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Crystal drop all chalets

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Afternoon all,

Nothing official I've seen, but looks like Crystal have dropped all chalets for the upcoming season. Hardly surprising, which is a shame because we are big fans of a catered chalet. Hopefully the chalets will be picked up by smaller, independants or available via airbnb etc?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
oops


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Mon 7-09-20 14:55; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Certainly nothing for sale chalet wise on the website.

I'm guessing that they just book hotels as you book so no upfront cost or commitment. Then put on the requisite number of TUI aircraft to match. Be interesting to see if they stop booking once an aircraft is full.
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Not really a surprise given the double whammy of Brexit plus COVID but the end of a way of life for the UK TO market.

When the biggest player drops out what does that say about the viability of the niche operators? Could be a bit of an opportunity but I think the days of "cheap chalet hol" are clearly numbered.

Plus a bit more writing on the wall for TOs generally - with the fundmental bit of the package gone what for the package hol in the future over contracting direct with accomodation/hotels and having fewer middlemen to stiff you in a crisis?
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Admittedly i have no idea how operators source their accommodation (short/long lease, own, PAYG etc) but i did wonder if more chalet type properties would end up in the seasonaire or self catering market just for this season before being taken up again next. Bills covered with less outlay on staff and running costs was the way my simplistic brain was thinking. My son is considering a season in VT or Tignes and i am sure he would be more tempted to pay a bit extra for a single bed in a room in an ex Crystal chalet for 12 than some of the 25sqm apartments with 4 or 6 bunk or sofa beds he has seen!
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Well given many chalets are probably only SC lettable to quite big single parties I guess they might keep a few on but I would imagine they are busy welshing on as many contracted rentals as possible at the the moment (or just not signing the ones they typically renew)
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@Dave of the Marmottes,

haha blamming brext. rolling eyes
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Mr.Egg, Are you economically illiterate? What effect do you think removing the ability to employ cheap labour on UK contracts have on ability to operate a low cost service in EU states?
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I am already hearing and seeing the phrase "brovid" to describe the upcoming **** storm. I didn't think it could get worse.
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Not sure many chalet owners would rent out to a gang of seasonaires. I think anyone in resort would be wise to thst one.
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There's a couple of chalets on the market in Argentiere which look like former chalet holiday venues (in fact I know at least one of them definitely was)- i.e. large, all ensuite etc. Be interesting to see how long they hang around for; usually anything price appropriately sells within weeks.
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@chocksaway, back when I was in the industry (late '80s so please forgive poor memories), the likes of Crystal would contract for certain hotel rooms e.g. high season, when they knew they could fill them, have options on others and take the risks on running out - matching these with flights seats that would otherwise be having their corporate owners airfleets hanging around empty for the winter (and a motive to retain good summer staff).

So independents like us would contract for high season flight seats (actually, iirc we had to contraft for a minimum for the whole season) (as we wouldn't get them economically otherwise), contract for the few chalets we wanted and knew we could cover with those high weeks and take the risk on not being able to match bums to seats otherwise.

Usually worked well until someone's airline collapsed, in our case Air Europe's demise found me with Bladon Lines charging less for a full week's full board 5* chalet in Val d'Isere with flights, transfers, free lift pass and ski hire than I could find flights for Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad
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A friend here owns a chalet and ran it herself for many years. A couple of years ago Neilson approached her with a view to taking it on. She makes the same money without all the hard work. They are contracted for 3 years but expected a refund last winter although contractually they weren't entitled to it.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Claude B, not her risk is it? I hope she didn't give them anything and I hope they're honouring their commitment this year.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@under a new name, it’s all well and good, this forum spends a lot of time talking about the good ones and the bad ones when it came to CV refunds, if everyone is going to survive then the pain needs to be shared, in the UK greedy high street landlords are forcing businesses in to Voluntary liquidations just to to close the stores owned by greedy landlords - reading your post put all the stress on your holiday provider and then you expect them to give refunds or shoot them down as the bad ones. If everyone shares some pain we will be in a much better place when cv abates
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Charliee, who is likely to be in a better position to handle the situation and who should feel more pain?

An individual seasonally renting out their own property?

Or a very large, professionally managed, multinational?

The answer’s pretty clear to me.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Wasn't the writing already on the wall for chalets run by British TOs because of French employment law? Plus COVID will make many (me included) reluctant tourists book for next season. I have a feeling I'll be skiing Glen Coe for my first time ever - again that is assuming COVID permits. It is unsurprising that Chalsts are off the list.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Strangely @under a new name, it seems to be the travel companies going pop, not those wealth enough to own chalets in ski resort. Yes I appreciate this won’t apply to all but in the main I suspect it to be true. It’s not hard to renegotiate a deal with a mortgage company but it is hard to pay a huge number of staff on a monthly basis along with all the other expenses and a load of refunds - sleep on it you may come up with something different - we all need to share the pain!
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@Charliee, you’re assuming the chalet owners actually “owns” the chalet outright. Instead of the bank owning it and she merely working to pay the mortgage.

We don’t have sufficient information of either way. But you’re pretty quick to jump to a conclusion that she’s RICH and should bare the brunt of the business interruption over the travel company which, if they’re operating professionally, should have insurance against such event.
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If she is renting her chalets as a business she should have insurance too tho.
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Ghost Dog wrote:
If she is renting her chalets as a business she should have insurance too tho.


and possibly commercial property loan
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@achilles,
Yes, the changed employment laws in France and Austria plus the interpretation in Switzerland rather than Brexit were a significant nail in the coffin for chalets from the running cost point of view.
When Covid came along it didn't take the TOs much time to realise that in the short term there would be a huge reluctance for their customers (many of whom are normally strangers) to be in a chalet where social distancing will be difficult.
Brexit has had a minimal influence on the chalet concept but I suspect that any TO who says that he/she was already reducing the chalet programme solely because of Brexit is lying through the teeth.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Charliee,
Quote:

we all need to share the pain!


an admirable sentiment but perhaps not a true allocation of risk.
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Nemisis wrote:
@achilles,
Yes, the changed employment laws in France and Austria plus the interpretation in Switzerland rather than Brexit were a significant nail in the coffin for chalets from the running cost point of view.
When Covid came along it didn't take the TOs much time to realise that in the short term there would be a huge reluctance for their customers (many of whom are normally strangers) to be in a chalet where social distancing will be difficult.
Brexit has had a minimal influence on the chalet concept but I suspect that any TO who says that he/she was already reducing the chalet programme solely because of Brexit is lying through the teeth.

I think most chalet companies in France shifted a couples of years ago to a revised model that satisfied local laws: e.g. 5 evening meals a week instead of 6, and one extra member of staff per resort who rotated between chalets to do breakfast one day. Or some variation on that.
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Many operators were flouting the French employment laws well before the 2016 vote.
The chance of detection and punishment is the same now, however it's much easier for a company to pay fines when they have solid cashflow, strong revenue projection, healthy margins and decent cash reserves.
So the risk to the business is much greater now that the financial comfort blankets are removed.
The risk vs reward paradigm is so strongly reversed now (again more thru Covid than Brexit) that if the operators staffed their operations on French contracts, the increase in cost passed to the customers would render the notion of cheap chalet holidays non-existent.
The USP is therefore lost, and you are entering a very different space with higher end and niche operators who use their small size and flexibility as a strength for individually tailored holidays, whereas in the budget market this is a weakness.
There's still people offering catered chalet holidays in France, but its smaller companies and those who were already operating with French staffed contracts, and those with skin in the game thru chalet ownership.
A few years ago the mass chalet market was becoming a race to the bottom, but with the bottom being removed the market is evolving to reflect the new landscape, and with it the offerings available.
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abc wrote:
@Charliee, you’re assuming the chalet owners actually “owns” the chalet outright. Instead of the bank owning it and she merely working to pay the mortgage.

We don’t have sufficient information of either way. But you’re pretty quick to jump to a conclusion that she’s RICH and should bare the brunt of the business interruption over the travel company which, if they’re operating professionally, should have insurance against such event.

That's not what was said. @Charliee said that the pain should be shared rather than 100% to one party. I agree - and would go further and share some of it with holidaymakers as well by allowing refunds to be limited to say 90%. (The 100% refund legislation was designed with misfeasance by operators in mind - not an external pandemic threat).

Forcing 100% of the cost onto a single party is likely to result in far more businesses - whether chalet owners or TOs - going bust than if the pain is shared.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I think this could be the season where we see a big percentage of chalets and smaller hotels simply shuttered up for the Winter.

A lot of owners won't want the risk of setting up, staffing etc. If you can afford it, one season with the dust covers on and then reassess in Summer 2021...
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@froomie,
Quote:


I think this could be the season where we see a big percentage of chalets and smaller hotels simply shuttered up for the Winter.


I really fear this could be the case. We signed contracts for chalet hosting jobs starting beginning of December back in June. The chalet has exactly the same number of bookings now it had then, and with less than 3 months to startup travel quarantine is in place. At some point before December the company has to decide whether to operate or not - they can't afford to start paying us, transport us out there, prepare the chalets, and have us sit there hoping some bookings might come in IF the quarantine is lifted. I really hope things turn out for the better, otherwise it our livlihood screwed for the third time this year, but I am really not very hopeful.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Nemisis Not entirely true regarding Brexit & TOs.

Brexit creates immigration issues for UK staff, post 31/12/20. Additionally & crucially, it ends the possibility of secondment via EU Posted Workers Directive. This means local contracts, wages & employer contributions, which are significantly more than the UK NI equivalent.

Many TOs have been scaling back due to Brexit concerns, well before Covid appeared.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@EdMan,
Quote:

@Nemisis Not entirely true regarding Brexit & TOs.

Brexit creates immigration issues for UK staff, post 31/12/20. Additionally & crucially, it ends the possibility of secondment via EU Posted Workers Directive. This means local contracts, wages & employer contributions, which are significantly more than the UK NI equivalent.

Many TOs have been scaling back due to Brexit concerns, well before Covid appeared


Absolutely - we were already resigned to the fact that 20/21 was very possibly going to be our last season.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@EdMan, Agreed, but most TO's dropped most of their chalets in Switzerland when the Swiss changed their interpretation of their rules. Zermatt, Saas and Verbier all suffered badly.
Austria was going to implement its own rules on minimum pay which were going to be retrospective so that if the new rules went ahead (and I'm out of touch on this) TO's who were following the new rules ran the risk of being hammered for the previous season. A bit like "we are lowering the speed limit tomorrow - even though you were obeying the speed limit yesterday, we are going to hammer you". Can anyone confirm this?
Post-referendum France was starting to tighten up on pay and hours rules, with time consuming inspections and fines.
Edited so that "the rules" doesn't link to an unconnected post"
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@RobinS, They could just operate without you.
Our neighbours run a catered chalet, but whereas previously they hired staff, now they have just cut the number of guests at any time, changed 4 weeks for self catered (so they get a rest), and run it themselves.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
On a vaguely related note, Crystal have dropped their Swedish holidays. You could still book for March until last week.
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@WindOfChange, Tricky, with 6 chalets to run.
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@RobinS, Consolidate the bookings into 3 chalets, halve the staff - it's not rocket science.

We have other friends who used to be in the game of leasing chalets and running them as catered chalets hiring UK staff.
One in Chatel stopped a few years ago (4 chalets), the others Morzine (6 chalets) stopped last year.
I think they saw the writing on the wall.
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achilles wrote:
Wasn't the writing already on the wall for chalets run by British TOs because of French employment law? Plus COVID will make many (me included) reluctant tourists book for next season. I have a feeling I'll be skiing Glen Coe for my first time ever - again that is assuming COVID permits. It is unsurprising that Chalsts are off the list.


I suspect there might be a bit of this in the coming season - for obvious reasons I ski Scotland a lot, but with decent weather and covid permitting the resorts could have a great season with people who come for a few days / week.

Might even have to do that myself..........
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I made the mistake of spending a week in a Crystal finest chalet hotel in St Anton a few years back. That was a joke.
I was the second person to demand the resort manager make an appearance at the hotel.
Never felt a need to complain previously.

High point was getting the "save the environment, only change the towels on Wednesday" speech; then coming back in on Wednesday afternoon, to find the towel has been taken out of the shower tray, neatly folded and left on the end of the bed: In the developing damp patch.

As for "rough" chalets, I stayed in the original Kandy Bar in VdI, room with a view, over the Drs next door and the stream of stretchered skiers at the end of each day.

I miss Ski west and Bladon Lines.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Jameswp, Crystal "Finest" took over the rather quite good "Simply Ski" operation in St Anton, and ruined it within a season. Completely different ethos, used wannabee-kids to staff decent chalets, and subsequently lost the decent chalets, and the competition in resort of Simply Ski. Maybe that was the point.

Just been checking Skiworld's web pages ...
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Back in the late 80's and 90's - before kids - I did catered chalet holidays. Going off peak we'd invariably be fishing around for late deals so sometimes ended up with Crystal/Skiworld, sometimes with smaller providers. They all did their job, in terms of a cheap and cheerful ski holiday but undoubtedly the "corporates", as my brothers partner who worked in the industry calls them, were more miss than hit in terms of service quality. Still sort of fill there is a place for them even though I haven't used them for over 20 years. But clearly this year will be the make or break on that. Or more likely they'll just continue on a small scale/niche type offering.
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We did 2 holidays with kids in chalets. As they were 10-12 year olds, their one criteria was that they were allowed to eat with us in the evenings. One was Crystal , chalet host was v young, but absolutely brilliant, and helped her Mum cater for posh dinners in Chelski. The other was Skiworld with a more mature 30-something host. Food was excellent, wine was rubbish. Both did the job, and Skiworld one was a bargain.
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