One of the most interesting parts of our ski holidays that resorts and tour operators are battling to deliver is quite a vital one – food and drink!
But rest assured – it is all being taken care of and every conceivable issue being foreseen.
After all the point is to keep everyone fed and happy so we all enjoy our holiday.
On The Mountain
The message for on-mountain dining, and down in resort in the evenings, is fairly similar to the picture in towns and cities back home – social-distancing, lots of hand-sanitising stations, contact-tracing and in some cases but not all, pre-booking required.
Most resorts are talking about more outdoor dining for when the weather is good and about increasing ‘grab and go’ takeaway meals.
In contrast to the usual discouragement of ‘picnicking’ with skiers bringing their own meals made in their apartments and carrying bottled water with them, this coming winter that’s one of the preferred options to cut down on the need for catering services on the mountain.
Although it won’t apply to many Brits, for ski areas that attract a lot of people arriving in their cars, here’s encouragement to use your car as your personal on-mountain bubble and return to it for snacks and drinks.
Peruse The Menu On Your Phone
To speed things up in the restaurant and avoid the need for multiple hands touching the menu, most resorts are putting menus on their websites or apps with the most tech-savvy making it possible to click through to place orders in either a reserved sit-down meal at the restaurant, or for pick-up or delivery.
It looks like food delivery will be a much bigger thing in the mountains this winter. Lots of ski resorts are saying that during lockdown local restaurants that hadn’t done deliveries before have got into a delivery mindset and that they’re gearing up to do more this winter.
Of course, this was also a service that had been growing in ski resorts in any case before the pandemic, so in many cases, it is a matter of scaling-up rather than starting from scratch. Along with businesses already doing food delivery in resorts companies like Huski have around 100 different meals on the menu available to order on their website and deliver to major resorts in the French Alps (tartiflette pictured top). They cover Saint Martin De Belleville, Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens, Menuires, Val d’Isere, Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Villaroger, La Rosiere and Ste Foy. Visit their site here to find out more.
We’re also seeing more our operators are offering to “do a shop” for you before you arrive in your self-catering accommodation
Holiday company Mountain Heaven, for example, say they can arrange for their self-catering guests to have a meal available on arrival in resort, a bread/croissant delivery service in the mornings, arange of frozen food together with non-perishable shopping already in their accommodation when they arrived from their local Super U and wine/soft drinks/beer available to purchase. Beyond that, “Please ask for anything else you need,” they say.
A lot of catered ski holidays, be it in hotels or chalets, usually involve communal meals and often buffet-style catering – both something of a no-no if its a group of people who were previously strangers, during the current pandemic.
The solutions to the issues this creates are being put in place of course, however.
Firstly there will be the standard social-distancing for indoor space, sometimes with screens between tables.
Then most establishments are offering room-service as an option for anyone who wants it.
Then where buffet meals are on offer, one approach is for something a little more like getting your Subway sandwich put together – a PPE clad staff member compiles your plate of food as you pick what you’d like from, your side of a clear screen.
There’s have been lots of “horror stories” in the media about coronavirus meaning the death of après ski. It’s certainly true that ski resorts are switching away from “party, party, party!” in their pre-season promotions to lots more about families enjoying open space and quality time together.
In Austria, arguably the country best known for its heaving après-ski drinking halls and over-flowing umbrella bars at the base of the slopes the message is definitely that these will not be the same this winter. They will still be there, but there’s talk of more of a ‘coffee bar’ atmosphere with laid-back jazz rather than jolly Tyrolean or throbbing Euro-pop music to try to quell any temptation to start dancing on the table in your ski boots.
So the bars will still be there, but with a quieter atmosphere and social distancing.