Sun Peaks Resort will require staff to be vaccinated effective mid-November

The resort is preparing for a second winter season under provincial health restrictions. Photo Zuzy Rocka.

All Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) and Sun Peaks Grand hotel staff and volunteers will require full COVID-19 vaccination status effective Nov. 15, according to chief marketing officer, Aidan Kelly.

“We want to do whatever we can to help repeat our successful winter operations from last year while providing a safe environment,” Kelly said. 

“From our end, it’s all about what’s the best approach for our guests, for our employees, for the community up here that we live in, work in and then for our business as well.”

Already, SPR has been receiving frequent phone calls from concerned guests asking about a variety of scenarios such as whether or not their children’s ski instructors will be vaccinated. 

Kelly said without taking a clear stance on a vaccination policy, it would have created a number of logistical challenges throughout the winter season.

“Getting out ahead of it and having a clear stance from a staffing perspective will really help with the day-to-day throughout the winter.”

Kelly said the decision, while difficult, is a solid one and something they learned to do during last year’s difficult COVID-19 winter.

“We’ve been discussing and debating the pros and cons for a while. It’s not a simple decision and one that has trickle down impacts. But, it’s the way the trends and the industry is heading, so the decision became pretty clear.”

While some staff have been impacted by the policy, Kelly said the majority are on board and a large number of them have already proven their vaccination status through the resort’s internal online platform.

Christopher Nicolson, chief executive officer of the Canada West Ski Area Association (CWSAA), said the ski industry is closely watching what other industries are doing, and many ski area customers are wondering if resorts will require vaccines for their staff.

“There’s certainly a lot of pressure from guests and marketplaces in terms of whether businesses have got employees vaccinated or not. And those are certainly decisions ski areas are making.”

He said there are many CWSAA members that have decided to implement an internal policy where staff are required to be fully vaccinated, but would not disclose which ski areas are doing so.

Nicolson added the CWSAA cannot regulate what their members do, but will support members when and where they can.

“[CWSAA’s] role has been providing and facilitating opinion from legal community in terms of what are the things businesses have to consider or implement if they’re going to [require staff to be vaccinated.]”

Resort-goers should also be mindful as health orders are constantly changing, and policies in place today, or lack thereof, could evolve.

“The kinds of policies that government and health orders that were put in place two weeks ago, four weeks ago, have already changed. It’s a very rapidly changing environment that any kind of business is having to respond to.”

Kelly said he would be surprised if other ski resorts in Canada don’t follow along with a similar policy, noting U.S. resorts like Aspen Snowmass and all of Vail’s resorts, which includes Whistler Blackcomb, have already implemented their own vaccination requirement policies.

“We just didn’t want to wait too long because of logistics. Because of timelines as we start to move toward the winter season out of fairness for all of the staff, we didn’t want to spring anything on anyone at the last minute.”

While staff are required to show proof of vaccination to work at SPR, currently guests will only be required to do so for SPR and the Sun Peaks Grand hotel dining areas, but not to access the chairlifts.

For more information on SPR’s latest COVID-19 policy, click here.

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