British ski operators have been forced to temporarily suspend their ski hosting services for clients in French resorts after a court banned the practice.
A court in the French town of Albertville has ruled that ski hosting - whereby tour operators help clients find their way around the slopes - breaks French law. It said leaders of organised groups on the ski slopes have to be qualified ski or snowboard instructors.
The case was brought by the French authorities, in conjunction with the ESF national ski school, against minnow British ski operator Le Ski, which operates in a handful of French resorts.
Le Ski has said it will appeal against the decision, which is being used as a test case for all British operators.
TravelMole Associate Editor Linsey McNeill is staying this week in Courchevel as a guest of Ski Total, which offers "social skiing" with a ski host on three days a week.
The service is very popular and on Monday 10 guests joined one of its hosts on a tour of Courchevel 1650.
On Tuesday the service was suspended, much to the disappointment of guests in the Chalet Cascades.
Moira Clarke, head of marketing for Ski Total and Esprit, said the French have misunderstood what the hosting service is all about.
"They think we must be taking money away from the ski schools, but we send hundreds and thousands of people to the ski schools," she said.
"The hosting service is not tuition, it's purely a social aspect of going skiing where our reps help people find their way around and tell them the best restaurants to eat at and so on."
She said UK operators were backing the appeal by Le Ski and were hoping for a turn-around.
"In the meantime we are all in a limbo," she said.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013