Ski area welcomes back winter, community adjusting

Reservation kinks expected to work themselves out as more terrain opens

[ By Kendra Walker ]

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) is open for business, and while the mountain’s opening reinforces that winter is indeed here, it’s still pre-season. While many pass holders experienced technical issues and problems navigating the new online reservation system the first few days of CBMR’s opening, the kinks seemed to smooth out a bit once people got the hang of the process. And despite limited terrain resulting in reservations selling out pretty quickly, more terrain is on the way and should hopefully ease the reservation woes the rest of the winter. In fact, the Paradise lift started turning on December 2.

CBMR senior communications specialist Will Shoemaker said that operations have been largely successful since the resort opened on November 25. “We had a great start to the season and are thrilled to welcome guests back to winter,” he said. “While the on-mountain experience may look and feel a little different this season, feedback so far has been positive.”

Shoemaker said that reservations from Opening Day through Sunday, November 29 booked up, however, reservation spaces became available as the weekend progressed.

“We designed our winter operating plan with the evolving nature of COVID-19 in mind and our reservation system was designed to help give everyone the space they need on our mountains this winter,” said Shoemaker. “Because it is the early-season, we are operating with limited terrain which also limits the number of available reservations. We wish everyone could be on the mountain in the early season, but given the limited terrain, we had to manage the number of skiers and riders to allow for physical distancing.”

Regarding guests having issues navigating the reservation system, Shoemaker said that “excitement for the season is high and we anticipated there would be lots of demand immediately following the opening of our new reservation system. To help guests navigate our site on the busiest days, we implemented a lobby and an online waiting room to accommodate all requests and help us avoid site outages. That said, many of our guests have been able to navigate the system without difficulty and thanked us afterward for how smooth the process went. We do expect minimal wait times going forward this season and appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate the challenges of COVID-19.”

He continued, “Reservations will open up online as guests cancel, or we’re able to release additional reservation spots as we open more terrain and can support greater capacity. We also encourage guests to check back on our website daily to see if reservation spots become available, in the event other guests cancel their reservations or we’re able to release additional reservation spots as our resorts open more terrain.”

Shoemaker also noted that if someone skies a few runs, and then leaves for the day, their reservation spot will not become available. “We understand that not all of our pass holders ski and ride to last chair and we appreciate their willingness to accommodate other guests interested in reserving same-day access. Unfortunately, to safely and effectively manage the number of people on our mountains each day, same-day cancellations are not a practice that will continue into the core season.”

As far as mask wearing and social distancing measures, Shoemaker noted that the vast majority of guests have been respecting and adhering to the protocols so far. And while new lift loading protocols that separate out unrelated parties may create longer lines, “We expect initial lines to level out as we’re able to expand terrain and guests spread out across the resort,” said Shoemaker. “We believe these protocols are key components to providing a safe experience for our guests.”

And more terrain is on the way. The Paradise Express opened on Wednesday and mountain operations will continue to open as many lifts and as much terrain as possible as weather and conditions allow. “Capacity will continue to evolve over time based on available terrain and guidance from local and state health authorities,” said Shoemaker. “As we open up more terrain on the mountain, and as more resorts open, there will be more reservation availability as well.”

Shoemaker also noted that CBMR welcomes customer feedback. “We appreciate feedback and want all of our guests to have peace of mind knowing that we’re doing all we can to give them a safe and enjoyable experience, no matter what day they choose to visit. 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. However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now.”

If guests are experiencing problems with making reservations, Shoemaker encourages folks to reach out via Vail’s online chat feature on EpicPass.com.

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