Worried About Booking A Winter Ski Holiday For 20/21 Season? Here’s A Helpful Guide To Why It Is Safe To Ski This Winter
If you love winter holidays in snowy locations, this is the time of the year when the focus switches to all things alpine. Checking out the snow reports and sneaking a peek at the mountain webcams for those first snow flurries…you know who you are!
As we continue to live with Covid-19, we’re adapting by thinking differently about many things we used to take for granted. Although we can’t eradicate all uncertainty, we can definitely alleviate some of the worries you may have around it being safe to ski this winter.
The new restrictions we face have highlighted our need for things to look forward to during these unusual times and how much we value being with family and friends.
So read on for a helpful insight into social distancing on a ski holiday, what to think about when choosing a resort, and the dilemma of whether to book with a small independent ski company or a large tour operator.
First of all, let’s discuss a topic we know many of you are really worried about:
Is Your Money Safe Should Your Holiday Be Cancelled Due to Covid-19?
Booking a holiday is a big decision at the best of times, but at the moment, we understand that you may be unsure, so we have tried to maximise our flexibility to give you more protection and peace of mind when you book.
All guests booking with More Mountain for winter and summer 2020/2021 will benefit from our Flexible Deposit Policy – MOREFlex and our Covid-19 Safety Net Guarantee, for holidays which fall between 1st December 2020 until 30th September 2021:
Flexible Deposit Policy – MOREFlex allows you to transfer your deposit paid, no questions asked, to another date of your choice within 24 months of your original holiday start date, completely free of charge with no hidden costs.
Covid Safety Net – 100% Credit Note or 50% Refund should your situation change in that your party cannot travel as planned on the date of your holiday, specifically due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we agree to offer 100% reimbursement of monies paid towards your original holiday as a credit note valid for any type of More Mountain holiday, winter or summer, until 30th April 2023. We’ll also give you a 50% refund if you prefer this.
Social Distancing on a Winter Holiday: Can it Be Done?
We believe that a winter ski trip can offer some of the most natural social distancing you can have from any holiday without compromising on fun and the essence of why we love winter holidays.
1. Embrace the outdoors and the fresh mountain air
Being outside for most of the day is one of the best ways to social distance, and that’s why skiing and snowboarding are a perfect choice for your next holiday. A sport you do outside with your family or friends while keeping your distance and remaining active sounds like the ideal pastime during a pandemic. You’ll be wearing goggles or sunnies, gloves and jacket with salopettes, hence fully covered from top to toe!
2. Ski resorts are set up for safe socialising outside
From the mountain restaurants with large outdoor areas to the après ski bars with patio heaters, plenty of seats and space around each table, resorts are geared up to living the outdoor life. Even the chair lifts ensure you can travel around the mountain quickly and safely while feeling at ease.
3. A Choice of accommodation to suit everyone’s needs
We are all unique, and, naturally, our views on the best type of winter holiday accommodation will vary as we continue to live with Covid-19. The age-old decision of Catered vs. Self Catered is still up for lively debate, albeit for slightly different reasons.
Luxury Catered Chalets
If you want a stunning place to stay where you’re pampered, then look no further as these beautiful chalets deliver everything you could wish for in a fantastic winter escape.
- You are never forced to be in public places such as supermarkets, bars, and restaurants.
- Your chalet hosts look after you, so you can sit back and enjoy your holiday.
- You can plan a special break with your family to get away from it all and share precious time together.
- There’s plenty of space inside and out to admire the beauty of the mountains.
Stylish and Contemporary Self-Catered Apartments and Chalets
A home from home in a mountain location with all the freedom you need.
- You have total control over what you do and who you are with.
- There’s no sharing with people you don’t know.
- You can have the freedom to eat what you want or even have food delivered.
- Often centrally located within walking distance to all the amenities.
4. Changes to improve your safety on a ski holiday this winter
Rest assured that every ski resort will be working tirelessly to implement simple changes that can provide more peace of mind for snowsports enthusiasts wondering if it is safe to ski this winter.
No doubt plans will evolve, but here’s what the France-Montagne Association (an association for lift operating companies and tourism organisations throughout France) has set out, regarding safety measures for skiing this season:-
- Masks will be compulsory in lift queues and on lifts, however they will not be required when you are actually skiing.
- There will be frequent disinfection of all contact areas often multiple times per day.
- Hydroalcoholic gel must be made available during the ski rental process. There will be compulsory wearing of masks when renting ski equipment. All equipment to be disinfected between users.
- Restaurants and bars will only offer table service and the tables should be at least 1 metre apart. Masks should be worn when moving around the restaurant or bar and hydroalcoholic gel must always be available. Contact surfaces will be regularly cleaned.
- Parents of children attending ski school, will be required to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors.
- Children aged 11 and over must also wear a mask on lifts and in lift queues. Hydroalcoholic gel will be available, along with frequent surface disinfection. Any loaned equipment will be disinfected between users.
- Masks will also be compulsory on resort transport including ski shuttles, ordinary bus service and on the little train which runs between lifts.
In addition Morzine’s lift operating company said:-
“We’re prepared for the winter season and we’ve put everything in place to welcome you in the best conditions and in compliance with government directives. We do not yet have all the answers, but we are doing everything we can to guarantee the best possible safety in the ski area.”
- There are currently no plans to limit the number of skiers in the ski area at any one time.
- Physical distancing will be implemented in queues.
- You are encouraged to pre-order ski passes to reduce the build-up of people at lift stations.
- Also you can take advantage of the many ski-in ski-out entry points within the resort that offer quicker access to the slopes.
5. What More Mountain is doing to combat Covid-19
At More Mountain we want to do everything we can to protect our amazing team and wonderful guests. We pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our properties and have implemented additional measures to ensure that you feel safe and secure this winter:
- Provision of hand gel in all our properties.
- Masks if you need them (for a small charge).
- All our drivers will wear Masks in vehicles
- Enhanced cleaning regime.
- Frequent cleaning of high touch points such as light switches, remote controls, keypads and handles.
- Additional Pillow & Mattress Protection in all our properties for extra peace of mind
- Digital information packs, emailed in advance.
- Virtual check-ins for self-catered accommodation.
- Compliance with W.H.O and local authority guidelines for hygiene and cleanliness.
- Chalet Hosts will wear masks and social distance.
- Screens to divide kitchen space in catered chalets.
Choosing Your Winter Holiday Destination
Choosing where you want to go on a ski holiday is always a very personal decision with a vast choice of countries, resorts, and accommodation.
This ski season will be all about getting the balance just right.
So choose a location which is small enough to allow you to be at one with nature, but big enough to have a modern infrastructure, the ability to swiftly communicate so you are up to date with what’s happening and the logistics to transport you safely around the resort and ski area.
Think about the ski area in general. If you choose a larger ski resort, then you can have the space to get away from the crowds and enjoy a wider choice of runs. Research the chairlifts so that you know your mountain transport is modern, efficient, and quick.
Then there’s also the question of getting to the resort.
It’s wise to pick a resort with a wide range of travel options and good flexibility, which will help if plans have to change suddenly.
Decide on a ski resort close to an airport, so your transfer time is kept to a minimum. That way, you won’t break the bank if you prefer to opt for private airport transfers. A 90 minute transfer to a resort such as Morzine is far better than the 3 hour journey to somewhere like Meribel.
Choose an airport with many flight choices supported by various carriers which fly to several UK airports. This way, you are keeping your options open, rather than having no alternatives if you need to return home on a different day.
Driving does take longer, but it’s definitely the best option to stay safe this winter as you can stop when you want, you aren’t so reliant on others, and you don’t have to worry about luggage restrictions.
A good holiday provider will be happy to advise you on the best route to take, where to stop, and generally how to make the journey part of your holiday.
Consider resorts which are an easy drive from the UK. One of the shortest routes is to the Portes du Soleil ski area, which is only 8 hours from Calais.
Eurotunnel offers stress-free travel to cross the channel. This mode of transport has been very popular during the summer as is set up for social distancing. You don’t even need to get out of the car, and you will be across the channel in 35 minutes.
With up to 4 departures per hour, prices to include a vehicle and 9 passengers, and no fuel supplements or credit card fees, Eurotunnel represents efficiency, flexibility, and safety.
Small Independent Company vs. Large Tour Operator: Which is the Best?
We have learned that during a pandemic, our needs and priorities change. The same goes for booking a holiday, especially one that incorporates winter activities.
Choosing a holiday provider that you trust and who can deliver what you want from your trip is vital.
Attention to detail
The large tour operators are very good at giving you the big picture. The tv ads showing you how much fun your holiday will be are very persuasive.
On the other hand, smaller independent companies give a more personalised service, as they care about each guest’s individual needs. Small holiday providers know that everyone counts and so they offer a more tailor-made experience.
Building rapport with guests
Smaller companies are aware that booking a winter sports holiday is only the first step. They understand the importance of pre-holiday communication and are always happy to talk through any queries or requests.
Independent companies pride themselves on top class pre-arrival organisation so that those special hire skis your boyfriend wants or the surprise birthday cake for your youngest daughter are meticulously planned.
Of course, big tour operators can also arrange surprises, but sometimes the planning is more difficult for them to manage due to the volume of guests they look after in multiple locations. The agent you speak to on the phone is rarely the one who will be looking after you when you are actually on holiday.
Local knowledge is everything
The big companies have knowledge about the vast number of destinations they offer, including the range of accommodation, logistics, activities, and availability.
However, once you’ve narrowed down your search and want the finer details of a particular resort, you may find they need to get back to you with specific answers.
Small independent companies tend to specialise in a particular area, and the success of their business is often underpinned by incredible local knowledge.
Chances are they have lived in that resort for some time.
So when you start to ask them questions about the best ski runs, the range of ski hardware you can hire, a private snowboard lesson, or ski touring, you will get first-hand information from people in the know.
Experienced people to look after you
When you book an activity holiday, you need to be sure that you are booking with people who know what they’re talking about. You want to be in safe hands so that your trip will be memorable for all the right reasons.
Larger tour operators have some great members of staff, many of which are very experienced. However, sometimes their knowledge can be gained from different locations and not necessarily the resort you have chosen.
Smaller independent companies often employ the same people year after year, chosen for their maturity, local knowledge, and ability to work well under pressure, so going the extra mile to make a holiday genuinely perfect is much easier to achieve.
Ability to adapt quickly
Large tour operators may have more funds and financial backing to protect themselves when uncertainty strikes, and that can be a great comfort for those who book. However, this also means that their investors and shareholders need returns and the plug can be pulled quickly on these larger organisations.
Smaller companies benefit from being more agile with their finger firmly on the pulse. In addition, they can often be more financially sound as they don’t need to rely on investment and can make decisions quickly to protect their guests.
The independent holiday providers often have more empathy with their cancellation policy and contingency plans for Covid 19 related issues.
Ideally, customers should be looking for a holiday company that is big enough to have resources but small enough to adapt quickly to unforeseen changes.
Do You Really Want to Book a Winter Ski Trip But Still Have Some Doubts?
Maybe you’re not sure about all the recent changes implemented in the UK to slow down the spread of the virus.
You might want some advice on how overseas travel could be affected by the local restrictions in the UK. Perhaps you just need help understanding current rules in France from people who live there.
There’s also the issue of travelling to France after Brexit – don’t worry we have a great article about that so just click here.
It’s going to be different in the Alps this season, but it will be safe to ski so you don’t have to miss out on having a winter holiday, doing an activity you love, with those you care about.
We’re here to help you, so if you just want to have a chat, that’s fine. Let’s talk.