The outlook for skiing this winter, is Covid-19 going to be problem?
Looking ahead to skiing in 2021
I wonder what skiing will look for the 2021 ski season?
The question runs through my mind quite regularly at the moment, as it does with everyone involved in the ski industry.
Will there be a ski season? How many people will go skiing? And how are companies preparing?
Of course, the travel sector has been under immense pressure so far this year. The end of last winter was curtailed across Europe in March as ski resorts closed overnight.
International travel is slowly returning with some sun-seekers taking advantage of late summer deals despite the risk of local lockdown and quarantine.
Compared to summer holidays, skiing actually seems like the ideal vacation while social distancing measures are in place.
The majority of your time is spent outdoors with plenty of space to roam. Plus everybody is already equipped with goggles and a mask. Even getting around is a pleasant experience as you breathe in the fresh mountain air on a chairlift.
There’s great deals to be had on flights too, with most airlines already offering sales on flights for the duration of the 2021 ski season. But it’s rather pointless booking flights if the ski resorts don’t open, right?
Will the ski resorts be open?
The answer is yes but perhaps with some limitations on numbers. Europe appears determined to keep tourism alive now lockdown has lifted and you can expect that to extend to the ski industry which will be desperate for a good start to the winter.
Resorts are already selling lift passes and lifts are set to start running from Saturday 5th December in The Three Valleys. Lifts have been happily running this summer for mountain biking and hiking in the Alps.
What restrictions will be in place?
Its hard to pinpoint what social distancing restrictions will be in place for next year. If we look to the southern hemisphere for ski resort specific procedures it is likely that there will be limited numbers allowed on gondolas with face masks required.
Bad weather is another aspect affecting opening of certain areas. Stormy weather and heavy snow tends to push people into shelter making indoor spaces such as lift stations and restaurants particularly busy. In New Zealand, worries of over crowding led to restricted numbers and possible closures to the ski area when the weather was too bad.
Should I book a chalet holiday?
So with skiing currently set to go ahead this winter, you’re probably wondering whether to book your chalet holiday? If you want to ski this winter then it might be wise to start looking as some companies are predicting a rush of bookings after many people missed out on summer holidays. Private bookings of in demand ski chalets could also lead to a pressure on bookings during the season.
If there are worries about social distancing then fully catered chalets holidays could be perfect for many families and groups who don’t have to worry about going out for food each evening.
“Chalet holidays are the best way to enjoy a ski trip this winter as you have your own private chalet and not mixing unnecessarily with the public if you don’t want to” explains Neil Williams, Director of Courchevel based chalet company Alpine Escapes.
“We’re also working on a enhanced cleaning and sanitising regime including ensuring social distancing measures are in place for our staff and guests alike to create the safest environment possible without loosing any of the magic of a great skiing holiday.” He continues.
Enhanced cleaning and sanitising procedures is a cause for concern for almost every business now, none more so in the hospitality sector who have a high turnover of guests staying in premises for extended periods of time.
“Concerning hygiene we are looking at what restaurants do at the moment that is obligatory masks for staff and chef, lots of cleaning, and social distancing. We have weekly meetings about this as the rules and regulations on COVID which change very regularly and quickly” Adds Christian from Alpine Infusion.
What happens is ski resorts close again?
If the worst happens then what will happen to your ski holiday booking? Of course, this very much depends on each individual company so it is important to read any ‘Covid Policies’ before handing over any money.
Many companies are trying to put guest’s minds at ease by offering more flexible booking policies if resorts or borders close again.
“We are offering to all our guests this winter our Covid-19 flexible booking policy which guarantees their holiday if the resorts or borders are unfortunately closed due to the corona virus, a credit voucher will be issued for the cost of your stay with Alpine Escape to use later this season or next winter. Giving all our guests the peace of mind when booking their trip this winter.” Says Neil Williams.
Am I covered by travel insurance?
In short, no.
Most insurance companies now exclude any disruption caused by Covid-19. An important point to think about when booking. Don’t assume you are covered under your existing or new travel insurance policies.
Winter sport travel insurance experts ERV explained they would not cover cancellations due to contracting Coronavirus, self-quarantine regulations.
“Unless your Insurance Schedule states that you purchased the optional Travel Disruption Extension cover prior to the 13th March 2020, cancellation of a booked trip due to the Corona Virus is not covered by your travel insurance policy”
They were also quick to add that skier would not be covered should a ski resort close or companies stop trading.
“The Policy doesn’t cover this scenario in relation to COVID-19. You would only be able to claim if piste was closed for more than 12 hours due to: Not enough snow; or Too much snow; or Adverse Weather; or Avalanche or landslide. In relation to the second point, again no cover if the accommodation or resort goes bust.”
Right now, it looks like there will be a ski season and booking a chalet for your group could be a good option, particularly with social distancing recommendations likely to still be in place. This way you’ll be able to enjoy your days on the slopes while spending evenings in your chalet without the worry of restaurants, public transport and food shopping.
Take the time to ask for any Covid policies for all your bookings from flights, to transfers to chalets so you won’t be left out of pocket if there are any more disruptions as you probably won’t be covered by travel insurance.
Things could well change over the coming months so we’ll keep you updated on what the ski season looks like for 2021.