Column: Taos Ski Valley summer tourism successful

Dave Norden, chief executive officer, Taos Ski Valley Courtesy photo

Here at Taos Ski Valley, we began our limited, phased reopening in June, and struck a balance to give visitors the respite they need, while maintaining a safe environment that follows government health standards.

We have been pleased to provide options for New Mexicans seeking outdoor recreation to find health, solace and joy in nature, while still remaining vigilant about the threat of the coronavirus. Following a successful summer season, we are now turning our attention to winter season planning.

Public safety is paramount, and we applaud the proactive measures that Gov. Lujan Grisham and other leaders from the town and county of Taos and the Village of Taos Ski Valley have put in place for our precious state.

We have been following health guidelines explicitly and will continue to do so as they evolve. We were one of the first organizations in the state to become NM Safe Certified. We have been delighted to find that our staff and visitors are eager to follow the rules in exchange for returning to the jobs and mountain recreation they love.

As the largest employer in Taos County, we are very serious about getting this right. We want to help support Northern New Mexico by safely bringing visitors and tourism dollars back to the region. We also want to help pave the way for other tourism businesses as they reopen. We have been collaborating with the New Mexico Tourism Department and Ski New Mexico, and we are feeling confident that this can be done this coming winter.

What has helped to guide us through the crisis has been our B Corporation ethos. These values have been a beacon as we've navigated through the pandemic response. Our commitment: Taos Ski Valley will do everything we can to support our Northern New Mexico community through this crisis to the best of our ability.

So far, we have donated a food surplus from our restaurants to the local food pantry Shared Table; members of our ski patrol and the operations teams volunteered to help with food distribution to local school children; we lead an effort to raise more than $100,000 for the new Fund for Taos; and we helped co-found the Enchanted Circle Community Organizations Active in Disaster (EC-COAD), a group of public and private sector organizations collaborating on community disaster response. Helping to safely rebuild the economy is our next focus.

To do this successfully we know that we must remain diligent and deliberate in our safety and hygiene precautions. This means that Taos Ski Valley looks a bit different these days: staff and guests must wear a face covering in all public places, which this summer included the Green Chile Flow Trail and our new Via Ferrata. We request guests follow appropriate physical distancing practices, maintaining a six-foot distance from other guests and staff.

Gatherings of more than five people are not allowed. (We're pleased to note that our guests have respected and cooperated with these instructions; they seem to understand what's at stake here, too.) Taos Ski Valley staff are passing a daily temperature and symptom assessment. Our buildings and facilities will have new operations protocols in place, designed to maintain the highest levels of sanitation.

All of these adjustments are well worth the joy and relief I see on the faces of our visitors. They are breathing our fresh alpine air, taking in the breathtaking vistas unique to our Sangre de Cristo mountains and enjoying thrilling and invigorating outdoor activities that can transport them from the anxiety and worry of the pandemic, if only temporarily.

For these visitors, for our Northern New Mexico community and for our staff, we are dedicated to getting this right now and this coming ski season.

David Norden is Taos Ski Valley president and CEO.

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