Vail Resorts announces closure for the remainder of 19-20 season
All of Vail Resorts’ North American resorts will close for the rest of the season, according to a Tuesday morning statement from CEO Rob Katz.
“We have made the decision that all our North American resorts and retail stores will remain closed for the rest of the season,” Katz stated.
Vail Resorts owned and operated lodging properties will close on Friday, March 20, and final check-ins were at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Epic Mountain Express will cease operations by end of day Wednesday, March 18.
There are only a few exceptions. Breckenridge, Heavenly and Whistler Blackcomb could reopen later in the season, “depending on snow conditions and the situation at that time with COVID-19,” according to the statement.
“As the crisis of COVID-19 passes, our mountains will be here waiting for our return.”
Seasonal employees plan returns home
Seasonal employees are being told to plan their returns home, which had led many to question if they were being forced out of employee housing.
A question-and-answer document the resort issued told employees, “We recommend that you leave sooner than (your last paycheck) as our community infrastructure is largely shutting down. If needed, you can remain in housing until Friday, March 27.”
Vail Resorts said Tuesday, however, that those unable to leave are free to stay.
“Consistent with the direction given by many of our local counties, we are asking all employees who do not permanently live in the resort, and who can return home, to do so. Anyone living in our housing who cannot leave is free to stay and will be supported through this transition,” Ryan Huff, director of communications, said Tuesday.
Employees received one week’s pay following the closure, which began Sunday.
Vail is encouraging guests to request refunds through its website rather than in person.
“Given the unprecedented circumstances, there is not a requirement to get a refund or make changes in-resort,” according to Vail Resorts’ refund form, available at snow.com.
Company officials plan on reviewing these policies and providing updated guidance on refund specifics in the coming weeks.
Uphill at own risk
Uphill users have become a common sight at the resorts in the days following the closure, and Vail is reminding users that they’re accessing the runs at their own risk.
“There is no patrol, no maintenance for recreational use, and no services,” wrote John Plack with Vail. “All access is at your own risk. … Unmarked hazards may be encountered at any time, including construction, heavy machinery, man-made objects, variable conditions, avalanches and other hazards.”
Meadow Mountain popular
Meadow Mountain, a former ski area, also allows uphill access for skiers and snowboarders.
Meadow Mountain has seen a lot of traffic in the days following Vail’s closure. The former ski area once had a chairlift and a surface lift, four or five runs and about 900 feet of vertical, according to a 2015 profile in Vail/Beaver Creek magazine.
The area has become popular in recent days with sledders, as well, as sledding is not allowed at Vail or Beaver Creek.
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In Eagle County, the most commonly reported dead bird has been the Wilson’s warbler, which is yellow. Dead yellow-rumped warblers have also been a common sight.