With the media focus on the negative aspects of the virus pandemic (and let’s be clear – we all know there are plenty of those), it’s easy to get bogged down in all that’s looking grim for the season ahead and your ski holiday this winter.
But a few voices (and yes, they are mostly voices from people who run ski businesses), are questioning whether winter 20-21 might actually be THAT bad. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that it might be better than usual.
Their arguments vary a little, but the core element of them all is that the pandemic and lockdown have made us care a little bit more about our fellow human beings, and many have also come to value the wonders of nature a little more. We’ve also come to value space – both physical space around us when we can’t get out much, and space in time when we were forced to take a break from our hectic lives.
So the argument is that with these values now more important to us, ski resorts are the perfect place to indulge in them.
“Like everything in our lives pre-COVID, skiing and snowboarding had become somewhat frantic. Many of us were caught up in the conquests—tracking our bowl laps and vertical—rather than fully appreciating the moments. I’m looking forward to refocusing on the core of what this sport is all about, what this place enables: a chance to connect deeply—with nature, with our physical selves and movements, and even with our sense of purpose and our roles in society. No doubt, next ski season will be more of an old school experience, but that could also translate to less noise, fewer distractions and, hopefully, more meaning,” said Aspen’s boss, Mike Kaplan.
We are already seeing ways in which this quieter, more peaceful ski holiday experience is going to be forced on us this winter, to some extent.
- Social distancing in lift queues, more spacing on lifts and limitations on crowding in mountain restaurants should make these parts of the ski holiday less frantic and stressful. Those who usually get a bit claustrophobic in a cramped cable-car cabin should be pleased with more space around them, regardless of the virus factor, if resorts maintain social distancing on lifts.
- Though many skiers are understandably lamenting what looks like the end of raucous apres-ski bars, for the coming season at least, others are quite happy that resorts will become more like peaceful mountain villages, less like city centres on a Saturday night.
- Ski school will get a lot more personal with many resorts dropping group classes and only offering private lessons.
- Queue-jumping, which is the norm in some countries leading to much tutting from us Brits, should be less acceptable now due to pandemic fears …everyone should wait in line in a much more orderly fashion.
- A drive to less-contact, more hands-free transactions through resorts to minimise the danger of virus spread could make your holiday flow more smoothly with fewer distractions …so long as they all work.
- On the slopes too we should find more space around us, and who doesn’t like an emptier piste (well, except maybe the lift company needing to sell tickets to break even). But quieter slopes should be the result both of fewer people choosing to ski this winter, and some resorts setting much lower than usual limits on the number of people allowed on the slopes in order to ensure everyone has plenty of space.
The travel process which had so often become quite an endurance feat of battling through crowded airports also looks like it could be less stressful this winter if the often-reported stories of empty airports continue to be the case.
The numbers of people opting to self-drive, take longer breaks and travel midweek rather than weekends should all, hopefully, mean that the weekend crowds are decreased to a greater or lesser extent.
As the ‘press kits’ arrive from resorts this autumn ahead of the ski season we’re already seeing a clear switch in onus in the Alps from parties and festivals (although several of the latter are still happening) to more socially-distanced yoga classes and lots of gentle activities aimed at appreciating the peaceful atmosphere, magnificent scenery and vast open space of where you are visiting more.
It remains to be seen, of course, exactly how things will pan out for your ski holiday this winter, but the hope is clearly there from many that we’ll use the pandemic to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities more and that there’ll be something of a re-set for our expectations of our holidays in the mountains.
Featured Image © Afriski