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Turns out that some pandemic restrictions were just ahead of their time. From reinstating a reservation system to putting a daily limit on the number of lift tickets sold per day, it’s become clear that skiers want fewer crowds—and resorts are listening.
Vail Resorts dropped opening dates today at all of their North American ski areas plus a little surprise: Daily lift ticket sales will be capped for the 2022-’23 season. All the juicy details below, plus safety protocols going into Covid-adjacent season No. 4.
Daily Lift Tickets Limited
Since everything went back to “normal” last season, Vail’s news that it will restrict the number of lift tickets sold at its 37 North American resorts this winter comes as a bit of a surprise. And this isn’t just a high season or a holiday plan; the company will set a daily cap at each resort, which will be in effect all season long.
Similar to Jackson Hole’s new advanced ticket sales policy, Vail will show availability of daily tickets on each resort’s website, and skiers can purchase as far in advance as they want. Once lift tickets are sold out for the day, there will be no walk ups or further tickets sold. In other words, storm chasers and last-minute adventurers risk getting shut out of the party.
The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is will pass holders be affected. The answer is no. Epic Pass skiers will be able to use their passes per usual, as will Epic Day pass holders. Buddy Pass and Ski With a Friend benefit tickets will also not be limited.
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“Limiting lift tickets throughout the season, alongside the big investments we’re making at our resorts and in our team members, will help us provide our guests with an Experience of a Lifetime this winter, said James O’Donnell, president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain division.
For Vail Resorts, especially at their largest and most-trafficked ski areas such as Breckenridge, Vail Mountain, Heavenly, and Stowe, it comes down to the delicate balance between preserving the ski experience and keeping the sport accessible to all comers. By eschewing a reservation policy—unlike a handful of Ikon resorts that are requiring them this season—and putting the onus on the less-passionate non-pass holders to plan far enough ahead, the company hopes to strike the right tone. Will it drive more people to buy passes and end up having the opposite effect? That remains to be seen.
If you haven’t bought a pass yet and this latest announcement is providing some incentive, Epic Pass prices go up on Sept. 5.
Resort Opening Dates for 2022-’23
The first Vail-owned resort to spin lifts for the season will be Keystone, which is anticipating a mid-October opening. Unfortunately, the Bergman Bowl terrain expansion and new lift won’t be debuting this season due to a construction error.
Colo.’s Breckenridge and Vail and Vt.’s Mt. Snow will follow on November 11. Vail’s newest lift, Sun Down Express, will open this season. Part of the Epic Lift Upgrade project that will see 18 new or upgraded lifts across 12 resorts this season, the new chair will connect the bottom of Sun Down Bowl with Wildwood for better connectivity between the Lionshead base and the Back Bowls. At Mt. Snow, a key season upgrade—the replaces of two smaller, slower lifts with one high-speed six-pack—will proceed as planned.
Heavenly and Northstar, Calif., Stowe., Vt., Utah’s Park City will open next on Nov. 18. Both Northstar and Heavenly will see key lift upgrades this season, but one of the biggest infrastructure improvements, which was planned at Park City with the replacement of 25-year-old Silverlode lift with a eight-person chair, was halted by the town’s Planning Commission.
Beaver Creek and Crested Butte both plan to open on Nov. 23, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Find the full list of opening dates here.
Safety Protocols for 2022-’23
Vail Resort recently removed the employee vaccine mandate, and that’s along with a wage increase to $20/hour for front-line workers and $21/hour for patrollers, mountain ops, and other specialists, will quell staffing shortages.
For visitors, Vail announced that there will be no vaccine or mask mandates at this time and no reservations required for skiing or dining at any resorts, but they are monitoring health conditions and things could change as needed.