This is the time of year when we skiers start getting excited. As the nights draw in our thoughts turn to that first hit of mountain air in the morning, the crunch of fresh snow under our ski boots, the exhilaration after a great run, and the views from the mountain restaurant as we sip a coffee (or bombardino) on the terrace.
With the current situation so uncertain many people are understandably holding off booking their ski holiday this winter; however if you really can't do without your ski fix this season, here are some tips for planning your trip as well as possible:
Go low season
To avoid the crowds travel mid-week and in low season. Not only will you find blissfully uncrowded slopes but lower prices to boot.
Look for smaller resorts
Look for resorts with no closed lifts like gondolas and cable cars (which do tend to be smaller, less well-known resorts). This way restrictions and queues are minimized as there are likely to be restrictions on the number of people travelling on closed lifts this winter.
Avoid public transport where possible
Try looking for accommodation on or near the slopes so you don’t need to get the ski bus. Alternatively if you are happy to hire a car you could look for cheaper accommodation outside of the resort but check parking close to the slopes.
Check the small print
Make sure whoever you are booking with will offer a full refund in case you are unable to travel due to travel restrictions and flexible conditions in case you need to self-isolate. You can find our own covid-19 policy here.
Check travel advice regularly
Before you book (and before you travel) check your government’s official travel advice for your destination, as well as that of your destination. Remember that your own country may currently not have any restrictions for your destination, but your destination may have restrictions for those travelling from your country.
The UK's 'travel corridors' change regularly, you can find further information on the FCDO website.
Likewise the Republic of Ireland's 'green list' is updated weekly to show where you can travel without needing to quarantine when you return.
Clear your diary
Make sure you don’t have any important engagements immediately upon your return home just in case quarantine measures are implemented just before you travel or even during your stay. Really you should be prepared to quarantine when you return home.
Check your travel insurance policy regarding covid-19
It does pay to have travel insurance, especially for a winter sports holiday. Do make sure that you know exactly what you can expect from your policy if you need to change your plans or become ill while you are away.
Be aware that if you travel ignoring your country's travel advice this will invalidate your insurance, but if that advice changes during your trip, it will still be valid.
When booking flights make sure to check what the airline’s cancellation conditions are and how flexible their flight change policy is.
At the airport
Make sure to check if you need to fill out any paperwork like a passenger locator form and make sure you have it ready in advance - some (like the UK's) are filled out online, others you will need to print out and fill in by hand. Your airline should have instructions and links on their website.
Obviously masks are obligatory at the airport and on your flight. Some countries (like Italy) require you to wear a surgical/disposable mask on the flight, they will not let you board using a cloth mask, again check the airline's website so you are fully prepared.
Make sure that you double-check requirements just before you travel as they change regularly.
Arriving at resort
Coach transfers this year will require distancing and masks. Where possible hiring a car or booking a private transfer are probably the best way to travel to resort this winter. Make sure you have this organised before you travel.
Safety measures vary from country to country and from resort to resort. Some hotels will require you to take your temperature when you enter the building, but it is at the discretion of the hotel.
Should you feel unwell when you are on holiday make sure to advise reception immediately (ideally calling from your room) and they will let you know which procedures to follow. If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, then make sure you contact the people who run it.
Après ski is likely to be pretty subdued this winter due to social distancing measures meaning that those who like to hit the bars while still in their ski boots will have to find alternatives. See what other activities your resort offers from toboggan runs to night skiing, or alternatively curl up with a hot drink and a good book.
If you have any further questions regarding booking your ski holiday this winter, do drop us a line - we are here to help!