Australia is currently in the most brutal ski season in its history. According to The Guardian, a growing amount of Covid cases across the country have lead to numerous lockdowns. The lockdowns happened ironically in the portions of the season where the mountains received a massive amount of snowfall. While resorts like Falls Creek, Mount Buller, and Hotham Alpine Resort have reopened in the State of Vicotria to locals only following numerous shutdowns, resorts that had escaped the prior lockdowns have seen their luck unravel in the State of New South Wales.
While locals were allowed to shred at ski resorts like Perisher and Thredbo in New South Wales, the people of Sydney were banned from traveling outside the city for most of this winter season. Perisher Resort, a Vail Resorts property that is the largest ski resort in Australia, got away from all of the initial lockdowns faced in the past months by other Australian ski resorts. Alas, they entered a seven-day lockdown starting at 5 pm on August 14th. They could exit the lockdown on the 21’st, but based on how many lockdowns Australia has faced this winter, that’s far from a promise. Thredbo Resort in New South Wales, which also was lucky to not face any lockdowns prior to this, also now faces the same seven-day lockdown.
The continued devastating news for skiers comes with a major dilemma for Vail Resorts, which owns three of the largest mountains in Australia: Perisher Resort, Hotham Alpine Resort, and Falls Creek. The question for them is now: Do you issue refunds for season pass holders, or try to finesse your way around the issue as they did in the United States and Canada this past season? Comments throughout their Australian Ski Resort social media channels are filled with unhappy pass holders demanding refunds. With American states and Canadian provinces in varying degrees of lockdowns, Vail Resorts was able to escape the season without litigation from unhappy season pass holders(as of now). In the state of Victoria though, fines of up to $5000 Australian Dollars prevent people from leaving their house or having guests over. A refund for Epic Pass shoulders may be inevitable due to the strictness of the lockdowns, which could test an already annoyed North American clientele if they find out some Epic Pass holders were refunded.