Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss
New South Deputy Premier John Barilaro has confirmed June 22 as the opening date for the 2020 ski season, in line with the Victorian dates announced last week.
A media release this morning from the Deputy Premier said, “Holiday makers can start planning trips to the state’s ski fields with the NSW Government today announcing the alpine region will be open from June 22.”
“One of the highlights of the winter tourism season is a trip to our alpine regions,” Mr Barilaro said.
“However, while many people are eager to return to the slopes, it is important that visitors can enjoy themselves safely and responsibly.
“The NSW Government, through NSW Health and NSW Police, is working closely with ski field operators, associated businesses, suppliers and industry associations to ensure COVIDsafe measures are in place when the season commences.
“These measures will mean that fewer people will be able to visit and stay at resorts this season, so it is essential that people book and confirm their travel arrangements and accomodation before they travel.”
It also means that Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte Pass can ramp up- preseason preparations, including snowmaking, and with snow forecast early next week, the news could not come at a better time.
As reported a number of times over the past six weeks the Australian ski resorts have been meeting regularly with the health department officials in both NSW and Victoria, presenting a number of scenarios to show that they can safely operate in the current Covid19 situation.
This morning the NSW government joined its Victorian counterpart in acknowledging that it was happy with the resorts’ plans and, snow permitting, we will see lifts spinning in all Australian ski resorts on Monday June 22, only two weeks after the usual opening of the ski season.
No one expected that, two months ago.
In response to the deputy premier’s announcement Thredbo General manager Stuart Diver told Mountainwatch this morning that while everyone needs to prepare for a very different winter, “The fact that we are actually going to be able to ski and board at all is a big win and I am just really happy that we are going to be able to do that.”
Over the past month there has been plenty speculation and rumours about how the operating model will work and Thredbo’s plan was outlined in a media release this morning. As expected the basis of that plan is fewer numbers, regulated through pre-purchased ticket sales, and implementing and maintaining the social distancing and hygiene standards outlined in the current national cabinet guidelines.
“The plan has been developed under advice from the NSW Health departments and the State and federal Governments and is focussed on the safety of guests, our staff and the wider Snowy Mountain community,” Stuart said.
“To comply with social distancing guidelines, we will have to limit the capacity of the resort and at this stage the revised operating model reduces daily capacity by up to 50%. There are numerous measures we will be taking to make sure that this occurs. It really comes down to capacity of lifts, terrain and surround buildings.”
To limit the capacity, there will be no season passes and people will need to pre-purchase day passes or multi-day lift passes online prior to arrival. “However, discounts for our loyal season pass holders who purchased a pass for 2020 will be available,” Stuart added.
While each resort will fine tune the plan to work with its own infrastructure and systems, the main points in Thredbo’s release are a good indication of how the Australian resorts will work this winter:
– all guests will need to pre-purchase day lift passes or multi-day passes prior to arrival.
– Season Pass holders will be offered the choice of a refund or credit for their pre-purchased passes and will be provided with access to discounted day passes.
– A portion of the daily inventory of tickets will be allocated to Season Pass holders at the discounted rate. Season Pass holders will also be given access to a program that offers a greater discount on the daily rate the more days that are purchased.
– Other measures include 1.5m ‘ski tip to tail’ social distancing in lift queues and a limit of two per quad chair, two per gondola cabin and one per T-bar.
– only private skiing and snowboarding lessons are able to be offered. Thredboland will be unable to open at the time of the season opening, but this will continue to be monitored as restrictions ease.
– Restaurants and bars will operate in alignment with Government restrictions as they continue to evolve.
To ensure the Covid Safe operation plan works guests will need to ensure they do the right things and adhere to the social distancing guidelines in place. “We are widely promoting the use of the Covid Safe app and are encouraging everyone to get on board,” Stuart said.
“We really need the support of everyone visiting Thredbo to make sure that all regulations are being adhered to. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure the season is a success.”
The improving steady declining numbers of Covid19 cases and the success in limiting its communal spread has seen restrictions lifting sooner than many expected. If that improvement continues we may see capacity numbers change later in the season.
“I am hoping that government regulations ease throughout the season and that we are able to have more people able to enjoy what Thredbo has to offer,” Diver added. “But at this point I am just really excited to be able to offer our guests the chance to ski and snowboard this season.
“We’re taking it day by day but I’m really keen just to do some turns with my friends in this great skiing community, in this place that I love so much.”
We’ll publish further details from all the resorts as they come to hand. The full Thredbo media release is below.
Thredbo Announces Winter Season Opening Date of 22 June
THREDBO RESORT, NSW, May 28: – Skiers and snowboarders, start tuning your edges and melting wax, this is the news snow lovers have been waiting for. With the easing of regulations, Thredbo is thrilled to announce it is planning to open for the winter season from 22 June 2020, conditions permitting.
To enable the resort to open for skiing and snowboarding, Thredbo will be implementing a revised operating model that has been developed under the advice provided by the NSW Health Department and the State and Federal Governments. The revised model includes reduced daily capacity limits by up to 50% at this stage and the implementation of a range of social distancing and sanitisation measures.
On the mountain, daily capacity will be limited to enable the resort to open under the Government restrictions. As a result, all guests will need to pre-purchase day lift passes or multi-day passes prior to arrival. Season Pass holders will be offered the choice of a refund or credit for their pre-purchased passes and will be provided with access to discounted day passes*. Thredbo will be communicating with all Season Pass holders during the coming week in relation to their options. Throughout the season, guests will be encouraged to use contactless payment using MyThredbo cards across all Thredbo outlets.
Other measures include 1.5m ‘ski tip to tail’ social distancing in lift queues and a limit of two per quad chair, two per gondola cabin and one per T-bar. Given the limited capacity, it is expected that skiers and snowboarders will incur wait times similar to a normal season. In addition, only private skiing and snowboarding lessons are able to be offered. Thredboland will be unable to open at the time of the season opening, but this will continue to be monitored as restrictions ease. Restaurants and bars will operate in alignment with Government restrictions as they continue to evolve.
The resort has invested in best practice hygiene and sanitisation measures including installing sanitisation stations throughout the resort and has incorporated new technologies to effectively sanitise high use areas including chairlifts, gondola cabins and rental equipment. The resort has also enhanced its stringent approach to cleaning all resort facilities and venues.
Thredbo Resort General Manager Stuart Diver says the resort is looking forward to welcoming guests back and has implemented an operating model to allow guests to ski and snowboard this winter.
“The wellbeing of our guests and our people is always our highest priority at Thredbo. We have worked hard with the relevant authorities to be able to open Thredbo this winter, which will look quite different to previous years. Our revised operating model is necessary for us to operate within the NSW Government’s social distancing restrictions and capacity restraints, to allow us to open.
“We would really appreciate if guests could exercise patience as we navigate through the season and play their part in respecting social distancing requirements. We’ll be communicating all safety messages to our guests prior to arrival and remind guests they should not visit the resort if they are unwell.
“After such a challenging start to 2020 with the bushfires and now COVID-19, we are so pleased to open and we’re confident we will continue to deliver Australia’s best skiing and snowboarding this winter. We will be opening our new Merritts Gondola, Australia’s only alpine gondola, as well as the enhanced ‘Dream Run’ experience with a new snowmaking system installed along with increased car parking.”
Thredbo’s revised product offering including day passes, private lessons, ski and snowboard rental and accommodation will be available for pre-purchase from 11.59pm on Wednesday 10 June by visiting Thredbo.com.au**.
Thredbo is providing a flexible COVID-19 cancellation Policy (terms & conditions apply), allowing a cancellation, change of dates or credit for pre-purchased lift, lesson, rental products and/or accommodation purchased via Thredbo Resort Centre or The Thredbo Alpine Hotel if:
* Thredbo is closed due to COVID-19 or;
* Government policies due to COVID-19 prevent guests from travelling on intended dates.
For more information, visit: https://www.thredbo.com.au/about-thredbo/covid-19-update/
See you on the slopes! Now we know when we can open, it’s a date.
*A portion of the daily inventory of tickets will be allocated to Season Pass holders at the discounted rate. Season Pass holders will also be given access to a program that offers a greater discount on the daily rate the more days that are purchased.
**Updated Terms and Conditions of visiting Thredbo will include requirements for guests to comply with COVID-19 restrictions during their visit.
Head to Thredbo’s website for more details.