UK's biggest ski operator cancels all December holidays to France

Lucy Aspden
·4-min read
skiers on slopes
skiers on slopes

Hopes of spending Christmas on the slopes suffer another blow as Crystal Ski calls time on trips to France

Crystal Ski Holidays has cancelled all ski trips to France in December, as resorts in the country are warned they may not reopen this year.

“We’re sorry to confirm that due to the impact of Covid-19 and the restrictions now in place, we can’t operate our holidays to France for departures up to and including 31 December 2020,” reads a statement from the UK’s biggest ski holiday operator.

“We’re aware of the French President’s recent announcement regarding restrictions in France. We’ll be proactively contacting any customers whose holidays are impacted as soon as possible to discuss their options, prioritising those due to travel in the coming weeks. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” it continued.

On Tuesday night France’s president Macron said, it is “impossible to consider reopening [of ski resorts] for the year-end festivities,” which led to Crystal’s announcement and fury among resort bosses who had hoped to reopen in the coming weeks.

There is a row brewing in Europe over whether ski resorts should be allowed to open for Christmas and New Year. Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has called for a ban on ski holidays across Europe, in order to prevent a third spike in coronavirus cases. If he gets his wish, trips to Italy will likely suffer the same fate. Meanwhile Austria has indicated that it is against such a ban and may open up its slopes in mid-December and resorts in Switzerland have remained open and are sticking to plans to continue to open.

Crystal has previously confirmed it will not operate holidays to destinations deemed as unsafe by the UK government, where the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office advises against all non-essential travel to or places where holidaymakers may face quarantine, either on their arrival or return home. 

“For all holidays, we’ll be following FCDO advice, monitoring the situation closely and will do everything we can to get you to your destination.”

Decisions on whether to run trips are being made on a continuous basis, as departure dates approach. “If travel restrictions or quarantine requirements remain in place, we’ll be in touch around two weeks before your departure date to offer a range of flexible options,” it states.

Customers are being offered the chance to rearrange their trips for free, with extra booking incentives, or cancel and receive a full refund, as part of Crystal’s package of Covid guarantees this winter – brought in to give customers peace of mind. It includes the ability to make free amendments to their holiday up to 28 days before departure, while anybody who tests positive, is asked to self-isolate, or is impacted by local lockdowns in the UK, also has the right to amend their trip.

The operator has scrapped all chalets holidays this winter already and early-season trips to all other destinations are off the cards too. “We’re sorry to confirm that due to the impact of Covid-19 and the restrictions now in place, we can’t operate our holidays to Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Switzerland or the USA for departures up to and including 13 December 2020,” reads the statement. Trips to Canada, where borders are currently closed, are further suspended until December 19.

Crystal’s major competitor Hotelplan, which owns Inghams, Esprit Ski, Ski Total and Flexiski, has already made concrete plans for the upcoming months. Last week it confirmed its entire family-focussed programme with Esprit Ski would be cancelled for the whole winter, and it wouldn’t be offering chalets in France with any of its other brands. It has already cancelled all December departures.

According to the current statement on Crystal’s website, holidays due to depart after the Near Year to France, December 19 to Canada and December 13 to all other destinations, are currently scheduled to operate as planned. 

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and if holidays are impacted, we will be in direct contact with customers around two weeks before their departure… We’d like to thank customers for their continued patience and understanding.”