After a winter that has never been, thousands of snow-hungry UK skiers are counting the days until the season ahead
After a winter that never existed, thousands of snow-hungry British skiers are counting the days until the season ahead.
Since mid-March 2020, seaside resorts in France and Italy have largely remained closed. Last winter, you could still ski in Switzerland, but first you had to find a way to get there legally. Austrian ski lifts were only open to residents.
But now, with travel vaccines – and an early wait for snow – a full ski season is set to kick off in the Alps.
Across the Atlantic, Canada is also open, and the United States will be in November.
Be careful, however: do not delay in booking your ski holiday. There are at least 75% fewer vacations than in 2019/20 due to business failures and the removal of programs by the remaining tour operators.
Indeed, pent-up demand is so great that some operators report that up to 80% of station wagons have already been sold.
A shortage of flights on peak dates has resulted in high prices, meaning more people are expected to travel to the Alps by car than usual this winter. The good news is that if you book and your vacation is canceled due to subsequent travel restrictions or if one of your party members develops Covid, most companies now have acceptable cancellation programs.
You should be able to either postpone your vacation to a later date or get your money back. Here is our selection of vacations on offer, with prices based on seven nights for two people sharing a double / twin room, including flights, transfers and half-board accommodation, unless otherwise specified.
Mayrhofen (photo) is a large party village with a huge and sometimes difficult ski area
If you have proof of being fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine when you arrive.
Around 980,000 UK nationals visit Austria in each ‘normal’ travel year, with skiing being a major draw. Face masks are mandatory in enclosed public spaces.
Entry to restaurants, bars and shared indoor spaces requires proof of vaccination, recent recovery from Covid, or recent testing.
To enter nightclubs, you must have full proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours.
Obergurgl is a pretty high-altitude village with exceptional snow conditions and a long season.
The best costumes: Beginners, lower intermediates and families.
To stay: Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl is a family friendly hotel. From Â£ 1,049 per person on January 3 with Gatwick-Innsbruck flights (inghams.co.uk).
Party in Mayrhofen
Mayrhofen is a large party village with a huge and sometimes difficult ski area.
The best costumes: Those who like to ski hard and dance the night away.
Action in St Anton
St Anton in the photo is suitable for strong intermediates and above – as well as those who like to party
St Anton, the classic resort with a giant ski area connected to the Zurs and Lech ski areas, consistently maintains its position on the podium of world-class ski destinations.
The best costumes: Strong intermediaries and above, plus those who like to party.
To stay: Montjola is a comfortable chalet hotel. From Â£ 1,105 pp departing March 20, with ski guide or coaching included (neilson.fr).
DESCENT TO ITALY
Skiing holidays in Italy are expected to be safe this winter, especially as Covid cases per 100,000 population are currently around half of those in the UK.
Right now, Italy is requiring visitors to have proof that they have had a double bite and also pass a Covid test with a negative result within 48 hours of travel. You must also complete an Italian âpassenger tracking formâ.
Long service life
Cervinia, one of the highest resorts in Europe, has guaranteed snow.
The best costumes: Those who like long intermediate runs that make their thighs shake, but it is suitable for all standards, families and party animals.
Cervinia, in the photo, is one of the highest resorts in Europe and has guaranteed snow
To stay: The Grand Hotel Cervino is a new five star hotel starting at Â£ 1,249 per person on January 15th with Gatwick flights (inghams.co.uk).
Ski the “Milky Way”
Pragelato is a hamlet in the giant 400 km Milky Way ski area near Sestriere and is home to a Club Med village with chalets. The resort has undergone a recent makeover.
The best costumes: Those who like to put a lot of mileage under their feet every day, as well as families.
To stay: Stays at Club Med include accommodation, meals, drinks, lessons and lift passes from Â£ 1,414 pp without travel or transfers (clubmed.fr). Easyjet returns London-Turin from Â£ 50 (easyjet.com).
Champoluc is a peaceful and unspoiled village in the Monterosa ski area. If a link project to Cervinia comes to fruition over the next two years, it will become the largest linked ski area in the world.
The best costumes: All standards of the skier and snowboarder, and families with young children.
To stay: The Chalet Hotel de Champoluc offers on-site childcare from Â£ 1,049 per adult with Gatwick-Turin flights (espritski.com).
FUN IN FRANCE
Stay seven nights at Le Taos hotel in Tignes from Â£ 1,296 per person B&B
THE BEST OF THE REST
Banff, Alberta is the starting point for the three ski areas of Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise in Banff National Park. To fly you must be fully vaccinated and pass a Covid test with a negative result within 72 hours of travel.
The best costumes: All standards as well as non-skiers can enjoy the scenery.
To stay: Banff Rocky Mountain Resort is a comfortable three star hotel starting at Â£ 970 per person for seven nights from January 29 with flights and transfers to Calgary (skiworld.fr).
Lauterbrunnen, gives easy ski access to Wengen, Grindelwald and Murren. You must be fully vaccinated to travel to Switzerland.
The best costumes: Intermediate skiers and snowboarders looking for a lot of terrain on a daily basis. Not ideal for beginners or aprÃ¨s-ski.
To stay: Chalethotel Rosa from Â£ 647pp with Gatwick flights on March 26 (skimiquel.fr).
Geilo in Norway lies halfway in the wilderness between Oslo and Bergen and offers mostly gentle slopes. You must be fully vaccinated to enter Norway or have a negative Covid test within 24 hours of travel.
The best costumes: Families looking for a magnificent setting and a gentle introduction to winter sports.
To stay: The four-star Bardola Cabins are lodges located in the woods next to the Bardola Hotel. From Â£ 1,129 per person on January 16 with flights (crystalski.fr).
If you’ve had both jabs, you can enter France as a tourist – those who are not fully vaccinated can only enter for “essential reasons” (which does not include skiing). The cases per 100,000 inhabitants are slightly lower in France than in the United Kingdom.
Face masks are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces.
In the current state of the rules, to enter public spaces of more than 50 people, you will have to demonstrate your negative Covid status via a “health pass” (government.fr/info-coronavirus/pass-sanitaire).
Value in Val d’IsÃ¨re
Val d’IsÃ¨re is a traditional ski area linked to Tignes with 300 km of slopes.
The best costumes: Strong intermediates and above, but also good for beginners and families.
To stay: Seven nights at Le Taos hotel in Tignes from Â£ 1,296 per person B&B on January 7 with flights (sunweb.fr).
Skiing with altitude
Les Arcs is connected to neighboring La Plagne in the Tarentaise valley and is divided into different villages at different altitudes.
Arc 1950 is the most attractive of them and its high height ensures reliable snow cover throughout the season.
The best costumes: High mileage skiers.
To stay: Bear Lodge is a new wing of Arc 1950 on the edge of the runway. From Â£ 1,129 per person on April 17 with transfers from Geneva, but not flights (vip-chalets.com); Gatwick returns from Â£ 50 (easyjet.com).
The daredevil’s dream
Alpe d’Huez, in the heart of IsÃ¨re, is famous for its epic ascent of the Tour de France, but it is also the hub of a 249 km ski area with the Sarenne, which at 18 km claims to be the longest black in the world Course.
The best costumes: All standards, but strong for intermediates in particular, plus partiers.