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Local skiers protest reduced hours at Boston Mills and Brandywine

Some season pass holders seek partial refund
Local skiers protest reduced hours at Boston Mills and Brandywine
Local skiers protest reduced hours at Boston Mills and Brandywine
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jan 14, 2022

PENINSULA, Ohio — Some local and regional season pass holders at Boston Mills and Brandywine ski resorts in Peninsula Village have been left frustrated and upset by reduced hours at both locations.

Season pass holders like Valerie Marasco of Wadsworth believe hours at the ski resorts have been cut by as much as 50%, with a significant reduction in weekday morning and afternoon hours. Marasco and other season pass holders believe Vail Resorts Management, which took control of both locations a couple of years ago, should offer a partial refund or credit for next year.

“We moved our schedules around a bit so that we could go skiing in the morning time," Marasco said. “People pay for a service with a certain number of hours, If you can’t honor it, then a partial refund of the money or a deferment to next year even...highly suggest anyone thoroughly read the all fine print if you’re going to sign up for next year."

Vail Resorts Management cited COVID-19 related staffing shortages as major reason for the reduced hours. But season pass holders like Karen Hogan of Bath, Ohio said she can't understand why there is such a shortage when last year during the pandemic there was little to no impact.

“We were not informed at any point when they would open or what those hours would look like," Hogan said. "My husband put in almost 40 days last year of the 92 days that they were open. That’s how often we go. We did not experience this frustration of accessibility last year.”

Pat Mangus has been a Boston Mills season pass holder for 49 years. Mangus said the cutting of weekday morning and afternoon hours has been especially hard on seniors who like to ski when there are reduced crowds. Mangus believes Vail Resorts Management's decision to require all employees be vaccinated is a major reason for staffing shortages at the resorts in 2022.

“We don’t want to be there when the children are there, it’s too much mayhem, it’s too dangerous for us," Mangus said. “How come I paid for this pass and now you’re not even open, you’re closed? The employees, they work outside, they’re not scaring me any. I don’t feel that’s necessary and I feel they lost a lot of employees that way. And they aren’t paying a high enough rate compared to what everyone else is paying right now."

Vail Resorts Management responded immediately to our story and said it will work to increase hours in the coming weeks.

The company issued the following statement:

"We have always historically shared employees across Boston Mils, Brandywine and Alpine Valley, and we’re lucky to be able to tap into this network of an awesome employee base. We want to expand our hours just as badly as our guests. We’re continuing to hire, but we are never going to sacrifice the safety of our employees and guests.

Staffing

As your viewers have already noted, the biggest change that our guests will see this year, or at least as we kick off the season, is a change to hours. Our goal is to operate as normally as we can and hope to eventually but for now, our operating footprint is based on what we can do safely with the staffing that we currently have available. I know this will be disappointing news to some, but the fact is we are dealing with the same challenges that have affected many other businesses across the country and around the world. We’ve also been hit by the nationwide staffing shortages and impacts of COVID-19. We simply don't have enough employees right now required to operate the resort safely at the hours we have kept in previous years. This is not a permanent change. We want to open up for more hours and will continue our efforts to grow our workforce as much as we can so we can increase our operations.

While some guests are disappointed in the hours, I do want to point out that we didn’t just arbitrarily pick these hours. We picked these hours to accommodate the broadest spectrum of our pass holders and guests. We want to be open when it matters most.

Wages

We have a great base of employees, both new and returning, but like many others in the travel and hospitality industry, we are being impacted by the current labor shortages and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on our staff. It is important to note that we took steps ahead of the season to support our staffing efforts, including raising our entry wages above the state minimum and conducting several hiring events. We remain focused on attracting and retaining talent through competitive wages, comprehensive benefits, and a strong commitment to culture and leadership development. We have also recently announced a $2/hour end-of-season bonus for our employees. Hourly employees will receive an end-of-season bonus of $2 per hour for all hours worked between Jan. 1 and April 15. Certain salaried employees are eligible for the bonus as well. This is in recognition of our employees commitment to the guest experience during an incredibly challenging season. Your viewers can apply online anytime if they are interested in working at the resorts.

Pass Refunds

Guests should check the terms and conditions of their Epic Pass coverage however, it’s important to note, that we’re still open and operating. And we plan to open more as much as possible. Early season opening terrain and conditions are not indicative of what the broader season will look like. Importantly, our passes – which provide an incredible value – are valid all season long and provide access to several resorts."

Still, loyal season pass holders like Mangus believe Vail Resorts Management needs to do more in addressing the reduced operating hours.

"For this season I would like a refund, because I can’t do it, I’m not going to get out there at all," Mangus said. “I would not but another pass from them, I would rather drive to Peak-n-Peak and stay overnight during the week, or at Holiday Valley.”