Top Vail Mountain boss addresses staff shortage in open letter

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The Vail Mountain Eagle Bahn Gondola (Elevator # 19) closes early December 26 due to high winds.
John LaConte / Vail Daily

Vail Mountain COO Beth Howard addressed staff issues and delayed field openings in an open letter posted on the Vail Mountain Facebook page Thursday night.

Howard wrote: “In my 37 years in the industry, this has been the most difficult holiday season I have ever had.”

At the top of the list of challenges, she wrote, is the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Eagle County, along with other counties that rely on ski resort tourism, have been hit hard in the latest wave of the highly contagious omicron variant. From Saturday, Eagle County averaged 327 daily cases per 1,000, behind neighboring Summit County (525 cases per 100.00) and Pitkin County (413 cases per 100.00) as the redder spots on the Colorado map.



“The biggest dynamic we are facing right now is COVID-19,” Howard wrote. “This is why Pride Express is not working, why some of our retail stores are closed and why some of our food and beverage operations have been cut. “

Vail Mountain Director of Operations Beth Howard addressed staffing issues and delayed field openings on social media on Thursday.
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Colorado Sun article dropped early Friday morning, just hours after the publication of Howard’s letter, explored a myriad of issues facing the mountains of Vail Resorts Colorado and across the country after a record year for pass sales. The company reduced pass prices by 20%, resulting in 2.1 million sales of pre-purchased tickets and season tickets – a 76% increase in passes sold compared to the previous year.



Among the issues addressed by Sun’s article: a lack of available corps to pave the way after a slow start to the season, a hollowing out of middle management positions across the company, and an over-reliance on it. of technology, including a much maligned human being. resource application.

The acute labor shortage, lack of affordable housing and the vaccination mandate for Vail Resorts employees – as well as vacation crowds returning to pre-pandemic levels and a massive storm cycle over the course of Christmas week to New Years – only exacerbated the staff shortage.

In his letter, Howard said the mountain made safety first – for guests and employees alike.

“Our mountain is staffed and our employees are vaccinated, but in an effort to keep you safe, we ask any employee who is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home – and they are.” Howard wrote. “We focus on your experience and put your safety first. Due to these COVID exclusions, our operation has been affected. “

She also added that the mountain needs more snow before it can open up more ground.

“Plus appearances can be deceptive. If you look at Blue Sky Basin it looks like there is a lot of snow. And in some areas there is. But in others, we still have a long way to go, ”she wrote. “The operations team is working hard to prepare the ground. They perform the careful and meticulous act of snow control – we will never endanger their safety or yours in order to open faster. We have great respect for the ski patrol and operations leaders who guide their teams through this process. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

Here is the full text of Howard’s letter:

To our Vail Mountain community –

The holiday season has been hectic and I am so grateful to each of you who took the time to ski or cycle on our mountain. This amazing Vail Mountain team has opened over 2,100 acres, including the Sun Up and Sun Down bowls, and we operate 20 of our 33 lifts. Although we had little natural snow and a warm start to the season, we have recently enjoyed a lot of powder days and the mountain is filling up nicely.

We were faced with very difficult challenges. The biggest dynamic we are facing right now is COVID-19. This is why Pride Express is not working, why some of our retail stores are closed, and why some of our food and beverage operations have been cut.

Our mountain is staffed and our employees are vaccinated, but in an effort to keep you safe, we ask any employee who is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home – and they are. We focus on your experience and put your safety first. Due to these COVID exclusions, our operations have been impacted.

In addition, appearances can be deceptive. If you look at Blue Sky Basin it looks like there is a lot of snow. And in some areas there is. But in others, we still have a long way to go.

The operations team is hard at work preparing the ground. They perform the careful and meticulous act of snow control – we will never endanger their safety or yours in order to open faster. We have great respect for the Ski Patrol and Operations leaders who guide their teams through this process. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

In my 37 years in the industry, this has been the most difficult holiday season I have ever experienced. It has undoubtedly been a difficult few weeks for everyone working at Vail Mountain – and I am grateful for all of their hard work under the stress of the holidays and the resurgence of COVID-19.

I would like to thank the incredible team at Vail Mountain for their dedication and professionalism. I would also like to thank our guests and neighbors for their patience and their smiles.

Please have a happy and healthy New Year. We hope to see you on the hill soon.

Beth Howard, COO, Vail Mountain

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