Ski holiday companies are warning that there’s limited holiday availability left for the main resorts during the key holiday periods of New Year, February Half Term and Easter.
“As a ski travel agent who sells all products from all operators, we have a clear perspective of the overall holiday market. We’re seeing a perfect storm of operators contracting less properties, plus lots of customers who didn’t cancel last year but instead rolled over their bookings to this winter, means that peak dates like half term are already almost gone and Easter and New Year are fast following suit,” explained the Managing Director of SNO holidays Richard Sinclair, who added,
“Christmas still has quite good availability, but New Year ski holidays are fast selling out now, as confidence in travel has fully returned. If you want to ski New Year I’d book asap, because the whole world has not skied for two years, and skiers are passionate about getting back into the mountains so accommodation is filling up across the Alps. Everyone is so excited for the start of the ski season!”
Chris Logan, Managing Director of the UK’s largest ski holiday company Crystal, agrees,
“Before the recent travel review, we were already well sold and up against where we would usually be at this time in a ‘normal’ year. The streamlining of the traffic light system and testing for double vaccinated customers has boosted confidence and we’ve seen a significant uptick in bookings,” he said.
In terms of the types of holiday in particular high demand, Richard Sinclair says the traditional British chalet package is being particularly squeezed,
“It’s clear that the Brit-favourite package of a catered-chalet is selling out right now. We’re seeing a big increase groups of friends and groups of multiple families booking to go away together, which is why the larger chalets are almost all booked now. We’re seeing a lot of groups choose all-inclusive ski holidays in hotels, because they can holiday with confidence that even the bar bill is included. It’s very liberating to go on ski holiday and never have to open your wallet.”
Chris Logan says that lack of chalet availability has seen Brits transition to other holiday types,
“Half board hotels remain our best-selling holiday package well up vs winter 19-20, but we’ve seen the largest increase in sales in self-catering. We’re also seeing bigger apartments being booked as customers’ transition from chalets to self-catering options. And because travel has been so restricted it does appear that people are cashing in unspent holiday savings on higher quality accommodation with an increase in 4 and 5* bookings.”
One travel company that does have New Year availability at good prices though is the new Travelski Express charter service which provides a direct Eurostar rail connection between London St Pancras and six well-known resorts in the French Alps.
Unlike most tour operators who have a big backlog of held over bookings, Travelski Express only launched a few months ago (although it’s a division of one of Europe’s biggest leisure businesses) so doesn’t have that problem.
“With world attention on the COP26 summit and how we can tackle the climate emergency, skiers wanting to hit the slopes will be heartened to know that the easiest and most relaxed way to travel to the French Alps is also the best for the planet,” a company spokesman pointed out.
In research commissioned for the ski-holidays-by-rail website Snowcarbon.co.uk it was calculated that a one-way journey from London to Tignes (train to Bourg St Maurice and then transfer to resort) generated less than a quarter of that for a similar package using flights to Geneva and a resort transfer. Each Travelski Express journey can carry the equivalent amount of people as three large planes.
Travelski sell inclusive holiday packages only with rail travel (daytime in one direction, overnight the other), resort transfers, accommodation and lift passes included for a discounted price compared to buying each separately. Additional benefits are the holidays give you seven days on the slopes rather than six and no extra luggage charges for carrying skis or snowboard.
Deal for New Year Week (Boxing Day departures to the Alps) range from £776 per person staying at the three star Résidence O’Dalys in Tignes or from just £549 per person in the resort’s Chalet Neve if you travel a week later. These are both six nights in resort/six day pass rather thasn the usual seven to avoid travel on Christmas Day/New Years day themselves.
Travelski Express CEO, Guillaume de Marcillac, commented “On many occasions it seems that you must make a choice between which option is best for the planet and which is best for your budget, or even what is best for your family. These can often be very different options which adds to holiday stress. At Travelski Express we are proud to offer holidays that represent the best choice for the planet and also for these other concerns.”
“This is not the year to hope for a last minute cheapie, as the lack of holidays mean ski firms just don’t need to discount. If you really want to go this year, especially if you want to go to one of the classic/popular areas or you want a catered chalet, book asap,” concluded SNO’s Richard Sinclair.