The Chalet Company has just finished a Webinar organized by Atout France that focused on the preparations being made to make sure people can safely visit French ski resorts next season.
The speakers were representatives from Vinci Airport (which runs the airports of Chambery, Grenoble & Lyon), Compagnie des Alpes (which manages ski lifts in various resorts around the Alps) and from Three Valleys (the world’s largest ski area)
The caveat preceding every point made by every speaker was, of course, that these are tentative plans and the situation (and the response to it) are evolving constantly and so similar conferences further down the line will give us more clarity on what exact measures will be in place for your 2020/ 21 ski holiday.
At the airports, it will be mandatory to wear a face mask from arrival at the departing airport until departure from the arriving airport – it is advisable to bring masks but they will also be available at the airport. There will be information screens throughout, floor markings to aid distancing and hand sanitizer stations. The term “reinforced cleaning” was bandied about a lot … it is not an admission of a previous lax attitude to cleaning but a commitment to re-double efforts! There will also be a COVID-19 specific Medical Centre at many airports (confirmed so far at Lyon) where passengers can have various procedures performed such as a temperature check.
The chairlifts are open throughout the Alps and those responsible for their safe operation are embarking on an unprecedented monitoring period so as to learn from this summer’s operations so that they can best plan for the busier winter operations. Adhering to French Public Transport Laws, there is not expected to be any restrictions on skier/ snowboarder numbers for the lifts. Riders must wear face masks from the beginning of the queue until exit from the arrival station. It is likely that snoods/ bandannas etc will be permitted in place of medical face masks. Guests are being encouraged to purchase lift passes through their tour operator.
In The Three Valleys, the Summer season is being treated as a learning ground for the winter season … the focus is on keeping people safe whilst ensuring that they have a fantastic time in the mountains.
The buses will be running as per normal although there is talk of increasing capacity so that they are not so full. All passenger will be required to wear face masks when on the bus.
The provision of ski lessons is being looked at … office staff will be behind screen and wearing masks and guests are being encouraged to book online. The actually delivery of the lessons is a different matter and there has been no firm decisions on this although it is being looked at on a national level and so Government guidance is expected to start filtering through relatively soon.
All accommodation providers will be focusing on “reinforced cleaning” with regular disinfecting of high touch points in hotels and communal résidences. Later check-ins/ earlier check-outs are being mandated as a way to ensure that deep cleaning can be conducted before the next set of guests arrive. Hand gels will be partout in all of our chalets in Méribel
On the catering side, it seems unlikely at the moment that large-scale breakfast buffets will make a re-appearance anytime soon but the restaurants in The Three Valleys have been open a while and are coping well with the situation. Staff wear masks and regularly sanitise but customers do not need to wear masks when seated – although tables have been moved apart and there are even cases where screens have been erected between tables!
The word is that the bars are preparing for a normal apres-ski season with bands & DJs being booked in as usual. The terraces will be as bustling as ever … the biggest issue will be in particularly cold or snowy weather when people try to move indoors. Watch this space for guidance in this regard … !
So there’s probably not a lot in here that you didn’t know or couldn’t have predicted but it is great to know that there are a lot of super-smart people out there learning from the summer operations and thinking about how we can holiday in safety & comfort but still have a great time in the mountains this winter!
We’ll bring you more as we find it out. For more information in the meantime, here are some interesting webpages: