After last year’s winter ski season was all but wiped out by Covid, storm clouds are lifting for UK skiers.
European alpine resorts, all of which currently welcome vaccinated British tourists, are bracing for a busy winter, with the Nordic countries set to open their first ski lifts in a few weeks.
The United States announced this week that it will open its borders to vaccinated travelers from the UK in November, while more than 300 resorts in Canada are already welcoming vaccinated UK travelers again.
And with the end of pre-departure testing in England and day two PCR testing for returning vaccinated travelers ahead of the start of the winter ski season, there is now a real sense of optimism.
However, with the Delta variant still wreaking havoc across the continent and this being the first post-Brexit ski season, the path to a ski vacation in 2021/22 will not be an entirely easy blue run.
Families with young teens will find it virtually impossible to book a ski vacation that doesn’t require unvaccinated 12-15 year olds to take a Covid test every two or three days while they are away, go into a restaurant, or swim. in a hotel swimming pool, as well as many other activities.
There are also concerns about accommodation availability, with some longtime tour operators entering administration and Brexit staff shortages causing problems.
Are there still availability?
Ski Solutions chief executive Craig Burton has warned that resorts book “well in advance,” with even mid-range hotels and dining options in high demand. Inghams says ski holiday bookings are up 15% from this pre-Covid period, but the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski, owned by TUI, said there were still great bargains to be had, including Christmas deals starting at £ 520 per person.
Who do I book with?
For those looking for the added peace of mind that an Atol-protected vacation package can provide, which one? says Inghams is the best company to book with this year. It awarded the ski pass operator the recommended supplier for the 2021 ski vacation.
Several companies have fallen into the wall over the past two years, but VIP Ski, which took office in January, has been resuscitated by general manager Andy Sturt as a leaner operation. It no longer sells vacation packages (this is in preparation for next winter) but has kept the most popular two-thirds of its accommodation portfolio and still packages airport transfers in the price of a stay.
How will Brexit affect me?
Hotelplan (which owns Inghams, Esprit, Ski Total and Flexiski) and Ski Solutions will both offer a smaller chalet portfolio this season due to the higher cost of staffing at European resorts.
Sturt of VIP Ski said that even though Brexit has brought a lot of red tape for the company, guests of the catered chalets will still find UK staff managing their holidays on site as usual.
Skiers will also be among the first to be affected by the return of roaming charges in the EU. EE and Vodafone will charge customers £ 2 per day to use their phones in Europe from January 1.
You should also have a validity of at least three months on your passport until the date of your return.
Where to ski this year?
Family skiing without restriction
Vaccinated adults with unvaccinated children aged 15 and under can enter without restriction.
Covid has been partly blamed for delays on the funicular to Mount Cairngorm, which will not be ready this winter. On top of that, inconsistent snowfall should be all that stands between British holidaymakers and the Highlands.
Restricted family skiing
Vaccinated adults can enter. Full vaccination or regular testing required for children 12 years of age and over to eat inside restaurants or participate in many activities.
People aged 13 and over must present a Green Pass to access certain activities and services. A negative antigen test result entered into the Green Pass app will grant 72 hours of validity. For unvaccinated travelers, this will result in a Covid test every 48 hours. Social distancing and masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces and some outdoor public spaces. Contactless ticketing is used for ski lift services and buffets have been banned in restaurants and bars.
Face masks are compulsory on the ski lifts. People aged 18 and over must present a health pass application “health pass” to access bars, restaurants, hotel swimming pools and eat or drink al fresco in a café or restaurant. This also applies to children between 12 and 17 years old. The French government has yet to say whether young Britons who have been offered a single dose of the vaccine will be exempt. If this is not the case, proof of having recovered from the Covid or a negative lateral flow test carried out in the last 48 hours will be essential in order to obtain a health pass.
Under the Austrian ‘entry test’ system, which is compulsory for all ages 12 and over, antigen testing grants 24 hours of validation to enter restaurants and other indoor public places, while testing PCRs are valid for 72 hours (drops to 48 hours in Vienna). Some ski resorts also require the use of a contact search application. The Mayrhofen Hippach region, which includes the Zillertal Valley, requires customers to download the Tracy contact finder app. The elevators are operating at 100% of their capacity. Face masks are mandatory for people six years of age and older in confined spaces such as public transportation.
Free skiing for adults
Vaccinated adults can enter these countries, but unvaccinated adolescents and children of certain ages cannot.
Those over 11 are only allowed to enter Germany on vacation if they have been fully vaccinated. This cancels trips for young singles aged 12 to 15. Ski resorts in Germany should require proof of the “three Gs” of “geimpfte, genesene, getestet”: vaccinated, recovered or tested.
The first non-glacial stations to open each year are in Finland. Ruka’s northern latitude means it will open on October 10. Only UK double-bitten visitors can go on holiday. People born since 2006 are exempt. Those born at the end of 2005, who turn 16 this year, will struggle to get their second vaccination on time this year.
Requires full vaccination for all visitors aged 12 and over or 14-day quarantine, effectively banning Brits 12-15. Covid rules on the Alberta and British Columbia (BC) sides of the Canadian Rockies are light, though both regions still have indoor mask mandates. In British Columbia, which includes the popular resort town of Whistler, regulations will soon move to the more lenient “stage 4”, which means life at resorts is almost back to normal; The same is true for Alberta, which is due to lift almost all restrictions on September 27.
From November, British travelers will be allowed to enter the United States if they are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing. It is not yet clear whether there will be an exemption for 12-15 year olds who are currently only offered a single jab in the UK.
Skiing for adults only or prohibited
These destinations either ban sightseeing altogether or insist on regular testing, even for British double-bite holidaymakers.
Since September 13, the country, which has the highest infection rate of any Alpine country, has introduced a compulsory Covid passport for locals and tourists. Fully vaccinated UK visitors over the age of 16 can enter the country but must pass a test every three days to enter indoor public spaces, including restaurants. Covid passports will be mandatory until at least January 24, 2022.
Although you cannot enter the country directly, if you are traveling via a Nordic country (Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Norway) you can cross the border without any testing or proof of vaccination. The easiest way would be to travel to Denmark (proof of vaccination required), where you can catch a train.
With only 53% of the population fully vaccinated, it is unlikely that Japan will open up to foreign tourism in time for the winter season.
Italy’s annual rival for the title of Europe’s cheapest ski destination is currently closed to visitors from the UK, which is currently on Bulgaria’s ‘red list’.