September 22, 2020
To our Royal Gorge Community,
Last month we communicated the guiding principles our team is using to build a responsible operating plan for winter 2020/21 Royal Gorge, a plan that respects the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic while also offering important outdoor recreation and fitness opportunities that are essential for our physical and mental well-being. Today, we are providing more specific information about plans for the 2020/21 winter season at Royal Gorge.
In formulating our plan, we've observed how ski areas with summer business have been operating these past couple of months. We have witnessed first-hand how businesses throughout California are operating with guest safety in mind. We're watching how ski areas in the southern hemisphere are conducting their ski & snowboard season. We've talked with our industry peers who share good ideas and lessons learned. And we continue to rely on our partners with The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), the California Ski Industry Association (CSIA), Placer County, and the state of California, who help determine best practices and guiding principles.
The impacts of COVID-19 are unpredictable and ever-evolving, but what is clear is that the upcoming winter season will not be "business as usual." Many of our standard operating practices will change to ensure the well-being of our guests and staff in this unprecedented pandemic era. It is important for us to communicate these changes effectively before you arrive at the resort as we do not want guests arriving unprepared or assuming services are the same as they have been historically. Once in-resort, our guests are asked to adhere to the new policies, and we will need to apply those policies. It's evident during our day-to-day life that most citizens are already willing to follow common-sense practices, but we intend to hold all visitors to the same standard.
How will things be different at Royal Gorge in winter 2020/21?
The partial list below, subject to change, assumes that existing restrictions and guidelines in Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy remain in place this winter at Sugar Bowl.
- Care Team: Cleaning, Sanitizing and Execution of COVID Policies. The Care Team will work with guests to communicate and enforce our expectations for face coverings, physical distancing and other COVID-specific policies. Care Team members will also control indoor access to facilities, and once indoors, you will find them regularly cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in common areas.
- Face coverings will be required at Royal Gorge– indoors (all the time) and outdoors (when within six feet of others) – for all guests and staff. Face coverings are simply one of the most effective tactics we can deploy to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
- Advance purchases will be required for trail passes, lessons and rentals. Pre-arrival communication is paramount to our success this season, and requiring advance purchase will ensure guests are aware of any significant operational changes before arriving at the resort. By requiring advance reservations, we will be better prepared to manage the flow of guests from arrival to departure. At this time, we are not planning to require advance reservations for season passholder visits. However, if county, state or federal jurisdictions implement health-related guidelines that cause Royal Gorge to limit daily visitation at the resort for passholders, and you decide this doesn't work for you, we will honor a refund at your request as per the details of our Daily Resort Access Assurance
- Season Pass Friends and Family Trail Passes: A significant change for passholders is how the Friends and Family $15 trail pass will be administered. Due to capacity constraints, there will be a very limited supply of Friends & Family $15 passes available, which must be purchased in advance. These passes will sell-out each day and will be challenging to secure for any given day. More details on the redemption of $15 passes will be announced in the weeks leading up to the season. If you are not satisfied with this shift in the program, you may request a refund any day prior to when Friends and Family passes are made available online.
- Indoor access will be limited. Arriving guests should be prepared to enjoy an outdoor experience this winter at Royal Gorge – no matter the conditions – as indoor congregation will not be possible. The Summit Station Lodge will be available for warming zone” access only, limited to 15-minute increments, monitored by the Care Team. As such “booting-up” or leaving bags inside the lodges will not be allowed. To reduce congregation, guests requiring equipment rentals and lessons must reserve a time-slot in advance to access the indoor areas.
- All food & beverage service will be "grab & go". We’re adding hot and cold “grab & go” options for guests to enjoy outdoors. Seating will not be available inside.
- We’ll be carefully monitoring the health of our employees. All staff will have a daily screening for symptoms of COVID-19 before the start of a shift.
Our goal is to provide a safe and comfortable experience while maintaining the enjoyable, family atmosphere Royal Gorge. We are in the business of fun and healthy outdoor recreation and plan to continue providing that same experience to our guests with COVID-19 as the backdrop this season.
We are committed to communicating our approach to COVID-19 safety and will provide regular updates as the season approaches and plans are refined. I hope that the details provided offer you a level of confidence that our team is making our guests' and employees' safety our top priority.
I sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding as we traverse this difficult terrain. Living in the era of COVID-19 is as new to us as to you, but I can assure you that our team is taking the time necessary to think through the operation and how we safely deliver the Royal Gorge experience you have come to expect.