September 2020

Mountain Spy :: September 2020

“I’d like to book a trip this winter with lodging, but how can I be sure I will be able to get lift tickets?”

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment


Booking a ski vacation far in advance is a gamble. Who knows what Ma Nature will deliver by the time your trip dates arrive? That’s a risk many skiers and riders are willing to take. But this winter, prevailing uncertainty about, well, everything—including lift ticket availability—may have some would-be travelers thinking twice about getting their vacation on the books months before the season begins.

The prospect of limited capacity and first-come, first-served online reservations for lift tickets is a real possibility. Investing in lodging for a ski vacation does a skier no good if he can’t get lift tickets. So, for this Spy Mission, we wanted to see what the response was for a would-be lodging guest who wants assurances that he'll have access to the mountain.

The Spy wasn’t expecting concrete answers, and didn’t really get any. Most reps were very polite and friendly on the phone, though, which was great. As always, it’s OK to say you don’t know.

Send the Spy a question to ask! Seriously, do it. We won’t tell anyone it came from you. Plus, if we use your question, your resort is immune for that issue! is waiting for your questions.


First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well, we do not have our lift and lodging packages up on our website just yet. Our marketing folks are working on that feverishly as we speak. I can perhaps tell you about what we had available last year if that would be helpful?
SAM: Gotcha. No worries. I know it’s early. (restated question, emphasizing the lift ticket thing.)
Staff: Oh, of course. If you book a lift and lodging deal, you’re guaranteed lift tickets. I know we’re still working on exactly how we’re going to deal with the quote-unquote pandemic, and we’re sort of waiting to see how other resorts do it, so we can either use that model or fine tune it and make it better. So, it is still a bit up in the air. But we are working on packaging, we will be open, hopefully the mandates will slacken up by November or December.
SAM: Right. Everyone just needs to behave themselves, right?
Staff: Yeah. Like I said, we’re working on getting all the packages up on the website. Have you been here before?
SAM: I haven’t.
Staff: The X package is the way to go, especially if you have kids. We’ve had it in the past, so that’s something to look for. I think we’ll be getting staff here to work on all this stuff in the next few weeks. So, once we’re all staffed, we’ll be good to go.
SAM: OK, cool. Thanks.
Staff: Thank you. Buh-bye.

Score: 5
Comment: The “quote-unquote pandemic”? Ugh. You say that when you think something isn’t real. The pandemic is very real. And I was immediately turned off. Shame, too, because she did well otherwise.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose reservations.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, so it’s not automatic, but if you were to choose a package, it might include your lift tickets.
SAM: Right. So, if I were to choose a package that includes lift tickets, I just want to make sure they are in fact included. It’s going to be an interesting winter.
Staff: Right now we don’t have any plans to limit lift tickets this winter. Well, I didn’t have any news yet for this winter. I do know we are taking reservations for mountain biking right now.
SAM: So, this winter is still up in the air?
Staff: Well, I know we had a lot of our packages get shut down due to the pandemic. Right now, you could book your lodging, and as we get closer you could call back and check about lift tickets. You could also check on the pricing and change your package if there’s a better deal.
SAM: Okie dokie. I’ll call back at a later date to check on progress.
Staff: OK. Thank you!

Score: 5
Comment: She was super nice! Just not quite up to speed on the lodging situation for someone answering the lodging reservations line.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose lodging reservations.
First contact (after five minutes): Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yes. If you book a lodging package for the winter on our resort, it does include lift tickets for everyone for the entire stay. As far as individual lift passes, the only thing we’re selling in that respect is season passes right now. Day passes is still something we’re in the midst of working on. So, if you wanted to book a reservation, you can book it with your ski tickets included for the entire time, yes.
SAM: Cool. That’s easy enough! I’ll give you a holler back soon.
Staff: Great. (Provides days and hours when reservations folks are available) So feel free to reach back out if there’s anything we can help you with.
SAM: Great. Thanks for the info.

Score: 7
Comment: Easy peasy. Her matter-of-fact response tells me that lift tickets with my lodging will not be an issue at all.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose lodging.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: I think they’re trying to figure out the kinks—I’m not exactly sure—to give lodging guests priority. You see, the tickets need be good for the specific day that you are skiing. The way our tickets are built right now is, for example, you could ski four out of five days. So, ski days one, two, three, rest day four, and ski the fifth day. So, they’re gonna have to change that because they’re going to need to know the number of skiers who are staying here so they can have priority. I think they came up with a number of XXX tickets per day that are assigned to lodging, but, again, they’re still working on it. So, it’s in full discussion, but I don’t have an answer for you right now. It’s a very fluid situation.
SAM: Yeah, no worries. I understand. It changes daily. Hopefully we can get up there.
Staff: Oh, it’s super nice. You’ll love it. Give us a call down the road a little bit. You could even talk to my director of lodging because she’s super involved with all of that stuff and would have more information.
SAM: Cool. I’ll call back in the fall.
Staff: Sounds good!

Score: 7
Comment: It’s OK not to know. Good to know they’re talking about it, though. Bonus for offering to connect me with the boss. Note: Resorts with a culture that makes staff feel like they’re part of solutions tend to say things like, “We’re working on it,” or “We’re talking about it.” Not, “They’re working on it.”


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose reservations.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yup, so, actually right now we’re running a discounted package, so I’d definitely recommend bundling your lift tickets and lodging together (explains discounts). It is a really great deal, especially with lift tickets since, hey, they’ve been going up and up every year! It’s a great way to get it all really affordable. And, also, there have been talks about reservations systems for tickets for this winter—nothing is set in stone—but there have been talks. And people that book lodging and lift tickets through us will be higher priority compared to, say, an Airbnb that only books lift tickets. So, you’re going to be in a safer boat going through us. I can’t guarantee any of that because we still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen for this winter yet!
SAM: Understandable.
Staff: Also, with the resort having to shut down early last year, we built some flexibility into our cancellation policies. So, if the resort is shut down for the time you have on the books, you will get a credit or a refund so that you aren’t out the money if you’re not able to ski. So if you do choose to book right now you have that protection.
SAM: Nice. Smart move. Thanks for that. So, again, if we booked soon, we wouldn’t have to worry about lift tickets?
Staff: Yup. That’s correct. Well, you shouldn’t have to. That’s the way that it’s looking, but I can’t fully guarantee it right now. One thing I can say is that if you do book, you are now our customer and we’re going to take care of you.
SAM: Well, that’s nice! Thanks. I’ll give you a call back soon.
Staff: Great. Have a wonderful day!

Score: 8.5
Comment: Super nice, great info about deals and the more flexible cancellation policies. Even with some uncertainties, she had me at “you are now our customer and we’re going to take care of you.”


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose lodging.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: I would assume so. Honestly, we haven’t gotten any information about how this process is going to work, or if it’s even going to be a process. I have a feeling, though, that if you book a lodging package, you’re in. If you have a lesson booked for the day, you’re in. I think things like that shouldn’t need to worry. It’s more like, if you’re a passholder or someone needs a lift ticket for the day, they’ll probably need to make a reservation. I think that priority is going to be given to those with lodging and things like that.
SAM: Right on.
Staff: Nothing has been discussed yet, so I’m not sure.
SAM: Yeah, well, it’s still early.
Staff: But it’s a good question to ask! (Spy pats himself on back) I would assume that if you book a lodging package with lift tickets, they’re not going to tell you that you can’t go skiing.
SAM: Good point. So, best thing to do would be to call back?
Staff: Probably October? But we’ll know more information in a month or so, I’m sure.
SAM: Sounds good. I’ll call back then.

thumbs downScore: 4
Comment: The score would’ve been higher if she simply said, “We’re still figuring that out and I don’t want to give you incorrect information, but we should know in the next month or so. If you call back then I’ll have all the answers for you.”


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose lodging.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yeah, yeah, they are. We can definitely do ski and stay packages. We’re not sure exactly, we haven’t gotten confirmation with what’s going to happen with buying individual lift tickets yet, but if you book a ski and stay package you’ll be all set.
SAM: Is that right? Awesome.
Staff: Yeah. Even if we have to limit the number of people that are on the mountain daily, if you have a ski and stay package—to my knowledge, what’s been explained to me—is that you would be included in that daily count. So it would be only the spots that haven’t been taken by ski and stay packages that would be available.
SAM: It’s cool that you guys have already thought about that.
Staff: Yes! We have. I mean, it’s still kind of up in the air, but that’s the gist of what is going to be happening if we have to limit the number of people.
SAM: Great. I’ll give you a shout back soon.
Staff: Sounds good. (Provides days and hours that she is available.)
SAM: Thanks!
Staff: Have a great day!

thumbs upScore: 10
Comment: It's comforting to know the resort has already discussed the lodging and lift ticket situation and settled on a solution. And she delivered the information politely and confidently. Great job.

Identity revealed: Sugarloaf