A new programme for winter 2007/08 will be started in Chamonix called ‘ski ambassadors’, designed to help tourists at the ski hills find their way around, give information and ‘animate’ the morning ski queues.
A new project has been accepted by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc for the coming ski season. Called the Assocatation du Poya (and run as a volunteer only group as a ‘partner’ of the Compagnie du Mont Blanc), its volunteers (ski ambassadors) will be called upon to try something new in Chamonix this year - extra customer service, friendliness and welcome information on a scale normally reserved for North American ski resorts.
Similar to ‘snow host’ programs long in place in many ski resorts in the USA and Canada, a small number of volunteers will be engaged to try out this new level of service in Chamonix. If the program is successful, it is imagined the program will be expanded in future seasons.
The volunteers will be on hand at the lift queues in the morning to answer questions and ‘animate’ the queues, and after lunch they will be on hand skiing ‘slowly’ around the pistes in an identifiable uniform, and will be available to direct skiers around the ski area and answer any questions they have about the resort, lift closures, weather conditions etc..
Ever mindful of unions and sports regulations the volunteers will not be be allowed to accompany skiers on the pistes, only to direct them.
Volunteers will be fluent in at least two languages, and will themselves be skiers or snowboarders familiar with the ski area and the town of Chamonix itself.
Other improvements over last year:
1. The Compagnie du Mont Blanc website is ‘up’ in English. (Though someone should truly tell them that running the French text through ‘Babelfish’ is NOT a good way to translate a page - some of the sentences are completely ridiculous, and place names like ‘Mont Blanc’ are translated to ‘White Mountain’ ... still could use more improvements here - but a good start.
2. Early season pass prices are posted, with 35% discounts for purchases before end of November. You can finally fully buy the passes online (uploading your own photo).
3. HOWEVER there is still no statement in the ‘primo’ Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass about access to Courmayeur (a HUGE issue last season, where many locals felt quite ‘duped’ about the one day in Courmayeur limit placed on the seasonal version of the supposedly ‘unlimited’ ski passes), and even Les Houches access is questioned this season!? The advertising this year on the website is at least more honest - it reads for those 2 stations *frequency of access according to inter-station agreements being reviewed.
4. Additional opening dates. This Autumn, and next Spring the lifts are opening more than in previous years, allowing the ‘out of season’ resort tourists and locals to take advantage of often beautiful weather in October/November (many lifts will be open for Toussaint). Additionally, lifts will close for a shorter period after winter season, allowing earlier access to Spring hiking. This helps make the season’s pass or yearly pass more attractive to locals again, and also helps resort businesses in that they can now sell dates outside the normal ‘peak season’ times and still ensure visiting guests of lift accessible hiking or mountain biking, allowing everyone (except perhaps the local wildlife) more fun and (of course) profit.