Mount Buller, Australia Offering ‘Choose Your Own Refund’ for Season Pass Holders Affected by COVID-Closure

Oz Brains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
australia, mountain collective, mt Buller
Mount Buller last August. Credit: Mt. Buller Facebook

Mount Buller in Victoria, Australia managed to open for just 44-days before a statewide order closing all ski areas brought an abrupt end to their season. And although they are hoping to reopen for some spring skiing, there’s definitely enough snow to do so, season pass holders have been left feeling a little short-changed.

Today the resort put their minds at ease, with probably the best refund policy you’re likely to see as a result of the COVID-closures. The resort is offering a ‘choose your own refund‘ scheme.

That’s right, you choose how much money you want to be refunded or credited, based on your experience and appreciation, no matter how many days you skied. If you skied all 44, and feel like you want your money back, no problem. If you didn’t ski any days, but would like to support the resort during these difficult times and not request any refund, no problem.

Mount Buller, who joined the Ikon Pass last year, stayed open a month longer than Vail owned Victorian resorts Falls Creek and Mount Hotham, who both closed early July after only being open for a handful of days.

A statement of the resort’s refund policy from their website is below:

Back in March, Buller Ski Lifts Pty Ltd (BSL) and the Mt Buller & Mt Stirling Resort Management Board (RMB) gave a clear commitment through their COVID-19 refund policy, to provide Season Members and guests with Resort Entry Season Passes or Village Access Permits the reassurance of credit and refund options if the pandemic prevented them from visiting the resort.  

BSL and the RMB are proud that Mt Buller was the only Australian alpine resort that did not restrict access to its valued Season Members in 2020 and that the entire resort team worked tirelessly against a backdrop of a global pandemic to get open, stay open and deliver a positive and safe experience for 44 days.  

Mt Buller and Mt Stirling temporarily closed on 6 August as part of public health measures to slow the spread of coronavirus aligned with stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria.

The resorts remain hopeful of reopening to visitors if restrictions ease before the end of the 2020 snow season.  Over 90cms of snow has fallen in recent weeks further raising hopes for spring skiing and boarding.

We are pleased to advise that BSL is providing options for credits or refunds to everyone who purchased a Season Membership and that the RMB is offering refunds to everyone who purchased a Resort Entry Season Pass or Village Access Permit for the 2020 Snow Season. Members and Pass-holders are being contacted directly with these offers.

Buller Ski Lifts considered carefully how to recover some of its costs in this extraordinarily challenging season and at the same time treat loyal Season Members fairly.  The options considered included a ‘day’s used’ and a pro-rata ‘days of lift operation’ approach, however neither of these felt completely fair for everybody.   With no suitable ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer the lift company ultimately took the ground-breaking step of providing its loyal Season Members the choice to contribute what they felt was appropriate to their situation in 2020.  

Buller Ski Lifts General Manager Laurie Blampied explained, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken so many choices away from all of us this year. As BSL wrestled with how to fairly assess credit or refund options we realised calculating days available or days used was not appropriate, so we took the decision to give our Members the choice to elect what contribution they wish to make”

“The approach we’ve taken is unusual but has a lot to do with the trusted relationship we hold with our Members; these are passionate individuals and families who share our commitment to this mountain”. 

“We’ve been heartened to hear from some who see their Membership as a long term partnership that spans good seasons and bad, requesting to maintain their contribution and already looking ahead to 2021.”

These comments were echoed by RMB CEO Mark Bennetts, “Relationships are very important to us at Mt Buller & Mt Stirling, and we hope that everyone who shows their commitment by buying any of our season product wants to come back year after year. So in these tough times, we also decided to take a long term view by providing refunds to all season pass holders, and we look forward to seeing them all return to the resorts in 2021”.

Mount Buller, trail map
Mount Buller trail map

The Victorian Government advised on August 6th that all Victorian alpine resorts are to close to members of the public as part of its stage 3 coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions across regional Victoria. Falls Creek and Mount Hotham were already closed, so this order affected Mount Buller, Mount Baw Baw, and Dinner Plain Alpine Resort.

The closures came as tourism operators reported a 95 to 98 percent loss in revenue due to the pandemic, Victorian Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani said. Many areas are writing off 2020 altogether.

Visitors were not permitted to enter the Mt Buller & Mt Stirling Resorts from 5 pm on Thursday 6 August 2020, and any breaches were eligible for a significant fine. It is possible, public health restrictions and snow conditions permitting, that the ski area may be able to reopen after 13 September.

Permanent residents, seasonal residents, and on-mountain staff were permitted to remain living within the resort during these Stage 3 restrictions. The stay at home restrictions apply to everyone living within the resort, who are only to leave their accommodation for one of the four allowed reasons, and only if wearing a face covering.

Victoria, Australia
Victoria, Australia

Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is the second most populated state of Australia. Victoria is also the second smallest state by land area and is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Situated in the south-east of Australia, Victoria is bordered by the Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea (a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean) to the east, and South Australia to the west. With an area of 237,659 square kilometers (91,761 sq mi), Victoria encompasses a range of climates and geographical features from its temperate coastal and central regions to the Victorian Alps in the north-east and the semi-arid north-west.

Victoria has a population of over 6.6 million, the majority of which is concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, and in particular in the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Melbourne, which is Australia’s second-largest city. The state is home to four of Australia’s 20 largest cities: Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo. The population is diverse, with 35.1% of inhabitants being immigrants.

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