Stevens Pass shorthanded ski resort struggling to keep up with demand

The winter ski and snowboard season at Stevens Pass Ski Resort east of Everett, Wash. Got off to a bad start, with the area opening up only about half of its land due to ‘a staff shortage.

Customers have reported problems with parking and long chairlift lines at the US 2 ski area in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, The Herald reported.

Some customers are asking for better treatment of resort employees and partial reimbursement of their seasonal passes. An online petition accusing Vail Resorts, owner of Stevens Pass, of cheating consumers in the name of profit, has more than 27,000 signatures.

And at least a dozen people have filed consumer complaints against the resort with the state attorney general’s office.

Stevens Pass was purchased by Colorado-based Vail Resorts in 2018. The company attributed the problems to a shortage of employees across the industry and a global pandemic plaguing the service economy.

“Like others in the travel and leisure industry, Stevens Pass faces staff shortages, creating challenges for some departments,” Vail Resorts spokeswoman Sara Roston told the newspaper in a report. E-mail. “At this time, we are focusing our staff where we can maximize our operations while keeping customer safety as our top priority, and we remain committed to delivering the best possible experience.”

Some season pass holders reject the company’s argument that the problems are universal, citing other Washington state resorts – like Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker – that have opened more fully.

“We wonder why Stevens Pass doesn’t have the staff, but Baker does and Crystal does,” said Lisa Niblett, who has been skiing Stevens Pass with her husband for more than two decades.

The ski area so far this season has had about five of 10 chairlifts in operation, with nothing open at the back of the mountain, according to information on the Stevens Pass Facebook page.

“We just want our mountain back,” Niblett said. And if they can’t get their mountain back, Niblett added, they want their money back.

Last summer, Vail Resorts increased wages from $ 12.50 to $ 15 an hour minimum for full-time seasonal workers in several states, including Washington, according to a press release.

Low-cost housing for employees remains a problem. The company also offers a few accommodation options, but “strives to ensure that Stevens Pass team members have safe, comfortable and secure accommodation” by renting out other properties, Roston said.

Stevens Pass CEO Tom Pettigrew thanked guests in a Facebook post for their patience.

“It is important to recognize that many of you are feeling a sense of disappointment, and I want to assure you that we are working hard to resolve these issues,” his post said.

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