Stevens Pass, Whistler and Crystal Mountain will suspend operations due to coronavirus pandemic

By Megan Burbank

The Seattle Times

March 15— Mar. 15—Popular Seattle-area ski resorts Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain Resort and Whistler, in British Columbia, will shut temporarily, effective Sunday, their parent companies announced Saturday afternoon.

Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, owners of several Northwest ski properties, announced Saturday that they will suspend operations in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

This marked a drastic turnaround after both companies announced last week that they will stay open even though Crystal Mountain had a customer who had visited on March 5 test positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

“After careful thought and deliberation of our duty in the face of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, and in what I believe is in the best interest of our guests, employees and local communities, Alterra Mountain Company will suspend operations at our 15 North American ski resorts, starting the morning of Sunday, March 15, until further notice,” Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory said in a statement posted to the company’s website on Saturday.

Crystal Mountain is one of the 15 Alterra properties closing indefinitely.

Crystal and Alterra’s other affected resorts “will work directly with guests in canceling their visit and will provide refunds to those who have hotel and other bookings during this closure period,” Gregory said in the statement. He requested customers’ patience in what he said would be “heavy call volume over the next several days.”

Vail Resorts, which operates 37 ski areas including Stevens Pass and Whistler, shared a similar statement Saturday from CEO Rob Katz, who wrote that after consulting guidance from health officials, the company’s leadership had “made the difficult decision to suspend the operations of all our North American mountain resorts and retail stores” from this Sunday through March 22 and “will use that time to reassess our approach for the rest of the season.”

Katz said in the statement that lodging and operations would remain open for those with existing reservations, but that no new reservations would be allowed, and that the company’s corporate offices would also be closing “apart from essential personnel.”

“We understand this change may be confusing given our communications of operational changes over the past week, and as late as last night,” said Katz. “Please know that this has been a fast-moving, constantly developing situation with new information from our communities coming to us by the day, if not by the hour, and we are trying to react as quickly as we can.”

While some services and products like lift tickets and equipment rentals could be fully refunded, Katz said in the statement that Vail’s policy is not to refund season passes or Epic Day Passes, which are used by both Whistler and Stevens. Katz said the company plans to review these policies and announce any changes in the weeks to come.