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Shakeups in the Ski Chalet Industry

September 8th, 2008

Catered Ski Chalet Operators in Verbier face toughest challenges and possible closure this season.
 
Skiers and Wintersports enthusiasts considering a Ski Holiday in Verbier this coming 08/09 season will be confronted by a number of changes in the way their favourite catered ski chalet is operated, if it has not fallen victim to the new and strenuous set of restrictions imposed by the Swiss Authorities on foreign operators, who were responsible for the phenomenal growth of “catered” ski chalets in the Alps and consequently the massive popularity of certain ski resorts; Verbier being the mother and father of them all.
 
The decision by the local government insists that foreign operators comply with a number of onerous conditions that include….
 
1. The requirement that a member of management of each recognised and authorised chalet operator in Verbier has an officially recognised ‘Patent’ (Hotel/Restaurant license) in order to open their doors this winter. This requires months of study and a very difficult exam until now only available in French and Swiss German. This restriction alone will cause the closure of over 50% of the existing ski chalet operators this coming winter.
 
2. The requirement that the actual Chalets and their facilities used to accommodate clients, and kitchens where food is prepared, are now for the first time having to comply with a  strict code of Hygiene and Safety Laws  that is required of  commercial establishments. Suddenly the private kitchens designed for regular family requirements are no longer acceptable, and the hygiene safety and fire escape requirements are being strongly enforced.
 
3. Great lengths are being taken to ensure that staffing of foreign companies are fully in compliance with local labour laws and staff are assured of minimum wage and maximum weekly work requirements.
 
All Verbier Chalet Operators have been contacted recently by the Verbier Tourist Office and their attention drawn to the fact that -” if they don’t have the authorization from the Police to operate for the 2008/2009 season then no work permits will be provided to the offending companies.”
 
This is the most blatant warning to date and evidence that the Swiss authorities are sincere in their efforts to clean up the act and ensure the greatest amount of protection, both financial and health-wise to the clients of the many “foreign ski operators” operating in the resort . What is more the authorities have the fullest support of the more established and experienced operators. Too long has the opportunity been available to abuse the system and over time there have been a number of fly-by-nights that have all too easily put the reputation of those more serious and competent chalet operators at risk.
Whilst there has been a scramble the past few months to achieve compliance, the Tourist Office by its recent communications is warning many of those operators who have not yet received authorisation, that the authorities are serious and that they will not be able to open their chalets to guests unless full compliance with the regulations can be proved and authorisation provided.

Anyone with an advanced booking or considering a ski holiday in a catered chalet in Verbier this 08/09 season would do well to ensure that the particular operators providing the accommodation and related services have the necessary authorisation, to avoid disappointment and inconvenience. 

This press release was supplied by Chalet Mont aux Sources.

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