By James Rose
Panorama’s opening day is Dec. 11. Closing day, Apr. 11. Depending on conditions, a few bonus weekends before the 11th may also open to the public. Cross-country skiing terrain will open likely mid-December. Snow-making started Oct. 15. Management added 35 more guns to the snow-making fleet over the off-season. The total is now almost 300, up from around 100 seven years ago. The first snow occurred in the Purcells around Thanksgiving weekend. On Oct. 13, snowfall reached Panorama’s village bottom.
“It’s going to be a different winter,” said Steve Paccagnon, Panorama’s President & CEO. “Come prepared to be part of the solution, and let’s work together so we can all have a safe and enjoyable winter.”
Panorama is 90% hired for the season. “Staffing has been strong. We saw an unexpected interest of applicants from all over east and western Canada,” Paccagnon said.
Pre-season training, central to Panorama’s identity as the soul of Canadian ski racing, begins Nov. 6. Olympians and hopefuls will arrive from B.C. and Western Canada for training. Freestyle, ski/board cross and nordic teams have also made bookings.
Panorama’s 2020/21 operating plan is guided by federal and provincial guidelines and best practices, agencies like Interior Health and associations such as the Canada West Ski Areas Association. Management stayed in contact with resort operators worldwide and wish to thank colleagues in Australia and New Zealand for sharing what they learned from their winter now coming to a close.
Lift tickets must be purchased online or by phone. Lift tickets will not be sold at the resort unless part of an external program like Lake Louise Plus Card or the Grade 4/5 Snow Pass. This is Panorama’s first year as part of the Mountain Collective program, which gives members multiple days at participating ski resorts all over the world. “They chose you, and Panorama was unanimously voted into the collective. It was an honour to be chosen to be part of this program,” Paccagnon said. “People from all over are paying attention to Panorama. It’s exciting.”
Season pass-holders will have unrestricted access to the mountain – no Vail style reservation system. In-person purchase at the resort is only possible for people who have tickets through a third party program.
Panorama’s RFID enabled ticket system allows for day tickets, season passes, and SNOW+ Cards to be reloaded online. All you need is a Panorama Advantage Card. If you already have one, log into Panorama’s online store or give them a call. If you don’t have an Advantage Card, you can purchase your ticket online and collect your unique RFID card from the guest services ticket window before heading to the lift.
There are minor changes to the SNOW+ Card program. Blackout dates will occur over the winter and family day holiday periods. Dec. 25 – Jan. 3; Feb. 15-17. Rentals and lessons will be available all winter long, but Wee Wascals Childcare will be closed.
Cancellations: you are protected if restrictions are put in place by federal, provincial governments or if foreign countries prevent travel.
Panorama improved terrain over the off-season. A new run was cut in the Sun Bowl, and more gliding was completed in the Monster area of the Taynton Bowl. The Monster X cat will still run. No face covering, no ride. Monster X season passes won’t be offered this season.
Meteorologists are classifying this winter as a moderate La Niña. 10-20% more snowfall is expected. Over the last five years, Panorama’s average snow base has been 5.2 metres. A moderate La Niña may produce for Panorama 6.25 metres of snow. But nobody has a crystal ball.
Did you know, Panorama is ranked first in the world for most space per skier? That’s according to an independent rating by Montenius Consult, a German consulting firm. Physical distancing of two metres is encouraged throughout the resort indoors and outdoors. Panorama politely asks not to visit if showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or if feeling unwell.
Face coverings and masks are mandatory in all resort public indoor areas, outside in the village, in the lift line and on the chairlift. This includes when exiting your vehicle in any parking lot or drop off zone, outside queuing for food service, lift ticket pick-up, ski rental pick-up, and at all times during a ski or snowboard lesson. A face covering is a mask, neck warmer, balaclava or buff. It must cover your nose and mouth by everyone over the age of three. You can remove your face covering when skiing, but you’ll need to pull it up again before returning to the lift line. Hand sanitization stations have been installed in all indoor facilities and select outdoor locations.
As of this writing, the B.C. government requires all food and beverage venues to operate at 50% of normal capacity with no more than six people at a table. This ruling applies to the Great Hall, Alto Kitchen & Bar, Fireside Cafe, T-Bar & Grill and Summit & Mile 1 huts and Elkhorn Cabin. Bar service and operating hours will be reduced. A host will greet you on arrival and allocate seating to you, if available. When in establishments, guests must remain seated for the duration of your visit. The resort is working on expanding take out options, both pick-up and delivery. The CABIN Smokehouse, attached to the Earl Grey Lodge Bed and Breakfast, is moving to a reservation system, with take-out and potential catering options.
The Panorama Springs warm pool and hot tubs will be open. The sauna closed. Panorama is unsure about the ski locker room. If the room does open, gearing up in the room will not be permitted, and benches will be removed.
Other services not offered this season: unlimited guest access to shuttles from Panorama to Invermere and return; any group event or function with more than 50 people; apres-ski programming like live music and DJs; programmed evening kid’s activities (campfire s’ mores); buffet-style banquet dinners at Christmas, on New Year’s Eve and on Family Day Weekend; fireworks on New Year’s Eve; High Notes Music Festival; night skiing. There will be no reservation system for parking. Some paid parking may be available.