As we adjust to what the new normal looks like for day to day life, it may be time to consider how a ski holiday could look this winter, and the things that we can do to stay safe on it. With safety and comfort being our top priorities, here are our 5 top tips for staying safe on a ski holiday during COVID-19.
1. Sanitiser in your pocket
Perhaps the easiest way to protect ourselves is by carrying a small travel sized hand sanitiser with you on the slopes inside a zipped pocket of your jacket. While it is true that for most of the time you will be wearing gloves, it is also reasonable to assume that at some time you may need to visit the washroom during the day or purchase some food. The trouble with cold, snowy weather is that it often makes our noses run or drip even when we are perfectly healthy, leading us to wipe or blow our noses once indoors. When we then think of the door handles, cubicle locks, credit card machines or food trays that we then go on to touch, frequent sanitising while in indoor spaces is a good idea. Many places will provide their own, but carrying your own will avoid you getting caught short or off guard.
2. Consider adding a neck warmer or balaclava to your ski wardrobe
Staying on the lines of hand cleanliness, this may be the season to start wearing a balaclava if you don’t already – especially for children that are prone to sucking their mittens (unpleasant yes, but a reality of skiing with kids). While the cold may well keep some germs at bay, many hands will touch the safety bars of a chairlift throughout any given day, and it is all to easy to then use that same covered hand to wipe a nose, or in the case of many kids – shovel snow into their mouths. A balaclava or neck warmer does not only keep us snugglier and cosier in the chilly weather, but it will likely reduce the frequency that a hand goes to our mouth or nose. As with masks – having a covered mouth and nose will provide some protection against sneezes and water droplets from other people – and prevent us from sharing anything with others.
3. Be lift aware
And on the chairlift note, many resorts will offer their own protection protocols to ensure that not too many people are fitted into confined spaces or huddled together in line ups. However, in the event that you find yourself at a resort that has not made adjustment for this, do be sure to only share gondolas with those that you are traveling with, avoid being packed onto full chairlifts or shoulder to shoulder with strangers in lines.
4. Rent during the quiet times
When considering service around town, there are a few high traffic areas in most ski resorts that do see concentrated crowds sharing indoor spaces; many equipment rental shops fall into this category. If a rental shop offers an in-chalet fitting service – this is the safest. If that is not an option, plan your visit to the shop to make sure you avoid the busiest hours – such as late morning or early afternoon. Specifically do not go before 10:00 am and between 16:00 – 18:00. This may mean that you revise your arrival time or schedule sightly, but it will also allow for a calmer, more focused fitting session.
5. Consider your restaurant options
The food and drink experiences enjoyed on a ski holiday are for most people an important factor of the trip itself. During Covid we can certainly still enjoy our culinary treats, though it would be prudent to put some additional thought into our dining arrangements. Again, if in-chalet dining with the use of a local private chef is an option for you, this carries the lowest risk and maximum comfort. Visiting restaurants within the resort is also a good option as it is a great way to get a true feeling of the local area. If you do this, be sure to check the Covid protocols of the establishment before visiting – such as how the seating is spaced what the sanitisation procedure is between sittings and what the capacity is during your time. You will likely need to book ahead, and going to somewhere that is
walk in only may involve you not only waiting longer to eat, but lining up with others that you did not travel with.
6. Book private services
Lastly, do be sure that the services you book are private ones for yourself and your travel companions. Being 1 of 10 strangers in a group lesson, huddled together in gondolas, transportation and sharing one instructor that does multiple lessons a day – does increase your exposure. Many instructors are hands on in the sense that they assist with boot, helmet and other equipment adjustments for their guests throughout the day, and in a large group environment it will be necessary to pay more attention to hand and equipment cleanliness. Private services will minimise close contact with those you did not travel with and that have travelled from various locations, and ensure that maximum attention is paid to sanitisation and cleanliness. As an added bonus, booking private for lessons and guiding services will elevate the experience itself as they will be entirely focused on you, your interests and abilities.
Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.