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Season comes to an end - now what? Mountain Update

Categories: COVID Guest Connection Inside Meadows Media Center Safety

It’s been a month since we announced operations were suspended at Meadows in compliance with the Governor’s stay-at-home order and the eventual closing of recreational areas and access on the Mt. Hood National Forest.

This video will bring you up to date on our current status and what we’ve been working on for the past month. The interviews were conducted over a series of days over Zoom to respect social distancing (sorry for the discontinuity) and we’ve presented timecodes below in case you want to just review that section. We want to thank all of you who have reached out with concern for our team, about summer operations and improvement projects, Cooper Spur Mt. Resort and our preparations for reopening. We hope this update addresses those questions and concerns.

Current situation - General Manager Greg Pack (00:33)
    •    The current situation will prevent us from reopening any time soon, so this will bring the 2019/20 season to an end. The recreational access closure also prevents any uphill traffic through our permit area. (01:30) We’ve considered every scenario, but where we end up is: Can we guarantee the safety of our team members and our guests? And the answer is to remain closed to prevent the spread of the virus.
    •    (02:10) Our seasonal team members were retained through March and our year-round and seasonal managers will wrap the season and put a stamp on it. We’ve been able to maintain our year-round team (02:50) thanks to our board and strong banking relationships. We are proud of how we responded and reacted and the majority of our guests understood. (03:12) We get and respect that our guests want to get outdoors and appreciate the support we have received.
    •    (03:45) We are focused on helping out in the community through sharing blood drive information, giving and volunteering at food banks and trying to use our resources to help the community.
    •    (04:08) Summer operations are suspended at this time; we’re not planning on it, but those plans could change with the situation. The larger events just wouldn’t be possible to present, so for now, we’ve put a pause on summer ops. Even a simple summer chairlift operation requires a lot of forethought on how to present it safely for our guests and our team members.
    •    (05:15)  We are focused on improvements at Cooper Spur Mt. Resort, where we have a number of weddings that are booked for later this summer.

Cooper Spur Mt. Resort improvements and preparations - General Manager Barb Basham
    •    (05:40) Completely gutting the old kitchen with a significant upgrade to the facility with additional space. Exciting for the staff and our guests with these improvements. (06:37) Working through scenarios of what typical weddings are presented at Cooper Spur and incorporating social distancing and PPE strategies that will allow weddings to be presented and enjoyed as naturally as possible while planning for the safety of our guests and team members. This is very exciting for both our team and our guests. We are looking forward to being ready to reopen for the rest, relaxation and rejuvenation that Cooper Spur provides once Oregon is ready to reopen.

Sahale Building Construction Continues as Scheduled - Greg Pack
    •    (07:35) We’re working on Sahale and related improvements to our South and North lodges, with safety protocols implemented, as well as building additional hiking trails this summer. 

Protecting our Team, construction workers and others conducting business at Meadows - Risk Manager Anna Laxague
    •    (08:16) First – we support our team members working from home and we’re making good use of communications tools so we can keep our team productive while they stay at home. That also reduces the amount of people who are at Meadows.
    •    (08:32) For those that are reporting to work – lift maintenance, vehicle maintenance, facilities, other key personnel and the construction workers on the Sahale project, we have outlined work plans for each of our departments for our team to follow which includes appropriate social distancing and PPE.
    •    (08:50) We have also had all of our team members and all those visiting Meadows sign a responsibility pledge which addresses the behaviors we expect to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This has been a great tool and way to communicate to everyone, something we feel strongly about continuing to require as we set our sights on an eventual reopening. It’s a good model that we may want to incorporate with our guests when we reopen so everyone knows we take this seriously and what expectations we have of each other to keep each other safe.

Twilight parking lot won’t be expanded this summer with reduced CAPEX - Greg Pack
    •    (10:00) Twilight would be a great addition, but we’ve had to reduce our original CAPEX plans by about 70%. We’ll focus on safety, routine maintenance of lifts and facilities. Expansion will have to be put off until future years.

How are pass sales going and what are we doing for pass holders? - VP Sales & Marketing Dave Tragethon
    •    (11:00) We expect sales to be slower due to uncertainty, but pass sales have been better than expected. We’ve extended the normal May 31 early season price deadline to November 8. That way no one needs to make their purchase now. For those that purchase by May 31, we’re providing a free pass holder bonus package with our appreciation.
    •    (11:35) We kept last year’s pass prices, and are offering those who had a pass this year a $100 discount on the renewal of a pass for next season.

Do we expect the coronavirus situation to affect winter operations? - Greg Pack
    •    (12:27) We know there will be an effect on operations and our guests will expect we operate differently. We are now looking at every aspect of our operation through the lens of social distancing and PPE to provide protection. Everyone will need to manage their own personal protections. We’ve started a task force and pre-planning and are looking at other operations to see how they are preparing. We will do everything we can to protect our team members and the safety of our guests. We’re not going to push to reopen unless we can satisfy those needs.
    •    (14:08) The priority will be balancing how we can present a great on-hill recreational experience and maintain safety standards for our team and our guests. Number one on everybody’s mind is what are the steps we need to take to alter our operations to keep everybody safe.
    •    (14:50) We will also be communicating these changes and what guests should expect at Meadows on a daily basis – because things could change from day to day. (15:39) And we appreciate our guests commitment in this situation.
    •    (15:55) We will be returning to the mountain, riding our chairlifts together, high fiving or giving each other hugs, and celebrating the day in the Alpenstube. It may be a while, but we’re working hard so we can get there as quickly as we possibly can. We’ll get there.