In an unprecedented move, Sugar Bowl ski resort announced today (Sept. 8) it has put a temporary stop on sales of 2020-21 season passes.
Located on Donner Summit off Interstate 80, the popular Tahoe ski resort cited strong season pass sales pacing and the need to limit the number of winter visitors each day due to these unusual pandemic times. Sugar Bowl recognizes it needs to allow for adequate social distancing times, which is the primary reason for suspending sales.
Sugar Bowl leaders are working with Placer County officials to gain approvals on their winter operating plans, including daily capacity limitations. Like all Tahoe ski resorts, Sugar Bowl prematurely ended its season in mid-March 2020 when the pandemic began to seriously spread in the U.S.
“As we all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, we recognize the importance of physical distancing and avoiding crowded environments,” said Jon Slaughter, executive director of marketing for Sugar Bowl and neighboring Royal Gorge Cross Country. “Although an uncrowded experience has been part of the Sugar Bowl brand ethos for decades, in this pandemic climate we must be especially careful not to overwhelm the resort by overselling it.”
Slaughter indicated that the pace of season pass sales has been surprisingly brisk since passes first went on sale in March. The resort had already decided to limit daily lift ticket sales this winter, but the recent surge in pass sales gave resort officials reason to hit the pause button.
Sugar Bowl has not yet decided if it will implement a system that requires passholders to reserve a day of skiing or snowboarding, similar to programs announced at neighboring Tahoe ski resorts. Company leaders believe their strategy of limiting pass sales could be an effective alternative.
“We can’t guarantee that we won’t need to introduce a reservation system for passholders at some point, because the coronavirus situation is constantly changing,” Slaughter said. “By limiting the number of passes we sell, our goal is to safely and comfortably accommodate all of our passholder guests each day this winter, without a need for them to reserve their visit days in advance.”
The resort acknowledges that some customers will be disappointed to learn that passes are no longer available. Slaughter indicated that pass sales could resume this fall or winter, depending on the status of coronavirus safety guidelines in the county and state.
The decision to pause season pass sales will not affect Royal Gorge – also located in Placer County and a sister resort to Sugar Bowl. Resort operators don’t envision any capacity restrictions at Royal Gorge, with its vast 140km Nordic trail network that naturally accommodates social distancing. Passes for the 2020/21 winter season remain on sale at www.royalgorge.com/seasonpass.
Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge typically open for the winter season in late November, with the ski and snowboard season normally lasting through mid-April.