Steamboat Resort releases updated operations plan for COVID-19 safety

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The safety plan for winter operations at Steamboat Resort has been approved by the state, and the ski area has the green light to open Dec. 1.

In compliance with state and local protocols, guests are required to wear face coverings on shuttles, in lift lines, while loading and unloading from chairlifts and the gondola and in all indoor facilities.

“We are all in this boat together,” Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. executives wrote in the plan.

To help keep resort staff and guests safe, Ski Corp. is also asking those who use the resort to follow COVID-19 guidelines when they are on their own.

“Do not plan or participate in events or parties that encourage large, non-physically distanced group gatherings,” their memo states.

Ski Corp. also has hired a “guest response team” of staff trained to respond if a guest refuses to comply with face covering or social distancing guidelines, and team members will remove anyone not following rules, according to the memo.

To ensure physical distancing can be enforced, patrons must purchase tickets in advance, and single-day lift tickets will not be offered from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, the busiest portion of the season. Additionally, single-day tickets are only available if purchased as part of a package.

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Winter Playbook

The move is also an effort to discourage congregating indoors, the memo states.

Ski Corp. is still researching and considering implementing queuing times for pass holders on holidays and peak periods, which is typically Saturdays from January to the end of March.

Indoor retail and rental shops will still be open, with signage of maximum occupancy displayed outside each entrance. Staff also will be trained on tracking and communicating occupancy and will be stationed outside indoor locations directing guests.

Skiers also can access the mountain by hiking or skiing uphill, and the U.S. Forest Service is currently reviewing the uphill access policy and conducting trail work.

In addition to general safety guidelines for the resort as a whole, each separate entity within the resort has released its own safety plan. Shuttles will limit capacity, and Ski Corp. will add new skier drop off locations to minimize crowds at the transportation center.

Ski Corp. also will increase signage and station employees at the Base Area to help answer questions and remind guests about physical distancing and face covering requirements.

Tickets must be purchased online, and ticket windows will be closed, but Ski Corp. will place kiosks in “strategic locations” for pre-purchased ticket pick-up to avoid face-to-face interactions.

While physical distancing naturally occurs when waiting in line for a lift with a pair of skis or a snowboard, additional signage and extended maze designs will be used to enforce spacing. For the gondola line, where riders do not wear skis or a snowboard, markings and Ski Corp. employees will be stationed to enforce distancing.

Ski Corp. also will limit capacity of riders in the gondola and chairlifts, and guests are encouraged to ride only with those in their household or traveling party. Guests not from the same party may ride in a chairlift together, but with a minimum of one seat separating them.

As for on-mountain activities, the mountain coaster will run at reduced capacity and with required physical distancing, and First Tracks will start at 7:45 a.m. to spread guests out while loading the gondola.

Snowshoe tours will be moved off the mountain and held at Haymaker Golf Course, with the city’s pending approval.

On-mountain lodges will be open but monitored closely for indoor capacity requirements. Dining rooms will be extended with a heated tent at Rendezvous, and all lodges will have at least two types of food available for grab-and-go fast casual dining.

Gondola Joe’s Express at Thunderhead, Four Points Express and Rendezvous Tent will have inside and outside seating options on a space-available basis. Guests are asked to order and pay through a mobile ordering system using their cellphones.

The Taco Beast and the new Pizza Ranger will both still serve food on the mountain, and details on how to order will be released as opening day gets closer.

All large events have been canceled through February 2021.

“We do not take this responsibility lightly and are working hard to adjust our resort operations to do our best to minimize the risk for our community, employees and guests,” the memo states. “We will continue to work closely with Routt County and our community partners to achieve a successful winter season at the resort.”

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