As expected, the French Tourist Minister announced yesterday that ski lifts will not open on the 1st February due to Covid. That they will remain closed until at least the middle of February, and probably throughout the month. Jean Baptiste Lemoyne also suggested that this ski season might be a ‘write-off’.
As sad as this announcement may be, it has not come as a great surprise. The R rate in Rhone Alpes is currently 1.16 against a national average 0f 1.19. An R rate above 1 suggests Covid has a high risk of infection rates increasing. ICU is holding up well, at 70%, but the months ahead are clearly critical. France now has several cases of the new, faster spreading variant. As happened in the UK, this is likely to put the French health system under extreme pressure. To open the lifts would put people in close proximity, and higher risk as a consequence. Despite the sports ‘open air’ credentials that reduce the risk of infection greatly. Some will of course look across the border to Switzerland where lifts are operating. But this has not been without its issues, with several reports of infections as a result. It is a tough call, and the government is probably damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Economically, the impact is certainly significant for all ski resorts. Chamonix like most is included, relying heavily on the festive and February school holiday months.
From a Chamonix Exclusive perspective, the possibility of a summer business remains a possibility, but not assured. Chamonix from a summer perspective is luckier than most in that it has a high level of summer visitors compared to other ski resorts. Zermatt being one of the few others. For others it is potentially a whole year that is now lost. Our thoughts go to such in this tough time. Compagnie des Alpes CEO Dominique Marcel, the Group company that runs the lift system in Chamonix (Compagnie de Mont-Blanc) summed this up by saying:
“It is clear that if we do not open in February that the season is ended, and the ski resorts will struggle to survive“
As previously advised, Chamonix Exclusive has already prudently budgeted for our luxury chalet to be closed for the winter season. Chamonix summer breaks may be a possibility, but are not assured and we are not counting on such within our budgeting process. Bookings are being accepted under our Covid Terms. We are also now taking bookings for 2021/22 ski season and demand is high as detailed in our recent news article. Thank-you for your continued support and book early for next year not to miss out a second time!
Stay safe everyone.
Chamonix Ski lifts will not open this week. The next review date being in two weeks time on 20th January.
As we were advised below, the date for opening the Chamonix ski lifts was formally delayed by the government authorities. Whilst expected and clearly the appropriate decision, the sadness across the Chamonix Valley was palpable. The formal announcement confirmed our contacts comments. That the next review will be the 20th January. As noted below, this review is not expected to result in the opening of the Chamonix ski lifts. We have been informed to open, significant improvement in Covid rates and admissions would be needed. In such a short windo, this is extremely unlikely.
Whilst there is talk about a February opening, this is the most popular time with French and European visitors. The covid situation is not expected to improve significantly by then either. We believe the risk of busy ski resorts is likely to be too great a risk for the authorities. As a consequence, we are therefore not expecting Chamonix ski lifts to open during February either.
Chamonix Exclusive has already prudently budgeted for our luxury chalet to be closed for the winter season. Luxury Chalet No.5 is prepped and ready to go, and should the situation change, we will open accordingly. We thank-you for your continued support and regardless of this winter, look forward to seeing you in the summer.
We have been reliably informed that the Chamonix ski lifts are expected to remain closed and not open tomorrow as hoped. This could continue for the foreseeable future whilst covid infection rates nationally remain high. A decision will be made officially later, but this is expected to be a formality in terms of further delays.
In the middle of December the government reaffirmed that ski lifts would be closed over the festive holiday period. However, that the previous delayed opening date of 20th January, could be brought forward to the 6th January. This was on the proviso that covid infection rates remained low. Whilst local rates have remained below an R-rate of 1, demand nationally on the health system is at a critical stage. The risk of increasing infections is therefore a grave concern. The other significant concern is that ski and snowboarding increases the demand on hospitals as a result of trauma injuries. These two factors are thought to be the reason that the government will not allow Chamonix ski lifts to open currently.
We understand that the Chamonix ski lifts staying closed will disappoint so many. But despite this, and the economic impact, we believe it is the right decision. We do not say this lightly. We personally understand and are also experiencing the economic impact the closure is having. Notwithstanding the economic downside and our personal disappointment, we appreciate too the impact it can have on mental well-being.
But with the current R-Rate at 0.85 and intensive care beds in hospitals in the Auvergne Rhone Alpes at 70% capacity, it’s a critical time. Our thoughts are that these numbers can not be taken lightly. Nearly 400 patients are in intensive care beds in this region with 50 new admissions daily. It is a case of hard choices in order to save lives and respect front line staff.
At Chamonix Exclusive we expect the next review to be later this month. Probably close to the previously advised delayed opening of 20th January. This said, we do not expect to see Chamonix ski lifts restarting any time soon.
European countries are are on a precipice, balancing economic failure with the risk of a healthcare catastrophe. The latter may seem dramatic, but we don’t think it is. Lives are at risk and many in the NHS and healthcare organisations across Europe are battling tirelessly for us all. This is a time therefore for governments to be decisive. At Chamonix Exclusive we therefore back the authorities to continue to do the right thing. Regardless of the discomfort it causes. Stay safe everyone and we hope to see you soon when it is the right time, and appropriate to do so.