New season, new rules: 4 things to know if you ski at Vail Resorts this winter

Sep 20, 2021

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Winter is coming — quickly. And while that’s very exciting for those who chase powder, it, unfortunately, seems that COVID-19 still won’t yet be in our collective rearview mirrors when the snow falls. To keep guests skiing and riding as safely as possible as its mountain resorts begin to open as soon as next month, Vail is out with its pandemic-related safety precautions and procedures.

Some things are the same as last year, but some things have changed. For example, advance on-mountain lift reservations are out this season, but in its place come some vaccine requirements if you want to eat in on-mountain quick-service cafeterias.

Here are the four things to know if you want to visit a Vail resort once the flakes start falling.

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No advance mountain reservations

Last year you had to book your ski lift ticket reservations in advance, even if you had an unlimited Epic Pass. While it was nice as a skier having less-busy mountains, the reservations system itself wasn’t always fun to deal with. But whether you loved it or hated it, that system is not returning this season.

Vail’s current plan is to load lifts and gondolas to normal capacity and. The reservation system will be retired.

Related: Pay less this season skiing with an Epic Pass

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Vaccines required for indoor quick-service dining — and for employees

Details on exactly how this will work are still to come, but if you want to eat in those on-mountain cafeteria-style restaurants, you’re going to need proof of COVID-19 vaccination if you are 12 or older. This is also true for kids 12 and up that are enrolled in a ski school program that includes lunch.

Vail cites this rule for “the protection of its guests and employees, given the number of people using these facilities and the fact that guests will not be wearing face coverings while eating and drinking.” If a resort is in an area with a more stringent requirement, such as Whistler Blackcomb in British Colombia, then obviously the more stringent requirements will apply.

Additionally, full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required of all Vail Resorts employees.

Related: 7 of our all-time favorite ski resorts 

Reservations again required for dining

As a holdover rule from last season, guests will need to make an advance reservation for many of Vail Resort’s on-mountain restaurants. However, this will be expanded a bit from last time as you’ll be able to book the day before, as opposed to only same-day last season. As the rules currently stand, indoor dining capacity should be increased over most of last year.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Face coverings required indoors

Face coverings will be required at Vail Resorts while you’re indoors at restaurants, lodging properties, restrooms, buses, retail stores, rental shops, etc.

Unlike last season, face coverings are not required in outdoor settings, such as lift lines or on chairlifts and gondolas, unless required by local public health officials.

Related: Planning your ski trip with points and miles

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

There were some things about last ski season that made it better than a normal trip to the mountains. Capped capacity, a reservations approach to lunch, increased advance order and grab-and-go choices and smaller ski school classes were a few of those pandemic-era tweaks that improved the overall experience.

While we now know not all of those changes are sticking around this season, it sounds like this year will be a hybrid between a normal year and last season. So, it’s time to wax up those skis, get your winter face covering, buy your ski pass or tickets, get your vaccines (at least if you want your pick of all ski school classes or indoor dining options) and start booking those points-friendly mountain hotels if you haven’t already.

Featured image by the author.

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