The Most Unusual Ski Season In A Hundred Years

This week, we're taking a look at the future shape of ski holidays in the uncharted new world in which we now find ourselves. So this winter, will we be wearing face masks and skiing two metres apart?

Hosted ByPeter & Felice
Ski Season

Photo: © OT Val d’Isère.

 

Peter Over a five-year period, we’re talking about a 60%, maybe even a 70% drop in the number of available ski holidays. That’s an extraordinary figure.

Ceri And every client we’ve spoken to, has said: ‘If we can ski, we are going to ski this winter.’

Peter Welcome to our travel podcast. We’re specialist travel writers and we’ve spent half a lifetime exploring every corner of the world.

Felice So we want to share with you some of our extraordinary experiences and the amazing people we’ve met along the way.

Peter This week, we’re taking a look at the future shape of ski holidays in the uncharted new world in which we now find ourselves.

Nick Frankly, we’re hoping that a lot of the people who used to go with other companies will go with us.

Holger If people can avoid main season, they should ­– maybe look for a smaller ski resort, a less crowded one.

Diane And I think we will come out the other side if our governments are clever.

Peter Fragmented views on the run-up to what promises to be the most unusual winter season since the last years of the 19th century when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, first revealed to us all that the best sensation in the world – at least when you’re standing up – is to be found on a pair of skis. To be fair to the Baron of Baker Street, snowboards had yet to be invented.

Felice So this winter, will we be wearing face masks and skiing two metres apart?

Peter I think we’ll be wearing masks in the socially-distanced lift queue and actually on the lift themselves. But two metres apart, hopefully we always are at least two metres apart. The exception, of course, is often on some rammed Alpine home slope in mid-February during the European school holidays, when everyone anyway tends to get far too close for safety or comfort.

There’s also another little problem. If you do run into a friend or even an acquaintance on or off the slopes, the previously obligatory air kisses – two on the cheek in France and Austria or Italy and three in Switzerland – are now out of the question and awkward. ‘Hi there,’ seems to be the bland post-Covid substitute. You could try an elbow bump, of course, but frankly, it doesn’t convey the same message, whatever that message is, and there’s always a risk that you’ll knock them over.

Ski Season

The Mooserwirt in St Anton.

Felice And what about après-ski things like table dancing, the Mooserwirt in St Anton, the Folie Douce in Val d’Isère. and Val Thorens…Red Bull and vodka…Moet et Chandon?

Peter Muted rather Moet I think is the word. Think siesta and swimming, think culture rather than Kronenburg. Here’s a view of three very different chalet tour operators who have so far made it through the chariot race of Covid while a number of their rivals have already been crushed beneath the financial wheels. Frankly, it’s survival of the fittest. I tell you, it’s tough out there.

Felice But first we should explain to listeners outside the UK what a chalet holiday actually is. The British have been having these since the 1950s. Basically, a tour operator has a chalet, a lodge or an apartment for the whole season. They then offer catered holidays, food and drink included, and often flights and airport transfers as well, along with a high level of service. It’s a bit like staying in a small hotel and the star rating depends on your budget. You can share with others or you can have the whole chalet to yourself and your friends and family. You can pay £400 (that’s over US$500) or £10,000 (that’s US$13,000), or even more, per person per week.

Peter So here’s Nick Morgan of Yorkshire-based Le Ski, which offers travel-inclusive chalet holidays to Courchevel, La Tania and Val d’Isère. So you take about 5,000 guests to the Alps each winter. What’s happening this winter?

Nick I’m hoping to take roughly similar numbers, to be honest with you. And actually the way things are looking at the moment, I’m optimistic that that we’ll be on target to take up the same number. Fortunately, because we’ve been going for so long, we’ve been going for 38 years. So we have a really good long relationship with our guests. And about three quarters of those guests come back on holiday with us every year. So they know us and they trust us.

So when Covid closed the ski resorts in March, roughly half of them just said: ‘Look, it’s fine, we’ll defer till next year.’ So that was obviously extremely helpful for our cash flow and we’re very grateful to them. And we also have had a long relationship with most of our chalet owners and they were extremely understanding and very helpful, financially, to us. So that’s meant that we’re actually on a pretty good footing for the coming season, which I know is not the same for all operators. And sadly some of I’m not going to be operating at all next winter.

It does mean, though, that the the supply of chalets is quite a challenge in the French Alps in particular is going to be severely diminished, frankly. We’re hoping that a lot of the people who used to go with other companies will go with us. It might seem a bit mercenary, but I think that’s the way things have to be.

Peter What certainly looks to me as if the number of holidays being offered, in particular chalet by tour operators is down somewhere around 30% to 50% down and might get a lot worse as we get into autumn. If you then factor into account that over the past four years has been a big reduction in chalets anyway, largely because of the advent of Brexit, we’re talking really about something like 60% less holidays available than there were five years ago, four or five years ago.

Ski Season

Le Ski staff serving tea.

Peter So it means survival of the fittest, I guess?

Nick Yes, indeed. I mean, that’s those remarkable figures, aren’t they, when you think about it? But also that the Brits are pretty resilient bunch. I mean, we have to be that way because we’ve had so much thrown at us over the last 10 years – from the collapse of Sterling through to the ridiculous idea of Brexit, and now with Covid. But I just think that the Brits will want to continue going to catered chalets in the Alps. It’s how they love to holiday. You know, everything’s done for them. And also, I think Brits want a package which is financially covered. I do think that those of us who are operating a full package: flights, transfers, catered chalets – I think that we will continue to have a good, strong demand.

Felice Do you just take British people or do you have people from elsewhere as well?

Nick The vast majority are British. You know, we have some Americans, we have some Australians, we have some some people regularly from Turkey. We have quite a few Scandinavians, some of whom fly down in their own private jet to Chambéry and leave it there for the week. We’ve got all sorts, but the vast majority take our flights – either British Airways from Manchester or Thomson Airways from London into Chambéry, and then transfers up the hill – dedicated transfers all the way, direct to the resort.

Felice There are problems about the ski train cancelling. That option has practically gone.

Nick Yes, it has gone. And obviously, environmentally, it’s a shame. I was quite surprised when I heard that they were just cancelling it completely. Once again, I guess it kind of narrows the choices of of how Brits can get to the Alps. Normally at this time of year, where just over 50% full next winter. Actually, we’re sitting currently at 46% full. So I’m really pleased. I mean, that’s so close to our norm that it’s very encouraging.

Felice What if people have to cancel at the last minute if there’s a spike in Covid or something like that?

Water-to-Go North America

Nick Well, it depends whether they have to cancel because they’re ill. If they’re ill, I think that they have to go to their insurance company first. But if we have to cancel, it would mean that there’s been some sort of border shutdown and we have arrangements in place with both our owners and our airlines to make sure that we don’t lose out financially. And we would then offer to our guests the choice of either deferring or taking a refund. And if we couldn’t refund in full, then our ATOL and our ABTOT bonds would come into place.

Peter Why go with a tour operator? Why not just put together your own package?

Nick Well, yes. I mean, about 15 years ago, I think somebody said that the chalet holiday package is dead because of easyJet and Jet 2 and all the rest of it. It didn’t die. It might have got a bit of a cold for a while, but it didn’t die. People like packages because they like things to be done for them. You want to disengage your brain when you go on holiday. You want to turn up at the airport – as soon as you’re in the hands of of the airline and the tour operator, you want them to take responsibility for anything which goes wrong and you want to put your trust in them.

Also, they are financially protected as a package, whereas if you do certain elements separately, then you run the risk of of having to try and chase some sort of independent chalet operator for money if things go wrong or maybe the airline change the flight time, which means that the transfer no longer fits in perfectly. And all these things are a worry and you don’t pay money for a holiday to be worried. You pay to have a nice, peaceful, relaxing time.

Ski Season

Chalet Eterlou, Courchevel 1650. Photo: © Le Ski.

There are lots of different ways of running a chalet holiday. The way we do it is you can either have a shared chalet or your own private chalet. So 33 chalets altogether. And you can you can either take, as I say, a shared place in a chalet or you can have a whole chalet to yourselves. You will have a chalet host who will come in five mornings and make you a fresh cooked breakfast. They’ll also make you an afternoon tea. And then they’ll also come in in the evening and make you a three-course dinner, which is served with unlimited red, white or rosé wines. The other two days. Breakfast is prepared for you. It’s laid out for you, but you actually make it yourselves. And dinner is in either one of the local restaurants or you could get a takeaway pizza, bring it back to chalet. And the reason nowadays it’s five days catering is because we have to fit in with the French regulations regarding maximum hours and our staff are only allowed to work 35 hours and you can’t run a six-day chalet programme with 35 hours.

Peter And that’s the practicalities of skiing again this winter. Will people have to wear masks on lifts and in lift queues?

Nick Well I’m getting mixed reports from the Alps this summer. For example, in Zermatt, the chair-lifts are running in exactly the same way but you do have to wear a face covering on the bubbles or in cable-cars. I imagine that would be a sensible precaution in the 3 Valleys or Val d’Isère where we operate. But to be honest with you, who knew what was going to happen over the last six months? You know, we just had no idea what was coming. And so I do think that things will take a change before the winter season starts. Who knows what could come in? Maybe we’ll get a vaccine in that time. Maybe there’ll be more information about how the virus spreads. So the honest answer is, I don’t know, but I guess the the resorts will want to take precautions as they can.

Felice Do you think that resort restaurants will be running as usual?

Nick As usual? I don’t know. I think they will be running. They’re certainly running this summer, I was out in the Alps speaking to some chalet owners and suppliers a couple of weeks ago and the Alps were absolutely packed with French. The French who decided not to go to Guadeloupe or Mauritius or wherever they normally go during the summer. And they’ve decided to go to the French Alps, which is a beautiful place to go. So the restaurants were actually operating completely normally.

Ski Season

Staff in a Le Ski chalet.

Peter If mountain restaurants aren’t open, will you be supplying packed lunches to your guests?

Nick We’d happily do that; we’ve done that for years anyway. It is an extra cost, but it’s very small in comparison to what you pay on the mountain. That’s not a problem at all.

Felice One other question. How much would people expect to pay for one of your holidays for a week?

Nick It really depends on the week. But you can pay anywhere between sort of £850 and £2,300 for a package and those packages includes flight from either London or Manchester, although there is a supplement for Manchester, then transfers and chalet accommodation.

Peter And only one question about Brexit: the worry is that will people be able to get their bacon for breakfast and things like that? I know that normally you import quite a lot, but presumably you’ll be doing that before December 31?

Nick Yes, we don’t import fresh food, but we do take lots of things like Christmas crackers. I mean, we buy hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Christmas crackers. We buy 25,000 tea bags every winter for our guests. Bacon and eggs and sausage we buy in local supermarkets or they’re supplied by local people down the valley.

Felice And I assume that the tea bags are Yorkshire tea,

Nick They are indeed. Every year on the 1st of August, we send out to a Yorkshire e-news because we’re very proud of the fact that we are based in Yorkshire. And yes, this year I sent the e-news on the 1st of August during lockdown. Somebody told me that they were out walking one beautiful morning in the fabulous Yorkshire fields. And he came across God coming over the style, walking towards him. And he was rather shocked and he said: ‘Oh, blimey, what are you doing here?’ And He said: ‘I’m working from home.’

Peter You could find out more about Le Ski in our show notes or at Leski.com.

Ski Season

Chalet St Moritz, La Plagne. Photo: © Skiworld.

Now, Diane Palumbo is sales and marketing manager of Skiworld. One of the largest independent UK operators, it goes to 39 resorts in Europe. In a normal year, they also offer holidays in 11 resorts in North America, although these are on hold at the moment. Like most operators in the face of Covid and Brexit, Skiworld is dramatically pruning its property portfolio. So, Diane, the ski industry seems to be pretty big trouble internationally. Where do we go from here? Can it actually survive?

Diane I think we will come out the other side if our governments are clever.

Peter I think that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Peter Because whatever you do as a tour operator, you’re really at the mercy of the government of both countries.

Diane Superb observation. And I’d throw in a third element, which is the politics between them.

Peter So anyway, at the moment it looks like we’re back in business. Ski resorts are all gearing up to open at the end of November and in Europe. We will have some form of social distancing, no doubt, and perhaps a reduced capacity on some lifts. But it looks like a pretty normal winter, doesn’t it?

Diane Yes, and what I would say is our colleagues across the whole of Europe and you think about the quality of skiing in France, you know, it’s just amazing. They are like us realising that a total shutdown of anything actually damages future generations. And when we say damages, we’re not just talking economically, because all the evidence shows if young people are unemployed for any length of time, it affects their life chances. And if people’s income drops, it affects their health chances. So our colleagues in France currently, and I think in Austria, too, are saying, ‘You know, we can operate and keep businesses going whilst ensuring that kind of safety.’ And I’m grateful that the summer is here because they’re effectively practising that.

Ski Season

Masked skiers in Val d’Isère. Photo: © OT Val d’Isere/Chloe Harlé.

Peter That’s a very important point. They’re actually having a bit of a practice. And I know that some ski resorts in France, Val d’Isère and Tignes, they practice social distancing and all the things they have to do and it works, so they’re going to go ahead. But what about other places? What about Austria and Switzerland you go to, and places like that?

Diane Yes, I don’t have the same amount of evidence. France is a market leader and resorts like Val d’Isère and Tignes, world renowned resorts, they often set the tone for others. So I have no doubt the results of the calibre – St Anton and Ischgl, and even Saalbach are going to be looking at their French competitors.

Peter Now, we’ve seen this huge reduction in the number of holidays available for this coming winter. We’re talking 30% to 50%, it could even be much higher by the time we get into the autumn. It’s more and more cuts come in because tour operators want to pare back and not take any risks. It’s not that hard to find a holiday in terms of accommodation. For travellers it’s a problem.

Diane Yes, I think I think there are two factors here that…you know, I’m a tour operator, so I would say what I’m about to say…but a part of our job is to check the quality and the safety standard and let’s include the social distancing…of all the accommodation we feature. So if we get it wrong, we are held to account quite rightly for that.

Now, we all have got examples of online booking for, you know, I’m not saying Airbnb, but just for those kind of things which don’t have the same fine regulation checks or safety checks. Now, let’s throw in bio safety checks into those. So around accommodation, I would say, choose carefully, ask questions.

Ski Season

Chalet Nimbus, St Anton. Photo: © Skiworld.

And the other thing we all know that when you booked with somebody in the UK, a bonded tour operator, if we can’t operate the holiday, I sit here now with about 98% of our customers having been refunded their money. We didn’t do it in the regulation 14 days because you can’t put a reservation system in reverse in 14 days, but we have just about completed it now. So those are the benefits of booking accommodation through a tour operator. You’re right, accommodation will be more readily available than the transport. But we have some owners who are now out of business, so they’re selling their properties because of their changes in personal circumstances. So that would affect some of them.

But the squeeze is more likely to be on transfers. And the trains where we had been gradually switching more of our customers to trains for environmental reasons, as well as enjoyment reasons of walking around on a train across France, you actually get to see one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. We we wanted to switch more customers and of course, Eurostar are not running the direct train service to France. So we’re looking at alternatives for that, but the squeeze will be on transport.

Peter It’s worth mentioning that while Eurostar isn’t actually operating a ski train, it’s still perfectly possible to travel by train to the Alps.

Diane Absolutely. I think British consumers to a degree, have really enjoyed the convenience of getting on one flight or one train to go over. And it’s just a little bit of education, certainly for some of our groups that travel together, about crossing Paris and picking up another train – or flying to Paris and then picking up a train from there. So it’s just a change that I think they’ve got to get used to.

Felice And do you think people will take trains to go to Austria?

Diane At the moment, our sales figures are actually showing a bigger propensity to self-drive to Austria, even though it’s further.

Peter But the convenience of going by car across Europe this coming winter will, of course, be that you are in isolation in your car. The concern for me is the number of charter flights is right down – maybe half, maybe even less than that. And then we’re left with the alternative, which are scheduled flights, which we don’t really know the level of flights there’re going to be from January onwards. And certainly the number of easyJet and other what we used to call budget operators will be probably high sky prices, we don’t know.

Diane Yes, they are arch-fluid prices because of the algorithms that they embed actually in the website. So if you’re in London looking at an easyJet flight, you could be paying more than if you’re in Kirklees in Scotland looking for an easyJet flight. They’re extremely sophisticated about fluid pricing. They are at the moment, in very many instances, advertising incredibly low lead-in prices because that is the hook that gets us all looking and interested.

Peter Is that the price for summer you’re talking about at the moment?

Diane Mostly summer that we’ve actually started to look at buying in some flights for January, where you would always expect to be paying much lower prices anyway. And at the moment they’re pretty low. As those begin to fill up, which they will because of exactly what you said, the reduced capacity, the prices will go up. So, you know, the travel industry has said for a while, you do often get the best deal if you book further advance or very, very last minute. Well, the very last minute will be squeezed because there isn’t the same transport capacity that there was, and it was often the transport capacity that drove a large part of those discounted prices. So easyJet front-loading their discounts is a prime example of why there’s never been a better time to book early.

Felice And on the transfers will at the moment, as things stand, will people have to wear masks?

Diane As things stand at the moment, yes. I think the wearing of masks is certainly the obligatory nature of it, inside in the UK, it’s relatively new. And actually, as we begin to get more used to that, I think some of the barriers around that will begin to change.

Felice And I suppose we got used to wearing helmets for skiing – that’s another thing like that.

Diane By that Felice, you are 100% right, because I resisted wearing a helmet and now I cannot even think of going out without one and the feeling of wearing the helmet, I feel naked without it.

Felice Exactly, I agree with that.

Diane Yes. So I think it’s so new with face masks. We will adapt.

Peter I think also we have skiing in somewhere where you cover up anyway. You come out of your apartment or wherever it may be in the morning, you get on a ski bus, you’re all togged up with everything. If you have a neck band on…you would wear anyway. You can wear a mask, your gloves, you’ve got your faces covered, you’re wearing sunglasses probably or goggles. It doesn’t make a lot of difference.

Diane You’re so right.

Felice Except if you wear glasses – and that would include goggles and sunglasses – together with a mask, it steams the whole thing up. So you can’t see very well.

Ski Season

Chalet Shemshak canapés. Photo: © Consensio.

Peter Now in the Premier League of chalet companies, Consensio is a Chelsea, a Man United or even a Liverpool – attracting a global clientele. Price-wise they’re at the very top of their game. Here’s MD, Ceri Tinley, on their rather special chalets.

Ceri Well, we’re a little bit different is that we rent ours exclusively. So it would be one family group or group of friends that would come and they would rent the whole building and so that they would be able to then dictate what they would like by way of service once they’re there. So the kind of service we provide is very high end and very much like a five-star hotel. But the clients get to choose what they eat, when they eat, how formal a service they want once they’re there.

Felice And I’m assuming when they get to the airport, Geneva or wherever it is, they don’t have to go on a coach?

Ceri Not at all. So whilst it’s not something that’s included, we only deal with….from once they walk through the front door services, we work with partners, companies in the Alps. So they provide very high end vehicles, 4x4s, Caravelles, or what we still see is slightly more eco-friendly. So we’re seeing Teslas being chauffeur-driven to the airport to pick our guests up and bring them back

Peter Or helicopter transfers if they want a helicopter?

Ceri They can definitely have helicopter transport. And then they just have the vehicle to bring the luggage following them on.

Peter So presumably this is the plus side of the Covid situation, too, is that there are lots of people out there who want privacy, which they can’t find in a five-star hotel – and more important, they want safety and you can provide that.

Ceri Absolutely. So as I said before, because the property is rented in exclusivity, they don’t have to fill the rooms. Our properties range from sleeping from 10 to 15. But because it’s only for them and they can dictate what happens inside, it does make it a lot safer. we have been speaking to our guests this season about what level of contact they want, what level of service they want, whether they want a contactless service – they don’t want to actually see our staff, they’d rather they operated behind the scenes. So this certainly will give comfort, I think, to guests in the current scenario.

Peter And your message is: the Alps are open for business, is that correct?

Ceri We are open for business, we’re watching like everyone else is watching with the lockdown and the the different quarantine rules. For our guests…we’ve been talking to them. Very much it’s how they can get to the resort safely. So some of them have been talking about private jets or self-driving down and then obviously a private transfer from the airport. And then once they’re in the chalet, it’s providing that level of comfort, of not having so much contact. And all our suppliers in the resort have been doing the same thing in changing the service to adapt. But we are definitely in business. I mean, the message we’ve had from the Offices of Tourism is that they’re open. They’ve been trialling this this summer with regards to what kind of adaptations they need and what measures they’re putting in place. But it all seemed positive for the moment.

Felice And where do most of your guests come from?

Ceri In a normal year, we only have about 40% UK clients. The rest is really spread throughout the world and we do have a fair significant amount in Europe. But we have more and more, about 5% South America, 5% USA. We do have quite a high proportion of Russian clients – about 15% Russian clients, and we’re seeing more and more from Australia. However, for this coming winter, we expect those percentages to change a little.

Ski Resort

Ceri Tinley from Consensio.

Peter So are you looking to just get through this next season?

Ceri We don’t want to tread water. If it’s open, we want to be open, we want every week filled. I mean, we finished and shut our doors on the 15th of March this year. And we have many, many clients who missed their skiing this winter. We want to maximise and fill every week if possible. And every client we’ve spoken to has said: ‘If we can ski, we are going to ski this winter. We’ve missed summer. Skiing is a big thing for us. If we can come, we will be there.’

Peter Can you give us an indication of the price range for a Consensio holiday ? I know it’s difficult because every property is different, but…

Ceri The real price range at the very early part of the season, you can get a chalet for around 24,000 euros, which would be for a property that sleeps around 12 people. On the crazy weeks in Courchevel 1850, that price can range up to 173,000 euros. But it is for the property that won the France’s best ski chalet last year, and it’s on the piste and it’s on the peak week of the year. It ranges, depending on your week, depending on your budget.

Ski Season

Chalet Marco Polo. Photo: © Consensio.

Peter And essentially your holiday is a combination, but you will supply all the extras. You can arrange flights, you can arrange transfers?

Ceri Our partner companies, absolutely. We don’t arrange it. We have partner companies and our clients can choose the best supplier that suits their requirements because all our clients coming in from different areas, needing different things. And our partner suppliers are much more well-equipped for doing that. But we have ones that we’ve trusted and worked with for years. Your private concierge that you have at the point of booking will be with you the whole way through to help guide you and organise every single aspect for you.

Peter And you can also arrange ski guides and all the different things you need inside a ski resort from kindergartens to lift passes, to everything?

Ceri Absolutely everything from their ski hire, your ski guide, nannies and also the things that we don’t think about, all the activities that are amazing that you can do. Because we do actually have a high percentage of clients that don’t ski, because they’re coming like I said, the property is for a family group. We often have part of the group that won’t ski, so we will help guide them to the amazing activities that are available in resorts and also help them with the restaurant bookings and that sort of thing too.

Peter Presumably, your biggest worry is the so-called second wave attack comes during the winter. And we have a situation in which the French government decides that it doesn’t want any more foreigners going to the Alps. That is the real worry, isn’t it?

Ceri Certainly, and it’s what we’re seeing at the moment is the speed at which they’re locking places down or imposing quarantine, it doesn’t really give our guests time to rearrange. So we will remain flexible. We’re offering very flexible terms and we’re booking now. And ultimately, if something means the clients have to cancel. So we’re going to work with our clients to ensure that they can ski, they can. If not, we will get them back out as soon as they can, and they can enjoy their time in the chalet.

Peter How do people book a holiday? Go to your website?

Ceri Please come to the website – Consensio or drop us an email @sales in the UK.

Peter We’ll have details on our website as well.

Ceri Fantastic. Thank you. Lovely talking to you.

Ski Season

Holger Gassler from the Austrian Tirol.

Peter And the final word goes to Holger Gassler from the Austrian Tirol. Now the Tirol has some of the best skiing in the world, but unfortunately, this all came to an untimely end in March, but all resorts now preparing to get back to normal for this coming winter?

Holger Yes, well, I don’t think we can say it will be normal, but all the resorts will open, everything and will be on short notice. Like especially, will there be a second wave of Covid? Where will it happen?

Peter Now, I know these haven’t been finalised yet, but there will be social distancing like everywhere else, social distancing in terms of lift queues and no doubt masks on the lifts and things like that, which is the world we’re living in. It’s becoming the norm isn’t it?

Holger It is, yes, I mean, at the moment, cable-cars are classified in Austria like public transport, and so you have to wear masks in public transport, and in cable-cars as well for the summer season. I n the Austrian Tirol, we have five glacier resorts already starting at the end of September for skiing, which is less crowded. If you can avoid half term, then you definitely should do that. Maybe look for another like a smaller ski resort, a less crowded one.

Ski Season

One of the most beautiful ski towns. Photo: © TVB Kitzbuhel.

Peter So Felice, are we any closer to finding out what the 2021 ski season is going to be all about?

Felice I have absolutely no idea, and nor has anyone else. How about you? What do you think?

Peter Well, I think there’s definitely going to be a ski season. I think there are too many jobs in the Alps – that are not just in the Alps everywhere – that are entirely dependent upon skiing. So it will happen in one form or another, not necessarily going to be the kind of ski season that we would normally expect. It’s going to be some fairly strange things, like people skiing in masks and very muted nightlife, I expect. But there will be skiing.

Felice I think a lot of people will drive rather than fly as well. We’re certainly going to, if I come with you in December, we’re going to drive and we’re probably going to take our dogs as well for the first time ever.

Peter Well, we could do that. I’m not sure we’ll have the dogs on skis, but we’ll certainly have them on snow.

Felice I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s going to be a very different ski season to any we’ve known before.

Peter I think that’s absolutely certain. And my advice would be, if you’re planning on doing this and planning on joining us in the Alps, you should book now, not wait, because the reduced volume of the number of ski holidays is so enormous. It really is. That it’s going to be hard to find the right holiday.

Felice And I think the same will go for flights. If you want to fly, you’re going to have to book your flight quite soon, because I think the scarcity of flights will mean the prices will go up and up.

Peter Certainly nearer the time the prices will go up, that’s the way the algorithm always works. Also, there’s no ski train this year. The Eurostar is not running the ski train. That doesn’t mean you can’t go by train, because you can always go via Paris, but it’s a little bit more inconvenient.

Felice Yes, I think we’ll go by train. If we’re not driving, I’d like to go by train. Definitely.

Peter I don’t think the dog can get by train, so I think we will be driving.

Felice Yes, good idea.

That’s all for now. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share this episode with at least one other person! Do also subscribe on Spotify, i-Tunes, Stitcher, or any of the many podcast providers – where you can give us a rating. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Stay safe and we’ll see you next week.

Also see our podcasts and posts: The Man Who Has Skied More Resorts Than Anyone Else, Train Journeys: The Future For International Travel, and Konrad Bartelski: From Ski Racer To Photographer, and How To Become A Travel Writer. For more information on skiing worldwide, visit Welove2ski.

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