One of the ACT’s most iconic getaways, the Corin Forest Alpine Resort, will open its snowplay sessions this weekend only after struggling through the Orroral Valley bushfire and COVID-19-induced restrictions.
Snowmen, snowballs and tobogganing are all back over the Reconciliation Day long weekend in the purpose-built snowplay area but the dream was almost never to be as fire surrounded the resort back in February.
Many of the resort’s staff and its owner fought alongside firefighters and Defence Force personnel to protect the resort from the fires burning in Namadgi, which approached the resort from several directions.
“They really did a lot to help protect the resort. Based on previous experiences from where bushfires had hit we had some measures in place to protect the grounds and the buildings and fortunately that all worked and the fire went around us,” Ashleigh Harrow, Corin Forest’s communications manager, told Region Media.
“It was coming at us from quite a few directions. It was sort of skirting around. We did have some slight damage to the Alpine Slide but that was fixed up quite quickly afterwards.
“I know everyone worked really hard and they got to enjoy some time up on the Alpine Slide and definitely pizzas and coffees and gelatos were served to anyone who came out!”
But as staff prepared to reopen the Easter long weekend and began selling winter tickets, the government’s coronavirus restrictions meant they were forced to close down again, just weeks after the fires.
“We have tried to remain optimistic through all of this. We have constantly been adapting plans for when we will be able to open again,” Ms Harrow said.
“Back when the fires hit we went ‘OK, we just need to survive until winter, winter will be better and everything will be fine’. Then we just put our winter tickets on sale and were preparing to open for the Easter weekend and the COVID-lockdowns hit.”
But through the tribulation, staff continued to make contingency plans and follow the health and COVID-19 updates to ensure that they would be able to open promptly and safely when the time came.
And it is all set to pay off this weekend.
“We are really happy that we are able to provide [snowplay] again this year,” Ms Harrow said. “We have a lot of families come here because it may be too far to get to a bigger resort or it might be the kids’ first time at the snow and … it is a really safe and fun experience for them to learn to ski in the beginner-friendly environment.
“We have had a lot of support from our guests over the last few months, even if it is just sending some well-wishes our way on Facebook or an email asking about the snow season.
“[Opening] means we can put more of our staff to work. We really care about keeping them in work. It has been really good that we have been able to keep all of our staff from last year and even hire some more people.”
Although some social-distancing restrictions will still be in place, and hygiene measures have been stepped up, the resort staff are still excited about being able to open their snowplay sessions again.
“For the snowplay, we are confident that we have a good handle on it and making sure our capacity is in the limits and everyone has enough room to social distance,” Ms Harrow said.
“It will definitely be a challenge, there is no denying that, especially with new information coming out all the time and the situation constantly changing.”
The June snowplay sessions are limited to 20 people per session, which will be one hour long. The 1.2 kilometre Alpine Slide also runs hourly sessions for 10 people at a time.
For more information please visit www.corin.com.au.