With the continual updates and changes to pandemic regulations put forth by the Alberta provincial government, it will be imperative residents have things they can do and enjoy, especially outdoors as there is concern about mass gatherings indoors.
One of those activities is skiing and one of the province’s larger operations is prepping for the upcoming season.
By acreage, Castle Mountain Resort is the second largest mountain resort in Alberta.
Cole Fawcett, Castle Mountain Resort’s Sales and Marketing Manager says that activity is so important. He isn’t sure how busy it will get. They will have steps in place to ensure all guidelines are followed and met for sheer numbers but he believes that skiing will be a good option for those looking to stay safe.
“When we hear over and over again that we should be avoiding mass gatherings and mass indoor gatherings in particular, it has really shone a light on outdoor activities that is something safe and enjoyable. We look at this past summer how cycling shops or bicycle shops that they had no product and golf courses had hardly any tee times that a person could pick up because people found oh ‘golf I did that once, I haven’t played in the last couple of years and it is time for me to get back into it.’ There are so many things we are trying to do to protect people inside. We are providing every one of our season pass holders with a multi layer neck tube that they can pull on as a sort of a bandana… there’s so much plexiglass-glass in this building right now as a protective layer for both our staff and for our guests…it is so substantial to a point where we are not buying sheets of plexiglass-glass, we are buying skids of plexiglass.
The other part of skiing similar to golf is that you do not have to go into the pro shop or the day lodge (i.e other than washrooms), the risk to guests from going to their car with their season pass or their direct lift ticket, riding the lifts and then skiing the terrain and then back to their car and leaving is super minimal. It’s kinda a season where we get back to the basics.”
“Nestled in the southern Alberta Rockies, adjacent to the communities of Pincher Creek and the Crowsnest Pass, Castle boasts 94+ runs across 3,592 acres of terrain. Included in this is Castle’s Powder Stagecoach Cat-Skiing operation; one of the only resort-based cat-skiing operations in western Canada,” reads a statement.
Fawcett acknowledged the resort will updating COVID-19 related changes on its website at www.skicastle.ca/covid19 . Enhanced protocols for the 2020/2021 season will include:
•Mandatory face coverings in all indoor spaces (may also be required in some high traffic outdoor areas)
•Enhanced cleaning throughout the resort with special attention to high touch areas
•Reconfiguration of line-up areas for ticket sales, chairlifts, etc. to allow for physical distancing
•Opportunities for cohorts/families to continue to ride lifts to capacity, with special allowances for singles and doubles to ride independently
•Indoor capacity restrictions and potential time limits to ensure essential visits only to the day lodge
•Encouraging guests to treat their vehicles like their own personal locker and day lodge to reduce indoor visits
•The addition of temporary weather-proof structures to help limit crowding while providing multiple venues for guests to stay warm and dry
•Facilitation of day ticket sales and online ticket pick-ups through outdoor ticketing windows only
•Simplified food and beverage options for guests.
“It is not finalized. It is a process of continual refinement, so we’re not done with this initiative and will go about due to this pandemic,” explains Fawcett who adds more information this week about their indoor spaces and policy (https://www.skicastle.ca). “It has been a full summer, and fall and likely we will be continually refining the initiative that we are currently undertaking with respect with COVID-19.”
They have a management team which meets on a weekly basis and each of the managers are responsible for coming to these meetings with ideas, observations and that they are on the right track and that they are consistent with Alberta Health Services safety and health pandemic requirements.
Castle’s official statement also points out “The resort does not anticipate needing to put limitations on ticket sales, daily skier visits will be monitored closely and improvements will be made to Castle’s e-commerce platform to ensure limits can be easily implemented should it become necessary to protect the health and safety of staff and guests.”
“If this season is anything like last as we wound down early we were talking about our practices and policies for the safety of our guests on a daily basis. I suppose we won’t see daily changes to what we are undertaking this season but certainly the message we are relaying to our guests and prospective guests is that they should be taking a look the policies the day before or the morning of their trip to the resort. Again I don’t expect huge changes on a day to day basis but certainly guests should be prepared for changes and we are prepared to be agile and nimble throughout the season as we respond to COVID-19.”
When the affects of COVID started to hit schools, stores and recreational places like Castle Mountain last season in the late winter and early spring, one may expect that places like Castle Mountain were more ready for the COVID regulations. However, Fawcett says to call the initial wave in the springs as a trial run for them would be inaccurate.
“Things escalated in the spring from the first real concern in Alberta amongst the general population to the day we closed was a span of only mere days so I don’t think that we had the opportunity for a trial run necessarily,” explains Fawcett. “However, there are lots of ski resorts in Alberta and Western Canada and extension have similar operations and they had a trial run and one of the beautiful thing with a silver lining of this pandemic is that our ski industry association which spans all of Western Canada is closer than it has ever been before and the amount of information and knowledge that has been shared upon on what to expect and what practices has been amazing. It really has put us in a position where we are proactive into the season as opposed to being reactive to an emerging crisis at the end of last season.”
Staffing has also not been an issues as they received a large number of quality applicants and they are excited to have the people they do from an experience and quality of individual standpoint.
For more, please see www.skicastle.ca