There will be few readers of Skipedia unaware of the ongoing saga between the French authorities and British ski tour operators offering ‘ski hosting’ [for the uninitiated, try the following articles].
With the next stage in the appeal process not due until May 2014, ski hosting will not be offered this winter season.
Crystal Holidays working with Evolution 2
This has led to a large amount of negative press for the ESF in the UK media.
More significantly the ESF have been hit in the pocket in some resorts. The UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Holidays, announced that in some resorts they would work with rival ski school Evolution 2.
Skiworld followed Crystal’s lead and announced in November they would offer a similar solution to social skiing in four resorts.
ESF La Rosiere offer their own free ‘Discover La Rosiere’ service
La Rosiere was one of the resorts affected by Crystal’s decision.
On Sunday, they launched their own free guided tour ‘Discover La Rosiere’. The service is limited to 20 people, who have never skied in the resort before and is open to all nationalities.
Not only will guests from all tour companies receive free ‘social skiing’, but they will also be given a free drink and snack at a mountain restaurant at the end of the tour.
First resort in France to respond
To our knowledge, La Rosiere becomes the first resort in France to respond to the changes in legislation and shift away from the ESF.
This may be because the director of the ESF, Simon Atkinson, is British:
“I think you need to be British to understand the social culture around British skiing,” Atkinson told Skipedia. “We hope other resorts will follow us and help guests to have a great start to their holiday.”
“The way it was handled was very disappointing”
“The way it was handled by Crystal was very disappointing. The French have an idea of the British as being very honest – their word is their bond,” Atkinson told Skipedia. “The first I heard of the change was when I read it in a press release.”
“In La Rosiere it doesn’t even make sense for Crystal. Their clients are mainly in Les Eucherts, where the ESF is the only ski school. Evolution 2 are based in La Rosiere, so guests will have to start the day with a bus journey,” said Atkinson.
“I don’t believe the way it has been reported in the British press has been helpful,” he continued. “Articles like the one in the Sunday Times titled ‘Ski poles at dawn‘ don’t add anything valuable to the debate.”
Watch out for more innovation in the market
The legal debate about ski hosting will probably go on for even longer than what it should be called (‘ski hosting’, ‘social skiing’, ‘ski escorting’ etc).
The issue seems now to have become one of principle, rather than business. Do many British skiers make their booking decisions on the basis of whether social skiing is offered or not? We doubt it.
France will not lose customers or any sleep over the ban. But the ESF has evidently lost goodwill in the British market. The ‘Discover La Rosiere’ service is one step to recovering that position, and we expect other resorts to respond similarly in due course.
By Iain Martin