No room at the ski lodge for bargain hunters

With the Pound fetching less than a Euro at Travelex airport counters today you would think there would be some real real bargains to be had in ski resorts this Christmas as skiers stay at home to beat the credit crunch. French crooner Alan Bashung once sang “Ma petite entreprise ne connait pas la crise(1)” and it seems that French ski resorts are singing the same tune. Initial figures just released by Savoie Mont-Blanc, the organisation that is responsible for marketing the two Savoie departments shows that ski resorts are 89% full over the Christmas and New Year period. 14% up on the same period last year. Phoning around some of the resorts shows that there really is no room at the inn.

You will have more luck in January which currently has a 38% reservation rate. This lowish figure should be set against the fact that the French six week winter holiday period starts in February and no other European country has holidays in January. The only sign that of a recession is during the key February holiday month which has a 67% reservations, 2% down on last year for the same period. Reservation desks in the high altitude resorts of Val Thorens, Val d’Isère and les Arcs have noted strong demand during November encouraged by the good early season snow fall. At la Toussuire in the Maurienne the ESF ski school has even stronger demand than last year and if reservations are just “correct” the resort is counting on its variety of accommodation to lessen the impact of the economic crisis. Arêches looks like it will have an excellent New Year but Christmas is slightly less busy than 2007.

The devil may be in the detail though. There is strong demand for larger accommodation, 8 to 10 beds, as people group-up to save money. In the Rhone-Alpes region, destination for 70% of British skiers visiting France, low cost airlines may lessen the impact. Early evidence shows that DIY ski holidays are doing well, evidence perhaps that serious skiers are not going to fore-go their trip to the mountains. Reservations from tour operators are down. Other sources of worry are how much spending power winter sports enthusiasts will have and whether day trippers from the Alpine cities will make up the numbers. With the first major holiday week underway indications are that, even if London Mayor Boris Johnson will be cutting back on the Vin Chaud and Tartiflette other British visitors are determined to enjoy themselves. The Swiss also look set to brazen out the crisis, they are counting on the countries entry in the Schengen to boost tourism (a single visa is enough for the whole zone). A spokesman for Swiss Tourism told us that they would not be cutting prices as that would sacrifice quality but hotels may be offering extras. Perhaps a free box of Ferrero Rocher?

So although there is no crisis in the short term there are concerns about next season and at the luxury end with doubts over London’s City Slickers and Russian Oligarchs. Perhaps we will see the end of block bookings of luxury hotels and ski pistes? Well don’t count on it, the Airelles restaurant in swanky Courchevel is offering a New Year’s supper at a mere 1400 Euros, that is for two mind.

[1]My little business isn’t affected by the crisis -

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 14 December, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Reading this article prompted me to mention the following, not sure if this is considered inappropriate or the wrong place to mention this but i am aware of some good deals to be had in Chamonix this Xmas!  If i can be of help please contact me.

Posted by  on  Sunday, 14 December, 2008  at 08:20 PM

Thanks for the info James, I’m sure with the great conditions people will be pleased to know that.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 14 December, 2008  at 11:09 PM
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