Friday's opening of the largest ski resort on the East Coast, Vermont's Killington Resort, offered a glimpse of what industry operations will look like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Everybody out here has these real positive vibes going on," said Dante DiBiase, a Killington season pass holder who was enjoying opening day.
This weekend is just for season pass holders like DiBiase. Killington opens to the general public next week for day pass sales.
"Obviously, it's going to be really tough for ski businesses this year," acknowledged Mike Solimano, the general manager of Killington, who noted he and his staff have nimbly found ways to adapt operations to the realities of the pandemic.
The resort is requiring pre-booked parking reservations, which are free, to cut crowding and help with contact tracing, Solimano explained. Lift tickets are limited, too, as another capacity control.
The biggest culture shift, the GM said, will likely be seen in the lodges. Killington's will be kept at just about 30% capacity, and folks can only stay for 30 minutes, Solimano noted. There's a new take-out food window but no concerts, and no lounging in the bar area, at least not for now.
"We're really saying, 'Use your car as a base lodge,'" Solimano told NECN and NBC10 Boston.
Several guests Friday brought chairs from home to enjoy lunch in the parking lot after getting their morning runs in.
"You won't find anyone here without a smile today," said Mike Smith, a rider who was enjoying opening day. "You know they're smiling under their masks."
For anyone planning a trip from out of state, Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said they'll have to quarantine—"plain and simple."
More on the Coronavirus in Vermont
Skiers and riders will also have to sign a document saying they did abide by quarantine guidance and other health rules.
"If they fail to, they can lose their privileges to ski in Vermont," the governor said Friday. "They'll get their passes pulled."
Information on Vermont's recent suspension of quarantine-free cross-state travel is available here.
Killington season pass holder Scott Esposito said he hopes he fellow skiers and riders will take the guidance seriously.
"This is a real special moment because we've all been worried that we weren't going to get to come to these areas," Esposito said. "So wear your masks, work with the people at these areas, so we're all able to enjoy riding for these next few months, and let's pray we get a vaccine so we can all be back in the party together!"
Other Vermont resorts are opening soon—including Stowe and Jay Peak next week, then Sugarbush the following week, according to announcements from those resorts.
Destinations will each have their own protocols, so the trade group Ski Vermont said "know before you go," by doing your research online.
A guide to planning your trip to a Vermont ski resort during the pandemic is available on Ski Vermont.