Telski: 20/21 Season Update: Little Different Than Normal

Telski: 20/21 Season Update: Little Different Than Normal

With the 20/21 ski season only 13 weeks away, Telluride Ski & Golf Resort is busy planning for winter operations in the Age of Corona.

Telski: tracks on steeps.

“We plan to open on Thanksgiving Day (November 26),weather and COVID restrictions permitting and close on April 4, 2021(Easter Sunday),” said Chuck Horning, majority owner in the ski resort. “Our teams here have been working tirelessly to make this happen, and we all appreciate their efforts.”

The resort will have its annual ​Donation Day on Wednesday, November 25 with proceeds from the day’s $25 lift tickets going to the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club.

The ski resort is facing a challenging ski season due to reduction in visitors, decreased flights and lodging/restaurant occupancy restrictions. While the resort is preparing for a significant drop in revenue, the expenses required to run the mountain will remain constant in many areas, but in general, it’s more costly to operate in the COVID environment. This season, there will be additional expenses in crowd management, food service, sanitation and other COVID related issues. The community should expect increases in prices to help offset some of these costs, as well as new lower price pass options with date restrictions during our busiest times to accommodate capacity constraints brought on by COVID.

“The safety of our employees and guests are paramount to us,” added Horning, “This is a significant part of our planning process right now.”

The ski resort is currently working on the purchase of temporary outdoor structures for socially distanced food service operations, and investing in communication and ecommerce software to offer “contactless” sales operations. Additionally, the mountain operations team is developing a snowmaking and lift plan to safely spread skiers out around the mountain.

Horning went on to add: “We’ve faced tough times before, and we remain committed to deliver a quality experience this winter, facing many unknowns and constraints. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We have always worked with this community to improve our mountain and this year is no exception.”

This region’s economic sustainability, in spite of the years of economic growth, remains marginal for many businesses, and for people who grow up here or relocated for work. Over the next few years, the ski resort plans to work with the community to understand a path to economic sustainability. They will work with merchants to strengthen the core economy, something that is challenging for a remote “no-growth” community.

There are few successful models in Europe of resorts who are remote, intentionally limit growth and are good places to raise a family. The ski area plans to continue to learn from them.

“We are in this for the long term. Folks here care about Telluride, and while there is a history of fighting over the progress or lack thereof, today we enjoy amazing success from the creation of communities, while preserving the quality of life, environmentally and culturally,” said Horning.

The long-standing issue that the community has struggled with is the lack of affordable adequate housing.

To make progress with this issue, Horning commented: “We will be moving forward with the projects for which we have approval or are in progress, but that is only (27) units. We probably need several hundred units and that is doable. We need another Lawson Hill, which will require zoning changes. Lawson Hill required a zoning change and that was controversial but, today, that community reflects what can be done. Opening up some land for employee housing is the only responsible way to go. With the growth limitations our communities have, we can carefully but safely and without creating growth issues, solve our employee housing needs.”

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