What travelers should know about Europe’s ski season


(CNN) – Skiers and snowboarders from across Europe are experiencing a roller coaster ride, as doubts arise when mountains can open for sport this winter.

As of this week, there was some optimism among ski industry experts, with the expectation that the ski season would be over before the end of the year, and perhaps the possibility of an uncontrolled slope helping allay any fears of catching Kovid. Can do.

But in recent times steps by European politicians to delay or restrict the opening of winter sports venues have meant fresh uncertainty for the ski industry and to expect bookings for anyone.

It is no longer likely that Europe’s ski season will end completely before 2021, and may still be subject to last-minute cancellations and closures. One operator described it as “weather from hell”.

Here is all you need to know if you are planning a ski trip to one of the continent’s premier snow sport destinations.

Which places are open?

And in a televised statement on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it seemed “impossible” to consider the elevators at France’s ski resort for the festive period, though a final decision is still to be made.

If imposed, those closures would affect many of the continent’s major Alps ski areas and resorts in the northern Pyrenees.

Austria’s vast Earlberg region – home to St. Anton, Lech and Zers in particular – and other nearby resorts such as Ischagal, a hotspot for the virus of last winter, are currently scheduled to open on December 17, three weeks later than usual.

Switzerland, which is not in the European Union, is also open and several resorts including Jermet, Saas-Fee, Verbier, Engelberg and Andermatt are already offering small numbers of lifts operating on a limited basis, with full opening expected The time is after 5 December.

Resorts in Sweden, which have tightened restrictions in recent times, but have never undergone national lockouts, are also open for skiing.

What will be the effect?

Several resorts, including Verbier in Switzerland, are currently open and offering a limited number of elevators.

FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Image

Any closure would be a major setback for the skiing industry, which expected a relatively lively season after Kovid introduced measures.

“We are disappointed,” said Olivier Desaulti, director of France’s vast Les 3 Valais region, which claims to be the world’s largest ski area of ​​600 kilometers.

“We will respect the decision but it is difficult for us to understand because we have prepared everything.

“From 15 December, French people will be able to go around France and if people come to our resorts, owners, and can go for a walk in the mountains, or to see the lakes, the shops will be open, it’s weird to say That we can ‘with a pen.

“It’s very tough financially. Our economy in Les 3 Wallace is 90% based on the winter season.

“Christmas is about 25% of this economy, so it is very important for us to launch the season.”

According to communications director Cecil Ferrando, the popular Val d’Ire resort is also set to open, eagerly awaiting a final decision.

“Val d’Isère was ready to welcome its customers from November 28 and it will be ready again when the state of health and the government allow,” Ferrando says.

“If the ski area remains closed, the village of Val d’Isère is open year round and accessible to those who wish to recharge their batteries in the mountain air (private renters, other homeowners ) And more. To reopen from this weekend.

Strict new protocol

A maintenance man checks a chassis at the Alpine ski resort of Sestriere in Val Susa, Piedmont, Italy on November 26, 2020

A staff member at the Alpine ski resort Sestriar in Piedmont, Italy, wears a face mask while checking out the chair lifts.

Marco BERTORELLO / AFP via Ghetto Images

Resorts across Europe have placed rafts of Kovid Protocol measures to ensure a safe environment when they are allowed to open.

Face masks on lifts, regulated lift queues, some limits on tickets sold, social disturbances in shops and restaurants and rules of wearing masks.

But in addition to the standard Kovid measures imposed to protect skivers, can skiers expect to be open once again?

“I think the service will be lighter, to minimize contact with staff, and of course some places will choose mothballs for the winter and so there will probably be a little less restaurants available and your experience in them will be a little different,” Oliver Says Corkhill, CEO of luxury ski operator Leo Trippi.

“But the big thing would be apres ski. It is unlikely that you will have a bunch of people dancing at the table in the likes of St. Anton or Verbier this season. It will be table service drinks at small tables.”

One argument in favor of the closure is that local hospitals already filled with Kovid patients will not be able to bear the additional burden of ski-related injuries.

“We respect, of course, hospitals and what they say but as there has been a very large decline of people going to hospitals, we think it would be more appropriate to decide in 10 or 15 days,” Desaulty said.

“We consider the decision too early and that’s what frustrates us,” says Corkhill, who believes there is likely to be a Europe-wide protocol.

“If Germany and France apply pressure, it will be difficult for other countries not to fall in line. Austria says that Tahrir will be given and forced into the matter.” “I believe Switzerland will remain open but it is difficult to know how to react.

“Due to the pressure on the resorts people will have to come out with more clarity, and the amount of hotels and so on. If an announcement is made much later it will be huge.”

waiting game

A deserted airstrip is depicted at the Alpine ski resort of Sesière, Val Susa, Piedmont, Italy, during the novel coronovirus caused by the Kovid-19 pandemic on November 26, 2020.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has urged Italians not to take a skiing holiday this winter.

Marco BERTORELLO / AFP via Ghetto Images

The lack of Christmas and New Year guests is a “painful blow to an industry that’s already a beating,” according to Richard Lumb, co-founder and director of Kaluma Ski, an upmarket with luxury properties in Courchevel, France Tour operator. And St. Anton, Austria.

But Lumb believes it can be a “feeding frenzy” when people are allowed to ski and travel.

“The demand is definitely there, it’s uneven,” he says. “People are longing to get away, but until we have an airport test and less quarantine everyone is sitting and waiting. It will be the last minute.”

Corkhill agrees: “If you deserve an ultra-high net worth and you can travel, you will, but everyday people will probably say, ‘I can’t do it with stress, I’ll just have Christmas at home And we’ll see skiing in March and April. “

Since the epidemic in the Alps cut back on the winter season, travel companies have lost their hands to restructure their businesses in the face of the ever-changing news cycle around Kovid.

Using for-profit leases with chalet owners so that they can pay just those weeks, which are more flexible cancellation policies, are just some of the strategies.

EU travel restrictions will eliminate the previous dependence on working on relatively cheap young seasonal employees from the UK, perhaps because of price increases that companies will have to charge based on local employment laws.

Several major tour operators in the UK have already taken drastic action.

Avalanche of changes

On October 29, 2020, Kovid-19, a skier at the Pietztal Glacier in Austria, stands next to safety instructions.

New Kovid-19 safety instructions on display at the Pitztal Glacier ski resort in Austria.

Via Jolly Kelamar / AFP Getty Image

Some companies, such as VIP Ski, which runs more than 65 luxury chalets at 10 resorts in France and Austria, have been forced to close.

“We’re fighting the perfect storm, it’s weather from hell,” Lumb says. “It has been a total nightmare to ride and plan a roller coaster, but you have to see that things will get better and should be in this winter cycle.

“I’m hoping occupancy is half of last year which is huge in itself, but given the restructuring by management. But it’s crystal ball time,” Lumb said, to delay the season starting Speaking in front of a broad call.

Corkhill agrees. “Volume has decreased by almost 50% in terms of the number of holidays booked, but this is offset by the super rich rich. Now there’s room to go to the mountains for booking, so they don’t have to worry about any quarantine is not needed. .

“People have rented a place for two or three months but obviously it is a very small proportion of the market.

But whoever manages to do skiing, when the resorts are open, whether at their local resort, or as an international visitor, they may be in for a treat, certainly early in the season. .

“I think anyone who lifts the bull by the horn and goes will have an amazing time,” Lumb says.

“They will be quiet resorts and enjoy the slopes themselves, so this can be great to experience.

“Standing down to skiing on the top of a mountain feels like you’re in and out of lockdown in a different galaxy than your normal world.”

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