BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — If you plan to visit Solitude Mountain Resort this winter, you’ll need a ticket in advance.
Resort officials decided to pause walk-up window purchases and the use of most undated lift tickets "until further notice," citing ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Solitude spokesperson Sara Huey said the change will likely remain in place for the duration of the 2020-21 season.
That’s in addition to other changes — many aimed to reduce face-to-face interactions — announced this week in the resort’s effort to address coronavirus concerns this winter.
"A lot of the measures we’re putting in place will be familiar for people who spent time in public in Salt Lake County over the past few months," Huey said. "Some of the measures, I hope, we can carry into the future, such as touchless purchase interactions, being able to reserve your rentals and lessons in advance, (and) grab-and-go food. We’re adding some outdoor seating to some of our restaurants and adding heaters, so people can be comfortable staying and enjoying their meal in an outdoor setting."
Ikon Pass and Solitude season ticket holders may not notice changes to accessing the resort that much this year. Those pass holders will be allowed to go directly to the resort’s chair lifts without checking in with the ticket office, which was already the procedure prior to COVID-19. Solitude Ticket Pak holders can also head straight to the lifts.
But people who would normally head to the resort to purchase a single-day ticket at the ticket office will now have to purchase those tickets online in advance before they can hit the slopes, Huey said. Since some days tend to be busier than others, the resort plans to use historic entrance data to set specific daily caps for the days in a way to ensure the resort isn’t overcrowded with season pass holders and one-day pass holders.
"We will have the ability to cap (advance tickets) on days where we think we might have a crowd that would exceed our comfortable accommodating on site with the COVID guidelines," she said.
All equipment rentals and lessons must also be reserved online in advance.
Solitude was among the many resorts that shut down for the season early after the pandemic reached Utah in March. The novel coronavirus has already forced many Utah businesses — especially those that involve face-to-face interactions — to make adjustments in order to operate safely. The ski industry, as well as other outdoor recreation industries, aren’t an exception to that.
Some of the changes for the upcoming ski season, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 20 at Solitude, were already announced. For example, the resort plans to enhance cleaning at resort hotels and condominiums, and for all public spaces and rental equipment. Plans to allow people to order food in advance and add new restrooms were also announced in what Huey described last week as an "unprecedented season."
Other changes announced this week include added signage with the latest information, and staff working to enforce "appropriate" social distancing at chairlift lines. Touchless faucets, as well as touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, will be installed. Additional hand sanitizer stations will also be installed at different places inside the resort. Guests will also be asked to wear masks covering their mouth and nose while indoors.
The resort also plans to increase grab-and-go food options with increased seating, and indoor restaurant seating will be spread out more.
Other resorts in Utah also plan to make adjustments to deal with COVID-19 for the upcoming ski season. For example, Vail Resorts, which owns Park City Mountain Resort, announced its winter operating plans that include social distancing measures and ticket reservations, as well.