As one reader of The Local Switzerland put it: “We thought it was an April Fool’s Joke. It isn’t.”
In an open letter published on Tuesday, Philippe Magistretti, president of the company that operates lifts at the Crans-Montana, announced he was pulling the plug on a ski season that was supposed to continue until April 17th.
The decision comes despite good snow conditions at the resort and the Easter holiday period.
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But Magistretti said the company was taking the “only rational decision possible” after the commune of Crans-Montana failed to honour an agreement negotiated in September 2017 that would see it paying 800,000 francs in annual fees to the lift operator to help it cover costs.
Magistretti said representatives of the commune of Crans-Montana had dragged their heels on the accord, organising “sterile meetings” and “continually making additional requests”.
Local authorities on Tuesday expressed their “profound regret” at the decision, stating the agreement over annual fees “was still in the process of negotiation” and rejecting Magistretti’s claims.
“Crans-Montana clients are being held hostage to a conflict that doesn’t concern them,” the director of the ski area’s tourism office, Bruno Huggler, told Swiss broadcaster RTS, reacting to the shock news.
Skiers with vaild passes for Crans-Montana will be able to use these at the nearby Anzère ski resort with free shuttle buses on offer, according to information on the Crans-Montana website.
The Caprices Festival music festival and the Ciné Mountain programme are set to go ahead as planned. Meanwhile, cable cars at the Crans-Montana ski area are to run until April 8th.
The Crans-Montana resort is part of the new 'Magic Mountain' network of 25 ski areas in western Switzerland. The ski resorts teamed up for the 2017/18 ski season to offer a combined discount 'Magic Pass' in a bid to bring people back to the slopes.