“Colorado is strong, and we will get through this together," Governor Jared Polis said in response to the Vail Resorts announcement. "The safety and health of our most vulnerable and of our communities is our top priority. I commend Vail Resorts for taking this difficult, responsible step and urge other mountains and resorts to do the same. Coloradans and our business community must continue to rise to meet the demand of these challenging times, and everyone must do their part in stopping the spread of this virus.”
Here's the word from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz:
This has no doubt been an incredibly challenging time. With 37 resorts spread across 15 states and three countries, we – like the rest of the world – have been closely tracking every new development related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and have been in constant contact with local health officials for guidance. Without question, our top priority has been the health and well-being of our guests and employees – and to no lesser extent the health and wellbeing of the communities where we operate. We know each decision we make has a broad impact far beyond our operations.Find out more at vailresorts.com.
With each of those stakeholders in mind and with the most updated information from local health officials, we have made the difficult decision to suspend the operations of all our North American mountain resorts and retail stores beginning Sunday, March 15, 2020, through Sunday, March 22, 2020, and will use that time to reassess our approach for the rest of the season. Our lodging and property management operations will remain open to service the guests we have on location or those with existing reservations, but we will not be taking new reservations for this upcoming week. Epic Mountain Express, our Colorado shuttle service, will also continue operations to support the travel needs of our guests. We will be closing our corporate offices and apart from essential personnel, we will be asking other employees to work from home, where possible.
All our scheduled employees, both seasonal and year-round, will be paid during this upcoming eight-day period, without needing to use any vacation or sick time. Their commitment to our company and guests during this uncertain time has been unwavering and I am personally grateful beyond words.
This decision provides a pause for the entire ecosystem of our mountain resort communities. It gives everyone the time to assess the situation, respond to ever-changing developments, and evaluate the approach for the rest of season, if we believe it is advisable or feasible to re-open. This was not an easy decision to make, as we deeply considered the impact it will have on our guests, employees, and the people and businesses in our communities. We understand this change may be confusing given our communications of operational changes over the past week, and as late as last night. Please know that this has been a fast-moving, constantly developing situation with new information from our communities coming to us by the day, if not by the hour, and we are trying to react as quickly as we can. People may also wonder why we are not giving more notice ahead of this closure. We understand the challenges this creates, but our priority is to minimize any additional issues from operating in further uncertainty and to avoid potential crowding.
We sincerely apologize to guests who are currently at our resorts – and those who were planning to come during this time. We have information on cancellations, refunds and travel credits on our websites. Many things like ski school, lift tickets, equipment rentals, and transportation can be fully refunded, and we have new credit policies in place for our owned and operated lodging properties. Please know that we will get to everyone and appreciate your patience as our most immediate priority must be the health and welfare of our resorts and communities. I know there are a lot of questions about our season pass products and Epic Day Passes. Those products are non-refundable and not transferable to another season, however, we will be reviewing those policies and providing any updated guidance on that in the coming weeks. Again, we very much appreciate your patience with this as well.
We will be providing updated information on the remainder of the season by Friday, March 20, 2020.
These are unprecedented, challenging times for everyone. We will continue to navigate these unchartered waters with our guests, our employees and our communities remaining our highest priority. I am certain that there have been, and will be, moments where we will miss the mark and potentially disappoint. However, rest assured that we will continue to listen to your feedback – and continue to make the best decisions we can for everyone’s well-being.