Handful of European Ski Resorts Prepare to Open
13th September 2020
Last modified on September 23rd, 2020
Stubai, Pitztal and Kaunertal in the Tirol plan to fire up their first lifts by the end of September. Then its Ruka and Levi in Finland. It will be a somewhat different experience with Covid-19 restrictions. NEW
The resorts of Ruka and Levi in Finland are set to open on October 2nd.
Cold temperatures this coming weekend should help things along nicely.
They also stockpile snow from last winter, cover it in the summer months and it is now set to be spread out on the slopes.
The glacier resorts in the Tirol are always among the first in the Alps to open, though some resorts like Zermatt/Cervinia and Hintertux have been offering summer skiing over the past few months.
Saas-Fee in Switzerland and others, including Tignes in France, open over a limited period during the summer.
Stubai is set to open on September 25th and is often busier in the autumn than it is in the winter.
For us at PlanetSKI it marks the beginning on the European ski season.
Check out what it normally looks like from one of our recent Autumn visits to the Tirol for our first turns of the winter:
However, little is normal at the moment.
The resort has published its full covid-19 rules and regulations after extensive work and preparations over the summer.
We post them in full as many other resorts across the Alps will look similar this winter as they follow the instructions of their central authorities.
The detail is worth reading even if you have no plans to visit Stubai at the moment, given the continued requirement of quarantine if you come to the UK from Austria.
They give an indication of what it will be like elsewhere round the mountains.
Stubai Covid-19 Policy
“The safety and health of our guests are our top priority.
“The COVID-19 regulations, which are currently being drawn up, will be strictly adhered to.
“All our measures are taken for the benefit of our guests and employees.
“The measures will be evaluated on a continuous basis.
“Since the situation can change anytime, new regulations may be required.”
They will be organised in such a way that an appropriate distance can be maintained.
Moreover, face masks must be worn for the safety of all guests and employees.
Notice signs listing the precautionary measures will be installed.
Gondola rides with face masks
The same regulations as for all public transport apply also to gondola rides: Wearing face masks is required.
This way the gondolas can be used as specified (e.g. 6-seater gondola for 6 persons).
If there are only few guests. we will do our best to keep the capacity utilisation low.
The gondolas will be disinfected regularly.
Closed rooms of the lifts (such as valley and mountain stations, shops, ski storage depots, mountain restaurants)
We recommend to wear face masks and to maintain a safety distance of at least one metre.
There will be sufficient disinfectant dispensers.
Notice signs listing the precautionary measures have been installed.
We recommend wearing a face mask on your way to and from the table, as well as in the self-service area and in the toilet facilities.
Sufficient disinfectant dispensers have been installed.
Notice signs listing the precautionary measures have been installed.
We recommend to visit restaurants outside of peak hours (before 12:00 p.m. and after 1:30 p.m.).
During the 2020/21 winter the Schneekristall pavilion will be a day bar with service and seating. We will do without aprés-ski atmosphere.
There will be background music.
Attention is paid to sufficient air exchange in the gondolas and buildings and cleaning intervals are reduced.
All employees of the lifts, restaurants and sports shops on the Stubai Glacier wear face masks and if required gloves.
Employees of the Stubaier Gletscherbahnen are subjected to regular PCR tests.
Ski bus in the valley:
We will provide additional ski buses to the scheduled ones in case of increased demand in public transport.
As a guest, what can you do to ensure safety?
- Wear mouth and nose protection in gondolas and closed rooms.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 1 metre to other people.
- Wash and disinfect your hands regularly and properly.
- Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm or into a handkerchief.
- Refrain from shaking hands when greeting.
- If you suspect an infection and symptoms occur, please stay at home or in your accommodation and call the health number 1450 for further action (24 hours)
- Note the capacity utilisation indicator on our website. It shows the current degree of capacity utilisation in the ski area.
- Buy your ski pass online. This way you avoid queuing up in the lift ticket office.
- Pay contactless with EC or credit card at the ticket offices, shops and restaurants.
- Demonstrate responsibility for yourself and your family, because with your circumspection you can protect yourself and others.
- The situation can change any time and this might lead to new regulations and decisions by the Austrian government.
Our editor, James Cove, looks forward to the winter ahead.
“It will be a ski season like no other.
Social distancing, uncertainty, restricted apres ski, potential quarantine measures, the threat of resorts closing with limited notice, anxiety in the air, planning everything ahead, cold picnic lunches outside on terraces, many people driving rather than flying, increasing numbers opting for self-catering rather than chalets/hotels, online purchase of lift passes/ski rental and much else besides
Plus, likely higher prices all round and less holidays on offer from the UK ski operators and agents.
I could go on.
There is after all a pandemic and Covid-19 shows no signs of going anywhere, anytime soon.
In fact, it is now on the rise across Europe with a few sobering predictions from some experts for autumn and next winter.
But I’m looking forward to next season as much as any other.
In fact, more than any other.
I suspect I am not alone.
I simply can’t wait to get back on skis and head deep into the snow-filled mountains.
I know that with certain compromises and keeping informed it should be entirely possible.
My ski season ended abruptly on March 8th when I decided it was time to stop skiing and leave the PlanetSKI mountain base in Aosta, Italy.
The summer has, to say the least, been somewhat strange.
A plan to head to the ski resorts of South America this summer was binned early on.
I ruled out any summer Europe glacier skiing opportunities as the pandemic took hold.
And now we stand on the brink of a new ski season.
I shall be planning ahead with plenty of options open if circumstances change.
I shall be correctly insured and I will keep abreast of all the coronavirus restrictions and likely developments.
I am looking at the smaller, less-crowded resorts.
I am looking forward to people being more considerate and caring, and doing their bit for the greater good.
I am looking forward to obeying the necessary rules and regulations.
I am looking forward to other ways to get to ski resorts rather than flying – the train and driving.
I am looking forward to taking things slower – skiing might even go a bit old-school with less of the razamatazz and hype.
The resorts I will mostly be heading to will likely have less-crowded slopes, and the powder in the off piste will hopefully stay for longer.
I can handle that.
I’ll miss the apres ski, but I can survive without it.
A few quiet beers?
We’ll all be in it together and I intend to go back to basics – simply going to enjoy the pleasure of sliding downhill on snow, with the sun shining and the mountains weaving their magic on my soul.
Bring it on.”
Much of what Stubai and the other resorts are doing has already been done in the resorts in the southern hemisphere that have opened.
We have been following developments closely in Australia, New Zealand and the resorts in Argentina and Chile in South America across the summer months.
To gauge an indication of what is in store in the northern hemisphere.
Lets hope it is more like New Zealand, than the state of Victoria in Australia.
Other resorts in Europe have announced their plans including Ischgl in Austria and the actions and precautions are much the same.
This, as they say, is “the New Norm”.
As we write new regulations have been announce and are coming into force in Austria.
New Coronavirus Regulations in Austria
From Monday 14th September face masks are required in all shops and public buildings.
They are already compulsory on public transport and in “essential” shops, such as supermarkets and post offices.
There are also new rules on public gatherings which could affect ski resorts.
Events without assigned seating, including private parties, will now be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
The limit for spectator events with assigned seating has been reduced to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.
“It is getting serious again. The numbers have kept rising in recent weeks,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurtz, as he announced the new and tighter regulations.
Austria has reported almost 32,000 coronavirus cases and 750 deaths so far, and has been judged to have handled it well despite some early difficulties.
Other glacier resorts in the Tirol will be opening too later this month.
The glacier resort of Hintertux has been open for summer skiing and its first main event of the coming season is scheduled for October 1st, Hotzone.tv Park Opening.
It’s the 16th edition of the event.
The first though under Covid-19 regulations.
The organisers are implementing all official Covid-19 requirements to make sure the weekend is safe and carefree for everyone involved.
“It is important though that every visitor is also taking over self-responsibility and contributing,” said a statement from the organisers.
“Solidarity and paying an eye to current measures will make it a relaxed winter kick-off.
“Schedule changes are possible, depending on potential new official requirements.”
Other glacier resorts opening later this month include Pitztal and Kaunertal and we will bring you details of their opening dates and arrangements shortly.