PERU — The coronavirus has forced local ski areas to change certain aspects of how they operate.
In response to the pandemic, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) and Vermont Ski Area Association (NSAA) have released guidance to help resorts navigate an unprecedented winter season.
Among the changes: Asking skiers to transform their cars into the base lodge to limit indoor traffic.
“That’s actually been going pretty well,” said Erin Kehoe, the General Manager of Centerplate, a food and beverage corporation that services entertainment venues in North America. “People have been staying outside, or coming inside for a short amount of time.”
The biggest area of concern are the lodges. During normal circumstances, lodges are often packed with visitors looking for a meal or just looking to escape the cold after a trip down the mountain.
Following state guidance, Bromley is limiting guests to 30 minutes in the cafeteria, and one hour in its restaurant. Bromley lodges can have a maximum of 75 people inside at any giving time.
In response, Bromley has turned to taking reservations online for its dining options.
“We’ve set up reservation systems in both our restaurant and our main cafeteria,” said Kehoe, who is based out of the Bromley resort.
The mountain has also equipped QR codes on site where guests may make reservations.
For guests who don’t wish to go indoors, Bromley has added to its outdoor dining this winter.
The Wild Boar Restaurant has added a take-out window, and installed a windscreen and portable heaters.
The Moose Kaboose, a Hoosick Falls, N.Y.-based food truck is a new addition this year, located at the base of the mountain.
These changes took time to implement and tinker with, as guidance often changed as case numbers fluctuated.
“The plan took a little while to formulate due to the changing guidelines that kept happening,” Kehoe said. “But we responded well and quickly.”
Kehoe said mountains throughout Vermont have been working together during these challenging times.
“I’ve been on some conference calls with the VSAA and everybody’s pretty much on the same page,” Kehoe said.
Along with connecting at the state level, Bromley is utilizing a national connection, too.
Bromley Mountain’s food and beverage provider, Centerplate, along with its parent company Sodexo, is affiliated with a total of 12 mountains, including Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts and Whiteface Mountain in New York. Kehoe said being able to tap into that resource for guidance with handling the pandemic and how to go about tasks like sanitization and meeting all requirements has been helpful.
Kehoe said the most difficult aspect Bromley faced was not knowing which employees would be back this winter.
“Staffing was the hardest part here due to a lot of uncertainties of how many people are going to show up and if they were comfortable returning to work,” Kehoe said.
Kehoe said Bromley has seen “probably a little bit less” people on the mountains than they were expecting this winter, but “we’re still doing well” she said. Kehoe notes the Vermont travel restrictions as a potential reason in the decrease in traffic.
At the end of the day, Kehoe said that people are simply grateful for the opportunity to get on the mountain and ski during the pandemic. She said guests offer their thanks daily.
“It’s multiple times a day,” Kehoe said. “People are like ‘you guys are doing a great job, we’re so happy that you’re doing this and we’re so happy that we can come and we’re more than willing to do whatever you need for us to be able to enjoy skiing here at Bromley this year.”
This story was updated on Feb. 2, 2021.