With its earliest opening day ever, Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff is welcoming back skiers on Thursday for the start of the 2020/2021 season.
Following its closure in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular ski resort will have a host of new health measures in place to keep both staff and guests safe this winter.
A face mask or cover, such as a balaclava or buff, will need to be worn while inside all facilities as well as while in line for, and on lifts and gondolas. The resort is also recommending that guests bring two masks: one to wear outside and a dry one to wear indoors.
Due to reduced capacity inside the lodges, three heated outdoor tents will be set up for guests to warm up in.
Also new this season, guests will not be able to leave their bags inside the lodges.
“If you don’t have an annual locker or a day locker purchased, you’ll need to leave your bags in your car,” says director of communications Dan Markham.
“There are so many bags in the lodge during the winter season that our staff are constantly moving them around to clear walkways and during the pandemic that’s just not something we can do.”
Apart from COVID-19 protocols, the resort has added nearly 500 acres of new terrain thanks to the new Summit Chair.
“That lift will now not only have better access to the front and back side, but what was traditionally an out-of-bounds area, the West Bowl, is now going to be accessible to the public,” Markham explained.
While the new side country area is avalanche controlled, it’s recommended that skiers bring a beacon probe and shovel with them.
With Lake Louise and Mount Norquay Ski Resort now open, downhill enthusiasts won’t have to wait too much longer for Banff’s other popular ski attraction to open either.
Banff Sunshine Village is targeting the weekend prior to Remembrance Day to open, and like its counterpart in Lake Louise, will require that a face mask be worn inside the lodges, in lineups and while riding lifts and gondolas.
Guests will also have access to two new heated tents, each offering over 4,500 square feet of space to warm up in between runs.
In an effort to spread people out throughout the day, Sunshine is introducing a new Afternoon Only pass this winter.
“People can come up to start their day at noon and ski until 4 p.m – it’s a perfect pass for those who want to be beat the crowds and enjoy an afternoon on the slopes,” Sunshine’s director of brand and communications Kendra Scurfield said.
And for those looking to strap on their skis or snowboard closer to Calgary, a spokesperson with Nakiska says it has a tentative opening date of Nov. 6.