Alpine ski resorts opening early following heavy snowfall should give the sector confidence about the upcoming season, according to Club Med’s UK managing director.
Nicolas Bresch said the company has seen strong early bookings after popular resorts including Val Thorens and Tignes announced they would open earlier than planned due to good conditions.
“The fact resorts are opening early is a sign of good things to come and a reason to be optimistic,” said Bresch.
“When you work in the ski business, snowfall is of course what you want to see, so it’s great to see so much this early in the season.”
He added: “The season is long and you never know what might happen next, but at Club Med we’re confident about the snow conditions this season, and bookings reflect that.”
Bresch said about 40% of the operator’s sales come through the trade compared with 60% through direct channels – a split “we are very happy with”.
“We want to continue nurturing and leveraging the relationships we have with our partners,” he told Travel Weekly. “They’ve got the coverage, expertise and network we sometimes lack.”
The operator has a “unique” snow guarantee policy, said Bresch, which means customers can “book with confidence”.
Club Med’s policy sees skiers moved to an alternative resort in its portfolio if 50% of the ski domain is closed for two or more consecutive days within a five-day period before departure.
If there is no availability at its other resorts, the customer would be offered a voucher so they can rebook when conditions have improved.
Club Med’s properties are almost fully booked for the entirety of January and February and the operator is now focusing on filling capacity for spring.
“We’re now pushing spring ski, which is an entirely different product: the days are longer which means more time on the slopes, and less crowded runs,” said Bresch.
“In March and April last year the snow conditions were the best of the season, and it’s a cheaper time to book, so we are gradually seeing people moving away from January and February towards this later period.”