By David Burke / Images By Joern Rohde
Tourism Whistler’s winter 2020-’21 advertising tagline “Adventure Differently” applies in many areas — including ski and snowboard rental shops.
But officials who run gear rental facilities say that while the rental experience may be different, the rental-shop adventure needn’t be any more difficult or time consuming than in the past.
Rob Katz, president of Whistler Blackcomb (WB) parent company Vail Resorts, wrote in a pre-season letter to guests that rental shops would be managed with “physical distancing and appropriate guest flow” in mind.
“Guests and employees will be required to wear face coverings, and for the portions of the process that require close interactions with our technicians, our employees will take additional precautions, including wearing eye protection and gloves,” he wrote. whistlerblackcomb.com
Spicy Sports, an independent Whistler rental shop, is taking the temperatures of all staff and guests before they enter the shop, and recording phone numbers for contact tracing. That’s in addition to enhanced cleaning, a mask requirement and checking to be sure that those entering the shop have reservations to ski or ride on the mountains that day.
“It’s definitely quieter this winter so guests are getting a more personalized experience,” said Will Naylor, the business’s sales and marketing manager. “We also have plastic screens in the shops to separate groups, and a maximum number of guests [allowed] in the shops, so it looks a lot more spacious.” spicysports.com
Whistler Olympic Park, the cross-country ski and snowshoeing venue, requires face coverings indoors and has taken steps to manage the flow into and through the rental shop. Guests can also pre-book their gear and even sign the liability waiver online. During busy periods, there are separate (socially distanced, of course) queues for pre-booked and daily, in-person rentals.
“Giving people the ability to pre-book their rentals limits the amount of time they have to be indoors,” said Tim Hope, WOP managing director. whistlersportlegacies.com
Cross Country Connection, which sells tickets and rents skis and snowshoes for use on the Lost Lake Trails, is not accepting reservations but is enforcing occupancy limits at its rental facility at the PassivHaus. Only guests requiring cross-country ski equipment rentals are allowed inside, following social distancing guidelines. “This may create short lineups outside; please be patient and kind,” officials wrote on the business’s website. crosscountryconnection.ca