The 2020/2021 winter season brings improvements and changes to Boyne Mountain Resort, a Northern Michigan ski hill, many to keep guests and staff safe in the era of COVID-19. We check in with President and General Manager Ed Grice and Director of Communications Erin Ernst.
How are you feeling about the 2020/2021 season in 3 words?
As always, optimistic!
Is there anything new this season you’re excited about? (Equipment, dining options, instructors, etc.)
Guests lodging at the resort now have the option to take advantage of a paperless check-in adding efficiency and reducing wait times. Boyne Mountain is also offering curbside check-in by calling 231.549.7902 at least an hour prior to arrival and a front desk team member will meet the guest in their car to facilitate the check-in process. New contactless, mobile payment options for added convenience and safety are now available, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. Bellman service, valet parking and shuttle service remain available this winter. At the end of a guest’s stay, a new option for Express Checkout has been rolled out providing a copy of the guest bill directly to their email box eliminating the need to stop by the front desk.
On the slopes, Boyne Mountain has added 21 top-of-the-line, energy-efficient and high-production HKD snowguns to its fleet of snowmakers. With their extreme efficiency, the snowguns use less air allowing the resort to run more snowguns concurrently, especially helpful in heavy snow use areas like tubing and terrain parks. The resort has also added lighting to several areas for improved sight conditions during night skiing and riding; added tower guns to Meadows and McLouth, and improved the routing on the beginner trail, Easy Does-It at the top of Meadows.
And finally, after a hiatus this spring as construction was halted due to the state shutdown, hammers are once again swinging at the Edelweiss Lodge. This iconic hotel, a true ski-in/ski-out lodge with 36-rooms at the center of it all, is undergoing a complete top-to-bottom renovation. The transformation will create a refined mountain lodge with soft, natural elements and textures establishing a sense of modern luxury. The lodge is expected to reopen fall 2021.
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I’ve heard of a “Ski Well, Be Well” document put together by the National Ski Areas Association that was endorsed by the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association. Are there some best practices identified in the document that you’ll be following/asking visitors to follow? Or are there other safety precautions/procedures guests should be aware of?
(Here’s a link to that document in case you want to read it: nsaa.org/Webdocs/Resources/Coronavirus/Playbook/SkiWellBeWell_2020.pdf.)
Boyne Resorts also endorses the efforts outlined. The sports of skiing and snowboarding inherently follow many safety protocols such as the social distancing in lift lines (length of equipment already separates people), the use of face coverings, etc. We also have protocols in place for managing flow and the volume of traffic; face covers are required at all times in public spaces including the base area, lift lines, on chairlifts and indoors, except when seated at a table in a restaurant; guests will be asked to self-group and load the chair with their traveling party, and we have rolled out many contactless services.
Skiing/snowboarding is outdoors and can be socially distanced. It’s the après-ski activities at cafes and bars that could pose a problem. How are you addressing that?
This winter, Boyne Mountain is launching online food ordering via the Boyne Mountain App and resort website for takeout at several establishments. Guests can also coordinate advanced provisions purchases and have their suite, condo or cabin stocked with groceries upon their arrival or delivered to their door during their stay.
Five, new dining igloos will grace the property providing seating for groups up to 10 people. The igloos will be located in the Biergarten behind Forty Acres Tavern, and offer service of the restaurant’s full menu, plus beverages. Guests to the resort can also enjoy to-go light bites, beer and a limited bar selection at two additional Alpen Hut locations this winter, including at the base of Meadows near the Top Notch Tube Park and in the Biergarten.
Do you think you’ll see an increase in visitors this season or a decrease? Too soon to tell?
This is really tough to predict. Winter sports provide a low-risk recreational opportunity and a respite from the stressors of the world. It’s a chance to enjoy physical activity, and to safely spend time with loved ones. With 415 skiable acres and large base areas, we feel confident that we can spread out and welcome all who choose to come play outside with us!
Has there been a silver lining, cool idea, lesson—something positive that can be taken from this incredibly difficult time?
It’s been a valuable process for us to stop and take a look at how we operate and ask ourselves how can we do it better, and how can we do it differently. From those discussions, many new aspects have been rolled out, including the curbside check-in, and coming for this winter, the dining igloos.
Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
Winter is coming, and we are excited for it! The outdoors is open and we look forward to welcoming all our guests this season!