What To Know About Your Next Ski Trip | SLMan

What To Know About Your Next Ski Trip

What To Know About Your Next Ski Trip
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In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week, international travel isn’t likely to resume any time soon – which means hitting the slopes at some point in the next few months is well and truly off the cards. That said, when resorts do eventually begin to reopen, it’s going to be important to know what to expect. We spoke to managing director of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton, to find out more.

Presumably, there won’t be a ski season this year? 
It’s looking increasingly unlikely, unless you’re lucky enough to live in the mountains. Ski lifts are still operating in many countries around the world, including Switzerland, Austria and Canada, but for local residents only. The Scottish mountains have also had a huge amount of snow in recent weeks, but they’re also closed under current lockdown measures. 

Realistically, when can we expect to go skiing?
If you’re based in the UK and are looking to get to the Alps or North America, you’re probably going to have to hold off until next winter to take your ski holiday. The high, snow-sure resorts of Europe usually open up from late November to early December, so realistically, next winter be will the earliest opportunity. We’re counting down the days! 

Which countries are expected to open up first?
In Europe, it’s usually the high-altitude French and Austrian resorts such as Val Thorens, Val d’Isere and Obergurgl which typically open up first, so we expect them to be the first to reopen once restrictions are lifted.

Are prices expected to rise?
We’re not expecting a sharp rise in prices, but you should expect some modest increases. There will be a reduced supply of catered chalets next year (due to a combination of Brexit and Covid-19) so pressure on this type of accommodation will be particularly high. 

Never has it been more important to book early, especially if you want to travel during the school holidays, or are trying to secure something for a group of friends or multiple families.

When do you advise people book?
Never has it been more important to book early, especially if you want to travel during the school holidays, or are trying to secure something for a group of friends or multiple families. We have lost a whole winter season, and most of those bookings have rolled over to next year, so there will be acute pressure on availability, especially over peak school holiday dates.

If you’re worried about committing to a holiday given the current Covid-19 uncertainty, make sure you book a package with an ATOL bonded provider who can offer you flexibility to change your plans. Our ‘Book with Confidence’ policy gives complete protection of monies and the ability to change your departure date or destination at the point you pay your final balance for your holiday. In the autumn, we expect to have more information about what lies ahead for the winter season.

Are bars and restaurants expected to reopen?
Yes, we expect them to be open next winter. As for après ski, it’s too early to say. A return to the raucous, ‘dancing on the bar in your ski boots’ experience might be a stetch for next season, but we expect there to be fewer restrictions placed on outdoor venues.

And what about ski schools?
By next winter, we expect ski schools to be operating as normal. If you prefer not to mix in group lessons, then hiring your own instructor or mountain guide for the week is something to consider.

Will travellers be expected to isolate on arrival?
As far as our company is concerned, no. As wonderful as our hotels, chalets and apartments are, our clients travel with us to ski. If you have to isolate on arrival, that’s not a ski holiday. We won’t operate where there is a requirement to isolate on arrival.

How have you adapted in light of the Covid-19 restrictions?
We have innovated our products, such as contactless catered chalets, to ensure guests are able to have more space and enjoy their holiday in a safe environment. More generally, all travel businesses have had to adapt to an environment with less certainty than ever before. For our clients, we’ve made sure we have greater flexibility around bookings.

Are there any advantages to booking through a ski company?
There are numerous advantages. First, there’s a greater level of financial protection. When booking your next trip, look out for the ABTA and ATOL logos on company websites. When you book a financially protected package with a UK operator, much of the risk from things like Covid-19 sit with the operator, not with you. If the operator can’t take you on holiday safely, you have a right to change your booking, or ask for a refund. If you book with a specialist ski operator, you’ll also get the benefit of their expertise and support. Look for a company with genuine experience.

Real experts should be able to tell you how far the hotel is to the chairlift (while carrying three pairs of children’s skis) and which mountain restaurant in your resort has the most interesting wine list. Of course, you then have their support at the end of the phone from the moment you book until you get home. Operators will be able to help you with pre-departure enquiries, flight changes, and information on ski guides, plus they’ll be on hand to help with any Covid-related issues, like getting you home quickly if a country suddenly goes into lockdown.

We always recommend investing in good travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday. There are many travel insurance products on the market, increasingly with widespread medical coverage for Covid-related issues. Cancellation coverage for Covid-related issues is still limited in terms of policy coverage, but we expect this to improve.

Are there any deals or money-saving tips to know about?
Booking early is the best money saving tip, and by doing so, you might be able to take advantage of the offers on lift passes and ski hire. Usually, flight prices tend to increase the closer you get to your departure date, so the early booker usually gets the best price. Look out for two-for-one incentives on ski extras, too.

Will there be any changes to booking procedures?
The biggest change is in the flexibility you will get with certain operators if you book early. This might allow you to change the date of departure, or the destination when it comes to paying your final balance.

How easy will it be to get insurance?
We always recommend investing in good travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday. There are many travel insurance products on the market, increasingly with widespread medical coverage for Covid-related issues. Cancellation coverage for Covid-related issues is still limited in terms of policy coverage, but we expect this to improve.

If you book a package holiday, you’re more likely to get good cancellation cover through the Package Travel Regulations, too. When booking your insurance, make sure you read through the Ts & Cs properly, and choose the right cover for your needs – don’t just go for the cheapest option.

Will 2022 be significantly different?
We very much hope and expect it will feel like the 2019-20 season which was when we last got on the slopes. What we can be sure of is a warm welcome from the mountain communities we operate in. They are desperate for tourists to return. The mountains are still there, just as they have been for millennia. While nothing is 100% certain, we expect ‘normal’ ski holidays to be back on the cards by then, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

For more information on skiing holidays visit SkiSolutions.com

*DISCLAIMER: All guidelines and official advice was up to date at the time of writing. Please check up-to-date government travel advice before you book a holiday, and ensure you are aware of the social distancing guidelines and entry requirements in place.

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at [email protected].

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