The COVID-19 and the domino effect closing ski resorts

A family enjoying the pistes at Val Thorens. Photo: C.Cattin. OT Val Thorens. The COVID-19 and the domino effect closing ski resorts.

The COVID-19 and the domino effect closing ski resorts

I have been a bit away from my blog due to increase work with the mess of having had the COVID-19 affecting all and everyone all over the world.

What seemed to be something distant affecting only China and Asia, now has its epicentre in Europe, and this has caused all ski resorts to close, first in Italy, then the rest of Europe, and now in North America. The resorts that seem to be still working are in Japan and in Scotland, and Hokkaido has just lifted up their state of emergency at the moment of writing.

This is by way non an exhaustive report or list on who closed, as there are tons of information around with more detail.

The party bar at the bottom of Pleney cablecar, great if you like loud music. The COVID-19 and the domino effect closing ski resorts
The party bar at the bottom of Pleney cablecar, great if you like loud music. The COVID-19 and the domino effect closing ski resorts

But how did this start so quickly? We were coming back from Morgex in the Aosta Valley on the 23rd February, when we heard while driving through France, that some cases of COVID-19 where in some towns in the south of Milano (Codogno, and some others) and in the Veneto region, but that the epidemic was pretty localised….then it was extended quickly to lock all the region of Lombardia. This led lots of people to escape towards the mountains before the closing of the region, as everyone felt it was going to be safer there. But then the virus was already spreading exponentially within the community when many of those that came to the mountain resorts, continue in holiday mode, piling in queues by the lifts. When at first I’ve thought of COVID19, I was thinking, people are well wrapped out, they have ski gloves or mittens, goggles, they are pretty safe…maybe ride a cabin only with your family group or whoever you are skiing with, and ride more chairlifts, and you would be fine… maybe lunches in a small cabin would not be a great idea, even though I love having lunch during my ski days….

But then, when it became clearer that everyone was still not respecting the social distancing that the Italian government was asking for, the Aosta Valley had very busy weekends with people from Milano, Torino and Genova still coming, and they decided, in conjunction with the hoteliers, to close the resorts… if not the spread was going to come to their area. All mountain resorts have hospital facilities that are small, as they cater to a much smaller population.

This created people going to another resorts, and even to France through the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Sudtirol, Dolomiti Superski and Trentino followed the closures. The Tyrol in Austria followed through, as there have been some cases in Ischgl, then it was a succession like a domino. France took its time to close, and many tour operators where hit twice, as they scrambled to change trips to ski resorts in Italy and Austria towards France, to be then forced to send back home skiers that arrived on the Saturday, when resorts closed on Saturday night.

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My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

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In August this year, I had the great surprise of my mum telling me she wanted to give me an advanced inheritance. She knew I always wanted to have a home in the mountains, but there was no way that I could afford it with my salary and that of with my husbands’. We were vacationing in Normandie when she told me so. I could not hold my excitement and started looking in all real estate websites.

Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.
Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

I’ve started with some of the British ones, but sooner came to check the Italian websites. The Guide to Buying a Home in Italy gave me lots of ideas of how to start and the contact of my property lawyer: Alessandro Clemente, who was great! I’ve talked to him before starting and he told me all the things I needed to take into account when going to scout properties. That was very important as I could have done all things wrong if I was not in the know.

We’ve planned to have a short trip end of August to visit some places. Idealista website was the one I’ve finished using to seeing the different offers and sorting what I want to do and an agenda on how we were going to go around. At first, I was thinking in two areas: Courmayeur and Cervinia. I’ve seen some flats in Cervinia – (Valtourneche really) with views of the Monte Cervino that seemed fabulous. Digging a bit more into what they were offering, this was part of a programme where you need to use your flat only some weeks and the rest the administration of the building takes care of it and rents it out. That kind of discouraged me because I wanted to have the option that if in the future I want to move to Italy, I have a place! Then talking to my mum, she told me that if I like so much Courmayeur and the Valdigne (the Valley of the Mont Blanc), why don’t I focus on that area only. Which really made my job easier in focusing how to use our three days better.

The balcony at the Gran Baita Hotel with a view of the Dente del Gigante - even though a cloud is covering it at the time. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.
The balcony at the Gran Baita Hotel with a view of the Dente del Gigante – even though a cloud is covering it at the time. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

Got the flights to Geneva and transfers to Courmayeur. Got the hotel (Gran Baita) in Courmayeur and started looking each day at the Idealista website and sorting which flats I would want to visit. I had two weeks to talk to everyone and sort a pretty busy agenda. I’ve started to get excited!

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