Winter Plan in concert with Canada West Ski Area Operators Association as well as other Provincial , Regional and Municipal partners – from Interior Health to WorkSafeBC to define best industry leading operating plan that has robust COVID protocols in place to guide winter operation,” he said.
“This all takes time. We are pleased that we should have updates to provide from this later this month.”
The resort’s summer operations plan – among other regulations such as cashless transactions – had required guests to wear masks while waiting in line, loading and unloading from chair lifts, as well as inside operations-related buildings on the mountain such as retail, guest services and rentals.
Mosteller confirmed to The Free Press that many of the rules introduced over summer would be returning for winter, making for a slightly different winter skiing experience.
“This includes and not limited to face covering being mandatory inside of all buildings, in lift lines and while riding lifts and while walking in the parking lot,” he said.
“We will deploy social distancing requirements in all possible places to assist efforts. In addition we will follow all guidelines around capacities inside our restaurants to include limited seating and appropriate protocols in other indoor facilities . We also tested lift cleaning protocols for winter and will have as well strict and regular cleaning continue for all our lodging operations.”
Mosteller added that the protocols may still change however, as various provincial and local requirements change.
Fernie Alpine Resort has a tenative opening date of Dec. 5.
Under the umbrella of RCR, sister resort Nakiska in Alberta has a tentative opening date of Oct. 30, while the local B.C. sister resorts, Kicking Horse and Kimberley, have tentative opening dates of Dec. 11 and Dec. 12, respectively.
Vail, the parent company of the largest resort in Canada, Whistler Blackcomb released their winter plan in late August, stipulating that “no one would be permitted” on any mountain operated by Vail without a face covering. The Vail winter plan also detailed a reservations system in case they needed to limit numbers at resorts, and limits on how many people could load chairlifts and gondolas at once.
Mosteller has previously said that it was every intention of RCR and the FAR to be “fully open” for the coming winter season, and that operations through summer had been an opportunity for RCR’s resorts to learn about best practices in safety during the pandemic.
Anticipating the uncertainty of the coming season, the company has introduced a robust returns policy in case of shutdowns as seen in the 2019-20 winter season. The policies can be read at the RCR website.
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