These are obviously uncertain times, and we ended this season abruptly in March, however we did our best to ensure all clients got out of resort before the French lock-down was imposed and made it home safely.
The first question skiers will want to consider is;
WILL THERE BE A 2020/21 WINTER SEASON?
We think there will be in some form, Austria has opened certain areas for summer skiing and training, Val d’isere and Deux Alpes are aiming to do the same. We still have several months and possible solutions to the present situation include;
1) A vaccine. The ideal solution, but the time frame is perhaps unlikely.
2) A therapeutic treatment. Either a single drug or some cocktail of medicines which renders the virus treatable, so a few days in hospital at worst, but not a grave threat. Much more likely.
3) Testing, tracking and tracing. Will definitely help in the UK, but may be more problematic abroad unless there is a compatible European version.
4) An indication before travelling that the person(s) involved do not have the virus and can move around safely, at a basic level, temperature checks, but probably more specific tests will be needed.
These scenarios are out of our control of course, but do impact on whether you feel confident to book a winter holiday for next season.
Assuming roughly similar conditions to the present as a ‘worse-case scenario’, in terms of travel, at the moment we can see less flyers than usual since driving means less risk of contamination situations of course. That is not to say that flying won’t be possible, airlines will be desperate to find safe solutions to getting their industry back to work. Restrictions could, however, impact our transfers and we will monitor the situation as best practices become more evident. Our Travel information can be found here, we will update Airline information as the picture becomes clearer.
Val Cenis is arguably much safer than bigger, more crowded purpose-built resorts. The actual skiing will be fine, but queuing and eating will be areas to consider. The resort is already looking at the popular lifts like the Solert and working on the safest method of queuing. Eating either on the mountain or in the evening will require a bit of imagination on the part of restaurants, but there will be a lot more experience of best methods by then. Take away places will be operating and since the great majority of our clients are in self catering apartments, we envisage more groups eating in.
The second question is likely to be;
HOW CAN I BOOK A SKI HOLIDAY WITH CONFIDENCE?
The honest answer is of course that at this stage you can’t. One step we have taken to help clients has been to extend the closure date for our Holding Deposit system, which involves a small payment of £25 per person.
The Holding System doesn’t make an actual booking until the accommodation is 100% certain with accommodation owners. Since owners can take until mid-summer to give us their dates, it can be late July or early August before we have completely allocated all apartments, then clients know what is involved.
If the accommodation offered or the price is unsuitable, we simply give back the Holding Deposit in full and the apartment in question is available for other clients to book.
In the present situation, we’re proposing an extension for all Holding Deposits to September 2020, although we will give prices and allocate apartments as they are confirmed by owners. By September, we hope the situation will be clearer and after some form of summer season, lessons will have been learnt plus there will hopefully be significant scientific advances with the virus.
We already have many clients who have paid Holding Deposits, chiefly for the school holidays, but also for mid-late January. Normally these are left by regulars or those recommended during the season or just after, we will deal with Holding Deposits chronologically, so those who ‘book’ first get the best choice of accommodation, which again seems fair.
Thus until September, those who have paid Holding Deposits will know the price and apartment (as soon as owners confirm), but will not be financially committed.
Our booking conditions involve a 30% non-refundable deposit and a final payment, normally 8 weeks before departure, or less in the case of a late reservation. Our prices are attractive because we’re involved in volume, with lift passes, ski equipment and apartments. The initial 30% deposit being non-refundable goes towards the cost of accommodation to which we’re committed. By taking apartments for most of the season, we get discounts and owners are happy because they don’t have to worry about renting their properties. This works for both sides, but does of course mean we have to sell the accommodation or are left paying for empty apartments. This is why we have the 30% non-refundable deposit, to give us some cover once someone has booked but then for whatever reason, doesn’t come.
In September, we will contact all those who have left Holding Deposits and ask for a decision;
– Either to pay the 30% non-refundable deposit and commit to the holiday
– Decide not to commit and we will then pay the Holding Deposit back in full
We also feel September is an appropriate date as this allows time for positive COVID developments, and gives us three months pre-season to offer the accommodation to other customers. Hopefully we will be contacting people before this as conditions have improved!
Click here the prices for self-catering apartments. Some are the same, our biggest increase on last season is 3.5% and some weeks are cheaper.
If you feel you would like to provisionally book a holiday under the above conditions, please telephone our free number (0800 689 4135) to discuss your requirements and leave a Holding Deposit, or you can make an enquiry using our contact form.
We look forward to hearing from you and of course, to seeing you in Val Cenis!