What happened last winter?
In the middle of March last winter, the Swiss government declared the measures in the fight against Coronavirus would include the closure of ski resort lift systems. Although hotels remained open, all bars and restaurants were also closed and visitors to Zermatt were advised to return home. This very quickly and obviously marked the end of the winter in terms of winter sports.
How did most ski schools react?
Many ski schools around the Alps asked their clients to claim lesson costs on their insurance policies before requesting a refund. Some offered a credit note to use at some point in the future. Some refunded for lessons but less an admin charge. Some stuck steadfastly to their (often very harsh) cancelation policies and charged full price for lessons that did not take place.
How did Summit react?
First of all, we immediately contacted everyone who was due to ski with us in the coming days to notify them of the lift closures. We then contacted all the clients who had lessons booked in with us for the rest of the winter season to assure them that we would not be charging anybody any fee for lessons that could not take place. We refunded any payments already made and changed the bill of anyone who was part way through their holiday.
We really wanted to repay the trust our guests had placed in us by booking with Summit. We hope this will give anyone looking at their next holiday to Zermatt the confidence to book lessons safe in the knowledge they won’t be penalised financially should restrictions on ski areas be imposed again in the future.
What is going to happen next winter?
How will COVID-19 affect your holiday?
Currently, all the Zermatt hotels and restaurants are open as normal. All tables must be a minimum of 1.5m apart though. This might limit the number of people able to take breakfast at one time so get in there early to avoid a queue. Mountain restaurants might also find their capacity limited so if you have a favourite restaurant (or 6) that you wish to visit during your stay, it would be wise to book in advance.
Bars where ‘mingling’ occurs are required to take names and telephone numbers of anyone coming in.
Right now (August 2020), all the Zermatt lifts are open and running at full capacity. Everyone is required to wear face coverings while using the lift system but, apart from that, the whole mountain experience in Zermatt feels pretty ‘normal’.
There are no publicised plans to change how the lift system will operate but who knows what restrictions might be put in place by (or during) winter.
Our suggestion is that you book in advance but make sure you check the cancelation policy of those providing all aspects of your holiday. For Summit’s part, you cancel for free up to 7 days in advance of your lessons anyway. In addition, we promise not to charge for any lessons cancelled due to Coronavirus.
What might be different in your ski lessons this year? What is Summit doing to help fight the virus?
We will, of course, abide with all the regulations and recommendations of the Swiss government and Zermatt lift company.
This will likely include the compulsory wearing of face masks while using the lifts. Summit instructors will obviously wear their masks when using the lifts but, should you feel more comfortable, can happily keep their mask on for the duration of your lesson.
We may be required to limit the number of people entering the Summit office at one time. We’re also happy to make sure you can make all your reservations and payments etc remotely so you don’t need to come to our office at all.
BOOKING WITH CONFIDENCE
We’re all dreaming of next winter. We’re all ready to get outside. To get back to the mountains. To get back to some sort of normal. Most importantly, to get back on the slopes!
But there’s so much uncertainty. How can we plan our holidays?
For our part, at Summit Ski & Snowboard School, we have the kind of Ts&Cs that take some of the headache away. Simply put, you can cancel up to a week in advance of your lessons without any charge or penalty at all. On top of this, should the entire ski area be closed (for any reason) and your lessons can’t take place, we won’t charge for any of those lessons.
- This is not actually a new policy we’ve dreamt up in the face of COVID-19.
- It’s not something we’ll go back on.
- This is exactly what we did last winter already.
Not one Summit guest was charged for a single lesson that was affected by the lift closures in March 2020. We’re committed to providing the same great promise and service in the winter ahead so you can book lessons with confidence.