Winter Park Resort helps laid-off employees during coronavirus |

Winter Park Resort helps laid-off employees during coronavirus

Winter Park Resort has been coordinating food drops with Mountain Family Center to bring fresh produce and dairy to the food pantry in Granby.
Courtesy Mountain Family Center

After shutting down winter operations to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Winter Park Resort laid off more than 1,200 employees.

The resort closed March 15 after Winter Park Resort’s parent company, Alterra Mountain Company, decided to close all of its North American ski resorts due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately, 1,234 Winter Park Resort employees were laid off, according to Jen Miller, public relations and communications manager for Winter Park Resort.

In an effort to lessen the blow of the layoffs, the resort is giving all winter seasonal staff an extra week’s pay on their last day.

As the county’s largest employer, Miller noted difficult decisions were made, but said the resort is committed to its staff.

“The resort is very, very well aware of the impact that this has on people and we want to make sure we’re taking care of them, that’s a priority,” Miller said.

For resort employees who are or were living in employer-owned housing, Winter Park recommended they stay with friends or family, if possible, but isn’t kicking anyone out of their housing, Miller emphasized.

“Some people have no place to go right now, but we are recommending if they do have a place to go (they should go there)… just because we don’t have the resources to support everyone long-term,” Miller said.

Other than taking care of its workers, Winter Park is also trying to help the broader community and support needed services.

The resort delivered the food and beverages from its closed restaurants to its employee housing units and to the food pantry in Granby at Mountain Family Center so it wouldn’t go to waste.

According to Helen Sedlar, executive director of Mountain Family Center, the resort has coordinated one to two food drop-offs per day since Monday as Winter Park closes down its restaurants. 

The drop-offs have been particularly welcome because many items at the food pantry are shelf-stable, and Winter Park Resort has been bringing fresh produce, dairy and beverages to round out the baskets given to anyone who asks, Sedlar explained.

“They’ve been amazing,” Sedlar said of Winter Park Resort. “You can imagine that instead of getting a box of canned and packaged goods, (people) get this colorful palette on top of it to really make it a more nutritionally balanced grocery box.”

Sedlar said she expects to continue coordinating drop-offs until the resort is out of supplies and noted the food pantry is open to anyone for curbside pick-up.

Winter Park’s moves come as Vail Resorts announced on Tuesday that most of its North American resorts would close for the season.

In his statement Tuesday, Vail Resorts’ CEO Rob Katz called the decision disappointing but said it is the “most responsible path forward” for the resorts during the outbreak.

As of Wednesday, neither the resort nor Alterra had made a decision about ending the ski season. Miller said the resort remains closed until further notice.

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