Telski dates

Telski owner Chuck Horning stands at a conference table in his office during a previous interview with the Daily Planet. (Planet file photo)

Telski released more details about its plans for the upcoming 2020-21 ski season this week, including dates — Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) to April 4 (Easter Sunday), weather and COVID-19 restrictions permitting, according to a news release. 

The annual Donation Day, which benefits the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club, will be Nov. 25.  

“Our teams here have been working tirelessly to make this happen, and we all appreciate their efforts,” Telski majority owner Chuck Horning said in the release. 

Season pass and lift ticket prices will be released Tuesday, according to Telski officials, but people can expect increased rates due to the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though there will be lower-priced pass options as well. 

“The ski resort is facing a challenging ski season due to reduction in visitors, decreased flights and lodging/restaurant occupancy restrictions. While the resort is preparing for a significant drop in revenue, the expenses required to run the mountain will remain constant in many areas, but in general, it’s more costly to operate in the COVID environment,” according to the release. “This season, there will be additional expenses in crowd management, food service, sanitation and other COVID-related issues. The community should expect increases in prices to help offset some of these costs as well as new lower price pass options with date restrictions during our busiest times to accommodate capacity constraints brought on by COVID.”

When Vail Resorts announced its season operating plan last week, mainly the reservation system that will be open to Epic Pass holders initially this year, Telski told the Daily Planet that there would be no such system in Telluride this season. 

Horning previously told the Planet that the resort will follow any local or state COVID-19 guidelines that may be in place and are planning accordingly, including purchasing temporary outdoor structures in an effort to socially distance diners and investing in software for contactless sales. Telski’s mountain operations team is also working on snowmaking and lift plans “to safely spread skiers out around the mountain.”

“The safety of our employees and guests are paramount to us,” Horning, “This is a significant part of our planning process right now. … We've had tough times before, and we remain committed to deliver a quality experience this winter, facing many unknowns and constraints. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. We will work with this community to continue improving our mountain and this year is no exception.”

Horning reiterated his commitment in explaining part of the resort’s long-term plan is to work toward “economic sustainability.” 

“We keep moving the economic situation closer to sustainability every year. I know we’ve made progress,” Horning said in a previous interview with the Planet. 

For an area like Telluride and Mountain Village, such sustainability can be challenging, but there are similar resort communities in Europe that may be able to serve as a model for the area, he explained.    

“This region’s economic sustainability, in spite of the years of economic growth, remains marginal for many businesses, and for people who grow up here or relocate here for work,” according to the release. “Over the next few years, the ski resort plans to participate with the community to understand a path to economic sustainability. They will work with merchants to strengthen the core economy, something that is challenging for a remote ‘no-growth’ community. There are few successful models in Europe of resorts who are remote, intentionally limit growth and are good places to raise a family. The ski area plans to continue to learn from them.”

Creating more affordable housing is another piece to the puzzle, Horning said, adding that the resort will move forward with its current projects, but more needs to be done. 

“We are in this for the long term. Folks here care about Telluride, and while there is a history of fighting over the progress or lack thereof, today we enjoy amazing success from the creation of communities, while preserving the quality of life, environmentally and culturally,” said Horning. “ … We will be moving forward with the projects for which we have approval or are in progress, but that is only (27) units. We probably need several hundred units, and this is doable. We need another Lawson Hill, which will require zoning changes. Lawson Hill required a zoning change and it was controversial but, today, it reflects what can be done. Opening up some land for employee housing is the only responsible thing to do. With the growth limitations our communities have, we can carefully but safely and without creating growth issues, solve our employee housing needs”

He’s also told the Planet that an additional $35 or $40 million would be needed to make the resort “what we consider optimal.”