Skiing for 2020/21 is looking good at last. With UK lockdown rules relaxing hopes are high and skiers are getting in quick for the best offers and accommodation.
“We are really hoping for a normal season and are planning for it to run as normal,” says Crystal MD Chris Logan, who has seen a 30 per cent leap in bookings since Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of the Covid crisis. “And that’s on top of already strong sales,” he says.
“We’re well ahead of where we would expect to be in all destinations at this time of year. The most popular are France, Austria and Italy – Val Thorens, Obergurgl and Sauze d’Oulx are the top sellers – with dates all season selling stronger than previous years. We are seeing customers mainly booking hotels on a half board basis.”
February half term is well sold with families keen to get back to the mountains. And, given the challenges of finding somewhere to ski last Christmas, there’s a move away from obvious areas with festive bookings in Lapland resorts up 300 per cent on 2019.
Hotelplan, incorporating Inghams, Ski Esprit and Ski Total, has reduced its capacity but still reports strong sales.
“We continue to see high numbers and our smaller chalets are proving particularly popular,” says UK CEO Joe Ponte. “This could mean people are opting to book out an entire chalet for their family or form a bubble with another household.
“People are finding they need to book ahead of time to secure the accommodation they want— and this is reflected in booking numbers, with the sales 75 per cent up on this time last year.”
Smaller companies are also pushing forward. Chalet specialist SkiWeekends is not only keeping the catered house party going, it has increased its number of chalets by two, in Avoriaz and Courchevel 1650, the latter option capable of hosting 21 guests.
“Our guests still want a catered chalet holiday and we have strong bookings – repeat customers are getting in early and there’s demand for groups from eight to 50.” Bookings are also strong for French favourite Val Thorens and Austrian super-region Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn.