Alterra CEO Explains Why Most Ikon Pass Destinations Won’t Require Reservations

Mammoth Mountain is owned by the Alterra Mountain Company and is not expected to require reservations this winter.
Mammoth Mountain is owned by the Alterra Mountain Company and is not expected to require reservations this winter. Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.

Alterra Mountain Company has announced its winter operating plans for the Ikon Pass at its 15 owned resorts and 38 North American partner destinations. As of September 16, lift access reservations will not be required for Ikon Pass holders at most destinations.

“There’s no corporate standardization. We’re one company, but we have a lot of different personalities and resorts,” CEO of Alterra Mountain Company Rusty Gregory told POWDER. “Each has different layouts and attributes and is working on their own plan. We are having conversations about it, but it’s not up to me. These are my peers running these resorts, so we aren’t imposing our views, just sharing and trading best practices.”

However, to provide priority access to Ikon Pass holders, many destinations will temporarily regulate or eliminate a number of day tickets available to avoid overcrowding.

“We need to have tight control of visitation to make sure we are keeping people safe and healthy,” Gregory told POWDER. “At some of our more crowded resorts, I think people will realize there’s a real benefit of making sure not too many people are on the mountain.”

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Each of the partner resorts on the Ikon Pass (those not owned by Alterra) has the autonomy to make their own operating decisions. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Big Sky Resort, Brighton, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, Taos Ski Valley, and New York’s Windham Mountain therefore will require guests to make advance lift reservations.

Advanced parking reservations may be required at additional locations as well. A complete list can be found here, which also indicates a number of partner destinations have not yet announced their operating plans, including the four Aspen Ski Co. locations, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlights, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.

Alterra recommends checking with each destination prior to arrival to learn about their specific face-covering requirements and social distancing protocols.

Vail Resorts announced August 27 that skier visits at all of their properties, accessed by the Epic Pass, will require an advanced reservation. They too will place limits on lift tickets to prioritize pass holders. In past seasons, roughly 50 percent of skier days at Vail Resorts come from day tickets compared to Epic Passes. Alterra, a private company, does not share this information.

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For the 15 Alterra-owned destinations where reservations will not be required, which includes Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort, June Mountain, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Stratton, Snowshoe, Crystal Mountain, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, CMH Heli Skiing, and Sugarbush Resort, Gregory says the best step to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to operate at lower capacities that allow resorts to support social distancing.

“The objective is the same as every resort and company—figure out the best way to make sure there are not too many people,” he says.

As for how much Alterra will limit skier capacity at their resorts, Gregory says it’s a case by case basis depending on infrastructure.

“Each resort is a bit different depending on the lifts and how close together the buildings are. What does parking look like? Every resort, even within our own resorts, is operating to a different capacity,” Gregory told POWDER. “This will be a different winter than we’ve ever experienced. It’s new to all of us, so we need everyone to help us make sure we are enforcing masks and social distancing to keep all of us safe.”

“No matter what we think today, we’re going to be facing the unexpected in the months to come,” he added. “We’ll make the changes required to keep people safe.”

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