After the coronavirus pandemic abruptly shut down Whitefish Mountain Resort (WMR) and ski areas nationwide last March, resort staff is planning for a safe return to recreation this winter.
With opening day on Dec. 10, skiers and snowboarders can expect outdoor operations to run similar to pre-pandemic times, with lift line corrals set up roughly the same, with the exception of no singles line and facemask requirements while standing in line. Groups will also be allowed to sit on the chairlift by themselves, even on busy days, which could increase wait times.
WMR Director of Marketing and Sales Nick Polumbus says there’s a 100-day guarantee policy for season pass holders and they’ve also allowed a no-questions-asked season pass refund up until opening day. The ticket window will also remain in operation despite other resorts transitioning to online-only sales.
While outdoor operations will be slightly different this season, Polumbus says the most noticeable changes will be indoors. Bars, restaurants and lodges will follow state mandates with spaced-out tables and a smaller capacity.
“We can expect things to be different for sure, mostly inside our facilities,” Polumbus said.
The Summit House Restaurant and Bar and Ed and Mully’s will have a “host type situation” where people must be seated by a host in order to properly socially distance.
But while the base lodge has too many entrances to accommodate the host method, staff will limit the table capacity and people will have a time limit at tables. Brown bag lunches will also be prohibited in order to save space.
“We’ll certainly welcome tailgating in the parking lots and provide increased dumpsters just knowing we will be saying no to people,” Polumbus said.
Tents will also be set up on the base lodge patio, where brown bag lunches can be taken. A temporary outside structure equipped with heaters will also be set up outside Ed and Mully’s and the base lodge for overflow.
While it’s too early to predict how busy the winter ski season will be, Polumbus says it could be busy this year.
“I really don’t know, but if summer’s any indication, I think we very likely could be busier than in the past,” Polumbus said. “But we aren’t going to know until the last minute.”
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