Half-term ski holidays near full as households scramble to safe their spots on the slopes
Despite the uncertainty about the trip, bookings are on the right track as concerns grow that demand will exceed supply this winter
W.Whether the British will be able to ski vacation without travel restrictions or quarantines remains to be seen, but that hasn’t stopped families from securing their spot on the slopes.
With three of the top four Alpine destinations, France, Austria and Switzerland on the UK Government’s “Red List” and Italy and Sweden currently the only viable options for a “safe” ski vacation, the future of the Ski vacation unpredictable one.
This uncertainty and inability to travel has inevitably deterred some skiers and snowboarders from hitting the slopes. Many believe that last minute booking will be the only option this winter. You would be wrong, however, especially if you are a family looking to travel during the popular school vacation weeks.
Some smaller operators are already fully booked in the February half-year, while others are reportedly near full capacity as concerns grow that “demand will exceed supply”.
The specialist Ski Safari is one of those companies that has reached full capacity halfway through its full family base at Copperhill Mountain Lodge in Åre, Sweden.
It is similar with the owners of chalets: “Skiers seem confident that the situation will resolve itself by the first half of February and Easter, and these are the dates for which the most bookings are currently being made,” said Rob Dixon, Marketing Manager at Skiworld.
A recent survey by the UK Ski Club found that 96 percent of skiers would like to return to the mountains this season if restrictions allow. This pent-up demand drives bookings.
“With everything that has happened this year, families and skiers in general want something to look forward to. Skiers will want to go to the mountains every year, especially those who missed last winter, ”said Andy Hemingway, Product Manager for Scandinavia at Ski Safari.
“We assume that the locks will be opened and that there will not be enough beds or flights for everyone who wants to ski on these school holidays as soon as the FCDO council changes. There’s a good chance demand will exceed supply during the peak mid-term and Easter 2021 weeks, ”warns Dixon.
Due to the fact that thousands of skiers and snowboarders canceled their holidays last season as the ski resorts had to close due to the pandemic and reorganized their booking for 2021, the capacity is the same in March and April, especially during the Easter holidays also book.
Additionally, families who would like to set up a catered chalet where a host cooks, cleans and entertains may struggle to find the usual availability. Large operators like Inghams and Skiworld have significantly reduced the range of chalets this winter due to Covid-19 and Brexit – while Crystal Ski has completely discontinued its program.
There are plenty of specialist chalet operators still on vacation this season, and they have adapted remarkably well to the new normal – but they also have limited space.
Le Ski, which operates 33 chalets in the French resorts of Courchevel, La Tania and Val d’Isère, is currently almost half full for next winter. “Occupancy for the first half of February is currently at a normal pre-pandemic level, with our smaller chalets with two, four, six and eight people being particularly busy,” said Nick Morgan, Managing Director.
“Almost half of the Le Ski guests who were affected by the resort closure last winter have postponed their vacations until next season and we are very grateful for the trust they have shown in us,” said Morgan.
Trust in these specialized, reputable operators is paramount in the current climate. “In the last few days we have been very busy booking employees in our small office. We believe this is due to a huge pent-up demand for vacation and that we are offering a 100 percent Covid-19 money-back guarantee, risk for them and they can get what they want, “said Nick Williams, director of the Chalet specialist Mountain Heaven, who reports that the bookings are going as usual and that we are booking well for half time at the moment.
Families run the risk of being disappointed and without a trip to the slopes if they don’t act soon. The fears whether booking a ski vacation is safe are unfounded – as long as bookings are made with a tied operator, many of which are now also offering further Covid-19 guarantees that promise to refund money or to find an alternative for a trip the pandemic canceled.
“By booking, customers now get the best price and the widest range of accommodations and flights. Our flexible booking terms and ABTA / ATOL protection give customers the confidence to book with the knowledge that their money is protected,” said Hemingway .
While there will undoubtedly be last-minute availability with some operators, and in many destinations this booking approach requires flexibility – something families lack when organizing a school-age ski holiday. However, last-minute package prices are unlikely to be as budget-friendly as they have been in previous years as operators seek to cover increased costs and demand for flights sends prices skyrocketing.