Winter is coming. So Crystal Mountain is reimagining its winter operations and planning for all safety contingencies.
The resort has operated safely all summer long, but winter will bring an increased number of guests and employees to the resort. The Crystal Mountain team has been working with other ski resorts from across the country and in Michigan, as well as industry and health agencies like National Ski Areas Association, Michigan Snowsports Industries Association and Benzie-Leelanau Health Department on best practices to safely open for winter.
Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, fat tire biking, ice skating and snowshoeing all provide wonderful outdoor recreation and fresh air. Resort leadership anticipates an increased, renewed and expanded interest in winter activities.
“With everything we have been doing to operate safely, we also need our guests to do their part to always use good judgment, wear masks and to be socially distant whenever possible,” John Melcher, chief operating officer for the resort, said. “We intend to use common sense and good practices to open safely and efficiently for winter. But like last winter, we are not afraid to pivot or make hard choices for the good of our staff and the good of our community.”
Extending on its Crystal Clean commitment to COVID-19 health and cleanliness standards, guests will be required to wear CDC-approved masks or other face coverings inside all buildings, but also in some areas outside where social and physical distancing is not possible. For example, in lift lines, on chairlifts, while passing through congested areas on the mountain and in all indoor spaces other than while they are seated and eating or drinking will require masks because people will likely congregate.
While restaurants will be open for the season, they will be operating with limited capacity to allow for social distancing among customers, but also serving pre-packaged food to-go. There will be seating areas outdoors and an additional pavilion-style tent has been installed. The Crystal Center will also be used for overflow seating.
Fresh air will be important this winter. The resort has engineered several clean air solutions inside its public buildings including improving filtering in its air handling units; installing portable, HEPA air purifiers in some areas; opening ventilation dampers to bring in about 20% fresh air; as well as installing air scrubbers that are a spinoff of NASA technology.
How do air scrubbers work? When air passes through a UV light-activated titanium dioxide membrane filter, it causes water vapor in the air to turn into negatively charged hydrogen peroxide ions which can then be directed into room air supply ducts. Because of their electric charge, these ions attach to and can destroy most common bacteria and virus particles in the air and on surfaces. Hydrogen peroxide is generally recognized as a safe antimicrobial agent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Each room also typically has four to six air changes in an hour, which helps to keep the air clean.
The resort announced in September that RFID gates will be installed at chairlifts. This will allow for touchless, cashierless lift ticket transactions, as well as get guests on the slopes efficiently. Chairlift loading will change somewhat in that guests will be asked to ride together only if they live together.
Season Passholders, Four Seasons Club members with Ultimate and Premium Snowsports plans and guests who have pre-purchased lift tickets will have guaranteed access to the mountain. Same-day lift tickets may not available due to capacity limits, so guests should buy passes in advance of their visit to the resort.
The number of guests will be limited inside buildings due to indoor capacity restrictions. Equipment rentals should be purchased in advance. Resort staff recommend guests come dressed and prepared to hit the slopes, so consider using a car as a base camp or a locker.
“In many ways, there will be some nostalgia like going to the ski hills of the 1960s and using a car as a home base to eat and get ready,” Melcher said.
Snowsports lessons will be offered, including individual and family options, but all guests must wear masks. Instructors will also be wearing masks.
The resort’s daycare will not be operating.
“As always with COVID-19, we’ve learned to be vigilant and flexible. Things could change, but we are doing what we can to address staff and guest safety, which is ultimately our priority.”
A complete list of operational updates and frequently asked questions can be found on the resort’s website at www.CrystalMountain.com.
About Crystal Mountain:
Established in 1956, Crystal Mountain is a family-owned, four-season resort destination located 28 miles southwest of Traverse City and a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The 1,500-acre resort features lodging, dining, downhill and cross-country skiing, two championship golf courses, shopping, award-winning Crystal Spa, Michigan’s only alpine slide, Peak Fitness, the Park at Water’s Edge, Michigan Legacy Art Park, weddings, a conference center and real estate options. Visit www.CrystalMountain.com for more resort details or information about Four Seasons Club memberships.