This winter, skiing and snowboarding at the SkiBig3 resorts looks a little different. With guest and staff safety front of mind, Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay are taking extra steps and precautions to keep your winter vacation healthy and Covid-19-friendly.
Here’s what to expect for the 2020/21 ski season, and how to prepare for it. Please note that these guidelines are subject to change throughout the upcoming season, with Covid-19 related health & safety information being updated throughout the winter.
1) Mid-Week is Prime Time
Mid-week has always been a skier and snowboarder’s paradise at the SkiBig3 resorts. With short to non-existent lift lines, ample parking space available, quiet day lodges and all that amazing terrain to discover, it borders on a private ski resort experience. Visit from Monday to Thursday this winter to take advantage of the downtime. You won’t be disappointed!
2) Plan for Self-Sufficiency
This season we’re going back to the good ‘ole days of tailgate parties and pocket burritos. Food and dining options will still be available at the SkiBig3 resorts this winter at reduced capacity. However, it helps to be prepared with backup snacks when your stomach starts growling and you need a quick pick-up. Fill your daypack with great grab-and-go options and a thermos of hot chocolate to enjoy in the parking lot or outdoor picnic areas.
3) Layer Up
Limited indoor capacity this season may make warm-ups on busier days harder to come by. Use your vehicle as a parking lot warming station with all the cozy essentials to keep your ski day enjoyable. Down puffies, hand warmers, and a thermos filled with a warm meal or drink make for a perfect midday break. If you’ve arrived by bus, be sure to bring along a backpack with extra layers and cold-weather essentials.
4) BYO Mask
While your face mask for skiing or snowboarding will suffice, it doesn’t hurt to keep a backup mask in your back pocket. Face masks and face coverings are mandatory in all buildings at the SkiBig3 resorts, as well as in lift lines and while riding the chair lifts, gondolas, and carpets. Bring an extra bottle of sanitizer, too, to keep handy – you never know when you might need it!
5) Flexibility is Key
A sense of adventure and flexibility are key travel mentalities for a successful winter ski vacation this season. With continuously evolving pandemic realities both locally and across the world, policies and guidelines are sure to adapt – sometimes on short notice. Having an open mindset and a Plan B (and Plan C) will help in setting expectations appropriately.
6) Keep Your Ski-Pole Distance
Whether walking around the towns of Banff and Lake Louise, waiting in lift lines at the resorts, or enjoying a meal indoors, it’s important to be respectful of others and keep a 2-metre distance from those outside your cohort. This is approximately the same length as a ski pole or hockey stick.
7) Spread Positivity
SkiBig3 and resort teams will be working hard this winter to maintain extra safety and sanitation protocols. Be sure to give them a (socially distanced) air high five or friendly wave to show your appreciation, keep spirits high, and spread the positivity.
Banff and Lake Louise
Banff National Park is welcoming visitors with plenty of room to roam. The Town of Banff has implemented temporary mask bylaw for the safety and well-being of residents and visitors. Non-medical masks will be mandatory within enclosed public spaces as well as within the Town’s pedestrian zone of the 100 and 200 Blocks of Banff Avenue, a section of Caribou Street, the 200 block of Bear Street and a portion of Wolf Street.
Resort shuttle buses will be running this season from hotels to the mountains and will require all passengers to don face coverings or masks as per the guidelines outlined by Alberta Health Services. Roam public transit is operating with a mandatory mask rule in effect as well.
Food and Beverage
You can still enjoy Banff and Lake Louise’s vibrant culinary scene at many of the same local restaurants, pubs and coffee shops with adapted seating to meet Alberta Health Services guidelines. Cohort groups can be seated in tables of up to six people, and masks must be worn at all times unless seated at a table. Think about making dining reservations in advance and be ready to use QR Codes through your phone to access daily menus.
Accommodation of all styles and budgets are still available for your stay in Banff National Park and can be booked through our Reservations Team. Hotels are considered public spaces, so hallways and lobbies require masks. SkiBig3 has a flexible cancellation policy allowing visitors to cancel or makes changes to your itinerary up to three days prior to arrival without penalty.
There is currently no on-mountain reservation system anticipated to access the SkiBig3 resorts this season. Guests are encouraged to avoid lines and wait times at ticket windows by taking advantage of direct-to-lift SkiBig3 Lift Ticket. Saving you both time and money, SkiBig3 Lift Tickets can be ordered online ahead of time and will be conveniently available at your hotel’s concierge or front desk upon arrival to the destination.
SkiBig3 and individual resorts will continue to offer lessons this winter at all SkiBig3 resorts. Both individual and group private lessons are available, however, group lessons must be arranged with cohorts of a similar ski or snowboard ability.
Banff Sunshine Village
Banff Sunshine Village has been working closely with Alberta Health Services in developing operational guidelines for the 2020/21 season, to ensure the health and wellbeing of our mountain community.
Lift and Gondola Access
Face coverings or face masks will be mandatory while riding or waiting for any lifts, including the gondola and magic carpets. Gondolas will be loaded up to 8 passengers per cabin on busy days, with the requirements that windows stay open.
Food and Beverage
Face masks and face coverings will be required inside all buildings, except when seated at a table and eating. Seating will be reduced in all lodges to allow for proper physical distancing, and temporary lodging facilities are being installed at Goat Eye mid-mountain as well as the upper village. Throughout the resort, more grab-and-go options will be available.
Sunshine Mountain Lodge
Banff Sunshine Village’s on-mountain boutique hotel will be open for the winter season, beginning early November. Face masks will be required in all common areas, and the outdoor hot tub, gym, and family room will be open exclusively for guest use at reduced maximum capacity.
Learn more about Banff Sunshine Village’s 2020/21 Operational Guidelines.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
As always, Lake Louise Ski Resorts makes the health and safety of their guests, employees our communities their top priority. They’re looking forward to welcoming you back to share in what is forecasted to be a very snowy winter.
Lift mazes will be configured to allow proper spacing between cohorts (front to back and side to side). Signage will offer reminders to keep two meters apart, and employees will help with messaging as well. Please wear your face coverings while waiting for the lift, and during loading and unloading. Visitation levels most days will allow for only one cohort per chair or gondola. On certain days, there will be an option to combine cohorts to get through the line faster. If you choose to ride with another cohort, face coverings will be required for the ride duration.
Food and Beverage
We have many dining options, from quick service to fine dining, and we are also planning some additional food & beverage options this year. The North Face Bistro will pause operations this year, but their other outlets will be open. To ensure that physical distancing can be readily maintained, indoor spaces will be operating at reduced capacities. To compensate for these reduced capacities, temporary heated structures will be added at the base area, at Temple Lodge and at Whitehorn Lodge as well as additional outdoor tables, patio heaters and fire pits.
Learn more about Lake Louise Ski Resort’s 2020/21 Operational Guidelines.
Following Alberta Health Services guidelines and incorporating industry best practices, Mt. Norquay has had a very successful summer. By continuing to work in this way they are confident of a great, safe winter season ahead.
Following the current AHS guidelines, there will be no restrictions to the lift capacity. Guests are required to practice physical distancing and to wear face coverings on chairlifts as well as lift line-ups. Lift attendants will be wearing face coverings.
Food and Beverage
The Cascade Lodge and the North American Tubing Lodge will see reduced capacities following AHS guidelines, with face coverings required in all indoor spaces and adapted seating capacities to allow for physical distancing. More ‘Grab-and-Go’ items will be available in the Cafeteria to help reduce lineups. Mt. Norquay asks that guests consider packing a lunch and utilizing the outdoor patio or your vehicle as a base. Do it old-school and enjoy a little tailgating!
Mt. Norquay’s Tube Park is a great place to get outside and enjoy hassle-free mountain fun! This winter they will be doing things a bit different to ensure the safety of guests and staff. Morning and afternoon ‘sessions’ will be in place on busier days including weekends and over holiday periods. Tubes will not be shared, and all tubes will be frequently sanitized.
Learn more about Mt. Norquay’s 2020/21 Operational Guidelines.
While operations are bound to look a little different this winter, you can count on finding amazing ski terrain across 8,000 acres and 3 mountain resorts. SkiBig3 has always been known for its wide-open, uncrowded slopes and this year will be no different. Being active and outside is guaranteed to provide some respite during this challenging time. This winter could be the best time to experience all the outdoor adventures that make this place special.
In the spirit of keeping things flexible, SkiBig3 is committed to keeping you updated with ongoing health & safety information. Should you need to cancel or change your plans this winter our no-questions-asked cancellation policy allows for free changes and cancellations until 3-days prior to arrival. To book your winter ski vacation, call 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist or go online to access to some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.