WEST DOVER — Tracy Bartels is counting down the days until winter begins.
"We want to open on a normal timeframe and get up and go skiing, which is so close," she said. "We're under 100 days away, very exciting."
Bartels started as Mount Snow's general manager on April 5, several weeks after the resort closed prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic. She's been with the resort's parent company Vail Resorts for a little more than 20 years.
Last winter, Bartels moved to work at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. Earlier in life, she had industrial engineering jobs at different companies.
Her first job in the ski industry was children's ski instructor in February 2000. Bartels said she loves to ski, and be outdoors and on snow.
She served as senior director of mountain operations at Keystone Resort in Colorado. She also managed ski and snowboard school for children in Breckenridge, Colo. The roles were heavily focused on health and safety.
Bartels said that company wide, staff are looking to ensure safe experiences for guests and employees during the pandemic.
At Mount Snow, employees have been busy preparing for the winter but also maintaining summer operations and completing some capital projects. The golf course is open and scenic chairlift rides are available.
Grand Summit Hotel started welcoming guests last weekend. Previously, it was only open to unit owners.
Bartels called shutting the ski season down early "absolutely the right thing to do to keep our employees and our guests safe as much as we could.
"We've got to operate in a way that builds trust with our employees and guests," she said.
Bartels said the resort is taking "a very measured and thoughtful approach" to planning for the winter season. The goal is to deliver an enjoyable experience, although it may be different than in years past.
"We don't know what that means for how we manage our lines for lifts, how we manage our lodges and how many people are in there," Bartels said.
She anticipates details will be announced in the next two or three months. Her team is in touch with Ski Vermont, a private nonprofit trade association which is working with the state in making guidelines for the coming season.
Staffing is a concern for the winter season, Bartels said. Part-time and full-time year-round jobs are now posted on mountsnow.com.
The federal government doesn't allow J-1 and H2B visa workers to come until the beginning of the new year, Bartels said.
"So we've got to make sure we've got business operations that are sustainable until we get to Jan. 1, then we can continue to evaluate, What is the 'international picture,'" she said. "There's so many complex unknowns in this rapidly changing environment right now. So we're staying tuned to all of that, but right now we'd love to hire domestic workers who aren't working for all of our roles."
In a statement issued after the interview, Bartels said Mount Snow has "a great base of seasonal employees and additional strategies in place to help staff our resorts appropriately for winter. If and when the restrictions are lifted, we will pursue a limited number of international visas to support the remainder of the season."
Bartels said the virus presents so many challenges, some of them not so obvious. For instance, she can't go out and meet with people as she normally would have done as the new general manager.
Other difficulties Bartels cited involved staff furloughs and the decision to not host downhill mountain biking this summer.
"Vail is in this for the long haul," she said. "Our business is very viable and we've got to make the right choices as business leaders that do the best for employees throughout this."
She noted that Vail's CEO Rob Katz is going a year without pay to help with the company's long-term sustainability.
Bartels described Mount Snow as having "such a great reputation" across the industry and within the community.
"People care so much about the resort, the future of it, the skiing here and the memories that it holds for everyone," she said.
Previously, Erik Barnes served as the resort's general manager. He was laid off in the spring and is now the general manager of Crumpin-Fox Club, a golf course in Bernardston, Mass.
Mount Snow officials are encouraging last year's Peak or Epic passholders to use credits acquired due to the season being cut short. The credits can be applied to new passes until Sept. 7.
"If you don't use it, you lose it," said Jamie Storrs, resort spokesman.
Storrs said two new passes aimed directly at those in the Northeast region — the Northeast Value Pass and the Northeast Midweek Pass — provide options for cheaper purchases if they're all right with blackout dates.
All passes come with insurance that covers events such as COVID-19 closures, illnesses, pregnancy and job losses. Passes purchased now also allow for scenic chairlift rides this summer.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at email@example.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.