OTTAWA -- Mont Ste. Marie kicked off the ski season with a record-breaking November opening.

The Quebec resort is the first hill in the region to open, and operate, under new COVID-19 guidelines.  

On Thursday, ski conditions at Mont Ste. Marie were hard-packed but with a nice little soft cushion on top and anywhere you turn no ice at all. 

The resort, located less than an hour away from Ottawa, is the region's first resort to open for the season. Owner Bob Sudermann says that since buying the hill in 2002, this is the earliest opening.

However, there are some new rules for skiers this year: Face coverings are required on chair lifts and only two people are allowed on the lifts at one-time. No equipment allowed in the chalet, but there are warm-up areas inside as well as huts at the bottom of the hill. The washrooms are also open. 

The resort resides outside of a red zone which means the restaurant is open and food and beverages are available, however they are operating at reduced capacity. 

Skiers were denied their spring season when hills were forced to close in March due to COVID. Sudermann's hope is the early start this year will make up for some lost time and revenue. 

"I know our skiing customers appreciate that and they definitely know that," says Sudermann, who credits Mother Nature as well as a heavy investment in snowmaking. "We always get the ebbs and flows of the weather but overall every season is amazing and this will be a good one it's a great start."

Currently one run is open at Mont Ste. Marie and with more snow on the way, they are hopeful more will be available. 

The resort will be open on weekends and rentals will be available in the coming weeks.