January was a beautiful month here, peaceful and cold. We averaged 27 people per day, rarely reaching our nightly capacity. We've kept our rates the same while reducing our numbers to about a third of normal. One positive outcome is that there are less people here and it feels more quiet and less crowded. We will continue to operate at 30% capacity, up to 42 adult visitors per day, selling overnight passes only throughout the winter season.
At the state level, officials are happy with Colorado's covid numbers and we did not experience the spike in cases that was expected after the holiday. Saguache county has done well, but we have recently had a few covid cases at our local schools which have moved to remote learning for the time being. We are working our way through winter. The daylight hours are stretching out. There is some optimism for seeing the end of the pandemic as vaccinations are increasing and the mortality and infection rates seem to be dropping. However, this is not the time to be relaxed about the preventative measures we all take to keep each other healthy and well. The good news is that we have not had any outbreaks at the hot springs, with staff and guests alike! Though our guidelines may seem restrictive, they are working!
We know many people are disappointed that the sauna is closed. It will remain closed for the time being as it is a small indoor space with little ventilation. It would be difficult to wear a mask or social distance inside and it would be impossible for us to sanitize appropriately for multiple household use. The positive side of the sauna being closed is that the electricity it normally consumes is available as kilowatts to heat the Apple Tree Pools!
Cold weather with night time temperatures reaching zero and below is making camping challenging for those who are tenting or sleeping in their car. If you're camping we recommend that you have an RV, camper van, or four season gear. Generators and car heaters are not permitted as they disturb others. Campers need to come prepared as there is no indoor space available to warm up during the night. If you don't have the right stuff, you might want to wait until the weather warms up!
At our members' suggestions, we implemented a sign up board at the Apple Tree Pools. With colder weather, more guests want to be in the hot pools. Guests suggested that we have a sign-up board so people could plan ahead. The goal is to be fair and equitable. Each household gets to sign up for two soaks in the upper apple and two soaks in the lower apple, 30 minutes each. This has been working well and our guest comments have been very positive. It helps with compliance to the guideline of only one household/per pool and gives everyone an opportunity to get a soak in. The other pools are all open with a recommendation of a 2 hour maximum soak, then rotate to another pool or activity. Some visitors have been greedy signing up for more than their share or monopolizing a pool while others have not had a chance to soak. Once again, it comes back to being respectful and kind to others, do unto others as you would have them do unto you! We count on the community to be kind, respectful and responsible so that everyone has a wonderful experience.
Reservations, especially for weekends, have been challenging for many. We are currently renting only eleven indoor spaces and they go very quickly. For a normal weekend advance reservation, we will get 30 to 40 phone calls all within a few minutes to rent those few rooms. When you call to reserve, leave your name and number and we will call you back in the order the calls come in so that it is fair to everyone. Please do not keep hanging up and ringing the phone! We won't answer the live calls until everyone who has left a message has been called back, get in the queue and please be patient!
Things have been different this past year. To find out what you need to know, what's changed, and for up to date information go to: olt.org/guidelines Please look these over before planning your trip so that you are prepared and know what to expect. Thanks for your cooperation! We too are longing for times of social soaking, gathering at the telescope, music at Oak House, and impromptu potlucks at the Pavilion. In the meantime, think of others as you rotate through the precious hours in the hot pools and savor the reflective and meditative days we have now.