I’m sure that if you start talking to any parent about this, a million different scenarios start running through their heads. Trust me, I’ve been there.
“Will my kids be safe?”
“Will other people keep their distance from them on skis?”
“What will the lodging situation look like?”
“Is ski school even an option this year?”
However, after riding the roller coaster that has been 2020, I’m here to tell you that this year our family will be skiing, along with our five young kids, and we have every confidence in the measures that Solitude has put in place. They want a shutdown even less than we do, so they are doing everything they can to help keep skiers safe.
This year has turned me into an over-analyzer, and I’ve scoured Solitude’s plan for how to manage COVID while skiing, and I’m here to walk you through what they’re doing and how that might affect you and your family (with great suggestions for you, too!).
The biggest thing that will affect skiers and snowboarders this year is that everyone will be required to wear a face covering while loading and unloading the chairlift, while in lines, indoors, and anywhere else you can’t socially distance from other people. What you really need to take note of is that all face coverings must be at least 2 layers thick. That means Buffs won’t work for this purpose. You’ll need to get something thicker.
If you’ve got young kids, I also recommend taking two ski masks with you each day (and a regular face mask in a pocket for emergencies). If your kids are anything like mine, they’re probably covering their mask with spit and snow all day, so just to keep things nice and hygienic, consider taking two each day. If you’re actively skiing down the ski hill and keeping a good distance between you and others, you can briefly remove your face mask, which will make skiing with young kids much easier.
This season, lift tickets won’t be available for purchase on site at the ticket window and must be purchased in advance for a specific date. If you’re someone who likes to hit the powder days as soon as a storm rolls into town, you’ll probably want to purchase a season pass this year. All Solitude passes come with Adventure Assurance, which makes a big purchase like that a lot more reassuring.
While Solitude isn’t currently requiring reservations like many resorts, keep in mind that once the parking lot is full, you may not be able to ski for the day, so plan on getting up there early.
Ski school is going to look a lot different this season. Group lessons are only available for kids ages 7 and up and advance reservations are mandatory. If you have a child who is 6 or under, you can put them in a private ski lesson, or if you are like us, you can just plan ahead to teach your own kids to ski. The change in ski school for younger kids definitely doesn’t mean that they can’t ski this year, you just may have to plan differently for how you teach them to improve their ski skills this season. If you need tips to teach your kids to ski, check out my best ski instruction tips for parents.
If you’ve ever been on the fence about staying at Solitude or somewhere down in the valley, this is the year to stay at the resort, ESPECIALLY if you have young kids. Lodging at Solitude is open and ready to go with enhanced cleaning measures. With group ski school and day care not being an option for the smallest children, in addition to limited day lodge seating, having an overnight room at Solitude just might save your sanity on your family ski trip. If you’ve got a child who is freezing and just needs to warm up inside for 30 minutes, it’s so much easier to take them to your room than to fight the crowds. Need a mid-day break to refuel and rest? Lodging is the best way to do it. Have little ones who aren’t skiing that you would normally put in day care? Get a room and tag-team hanging out with them inside. I truthfully think that on-site lodging is the best option for families this year, so make sure to book early since I’m sure rooms are going to fill fast!
While you’re staying in Solitude Village, the pools, hot tubs, and games at Club Solitude all require a reservation. To simplify your stay even more, the Village Store will be offering take-and-bake meal options for families this year to make your lodging stay even better and give you more quality time with your family.
Like most dining establishments during the new coronavirus pandemic, on-mountain dining will look a whole lot different during the 20/21 ski season. You’ll see a lot more grab-and-go food options as well, and less seating indoors. All the seating and tables in Moonbeam Lodge have been converted to standing cocktail tables, so the days of hanging out with tired kids at the tables in Moonbeam are gone for the season. The good news is that there are more outdoor seating options this season, complete with overhead heaters. Last Chance Lodge and Roundhouse will still have indoor seating, but it will be limited to encourage social distancing.
If you’ve got kids, especially young ones like ours, the dining areas will probably make you rethink how you handle parts of your ski day. For our family, this will be the year of parking lot tailgate lunches. We fill a giant thermos with hot soup, another with hot cocoa, and head to the car for a nice, warm lunch. Since we have younger kids, whose legs really need a midday break, we’ll be adding a few camping chairs to our list of ski gear to bring each week. While I know that there will be days where someone desperately needs a snack, or our little ones just want to warm up NOW with some cocoa in the lodge, we’re planning on making lodge dining the exception rather than the norm for us. I think that’s one of the best things that I can do to help protect my family and others from viruses since the lodges will likely be some of the most crowded places on the mountain.
One of the best things all of us can do this season to help make sure Solitude stays open is to spread out and avoid the crowds. While this may cause a shift in your “normal” ski day schedule, it’s a whole lot better than having everything shut down like in 2020. Here are a few tips to avoid the crowds:
- Only go into lodges during off peak times, not during the 11:30 – 1:00 lunch rush.
- Spread out on the mountain. If you’re not sure where to ski with your kids, we’ve detailed some great spots to ski with kids of every ability level.
- Avoid crowding at the base area. While Moonbeam Lodge will have additional temporary restrooms this year, try to use the facilities at other lodges like Last Chance and Roundhouse to avoid large gatherings.
- Set a designated group meeting spot somewhere besides at the base area. Our family always has a safe meeting area in case someone gets separated, but this year it won’t be in front of Moonbeam Lodge.
With everyone being more mindful and aware of others, I think that 20/21 is going to be a fantastic winter season. Can’t wait to see you and your family on the mountain this winter!