Ski hosting is the service offered by British tour operators which helps guests discover their chosen ski area. Ski hosts don’t offer instruction: their role is simply to show groups of skiers around the pistes, as well as pointing out the best restaurants and après-ski bars.
Nevertheless, in February a court in Albertville ruled that the practice was in breach of French law, unless the hosting is done by fully-qualified ski or snowboard instructors.
Now, in response to that ban, Crystal has announced a new ski hosting service across 11 resorts in France – thanks to a new partnership with the French ski school Evolution 2.
Crystal calls ski hosting “social skiing” and it’s being offered in Avoriaz, Chamonix, La Clusaz, La Plagne, La Rosière, Les Arcs, Les Menuires, St Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val d’Isère and Val Thorens.
It’s a rather different service from the one Crystal offers in Austria, Italy, Andorra and elsewhere. It’s only available one day a week, between 10.30am and 4pm on Sundays (in other countries it’s on offer two or three days a week). But because the guides will be qualified Evolution 2 instructors they’ll also be able to offer tips on ski technique to their groups.
As a result, the new service will be a chance for Brits not just to familiarise themselves with the slopes at the start of their holiday, but to freshen up their skiing style, too. It’s also free to all Crystal guests.
Evolution 2 will no doubt benefit from an upsurge in interest in its ski lessons as a result of the programme – as Brits feel the benefit of good instruction and book classes later in the week.
But there’s a more profound benefit for the school. It’s now signed contracts to become Crystal’s main ski school partner in all eleven resorts in which the social skiing service is being offered. That represents a profound shift away from the ESF – which was involved in bringing about the ski-hosting ban, and supported the prosecution of a British tour operator last winter for offering it.
Needless to say the loss of so much valuable Crystal business is seen by many in the British ski industry – Welove2ski included – as the ESF’s just deserts.
An appeal against the ski-hosting ban will be heard in Chambery in November.
It is backed by Crystal and another ten operators who are prepared to fight all the way to the High Court in Paris and to the European court in Brussels to get this unjust ban overturned. Welove2ski stands firmly alongside them in supporting the appeal.