Hot springs not yet allowed to open per state order Ski area won’t reopen this season

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

The hot springs facilities in town can’t yet open their pools to the public or to hotel guests, according to Pagosa Springs Town Manager Andrea Phillips.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people locally about how important the hot springs are to them and their health and wellness routines and their immune systems and their frustrations that it can’t be open, and we completely understand that,” said David Dronet, managing principal of The Springs Resort and Spa.

Dronet explained that regulations around hot springs reopening are unclear.

“We’re operating by the governor’s orders and we continue to work with San Juan [Basin Public Health] and others to get clarifications on all the different pieces and make sure we’re doing it right, but it changes day by day. So it’s — there isn’t clarity, let’s put it that way,” Dronet said.

In a Wednesday morning email, Phillips explained the current health regulations governing hot springs reopening.

“We clarified with San Juan Basin Health Public Health Department staff and their attorney whether hotel guests could use baths/hot springs/pools. They said no-the Governor’s Order and the Safer at Home Order prohibits these amenities from being open, even for hotel guests. There is some concern from health officials about how the virus is spread (and whether water may enhance this spread) and the Governor’s Office confirmed with SJBPH that these amenities should not be open. I am not aware of any hot springs in the entire state that are open at this time.

“We understand that the resorts and other businesses in town that have been forced to close or limit activities due to the state orders are struggling financially, but we are required to enforce these orders. They are the law-unless otherwise lifted or amended. Once we received this clarification on Friday morning from SJBPH and their attorney … our police department took the information personally to each of the three resorts in town in to give them the information. They can open the hotel (in fact, hotels were never required to close by the state) but the baths/hot springs/pools can’t be open. We hope that they will abide by these orders with the goal of public health and safety in mind,” Phillips wrote.

Jeff Greer, owner of The Overlook Hot Springs, had the following message on The Overlook’s answering machine on Wednesday: “As of today, May 7, we received updated information from San Juan Basin Public Health that all hot springs facilities in Colorado will not be able to open until at least May 28, when the governor’s order expires, or we get a local variance. Thanks for your continued patience and remember, tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

In a follow-up phone call, Greer explained he expects Gov. Jared Polis to reveal updated guidelines on May 23, not May 28.

“I had all my employees tested for antibodies last week and everybody was negative, according to the testing,” Greer said.

Kanaka Perea, marketing director for Healing Waters Resort and Spa, told The SUN they do not know the date they can reopen to the public, but the hotel is currently in operation.

Perea echoed Dronet’s comments about the health regulations being vague and unclear.

“For me personally, digging into all of the stuff and going to the governor’s website and trying to weave through all of the information, it’s hard. I would guess across the board for all businesses. It’s something that takes a lot of time and effort and conversation to figure out exactly what’s being said,” she said.

Perea added that Healing Waters is currently outlining what safety measures and precautions it will take when it is given the go-ahead to reopen.

Wolf Creek Ski Area

Wolf Creek Ski Area President and CEO Davey Pitcher told The SUN Wednesday that the ski area will not reopen this season.

The governor issued an executive order earlier this month that closes all ski areas in the state until May 23.

Asked if Polis came out on May 23 and said ski areas could open and if Wolf Creek would, Pitcher explained it wouldn’t and that he’s focused on making plans for next winter.

 

This story was posted on May 17, 2020.