How the Coronavirus May Affect your Ski Holiday with Ski Weekender
Monday 30th March 2020 – Update
The dust has now settled on what was a very busy and challenging time for all concerned, as our ski season was brought to an abrupt end with the government announcements, resort closures, travel restrictions and eventual lockdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak!
Our first priority was to look after our guests and seasonal team in resort, to ensure they returned safely and quickly back to the UK. We are pleased that we were able to do this well and as planned – on Monday 16th March all guests returned to the UK. The hotel team followed the next morning heading for the Eurotunnel!
Then it was on to the task of contacting all remaining guests who were unable to come and join us, and to deal wither their concerns and booking admin. We have now been in contact with everyone, assisting people with insurance claims, re-arranging trips and carrying forward the monies, as well as issuing refunds to those requesting them.
We are very grateful for the kind words and thoughts towards us and our team in these difficult times, and they have certainly helped us through a challenging couple of weeks…
So we find ourselves all in lockdown (UK and France), all doing our best to beat this terrible virus, whilst looking forward to the day when some return to normality will come!
We were having a great season, with our super team working their magic and providing a great level of service to all of our lovely guests, and we are all devastated that we did not get to extend this to so many of you for our March and April arrivals.
But – life goes on (as best it can), and we would like to reassure you that we will be here next year – our business survival, although stretched, is not in question…. We have always taken a prudent and cautious approach and, with the support of our great local partners, we are able to confidently ride out this storm, whilst looking forward to delivering great holiday experiences to our guests next ski season.
Here’s to Ski Season 2020/21 and some unfinished business!
We are currently working on the dates, prices and offers for the Ski Season 2020/21, and hope to have them available to book by mid April… Drop us an email to [email protected] and we will let you know as soon as they become available!
We very much appreciate your understanding and support throughout this difficult period, and we want to reassure you we are doing our best in these challenging times.
Stay safe – and we will ski again! We very much hope you will be with us!
Paul and all the team at Ski Weekender
Tuesday 17th March 2020 – Update
Following our previous communications relating to the complex and ongoing travel situation, please find below further details and advice on how to progress and what to do next in this unfortunate situation.
This is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, although we are starting to get more clarity on what this actually means for you – our guests – and for us as an organisation, and equally importantly, for our team based out in France.
The most recent FCO and British Government advice is for all British people to not travel at all worldwide with immediate effect, and for a period of at least 30 days. This follows significant restrictions in France which has led to the closure of all ski resorts and non-essential public services in France.
Given these facts we regret to inform you that we are faced with a situation whereby you are not permitted to travel, and we are unable to operate our ski trips at all of our locations in the French Alps. Recent developments mean that we are now certain this will be for the remainder of the current ski season.
Due to the widespread nature of the restrictions and closures across Europe, we are unable to re-arrange your trip or to find suitable alternatives in order to allow you to continue to travel.
We are sorry that we are unable to operate your ski holiday this season, and that you are not able to travel to join us in France.
We fully appreciate your position as our valued guests, and are all absolutely gutted that we won’t be able to host you in France this season. We are a small business, and for us to survive this challenging time we ask for your patience and understanding. We are all very grateful for this, and we assure you we will do our best for you.
Saturday March 14th 2020 – Update
All of our resorts in France are still open today and are running as normal. The borders with France and Switzerland are also still open and there are currently no restrictions on travel to any area of France.
As such we are still operating all of our ski short breaks for the time-being and will contact our customers immediately should anything change.
Tuesday 10th March 2020
In an effort to assist and guide people through the many issues and questions they may have relating to their possible / upcoming ski holiday to France, we have updated our advice.
We have also included a number of links and resources to official websites, which you may find useful to monitor the situation as it evolves for yourself.
Ski Weekender take the health and safety of all of our guests extremely seriously, and as such will be adhering to the advice and rules set down by the official bodies such as UK Government FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Public Health England, as well as the local French Government and Health Departments.
The Current Situation with COVID-19
The situation is evolving on a daily basis and we are keeping abreast of all developments, whilst regularly assessing their impact on whether we can continue to safely offer our ski holidays in the Northern French Alps.
There are presently no reasons or advice for us to stop operating our holidays, or for anyone not to travel to France (via Geneva in Switzerland).
Consequently we hope and expect to offer our holidays as normal for the next 5 weeks (until the end of the ski season in mid-April), also that our guests will enjoy some great skiing conditions and a wonderful holiday experience with us.
With regards to the areas in which we operate (namely the ski resorts in the Haute-Savoie department of France), there have been cases of the virus but these appear to have been kept confined to their local vicinity.
This means whilst certain measures have been taken within France in light of the virus (i.e. school closures in certain localities), there are no restrictions in place at any of our resorts.
In further efforts to contain the virus in France, large scale events for over 1,000 people together in close confines (concerts, sporting events etc) have been cancelled across the country, in an effort to restrict and limit person to person contact. In addition the traditional French greeting of the “kisses” and “handshakes” have been advised against.
Other than that, the local schools and all businesses in our ski resorts are all open as usual – with measures being taken to stress the importance of hygiene, hand-washing, avoiding contact etc. but there are currently no other restrictions in place.
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 this virus, and enjoy some much-needed relaxation.
We do of course advise maintaining vigilance with regards to your own hand washing and avoiding contact etc. but our guests on recent trips have commented on the “normality” of life in resort and how they have all enjoyed their time with us, without being worried about exposure to the virus.
Indeed a good many have enjoyed the break from constant media stories about the virus!
Within our main Aravis Lodge base, for the past 3 weeks we have increased our level of cleaning to “elevated”, which is the status we employ when there may be a perceived extra risk in the building, or illness amongst our guests/team.
In addition to our already high standards of cleanliness, this includes a systematic anti-bacterial cleaning of door handles and surfaces in communal areas, the provision of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for all guests in multiple areas, a heightened awareness amongst all of our team, and information on display to remind guests of their responsibilities.
So – in general terms it’s certainly business as usual for us and we are looking forward to welcoming people to the French Alps for some great ski trips!
Thinking about the Future!
Please note that there are so many possible outcomes or ways in which this situation could develop it would be speculation to try and guess what might happen, or to cover these hypothetical outcomes here.
We do recognise that this situation could change in the coming weeks, and that official FCO advice or French Public Health advice could change, meaning we would then have to re-evaluate our advice and operations accordingly.
Should any changes occur, we plan to update and re-send this advice immediately.
As is being seen in Italy – if the FCO advise against travel to the regions in which we operate, we would then be obliged to suspend our ski holidays.
In this instance you may be covered by your insurance policy, in which case you could make a claim for the full amount. Alternatively, we could offer you a comparable holiday later in the season, although honestly we recognise that this is going to be quite unlikely!
As ABTA states “Tour operators can offer alternative holidays if they are able to. If these mean a significant change to the original arrangements, for example spending the whole or part of the holiday in a different country, you aren’t obliged to accept the alternative and will be entitled to a full refund of the package price.”
If you are unable to make a travel insurance claim on your particular policy, we would therefore first offer people the option to transfer their booking forward to a ski holiday next season, including the full value of all monies paid. The second alternative would be to provide anyone affected in this way with a full refund.
Please also note that in such a situation we would expect the information to change very quickly, as a result of what’s happening with the virus in the affected areas.
This makes it impossible to predict what may happen in the coming days and weeks, which does mean that any changes could be of a last-minute nature. This would then have an impact on imminent travel plans, as well as future plans potentially.
As with many other travel companies affected by this situation outside of our control, we will react as best we can in a rapidly moving and challenging environment by monitoring the situation and taking our obligations seriously.
We appreciate your understanding of this and the fact that we cannot enter into speculation about what may happen in the future, or possible scenarios that could play out.
That said, we do also recognise that people are concerned about the risk of the virus, and that there are a wide number of personal circumstances that may come into play in their own decisions around whether they feel comfortable travelling in these unprecedented times.
We understand that travelling may be perceived as a riskier activity than staying at home, although there is currently much debate and confusion about what is the safest course of action, and wherein lie the potential risks of day-to-day life.
As with all of these risks and decisions, we will be governed by the guidance and statements from the official sources such as the FCO and Public Health bodies.
With regards to the above statements of business as usual for us, we also recognise that you are free to make the choice not to travel.
However, we need to clarify that if the FCO are not advising against travel to your destination, then there is no obligation for your travel company to give you a refund.
Normal cancellation charges will apply in these circumstances. Please see our standard Booking Terms and Conditions including our Cancellation Policy here >>>
In these instances it is also unlikely that your insurance policy will provide cover for “dis-inclination to travel”.
If you have been affected, or suspect that you may have been affected from the virus (including having travelled to/from an infected area as listed on the FCO website or been in close contact with someone who has), then you should follow the medical service provisions and advice relating to this.
Regarding this, we do please ask that all of our guests booked on upcoming trips take their responsibilities seriously, in accordance with the latest medical advice, to limit any further risks to anyone else during this difficult time, and hence do not travel with us if there is even a slight risk you may infect others.
In this instance it would be likely that you should self-isolate, which would therefore mean that you would be unable to travel and join our holidays.
If this were to occur, then your travel insurance may potentially cover you (as it would were you ill or injured in advance of a trip), but you will need to check with your insurer. You should contact them directly to check the specific conditions relating to cancellation of travel which is covered by your policy.
If your doctor has advised that you do not travel, and has provided you with official documentation to confirm this, then you will need to check the terms of your travel insurance policy to see if you can claim back any cancellation charge incurred through them.
Also – please note the current FCO advice for anyone who has visited Italy (since 09 March) as follows:-
“Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places, even if you do not have symptoms:
Italy (since 09 March).”
For those worried about starting their holiday with us and travelling to France only to be then told later that the region has been “restricted”, our advice is that it’s very difficult to speculate on what may happen.
However, we would like to try and reassure you that the wider travel and ski industry is not seeing the restrictive quarantines being imposed, as has been the case on cruise ships, or in earlier stages of this situation.
Although Italy has had a much higher rate of infection than France, drawing parallels with Italy could be useful in that the FCO advice is currently “British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction”. They are then advised to self-isolate at home as a precaution, and to contact 111 (in the UK).
As we do not sell flight-inclusive packages, our obligation as a tour operator does not include the provisions for repatriation back to the UK in the event of changes to holiday durations and travel plans.
This would be an issue for you to resolve directly with the airlines, or via your travel insurance provider.
We will of course do our maximum to transport you to Geneva for any re-arranged flights and will certainly be helping as much as we can….
We would advise anyone who is going to travel to be aware of the cover and restrictions that their travel insurance policy offers.
If you are in any doubt – please contact them in advance and ask the questions, rather than just assuming you will be covered!
We very much hope that you will all be able to join us shortly for a wonderful short ski break in the French Alps.
The conditions are fabulous (it’s snowing as we speak), and the ski pistes are very quiet as all the main school holidays are over…. What could be better!
Although we may not have addressed all of your questions, we wanted to try and communicate the situation on the ground (i.e. in the French Alps), in the hope that this will go some way to allaying any fears or worries people may have about travelling.
We also wanted to provide access to clear information on the situation, so please find below links to the official information that we continue to monitor on an ongoing basis.
And finally – we’re not sure of the reason behind the global panic buying of loo roll – but if it helps persuade anyone to come skiing, we just took delivery of 720 rolls this morning, along with more alcohol-based hand sanitizer….
We hope this has helped to clarify the current situation and also answer many of your questions.
However, if you still have any further questions or concerns with regards to the Coronavirus and your upcoming / potential short ski break with us, do please contact us for further information.