An official at RED Mountain Resort in Rossland says life is going on at the ski hill, despite the impact of COVID-19.
“It’s business as usual, except large gatherings,” says Matt Henry, the sales director for the ski resort. “So our major events, like the Beer Goggles Craft Beer Festival, we’re going to cancel that, along with a few other things. But other than that we are in full operation and looking forward to seeing everyone out at spring break.”
Henry says the resort is closely following the recommendations of provincial health officials, and adjusting their operations to meet them.
“Anything smaller we’re going to keep doing, anything larger, 200-people-plus, we’re going to cancel, following the recommended guidelines,” says Henry.
It’s not the only Kootenay ski hill keeping the lights on during the pandemic. Nelson’s Whitewater resort also says it will remain open, while taking precautions.
Like everywhere else, RED Mountain is stepping up on its hygiene.
“We have additional janitorial cycles happening, hand-wash stations, everything the provincial, federal government, and Interior Health recommends, we’re following the guidelines,” he says.
Henry says while spring break can be a busy time at the hill, it’s not the peak of the season, which usually occurs between Christmas and February.
“It’s sort of wind-down mode anyway,” he says. “The disappointment is we had some real celebratory events planned, and those have had to be shelved.”
“That’s really the disappointing update, but the on-snow product is exceptional right now,” Henry added. “So we’re just encouraging everyone to get on snow, get fresh air and enjoy skiing and snowboarding.”
He says there’s a joke circulating on Facebook now that makes a good point.
“It says when you’re skiing, you’re wearing gloves, protective eye-wear and a face mask, and you’re out in the wide open,” he laughs. “So you’re as self-quarantined as you can get.”
The virus has hit the travel industry hard, and the major hotel at RED Mountain, the Josie, has also had to adjust.
“We’re open for business, the safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” says Jesse Crockett, the general manager of the hotel. “We’re putting through those measures, following best practice, laying out a safe environment for our guests.”
He says among those measures are maintaining their usual high standards for cleanliness and hygiene, and extra cleaning of all common areas.
Crockett says they have seen some cancellations, but are working with customers to meet their needs.
“We’re allowing guests maximum travel flexibility to ensure visitor safety,” he says. “We are allowing guests to change their travel dates free of charge, and create new bookings.”
While there may be a drop in U.S. visitors coming to the country, Crockett says it raises opportunities for more B.C. visitors to come to the mountain during the break.
“So with cancellations, we’re also seeing the opportunity for more B.C.-based bookings to come in,” he says. “But this is so new, a day-by-day, hour-by-hour situation, it’s hard to say exactly what this is going to look like in the long term.
“But the hotel is continuing to go on, the hotel rooms are open, the restaurant is open, the ski hill is open, and it’s a great place to visit and enjoy the outdoors.”