file photo of fernie alpine resort sign (Scott Tibballs/The Free Press)

FAR winter operations released

Pass-holders at FAR will not have to book ahead to visit the resort

Fernie Alpine Resort and its parent company has finally released its winter operations plan for the coming season.

Its parent company, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) has been putting together its winter operational protocols for the last few months in preparation for what is sure to be a different season amidst a pandemic.

A difference from winter operational plans laid out by competing winter resort company, Vail (which released its plan at the end of August) is that season pass holders for RCR resorts will have unrestricted access to the mountain, and will not have to book ahead like pass holders for Vail resorts.

Senior executive with RCR, Matt Mosteller said that for their resorts, they had felt it was important not to throw up any more obstacles than needed for what he referred to as their loyal season pass holders.

“We didn’t feel like (RCR) could put parameters on (season pass holders) because COVID is overwhelming already for everybody, and to have another thing where they have to think about booking ahead to ski or ride…we want to make skiing and riding available all the time for our season pass holders. That’s a priority for us.”

There are more similarities than differences however. Lift lines will be split into two categories: family/group cohorts that can load chairlifts together, and singles willing to ride with up to one other person, thereby limiting capacity. Guests at the mountain are expected to maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and observe health screening rules such as isolation – much like during RCR’s summer operations.

On how open Fernie Alpine Resort would be, Mosteller said that seasonal conditions were looking good and “we certainly hope to have the whole mountain open for everybody.”

Workforce constraints remain however, with jobs available in seemingly every sector and category of work at Fernie Alpine Resort as of Oct. 26.

Given that a decent chunk of the workforce normally comes from abroad, this could prove an issue, but Mosteller said they were optimistic.

“We’re fortunate that some of our team members on the seasonal side were able to stay. We’ve had a really great interest from Canadians to work here this winter, and that’s super positive.”

When asked about the popularity of season pass sales, Mosteller didn’t give anything away, saying only that they had seen “positive” interest. He did add however that “certainly, there’s been a definite higher interest in skiing and snowboarding gear this winter.”

This winter at Fernie Alpine Resort, winter sports school, rental and retail shops, food and beverage services will all see capacity reduced to comply with social-distancing rules imposed by the province, while no childcare services will be offered at all this season. Read the full winter operations guide at the FAR or RCR websites.

READ MORE: Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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