Employee passes restricted at Vail this weekend

As reservations fill, company says it’s hopeful that employee blackout is an unusual occurrence

Skyler Britton of West Vail gets fresh turns on the newly-opened Game Creek Bowl on Dec. 4 in Vail. Reservations for non-employee skiers at Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone are full for Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend.
Chris Dillmann/

Employee ski passes have been made unavailable at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone for recreational skiing among employees who aren’t working, as well as their families on Saturday and Sunday.

Reservations for non-employee skiers at Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone are full for Saturday and Sunday, as well.

Uphill access is also completely closed at Vail – including early mornings and late evenings.

Vail spokesperson John Plack said snowmaking and heavy equipment is being moved around the mountain to take advantage of the upcoming storm.

“Patrol will be enforcing (uphill closures) on their evening and morning routes,” Plack said of the uphill closure.

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Vail joins Breckenridge and Keystone as the third of Vail Resorts’ five Colorado ski areas to fill for this weekend. Weekend reservations are still available at Beaver Creek.

“We are hopeful this weekend’s employee blackout is an unusual occurrence and it’s based on snow and terrain, but we are going to do what we think is right to provide a safe experience for all guests and employees,” Plack said.

Reservation cancellation underway

A reservations system was implemented at the beginning of the 2020-21 season; Vail Resorts took on the effort to limit crowds at its 34 North American ski resorts as a voluntary service, saying the COVID-19 pandemic which shut down the 2019-20 ski season early has necessitated the new crowd control measures.

Employees were offered a big perk – they were told they would not have to use the reservations system. This weekend’s restricting of employee passes was acknowledged as an unforeseen and difficult decision by Vail Resorts management.

In a letter to employees, management informed workers that challenging conditions have limited the resort’s ability to open terrain and accommodate the number of guests planned for the weekend. A reservation cancellation event – where Vail Resorts cancels one or more of a guest’s reservation days as a result of capacity constraints – is currently underway at Breckenridge.

“In order to prioritize guest safety and provide enough space to remain physically distanced, we are restricting employee and dependent passes for Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone on both Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13,” wrote Pat Campbell, president of Beaver Creek Mountain Division and James O’Donnell, executive vice president of hospitality, retail and real estate. “Please note we had to cancel a limited number of guest reservations at Breckenridge as well. As many of you know, restricting employee passes is something that has happened in prior years as well when we do not have enough terrain open in the early season, but we understand it is disappointing any time it’s necessary.”

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