Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico has made some significant changes in preparation for the 20/21 pandemic winter season.
The legendary steep-ski Mecca released a written statement, detailing its operating plan this season:
TAOS SKI VALLEY, NM, Oct. 9, 2020 – Taos Ski Valley leaders are thrilled to announce a plan for a return to skiing and riding this winter, offering visitors a welcome respite in the mountains while maintaining aggressive COVID-Safe Practices. Taos Ski Valley will operate at 50% of peak capacity for the 2020-2021 winter season, meaning guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime Taos experience in an uncrowded, intimate alpine sanctuary.
“This winter, visitors will find fewer skiers, but all the heart at Taos Ski Valley. We are eager to welcome guests back to the mountain, and transform them with our pristine alpine environment,” said David Norden, CEO of Taos Ski Valley. “Of course, an unprecedented year means unprecedented skiing operations. We took our time with the details to make sure our winter plans would help create a sustained, viable ski environment for the entire season. We carefully developed a thoughtful, socially responsible approach with our ski industry peers and the state’s tourism and health regulators that offers visitors an incredible experience with crowd-free access to our legendary ski terrain, while still making our staff, community, and guests’ health and well-being our top priority.”
Taos Ski Valley’s B Corporation ethos has been a beacon as the resort navigated through the pandemic response. Taos has elected to operate at a 50% capacity this winter out of an abundance of caution and care for the greater good, and to create an environment that promotes health and physical distancing. Staff, visitor, and employee well-being has been at the forefront of all decision-making and operations planning for this winter season. Additionally, Taos is committed to supporting the Northern New Mexico community through this crisis and helping to safely rebuild the local economy.
Although capacity will be limited, Taos Ski Valley plans to operate dining, lodging, rentals, and retail.
2020-2021 Taos Ski Valley winter season plans include:
- Lift tickets must be purchased online, in advance of any visit, in order to manage the 50% capacity goal. Tickets will not be offered for sale at the ticket window. Ticket sales will continue until all are sold out. The number of day tickets available will dynamically change based on visitor patterns and season pass usage, so visitors are encouraged to plan ahead. Ticket sales will begin October 15 for the four weeks of early season, and on October 22 for the prime season.
- A whole new set of season pass options will be offered. These complement visitors’ unusual work and schooling schedules this year, and support the goal of physical distancing and capacity limitations, while also offering extensive ski days on the mountain. Additionally, Taos is giving back to the community with a contribution to the Taos Community Foundation for every pass sold. Passes go on sale today, and only a limited number of passes are available at these prices during the Early Fall Pass Sale, which runs through October 25. If demand is high, pass sales may close prior to October 25.
- Midweek $450
Skiing or riding Monday–Thursday with holiday blackouts. Returning passholders from last season receive $50 off. $5.00 contribution to the Fund for Taos.
- Weekday Plus $695
Skiing or riding Monday-Friday, with holiday blackouts. Early and late season skiing or riding any day of the week. Option to purchase tickets on any holiday or weekend for a discounted rate of $85. Two comp tickets per passholder for any holiday weekend days. Returning passholders from last season receive $50 off. $10 contribution to the Fund for Taos.
- Unlimited $1,600
Unlimited skiing or riding, any day of the week, no restrictions, (reservations may be required for opening Thanksgiving holiday weekend skiing.) Returning passholders from last season receive $50 off. Purchase during the Early Fall Sale and receive a complimentary Ikon Base Pass. $25 contribution to the Fund for Taos.
Taos Ski Valley’s new set of season passes are on sale now and can be purchased here.
- Ikon Pass holders will need to make a reservation to ski or ride at Taos Ski Valley through the Ikon Pass system.
- Private ski and ride lessons will be offered at the world-renowned Ernie Blake Snowsports School. Private lessons can include up to five guests visiting together. To book a lesson call 888.262.8398. Group lessons and childcare will not be offered this season.
- The Blake at Taos Ski Valley is planning to operate at 65% capacity, offering guests an elevated ski-in/ski-out experience with added amenities for guests including a spa and on-site or in-room dining. For added peace of mind, cleaning, disinfecting, and HVAC protocols have been significantly heightened, and all guests will be required to go through COVID screening upon arrival. Some guest services, including the ski valet and parking valet, will be eliminated this season.
- On-mountain restaurants are planning to open (including 192 at The Blake, the Bavarian, Phoenix Grill, Rhoda’s Restaurant, Tenderfoot Katie’s, and Whistlestop Café) and will operate with COVID safety protocols including physically distanced seating that maximizes open-air dining whenever possible, new ordering procedures including contactless payment processing, and more.
- The resort will be cashless, meaning payment for all dining, rentals, ticketing, and retail will be via credit, debit, or prepaid card only. A cashless approach will reduce contact during the payment process. Guests should be prepared to pay with their smartphones or with credit, debit, or prepaid cards.
- A new skier drop-off area replaces the parking lot shuttle, which will not operate this season. The new drop-off provides convenient access to the base area.
- Indoor spaces throughout the resort will be significantly limited this year, so skiers will need to put on boots and gear in designated outdoor areas, in their cars, or in their lodging. Although there will be no locker room access, a no-touch basket check will be available to guests for a fee.
- No large public gatherings will be allowed, including weddings, conferences, events, and competitions.
Taos Ski Valley will look a bit different this winter due to COVID-Safe Practices: guests must wear a face covering in all public places, are asked to follow appropriate physical distancing practices, and gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. Public, indoor gathering places throughout the resort will be significantly limited this year, so guests who are visiting Taos Ski Valley but don’t intend to ski are encouraged to reserve a room with The Blake or one of the other base-area lodgers, or stay home.
Taos Ski Valley staff are passing a daily temperature and symptom assessment and will also be wearing face coverings. Seasonal staff will be required to present a negative COVID test prior to commencing work. Buildings and facilities have new operations protocols in place, designed to maintain the highest levels of sanitation.
Taos Ski Valley will continue to comply with all federal, state, and local guidelines. Taos Ski Valley leadership hopes that the added precautions will allow for an on-time season opening and the ability to remain open throughout the winter. Taos will continuously monitor all guidelines and the pandemic’s effect on the community, and may adjust its business operations at any time in response.
“The snowmaking system is prepped and the lifts will be spinning soon; something we’ve been envisioning for the last six months,” continued Norden. “Our experience over the summer shows us that our guests are as eager as we are to get outside, and we’ve been gratified by their embrace of our COVID-Safe Practices. This season’s visitors will find a warm, welcoming resort community, thrilling and invigorating mountain activities, and an even more intimate experience than they have known and loved in Taos in the past.”
The 2020-2021 season is expected to open on November 26, 2020.