Mt. Bachelor Reopens for Limited Operations
One of the big questions snow brands are grappling with for the coming season is if and/or how snow resorts will open if the coronavirus returns in the winter.
We decided to follow up with Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, which may be giving us a small glimpse of what the future could look like. Mt. Bachelor has opened back up for nine days for limited operations.
While they are operating at a much lower capacity than usual – only 500 skiers or snowboarders are allowed each day – we thought it be good to explore some changes they have made in light of the coronavirus.
One thing is for sure: there is still a huge appetite to get on the mountain. Mt. Bachelor is requiring pre-booked reservations for this special spring session, and slots get snapped up within minutes each day at 6 p.m. when reservations open.
Leigh Capozzi, the director of brand and communications, answered some questions for us about the reopening.
Why did Mt. Bachelor decide to open?
Leigh Capozzi: As we have said since day one of our suspended operations, the safety of our guests, staff and broader community is our highest priority.
In working with the Governor’s office and local and state health officials, we created a plan that allows Mt. Bachelor to balance the complexities resulting from COVID-19 with our desire to bring skiing recreation back to our passholder community.
We wanted to thank our loyal passholder community and welcome skiers and riders for a few days of snow sliding fun to close out the 2019/20 season before we open for uphill travel on May 25, 2020.
Are you adding new safety precautions?
Leigh Capozzi: Safety is always a top priority at Mt. Bachelor and in preparing to welcome back passholders this week, we’ve outlined many new operations and communications protocol for staff and guests including:
- Requiring pre-booked skiing reservations limited to 500 guests to foster physical distancing.
- Limiting chairlifts to a maximum of two guests per chairlift and requiring all guests to wear masks and gloves while loading / riding and / unloading on the lift. Guest are also welcome to ride the chairlift alone if they prefer.
- Providing ample on-resort signage to educate and build awareness of new policies and expectations.
- Making restrooms directional and cleaning them hourly.
- Not allowing tailgating in the parking lots or congregating at the top of lifts.
- Having all staff “check-in” daily for a health screening before work each day and confirm they have masks to wear for work.
Is food service open?
Leigh Capozzi: No, we have no food and beverage open this week and encourage guests to bring their own food and beverage.
Do you envision using some of the same precautions next season?
Leigh Capozzi: The COVID-19 situation is constantly changing and it’s too soon to tell what next season will look like. As part of the local fabric of the community, Mt. Bachelor is in ongoing communication with City of Bend, Deschutes County, Bend Fire, and state, county and local officials. We will continue to keep lines of communication open with our community, partners, and stay attuned to any new safety protocol and physical distancing guidelines to prioritize the safety and well being of our guests, staff and community.
How long has the mountain been closed for up to this point?
Leigh Capozzi: Making the decision to suspend operations on March 14, 2020 was a hard decision, but we know it was the right one to do our part to help flatten the curve in Oregon. Being known for a typically long and active spring skiing season, we were excited to welcome back passholders on Saturday, May 16 to formally close out the 2019/20 season.
How are you handling season passes for next year? Will people be able to get refunds if the virus returns and the mountain must close?
Leigh Capozzi: Mt. Bachelor summer and winter 2020/21 products are currently on sale. To address COVID-19’s impact on the 2019/20 season and to provide assurances for guests in planning for the 2020/21 season, we announced the Mt. Bachelor Passholder Promise.
The Passholder Promise includes a voucher for use until May 31, 2020 for all 2019/20 season passholders, new payment plan options, a price freeze on the lowest pricing of 2019/20 season passes as well as on Midweek, 12-Day, and 4-Day passes, and a lowest pricing extension until July 15.
In addition, Mt. Bachelor is offering a Buy with Confidence Assurance Plan where guests can get 100% of their money back on an unused pass by November 20, 2020 if they’d like a refund for any reason.
Lastly, guests who purchase our year-round subscription Outplay 365 pass product will not be charged if we are not open due to the COVID-19 pandemic.