CAMDEN — Voting unanimously, the Camden Select Board agreed Oct. 20 to apply full or partial credit for ski passes if the town is forced to shut the Snow Bowl due to COVID-19 related reasons.
But the credit for any mountain closure would only apply if the disease COVID-19 causes a closure. Any other development, such as a temperamental Mother Nature or mechanical issues, would not be reason for pursuing the credit.
Snow Bowl Director Beth Ward reported that customers are asking about the mountain’s refund policy should COVID-19 shut the facility for the sake of public health. The Snow Bowl has also posted a draft re-opening plan with COVID-19 guidelines.
The Snow Bowl, which is owned and operated by the Town of Camden, is selling season passes entirely over the internet this year, or by taking a check to the town office.
Buying season passes at reduced prices during the Early Bird days will end Oct. 31.
Currently, sales of season passes are down considerably from last year, according to Select Board member Marc Ratner.
“We are way down from where we hope to be,” he said, at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting held via Zoom.
Ward said the outlook for opening the mountain looks promising, but advised the Select Board it is important to have assurances in place. Normally, the Snow Bowl does not refund season passes; skiers take the chance that the weather and operations will be sustained through the snow season. The Snow Bowl strives to be open for at least 60 days for the pass holders.
Still, if the winter proves rainy and wet, pass holders still pay in full without any expectation of refunds.
Given COVID-19, however, the tables have turned, but for that reason, only.
Ward said it is difficult to handle cash refunds, in whole or part, but there are mechanisms using credit, which other mountains are also employing.
There are also ski mountains that have chosen not to sell passes this winter, given the uncertainty of COVID-19, Ward said.
The Snow Bowl’s target opening date is Jan. 1, she told the Select Board.
The board agreed that the policy, as written, would provide pass holders with reasonable security, the board agreed.
“It is a smart plan and a smart way to instill confidence in people,” said board member Taylor Benzie. “I am concerned that we need to get out and publicize this.”
Ratner agreed that it was important to get the message circulating, and to ensure the public that the Snow Bowl is, “a safe place to enjoy this winter.”
The mountain has been running the chairlift this fall on Sundays for four consecutive weeks, and will open Halloween afternoon, 1-4 p.m.
Riders have flocked to the Snow Bowl for rides to the summit on the triple chair, with revenue from this operation alone bringing in $30,000 to date, said Ward.
“They are able to social distance, and people are happy to be out and about,” she said. “There is not a ton of locals. These people have been traveling to come to us.”
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