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A Christmas Holiday 2020: Different, but still merry

15th December 2020 | Craig Altschul

Christmas is magical at Sun Valley

Christmas is magical at Sun Valley

There will be a bit more “room at the inn” this holiday season across America’s ski resorts, and skiing and riding during the Christmas-New Year’s season will have a very different vibe. But, with cooperation and precautions, the good news is it’s going to still be merry. 

“There is certainly an opportunity to travel and have a good time,” Tom Foley, senior vice president for business process and analytics at Inntopia, told OnTheSnow.com. “but it will look different and resort visitors can embrace it knowing the travel industry has made health and safety practices paramount. Guests, too, need to act responsibly.”

Foley said bookings at major western resorts were obviously fewer than in a normal year, but they are “high quality reservations from people engaged and enthusiastic” and that room rates were holding.  He added that “short lead” reservations continued to be the trend with “consumers cautiously looking over their shoulders.”

The resorts have made numerous adjustments in their usual array of holiday events and activities, but there’s plenty to look forward to for the whole family. Hop in the sleigh for a glimpse across the country. Let’s start where the Christmas season has always been magical: Sun Valley, Idaho.

Christmas magic at Sun Valley

“December is a special time here, and we hope locals and guests are able to get into the holiday spirit with us,” says Bridget Higgins, public relations and marketing director, “Walk through the lit-up Sun Valley Village, enjoy a wonderful takeaway meal on Christmas Eve, reserve a table at Roundhouse or The Ram for a holiday dinner and take part in the family fun activities like 80s themed ice skating, cosmic bowling or our Christmas scavenger hunt.”

Families can enjoy the fireworks and torch parade Christmas eve from one of several recommended “watch spots” around the resort and they can ski in the New Year on Dollar Mt.

Family fun at Aspen 

Holiday spirit is always in the air this time of the year at Aspen in Colorado. But, as always, first and foremost is the skiing and riding at Aspen Mt., Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk Mountain.

“Guests planning to come for the holidays can still find some great deals,” says Jeff Hanle, Aspen-Snowmass’ longtime director of public relations. “Be sure to book your tickets first then go from there. The new online portal and the Aspen-Snowmass app are more essential than ever this year. 

“They allow you to use technology to get straight on the hill. You can sign waivers, buy tickets, lessons or rentals, then use our touchless pickup boxes to get your tickets, or have them delivered to your hotel or condo,” Hanle said.

Always popular at Aspen this time of year are Ullr Nights at Elk Camp, scheduled Dec. 26, 28, 30 and Jan. 1. These are evenings full of family fun like tubing, riding the Breakaway Alpine Coaster, visiting the Ice Bar and enjoying live music.

Snow globes line Main Street in Park City

Snow globes line Main Street in Park City

Snow globes on Park City's Main Street

Perhaps the most unique scene this holiday is at Park City, Utah where historic Main Street is lined with nine life-sized snow globes that feature images of Park City life. Each globe comes to life with light and sound when a visitor approaches and, of course, there’s falling snow. 

“We wanted to create an opportunity that celebrated the magic of Park City,” explains Alison Kuhlow, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance. “The combination of life-sized, interactive snow globes designed to represent all that makes Park City so special felt like the perfect way to celebrate the winter season in our charming mountain town.” The globes will be on display through Jan. 3.

Three new hotels have opened in Park City over the past month, just in time for the holidays, including expansion of The Goldener Hirsch Inn, located at Silverlake in Deer Valley. the YotelPad at Canyons Village on Park City Mountain and the AC by Marriott at Kimball Junction, Park City’s gateway.  

Availability should be higher than normal at Park City in January because of a reduced footprint this year for the Sundance Film Festival which normally packs the town. That won’t begin until Jan. 29 and will be shorter than usual.

Hildene holiday

Hildene holiday

Copyright: Vermont's Hildene Home at Christmas, circa 1912

Santa on big screen at Snowshoe

Shawn Cassell, public relations director across the county at Snowshoe Mt. Resort in West Virginia notes there is very limited lodging availability but “we’re feeling good about the holidays, largely because the weather has been so cooperative. We’re managing our capacity very strictly this season, and the more lifts/terrain we have available the better from a distancing standpoint. We’ve got as much open as you could possibly ask for in our region in mid-December.”

One Snowshoe innovation calls for Santa to appear on a big screen in the village telling holiday stories to kids. He’ll also appear on the small screens in their hotel rooms.

Festive history in Vermont 

Visiting Southern Vermont to ski? Be sure and take the family to visit Robert and Mary Lincoln’s family home in Manchester Center. It’s all decked out for Christmas, circa 1912 and is open for visitors from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Socially distanced celebrations in Michigan 

Midwest skiers and riders can still make lodging reservations at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boynes Falls and Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Mich.

“The biggest change to our holiday activities is the elimination of any large crowd-gathering events, including our annual Torchlight Parade and fireworks display, typically held on New Year’s Eve,” Erin Ernst, Boyne public relations director, told us. 

“We are offering holiday activities where we can appropriately space out guests by reservations, utilizing our outdoor spaces, or our large conference facility spaces,” she said. Don’t miss those bonfires and s’mores at Highlands.

Christmas in California

Santa and everybody else will be masking up as California remains in a “stay-at-home” mode. But ski resorts are allowed to remain open under very strict guidelines. The usual Christmas holiday celebrations will be kept on the shelf until next year.

"Indoor access is very restricted, you should really think about making your car your home base. We don’t have a ton of indoor capacity right now and it’s really just for bathroom access and grab-and-go food, things like that," Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows spokesperson Alex Spychalsky is telling media.  

So, the best advice for Northern California skiers is to make lift ticket reservations, get in your car, ski or ride and drive home and celebrate the holidays with family.

Visit our COVID ski season guide





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