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The Ski and Snowboard Short Break Specialist

Coronavirus Assurances and ‘What Ifs’

In these uncertain and challenging times, during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it’s good to have something to look forward to, to keep us going, so how about getting a ski short break for Winter 2020/21 in the diary?

Whilst there are reasons to be positive, we have to be honest and state clearly that we all need to enter into this Ski Season 2020/21 with a realistic approach, ensuring we are fully aware of the risks that planning international travel entails in this new Covid world.

The purpose of this Coronavirus website section is to be open and transparent with you regarding the forthcoming winter season, to allow you to make an informed decision when booking your Winter 2010/21 ski break with us. So, please read it and do share with any of your skiing buddies.

We understand that you may feel somewhat nervous about committing to your short ski break now, with so much uncertainty still around with the coronavirus situation…both personally, and with regards to travel in general.

We very much appreciate your concerns and are committed to looking after you come what may, so we would like to re-assure you that we take our obligations as a quality tour-operator very seriously, and value your trust in us.

Before booking, we will ensure that you have been made aware of various scenarios and how they would be treated should they arise. This is to openly address the issues and to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings in the future.

As such, we would like to answer your questions and provide you with some assurances, so that you can feel confident in booking with Ski Weekender…

Coronavirus ‘What Ifs…’

We totally get that people may have a number of concerns about booking a holiday at this point in time, given the current travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 – it’s so tricky to know how travel restrictions and lockdowns will progress and on what timescales, as well as what may happen in the travel industry as a whole.

As a result, we have given a lot of thought as to how we would respond to any potential future challenges, and would therefore like to address the key ‘What if…’ questions as best and as transparently as we can.

This is in addition to our Coronavirus & Booking Policy update which outlines the position we will be adopting with regards to some of the main issues which may come to affect your holiday. We do recommend that you read these carefully and consider the impact they may have on your planning and booking of a trip.

What financial confidence can we have with regards to Ski Weekender for the future?

We have always operated responsibly, and with a steady long-term (some may say cautious!) strategy.

We do not carry any debt, nor have commitments to large projects, and just steady financial discipline means our future is safe and secure. We have financial reserves to ensure we will be there, no matter what!

In line with the Package Travel Regulations – all customer monies are paid into an independent Trust Account which means that they are held separately to the business. These funds are only released across to the business on the successful completion of your holiday.

Hence, in the unlikely event of insolvency of the business, your monies are available to be paid back directly to you, and business creditors have no access to them.

As having a trust account means that we only have access to your money after the holiday has happened, we choose not to spend money we don’t have. This means we are not at risk of running out of money (unlike some other tour operators who have different business models).

This also means that if a situation arises where we are required to issue refunds (such as happened this past end-season), we have the money readily available with which to process the refund and you are not kept waiting (also unlike some other tour operators who have different business models). All recent refunds as a result of coronavirus cancellations were issued within 14 days of being requested, many much sooner.

You can find further details about our financial protection here >>>

What confidence can we have in next season operating as normal for Ski Weekender?

This is definitely a tough question to answer, as even now, there is still so much uncertainty. It’s sure that there will be some changes to the “normal” operations of many things in our life, as we all seek to maintain an element of social distancing and control measures.

This has meant some hard decisions. None more so than deciding that we will be unable to operate the Aravis Lodge this coming winter (Ski Season 2020/21). It’s the home and heart of Ski Weekender, but without the full team providing our awesome service, and the exciting buzz of guests sharing in a sociable, convivial atmosphere, it just wasn’t going to provide the same experience.
And we don’t want to do things by half…

However, our established local hotel partners will be doing whatever they can to welcome guests back into their hotels, and we can still provide you with a super convenient skiing short break (as long as regulations permit us to do so!)

We certainly feel that the fresh mountain air of the Alps is definitely one environment where you can feel a long way away from the worries and stresses caused by the coronavirus, and enjoy some much-needed relaxation.

However, please be assured that we will of course be reviewing all of these issues as we get more clarity on the restrictions or control measures which may be in place, and which we will be subject to moving forward. You can find some details of the most likley measures in our Coronavirus Policy.

We can confidently say that you will need to wear a face mask in many communal situations, and this is definitely the widely accepted new-normal in France.

What if the ski resort is closed when my holiday is due to take place?

All of our ski resorts are within the Haute Savoie department (county), in the Northern Alps region of France. Although we would deem it unlikely, it is possible that there may be regional (or departmental) restrictions on activities that can take place in light of the coronavirus measures.

If any of our ski resorts were unable to open as a result of these coronavirus measures, then we would in the first instance look to find an alternative location / resort, or date for the holiday to take place.

For example – it may be that ski resorts in the neighbouring Savoie department were able to open. We would present this as an option to you, and you would have the choice to accept the alternative or not.

In the event that we were unable to operate the holiday for you, then we would have to cancel the holiday and would arrange a refund of all monies paid.

What if my accommodation is closed when my holiday is due to take place?

All of our ski resorts are within the Haute Savoie department (county), in the Northern Alps region of France. Although we would deem it unlikely, it is possible that there may be regional (or departmental) restrictions on activities that can take place in light of the coronavirus measures.

If any of our accommodations were closed as a result of these coronavirus measures, then we would in the first instance look to find an alternative accommodation (of the same quality or above) in the same resort, or a new date for the holiday to take place.

In the event that we were unable to operate the holiday for you, then we would have to cancel the holiday, and would offer you a refund of all monies paid.

What if I decide not to travel?

As part of our booking process, we have introduced a Coronavirus and Booking Policy along with an Ackowledgement of Risk form which outlines the potential issues that could arise – and clarifies how these would be covered in our standard Booking Terms & Conditions with regards to cancellations etc.

Effectively, if we are legally able to operate the holiday for you as booked, and you decide not to travel (for whatever reason) then this would be deemed a ‘disinclination to travel’, and your cancellation would be treated as per our standard Booking Terms and Conditions, which you agree to when you book.

In this case you would not be entitled to a refund of your deposit, plus there are cancellation charges that apply at various time intervals with regards to the balance payment itself. Please see our T&C’s here >>> – it would be section 6 which governs this.

Of course there are many reasons why people do sometimes have to cancel a trip (such as illness or injury to them or a close family member), and these instances can be covered by your travel insurance.

We strongly recommend you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday, in order to take advantage of cancellation cover.

However, please note that it is unlikely to include cover for any coronavirus-related implications, as this is now a “known event” and therefore likely to be excluded from your policy. Please check carefully with your insurer.

What if the flight I booked with is cancelled, or airline unable to operate flights to Geneva?

Our packages do not include the flights, and so this element of your holiday is ultimately your responsibility. Our short ski breaks start (and hence our liability starts) at Geneva airport, and so it would be your responsibility to find another suitable mode of transport – another flight, train, or self-drive – to arrive for your holiday.

Geneva is currently very well served by at least 5 major airlines from the UK – Easyjet, Swiss, BA, Jet2 and KLM – so we would still realistically expect you to be able to fly to Geneva. Schedules and capacity of these airlines may be different to previous seasons, and so we would encourage guests to book as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

If the airline cancels your flight, they will initially assist you in finding an alternative flight on their network. Alternatively, they should offer you a voucher or refund. You would then need to arrange a new flight or journey to Geneva. This may of course be at an additional cost.

In the unfortunate event of an airline going bust, then the situation with flights and refunds can vary depending on who you booked your flight with – agencies, intermediate sites, or direct with the airline.

What if there are problems with the French/Swiss borders and accessing Geneva?

Travel restrictions and border security are likely to play a part in controlling the transmission of the coronavirus for some time, and so we could expect there to be more stringent checks at airports, borders and entry points into countries as we go forward. This could additionally be the case once the Brexit transition period has ended, and the UK no longer has the same access rights to the European Union.

It is possible that this could then have an impact on the French and Swiss border, which we cross to access Geneva airport in – which could lead to more checks and requirements. We would need to allow more time for the airport transfer journeys, but would be confident that as long as people are legally able to travel, and have the correct documentation, then we should be able to cross the border and transport you from Geneva airport in Switzerland to the French Alps, and back.

France and Switzerland – especially the Canton of Geneva – co-operate together frequently, and work with border issues regularly, so we are confident this will not be a significant barrier to travel.

Geneva relies upon the cross-border travel for around a third of its public service workers, who live in France and work in Switzerland, and there would be a significant impact if the border were to be closed.

However, as a very last resort we are also able to access the French sector of Geneva airport without crossing into Switzerland, although it does not currently have the capacity to deal with all the skiers travelling through Geneva!

What will happen if there are travel restrictions when my holiday is due to take place?

There are a number of possible scenarios which could come into play with travel restrictions and how this may affect your booking with us – and these are covered in more detail in our Coronavirus & Booking Policy. Please ensure you read this carefully to understand the impact on your booking and any cancelations.

We have a responsibility for operating the contracted elements of your holiday package, but not for the effects of travel restrictions or otherwise on your ability to travel to France. Our holidays (and hence responsibility / liability) start and end at Geneva, and it has always been the customers responsibility to arrange their travel to Geneva accordingly.

This inherent risk of disruption to travel plans (which could be due to airlines, government advice or measures in the UK or France) cannot be carried by Ski Weekender and you should ensure that all of your party have a travel insurance policy, or other cover in place to mitigate this risk.

What if exchange rates plummet, does that affect the price of my holiday?

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing economic uncertainty, and this could cause significant swings and changes in exchange rates. This may present some challenges to our business as we are exposed to the GBP vs Euro exchange rate – but for you, as a customer you can book safe in the knowledge that your price is fixed, and will not be liable to any surcharges in the event of exchange rate changes.

That’s not to say that the package prices for our short ski breaks would be immune from such changes in exchange rates going forward, and that prices may have to rise at some point if there is a significant fall of in the value of the pound. But by booking now, you will get your price fixed at the current rates, and we will not ask you for any additional money should rates or prices change after you have booked.

We guarantee that the price confirmed when booking is the price you will pay!

What would you suggest I do with regards to travel insurance?

We would always advise that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday. It is a requirement of our Booking Terms and Conditions that you have a winter sports policy in place for your trip, but insurance doesn’t just cover you while you’re away – it will also cover you for cancellation or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE you make your trip.

However, please do check the level of cover provided by your specific policy and make sure you are fully protected.

It’s highly likely that issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic will not be covered in new policies taken out since March 2020 as it’s a “known event”, and many insurance companies have been changing their policies, and therefore exposure, against such widespread disruption.

Please be aware this may also include people with annual multi-trip policies purchased prior to the coronavirus outbreak, who may now find that trip cancellation as a result of COVID-19 (or any pandemic) is no longer covered.

So, we would strongly advise that you read the policy wording in detail and certainly don’t just go for the cheapest policy you can find.

We recommend an insurance policy with MPI brokers as providing a good level of cover overall, along with a high standard of customer service to assist you. Though do still check thoroughly for yourself that it provides the best option for what you are looking for, as we are not responsible should you later find it is not suitable for your needs, or it hasn’t given you the cover expected in the event of a claim.

You can find further details here >>>

Any additional questions... ?

Just email us at info@skiweekender.com , call us on +44 (0) 845 557 5983 or