GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There may not be snow on the ground around west Michigan but less than one-hundred miles to the north, snow abounds.
Much to the delight of winter sport enthusiasts, especially skiers and snowboarders who have travelled to popular resorts like Caberfae and Crystal Mountain to enjoy the slopes on what was their opening weekend.
Some resorts are so busy, they sold out not only the weekend but into the weekdays that followed. Whatever the case, resorts say they’ve had to adapt to accommodate the renewed interest in winter sports amid the pandemic, they say it’s nice to see activity on the hill.
“It’s just a really nice vibe. A unique vibe, kinda feel like a sense of normalcy when they’re on the hill,” General Manager of Caberfae Peaks Pete Meyer said. “People are just really happy to be outside, really happy to be recreating, they’re just excited to be here and they’re with their families.”
It took a lot to get to the point, Meyer said, there were times where he wasn’t sure ski resorts would be allowed to open as many other recreational activities were put on pause amid the pandemic.
“We worked our tails off, we worked all off season to come up with a reopening plan that would be a safe environment for not only our staff but our guests to be able to come and recreate outside safely,” Meyer said. “It looks quite a bit different here as it used to in the past when you come to ski.”
Among some of the more noticeable changes:
Face coverings will be required at all times. Inside and out on the slopes and chair lifts.
Guests will be asked to ‘self group’ on chair lifts and will not be required to sit with other guests.
Lodges will operate at 25% capacity.
No indoor dining will be allowed. Food can be purchased to go.
Gear storage not permitted inside the lodge.
Tickets should be purchased in advance to guarantee availability.
“And, you know, we do have other restrictions. We got signs everywhere telling you to ‘be wise, sanitize’, ‘don’t be the reason we lose our season’, ‘keep your spacing’, so we got a lot of reminders all over the resort. From the moment they get out of their car to the moment they walk into one of our buildings,” Meyer said. “But not letting people inside is a huge hit to our revenue. Food and beverage is a big part of all ski operations… it’s a significant part, and we can feel it.”
Feeling the loss of revenue but excited, nonetheless that the slopes of northern Michigan are full of snow lovers once again.
“We are excited about this season and we are not alone. The stuff that we’re doing here at Caberfae, every resort in Michigan is doing. People are adapting to the changes. You know our message was, ‘your car is your day lodge.’ So use your car to boot up. Use your car to take breaks on, to take breaks at. To warm up, so you can see it out in the parking lot, people are adapting and having fun.
Adapting to make sure this pastime, unlike so much else, isn’t lost in a COVID winter.
“I feel quite confident that we’re gonna be able to operate all winter in a very safe manner,” Meyer said. “Bring the fun and bring the joy back, we’re ready for you.”