Submitted by Mona Mesereau
Mesereau Travel Public Relations
FAYETTEVILLE – Based on guidance from the state of West Virginia, the New River Gorge adventure resort hopes to partially reopen on May 22.
The plans were revealed in a webinar – available online – that was viewed by hundreds of guests, employees, and travel industry watchers yesterday.
With multi-faceted operations including cabins, restaurants, shops, conference center, a sprawling campus, and dozens of recreational options, the process was involved and complex. Wilson credited the resort’s many staffers, from rafting guides to housekeepers, for providing their thoughtful input in devising the plan.
“As all of America learns how to navigate untraveled waters, that happens to be one thing we’re already very good at,” said Wilson in reference to the resort’s decades of guided rafting experience. “Plus, we will be using lots of bleach.”
Wilson noted that guests will be asked to complete a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health questionnaire and guests who have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to disease-stricken contacts will be asked to reschedule their trip. Here are some additional highlights of the Adventures on the Gorge reopening plan:
Take the river rafting operations. With half-, full- and multi-day trips on the New and Gauley Rivers, the logistics of creating safe procedures for rafters are extensive. Here are some highlights:
· The resort’s popular and family-friendly Glade Creek rafting trip will be promoted, as adventurers paddle this relatively tame section of the New River in inflatable one- and two-person kayaks called “duckies,” rather than in eight-passenger rafts.
· The resort developed a new rafting adventure this summer with a focus on social distancing as well as maximum fun – the Summer Gauley Loop Overnight. Limited to just 24 whitewater rafters, the trip includes rafting one of the most exciting sections of the Gauley River multiple times, meals, and riverside camping at the resort’s Canyon Doors and Backender campgrounds.
· Buses which typically take 52 rafters to the put-ins will now be limited to 24 passengers. Buses will be washed and disinfected after every use.
· Masks will be worn by everyone on buses and bus windows will be open
· Passengers will be loaded from the backseat forward.
· Rafters will be encouraged to complete online waivers before they arrive to minimize the need for paper and contact.
· The safety talk, normally presented by raft guides enroute to put-ins, will now be presented by video in an open-air tent prior to boarding.
· Guests can choose to raft with their own small groups Guides will cover their faces with buffs on the river.
· Keys and other personal items that are typically stowed together in a locked bucket will now be stowed in personal plastic bags to minimize exposure.
· Staff will check temperatures and symptoms daily and wear masks and gloves.
Cabins will be saturated with a hydrogen peroxide product disseminated by foggers followed by thorough cleanings with bleach and other disinfectants.
· Indoor seating at Smokey’s, the resort’s spacious main restaurant and the only restaurant to be opened this season, will be half of the normal capacity, and outdoor seating will be added at the outdoor wedding deck. The resort will also offer meals to go.
· Payments for meals will be taken by a cashier, and no-touch payment options will be offered. The Canyon Rim gift store will be open.
· The Canyon Doors Pool complex will be closed for now per guidance from the state of West Virginia, but the poolside bar will be open. Wilson noted the resort will continue to monitor state guidelines, which may allow for outdoor pools to be open later this summer.
· Weddings and other events at the resort’s Lookout Post-conference center will be limited to 25 people, in compliance with state recommendations.
· Treetops Zipline Canopy Tour protocols have been enhanced to include treating gloves, helmets and harnesses with a bleach solution after each use and further cleaning helmets with UV light each night.
· Rendezvous Lodge will not be open this year.
As resort operations will likely continue to change with updated state and CDC guidelines, Wilson urges potential visitors to visit the website. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-855-379-8738.