Ski resorts by train

Hoping and planning for ski holidays 2021-21

Wed 03 February, 2021


Daniel Elkan

Anyone got a spare crystal ball? It would come in handy.

Accurate predictions of the travel landscape — even for the next few months — are anyone’s guess. Who would have thought it, back in summer, that there would be no ski season to speak of at all, for UK based skiers?  Yet, sadly, that’s how it looks at the moment.

It’s been tough for ski resort tourist offices: they’ve worked very hard to prepare for this winter, and had to deal with an everchanging picture of tough restrictions. For tour operators and chalet companies, planning can only be done in the loosest sense of the word. And yet you still have to plan for something. And it all takes time.

Given the situation, the 2021-22 season is what skiers and the ski industry are planning for now.  Hopefully, that could be a more straightforward kind of season.

What’s now changed since last year is that ski holiday companies are much clearer and upfront about the potential for holiday cancellation or curtailment etc. It’s moved from the small print to bigger print, on website homepages.

Sadly, the pandemic has swept some ski tour operators and chalet companies to the wall. In an industry that’s competitive, where profits are relatively low, something as disruptive as Covid was always going to be difficult for some companies to survive. It’s good to be aware of this situation, of course, and take even less for granted.

If you are looking ahead to a holiday in 2021-22, then Snowcarbon can help you find a suitable resort and accommodation. We know a plenty of wonderful ski resorts from first-hand experience, and we work with plenty of good ski tour operators and accommodation providers. (Get in touch by email saying a little about what you are ideally looking for, and we’ll be happy to help).

The situation with rail travel, isn’t certain either.  Currently, because of the lockdown and travel restrictions, Eurostar is only running one or two trains a day.  The company has suffered financially from the pandemic. The CEO has publicly pleaded with the UK and French governments to help bail Eurostar out.  Whatever happens, some fresh thinking at Eurostar is sorely needed.  Eurostar has so much potential, but it consistently lacks vision about how to transport people into Europe and it keeps getting the simple stuff wrong, like a defender that keeps scoring own goals. Change is long overdue.

One of these own goals has been the failure to provide monetary refunds for cancelled trains, when in fact it is obligated to do so by law. Instead, wherever possible, Eurostar offered only vouchers instead. And then, outrageously, if a customer who had been offered only a voucher found out that they could have had a monetary refund (if only they’d known to ask and insist), and then they went back to Eurostar and asked, Eurostar told them ‘Unfortunately, you’ve accepted a voucher now, so we’re keeping your cash`. Tricked you!’ (I paraphrase). If you want to be unfair to your customers and piss them off royally, that’s how to do it.

I complained to the Office of Rail Regulation about this matter, firstly because it’s just beyond wrong and secondly because it undermines trust.  The ORR has taken it up, and it expects an answer from Eurostar soon.  Eurostar has already made the cash refund option clearer to future travellers. It now needs to come clean and do the right thing by all of its customers who it has left in voucher limbo.

Will the Eurostar Ski Train be back in place next season? It’s hard to say.  I imagine a risk-averse Eurostar will only want to bring it back once things are approaching normality. Things can change fast, so who knows.

Whether or not the Ski Train runs, there will be still be great ways to get to the Alps from the UK by train via Paris, Lille or Brussels.

People deserve holidays. They say it’s the hope that kills you, but it’s also good to hope a bit too, while still being grateful for the things that we already have.