PCMR reservation system left some out in the cold, but resort says more spots will be available as terrain opens
It’s 2 p.m. on Wednesday — do you know where your ski reservations are?
Early Wednesday afternoons might prove to be pivotal times for Park City locals and those looking to ski or board at Park City Mountain Resort this winter, the time when Vail Resorts intends to release the next nine days of availability throughout the season.
Skiers and snowboarders looking to get their fix will need to jump in line before the window opens at 2 p.m. to reserve a spot on the hill.
The reservation system is one of the COVID safety measures Vail Resorts has implemented this year and is intended to enable guests to maintain distance on the hill and in lift lines and lodges.
The thousands of skiers and snowboarders who were able to nab a spot for opening day Friday and opening weekend apparently navigated the system successfully, but many were frustrated they weren’t able to secure a place on the slopes.
Others reported they were turned away during an initial crush Wednesday but were able to reserve spots Thursday.
All but one of the remaining ski days in November are fully reserved, according to the Epic Pass online database, as are both of the first weekend days available to book, Dec. 12 and 13. Vail Resorts intends to open reservations on Wednesday for a nine-day period starting Monday, Nov. 30.
As more terrain opens up, Vail Resorts officials expect the reservation process will be less cumbersome, and fewer people will miss out.
Paul Tan, a Parkite who spent opening day skiing with three family members, said he got in the online queue at 1:02 p.m. Wednesday, two minutes after it opened. The system indicated there were 33,000 people ahead of him waiting to reserve a spot.
It took about a half hour, but he and his family were able to reserve access in that first batch of nine days.
“Wow, you really needed to be like Johnny-on-the-spot to make that work, but we did,” Tan said in an interview, adding that he hadn’t missed an opening day in 20 years.
Cathy Jordan, another Parkite who hit the hill on opening day, said she was lucky enough to nab a spot on Friday just before heading out. Reservations were full on Friday morning, but she checked back a couple hours later and was able to jump in line.
Both she and Tan said they felt safe when they were on the hill, reporting widespread mask usage and social distancing in the lift lines. Tan said PCMR employees reminded people to keep masks on and that the lift lines were more spaced out than he’d seen them.
Jessica Miller, a spokesperson for Park City Mountain Resort, thanked guests for their understanding and support in an unprecedented ski season.
“We wish everyone could be on-mountain in the early season, but given the limited terrain, we had to manage the number of skiers and riders to allow for physical distancing,” Miller wrote in an email to The Park Record.
She said additional reservation spots would be added to the pool when mountain capacity increases as more terrain opens. She advised people looking to hit the slopes to keep checking the website for availability, and also requested people who are unable to use their reservations to cancel as soon as possible to make room for others.
Tan and Jordan both said they only spent a couple hours on the slopes on opening day, a common occurrence early in the season when terrain is limited. Tan said he wished there was a “check out” function with the online reservation system that would allow people to relinquish the balance of their reserved time to others who might be waiting.
Miller said, for now, reservations would not be split into half-day portions.
Some Parkites said the system presents challenges for locals, catering to long-term planning rather than spur-of-the-moment ski days.
Epic Pass-holders have seven “priority days” to use over the course of the main season, from Dec. 8 to April 14.
Once a skier uses a priority day, he or she is able to reuse that priority day reservation on a future date.
That helps long-range planners, but Parkites who are used to glancing at the mountain and heading up at a moment’s notice may find a different experience this winter.
When there’s more room at the resort to space out, Miller said that reservations should be more readily available, and she’s said that she expects that everyone who wants to access the mountain will be able to do so on most days.
That would be aided by guests who cancel reservations when they’re unable to use them.
“Our goal is to accommodate everyone who wants to ski and ride at our mountains this season and to make that happen, we need support. We are asking pass holders to only book week-of reservations for days that they actually can use. We understand plans change, but if you repeatedly miss or cancel your reservations, you may lose the privilege to make reservations in advance, for a period of time,” Miller wrote. “In the event that a pass holder needs to cancel a reservation, they should cancel by 12 a.m. of their planned ski date so another guest can book their reservation.”
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The Park City Police Department last week received reports of drivers struggling in a late-season snowstorm. The complaints were logged in various locations inside the city. The accidents did not appear to be serious.