The End of Après Ski?
With the ever more imminent arrival of a no deal Brexit making it hard for British entertainers to move across borders to perform in
ski resorts and a global pandemic evidently bringing the entertainment industry to its knees, many are making the somewhat valid assumption that ski resort events and après-ski will not be taking place this winter.
Some are predicting that the champagne showers will dry up and the sound of stomping ski boots will cease. Après ski will not happen this season they say and may even be changed forever.
In resort, where the venues are based, however the story is more positive, plans are already afoot for a socially distanced apres ski vibe across the alps. For some this spells big changes to the way they do things for others very little change at all.
The current regulations in Europe allow for events to take place. This summer customers have felt safe in gig environments that have either been all seated and well spaced or outside. Bar staff and patrons have been wearing masks routinely in the Alps and other prescribed sanitary measures have been adhered to in a professional manner. Its been a busy summer, with most resorts venues actually reporting record sales.
No one knows what the future actually holds anyone predicting the next 3-5 months with certainty might also be selling you snake oil. One of the best round-ups we’ve read came out of Les Deux Alpes this week via their DG Eric Bouchet; who outlines 4 scenarios, ranging from 1. being a vaccine/treatment scenario Or an all clear winter/partial winter. Scenario 3 being a seasonal flu scenario whereby an increased case rate continues as it is now but with a low manageable death rate (see graph).
Then 4 the all out “closed” scenarios – public transport is closed and thus ski resorts close Read it here
In writing this blog we appreciate that any one of these scenarios is possible and possibly likely!
What is apres ski?
Clearly with an expected rise in cases as the cold weather sets in nationally – everyone is assuming the worst for ski resorts. Early articles about the state of apres ski in Austria where apres ski is “banned” naturally amplifies this sentiment. However in the eagerness to post articles about this no one has actually stopped and asked the question what is apres ski?
According to several venue owners, they will be continuing their live music programs with very few changes. Cocorico, Folie Douce and The Rond Point are some of the largest venues in the alps. In these venues most of the entertainment occurs outside. Other indoor venues are temporarily changing-up their evening programs to work with bands and other forms of entertainment that have a strong interactive offering. The main message is, everyone seated, no dancefloors.
Sadly though some venues ‘raison d’etre’ is a tight space, rammed with drunk revellers. They will find things hard and may have to quickly adapt to survive the winter. Many of these establishments will reduce their entertainment programs with the time honoured reason that the ‘band takes up the space of a table’ – they will have to reinvigorate food menus and revisit opening hours.
Live music isn’t always 4 to the floor
According to Apres Ski Bands (the alps main live music booking agency) they are in full booking mode. They have over 1000 confirmed live music bookings already in the book and another 1500 expected by mid-October. Apres ski bands are reporting a slight drop in demand for late night pub gigs but more demand for gigs for the afternoon and lunch time sessions. Ella Robinson their AR manager also points out that this is on trend (though accelerated) with recent years. She has been noticing a shift from late night to day time bookings over the past 5 years and puts this down to an ageing ski resort clientele and younger generation less interested in mindless drinking. Interactive, quality live entertainment is booming however, she says.
4 and 5 star hotel that offer more subdued entertainment are already booking too. Lucy Villerbrun of The Yule in Val D’Isere explains that “as long as they have clients in the hotels they must offer the ‘full service’ to their clients. Entertainment and apres ski is part of that full service. This may not be the classic apres ski on everyone’s minds but next time you are in resort do check out places like The Yule or the Aigle des Neiges in Val D’Isère, Fahrenheit 7 in Courchevel and Val Thorens. You may spend a bit more on drinks in these places but the serves will be high quality accompanied by delicious amuse bouches. What’s not to like? – live entertainment, a super comfy sofa and a roaring log fire!
The Shnow must go on!
Its time to be boutique! With limits of 1500 persons in place currently unless getting special provision, its definitely the year of the boutique festival.
December 12th to 19th Rise Festival is still officially running in Les Deux Alpes. Currently event promoter of Applebum Jordan Hallpike is remaining positive. As a veteran producer for Ibiza Rocks we’re confident that his experience and creativity will win the day. Did you catch this summers Ibiza Rocks socially distant party? Everything is possible if #eventprofs remain focused!
In Mid January the Let’s Get Comedie festival is currently advancing, it takes place from 19th Jan to 23rd Jan. French and British comedians take to the stages in Les Gets. Organisers are confident they can arrange seating and airflow sufficiently well for the safety of participants and audience members alike.
PisteBash Festival – a music, comedy and DJ festival, will still be taking place from 15th March. The organisers agree that most events can be converted to seated only and outdoor dance floors if the local legislation allows. If needed they say that they can reduce numbers easily per event and create a program centred on a more intimate vibe. Remain positive and carry on creatively is the mantra coming from Piste Bash HQ
The Knight Frank City Ski Championships which is taking place 18-21 March in Courmayeur, always incorporates a very healthy entertainment program. They are expecting a strong turnout this year and planning is in full flow.
Altitude Festival Live stand up festival in in Mayrhofen is going ahead from March 29th to April 2nd. As a mainly seated event anyway, event organiser Brett Vincent is looking forward to bringing the laughter back to the Austrian hills. Its been a hard summer of cancelled events in the UK.
Its evident that all interested parties within the industry will have to work together to ensure sensible measures are in place. They will need to communicate well to incoming tourists what measure are being taken but also the correct ways to behave.
France Montagne have been spreading this infographic that sums it up really nicely. It says that bars will be open but masks must be by staff and patrons. It states that everyone must be seated as well as a host of other sensible measures to allow people to enjoy the open air and fresh mountain environment safely
To quote one venue owner (of one of the largest venues); “if they want to close xxxxx they will need to close the resort, why would people take the ‘risk’ to get on a flight, a train, get in a ski bubble, go for dinner, catch a resort bus and then not come and have a beer at an apres-ski?”
What is Apres Ski anyway?
Social media presentations of the events have a lot to answer for our impression that apres ski is all about high octane fun. Social media and our toffee tinted spectacles too. We all remember the busiest and best of apres parties, but they don’t happen every day in all venues. And then of course, the best of apres is always published through media channels.
If you stop to think about it is the reality really like that? Next time you’re at the Folie Douce or Rond Point (in normal conditions), just count the number of seated (and not dancing people). After a hard and long days skiing – ask yourself this, how often are you dancing on tables, with your top off chanting “down it! down it!” – Yeah us neither. A beer, a seat, some apres music, a good natter with mates about the days exploits is all that’s needed. We’re looking forward to getting there in a few short weeks.
The British ‘seasonaire’ bubble has a lot to answer for this impression of apres-ski too. We’re not criticising it either, we’ve all been there; bar diving through the air with sambuca flaming nipples. Haven’t we? Clearly its this very distinct form of apres-ski ski that will die in this Covid landscape – die or maybe just go into cryogenic sleep for a year. The heart of the ski resorts should still be beating this season even if more rythmically.