It is winter, and winter in YDH means outdoor fun—usually. Unfortunately, we are not living in usual times. No matter how much we want to, we cannot shout it from the rooftops that we are a mecca for skiing. We’ve got so many amazing ski and snowboarding facilities just a short drive from Toronto, and we’re itching to invite you lovers of the slopes to our region to experience everything we have to offer… but we can’t. Because of COVID-19, we must be mindful of reducing unnecessary travel and limiting contact with one another.
That being said, Ontario-wide restrictions are beginning to be lifted, and our ski hills are once again opening to the public. If you are local, or you are able to travel safely, you can enjoy the snowy slopes, for which our resorts have implemented modifications to their operating procedures to ensure health and safety guidelines can be followed. To help you plan your visit to one of our destinations, here is what you need to know before you head out to your favourite YDH ski resort.
What to expect: the highlights
First and foremost, we must reiterate that the best way to stay safe is to stay home. But if you simply cannot hold off any longer from your skiing or snowboarding adventure, then please be advised that our resorts are not encouraging visitors to “make a day of it.” Passes, amenities and durations are all limited to ensure a maximum number of guests can attend while maintaining physical distancing regulations. (By the way, if you’re a devoted après skier, we have some inspiration for how you can create your own après ski experience at home.) So, while you are responsibly enjoying our resorts, here are some of the specific protocols for a few of our locations. Of course, please ensure that you check each facility’s website for more in-depth information prior to your visit.
793522 Mono 3rd Line, Mono
In order to provide a safe facility for staff and guests, Hockley has enacted an updated operating policy. Masks are mandatory—everywhere and always. Indoor, outdoor, and anywhere on the property, a mask that covers the nose, mouth and chin is to be worn at all times, for the entire duration of your visit. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times, following the two-meter/six-feet guideline set out by the Province of Ontario. Guests will be expected to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire the day they visit Hockley Valley, and proof of completion will be required for each member of your party. Tickets must be pre-purchased, and quantities are limited to control the number of guests. Also, tickets are for four hours only.
To ensure maximum safety, Hockley is not making its indoor warming spaces available, so be prepared to use your vehicle as your base of operations. Keep your bags in your cars, as they will not be permitted beyond the guest screening areas. The Hockley Valley Resort food truck is open for take-out during lift operating hours, and the Slope Side Grill is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for take-out.
There is some more happy news in a season where it looked for a while like there would be no skiing at all: the season will be extended from March 21st to April 5th (weather and snow conditions permitting). Also, night skiing will now be available Monday nights as well, beginning February 22nd through March 20th. Private ski and snowboarding lessons will go ahead, so visit the Hockley Valley website for lesson times and rates.
1220 Lakeridge Rd., Uxbridge
At Dagmar, the chalet remains open, though seating throughout has been reduced to allow for proper physical distancing, and Plexiglas barriers have been installed at key locations to assist with this. To eliminate touch points, Dagmar encourages contactless payment methods, and online pre-purchased tickets. Though the chalet is open, your vehicle will be your base camp for gearing up, so be dressed and ready to ski. When entering the chalet, face masks are a must, and hand sanitizing is strongly recommended. At the chalet, you can use the washroom, purchase food, and pick up your sanitized rental equipment. When eating in the chalet, you must be escorted to a properly sanitized location, so please do not seat yourselves. Please also note that homemade meals, bagged lunches or food not purchased from the Dagmar cafeteria will not allowed in the chalet, per government restrictions.
Snow school lessons and programs are going ahead this season, but please visit the website for particular details, including physical distancing, equipment and PPE requirements. Above all, Dagmar requests that all of its guests please respect the rules and the new structures to ensure that everyone remains safe.
4098 Regional Rd. 9, Orono
Staff at Brimacombe are excited to welcome back members, season passholders and lift ticket purchasers, but wants visitors to know about operational changes this season to protect the health and safety of everyone. All visitors will be required to complete a health screening prior to their visit, facemasks must be worn at all times, physical distancing is required, and cashless payment is preferred. Chalet capacity has been significantly reduced, with public space being limited to washrooms and take-out food purchase. This means that your car is your base lodge, and you are encouraged to get dressed there or at home. One-way entry and exit points have been designated, lockers and cubbies are not available, and no bags may stay in the chalet. For lift lines, physical distancing is required and a maze setup has been created to ensure this.
All members must make a reservation to ski. Though there are no limits to how many reservations one member or guest can make, Brimacombe encourages its guests to consider others, and make reservations only for when you intend to visit. Unfortunately, lessons have been cancelled for the season. Equipment rental is by reservation only, with enhanced sanitization protocols being put into place.
“We are truly in this together,” Brimacombe’s website reminds its visitors. “This season has been a stressful time for everyone as we all adjust to our new normal, and while the season may look a little different than what we are used to, we are optimistic that this will still be a great season.”
790 Chalk Lake Rd., Uxbridge
At Lakeridge, capacity is reduced to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. And unless eating in designated areas, a mask is required. Hand sanitizing stations are located at the entrance to the building, and all indoor touch surfaces are sanitized by staff. Changing and getting ready to ski or snowboard will take place at your vehicle unless you are renting your equipment. When skiing, lift lineups will be structured to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. Food and beverages are available for purchase, and cashless payments are preferred. Lakeridge maintains a reduced per-person and group capacity to ensure common areas do not become too crowded to maintain physical distancing.
Reservations are required for skiing, and must be done online ahead of time, and guests will be required to complete a wellness check prior to arrival. The QR code for this check is located on the facility’s website. You will need to save a copy of your FIT TO ATTEND page and be prepared to show it to staff to prove you have completed it.
YDH Ambassador of Kindness Alert:
Our resorts are doing their best to accommodate as many adventure seekers as possible. The ski season is very different this year due to COVID-19.
Step 1: Only ski at your local resort.
Step 2: Please do your research before you book. There are many new safety regulations and restrictions.
Step 3: Lift-tickets may be time ticketed to shorter windows to accommodate more skiers due to capacity issues. So ask questions!
Step 4: Be understanding, patient and kind…we are in this together.
Story by Katherine Ryalen