What does lockdown mean for your winter ski holiday?

Nov 11, 2020

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Got mountains on your mind? So do we.

With the start of the 2020/2021 ski season just a few weeks away, four of the U.K.’s leading ski holiday operators have cancelled all holidays up to the end of 2020, as first reported by The Telegraph.

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England’s current lockdown that started on 5 November is set to continue until at least 2 December and is the reason why Hotelplan U.K.-owned Inghams, Esprit Ski, Ski Total and Flexiski decided to cancel all holidays until the end of 2020. Because of England’s second full lockdown, all domestic and international travel is banned unless it is deemed to be essential. Unfortunately, heading off for a week of powder and après at the Folie isn’t deemed as essential.

Related: What is considered essential travel vs. non-essential travel

“Following the commencement of another national lockdown and the continued uncertainty regarding travel restrictions for the remainder of 2020, we have regretfully made the extremely difficult decision to suspend all ski and Lapland holidays departing in December 2020 across our Inghams, Esprit, Ski Total and Felxiski programmes,” CEO of Hotelplan U.K. Joe Ponte told the Telegraph.

Customers who have been affected will be able to change their holiday to a later date in the season, a date during next year’s season (winter 2021/2022) or get a full refund for their trip.

Related: Tips for obtaining a refund when an airline cancels your flight

Ponte, however, remains optimistic that skiing of some length will go ahead this season.

“We are still hopeful that we will have a ski season this winter, albeit with a later start,” Ponte said.

Crystal Ski, another large U.K. ski holiday provider, has taken a different approach. The earliest start date for its holidays this season is 12 December, and as the lockdown is scheduled to end on 2 December, the company has decided not to cancel holidays just yet.

“We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will always follow government advice, so if the restrictions are extended we will proactively contact impacted customers,” a spokesperson for Crystal said.

Meanwhile, Interski, which specialises in Italian ski holidays, has cancelled all of its ski holidays for this winter.

“The situation regarding the coronavirus, both here in the U.K. and in Italy, has deteriorated in recent weeks,” the company said in a statement. “Combined with the various government restrictions in place, we have been forced to make the very difficult decision to cancel all our operations for this coming season.”

It’s not just U.K. tour operators we need to rely on to make our ski trip possible this year. A lot depends on restrictions in the countries where we love to ski the most. For example, in France, the government recently introduced a full lockdown.

In response, Alpine ski domain Espace Killy, which includes the popular resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isère, issued an update on its website in early November announcing “the delay to the opening of the resort which was initially planned for 28 November.”

If you’re set on getting some runs in this season, despite the lockdown and the ongoing pandemic, there is still hope. The government announced this week that progress is being made on U.K. airport testing on arrival, which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said they’re hoping to launch once the country comes out of lockdown. This could mean a reduction to the current 14-day quarantine when returning from countries that don’t feature on England’s travel corridor list.

If you do want to book a ski holiday for this season, we recommend searching for departure dates as late into the season as possible to reduce the risk of tour-operator cancellations or travel restrictions causing problems for you down the line. Rest assured, though, that the vast majority of tour operators and airlines have adapted their change and cancellation policies to the most flexible we’ve ever known them. This should give you peace of mind that if worst comes to worst, you’ll be able to postpone your holiday to a later date or even get a full refund in some cases.

Before booking, we suggest making sure you fully understand your tour operator and/or airline’s change and cancellation policy.

Those who want to book with a little more certainty that their trip will more than likely go ahead can book ahead already for the 2021/2022 season with all the Hotelplan U.K.-owned operators as well as Crystal Ski.

Featured image by Geir Petterson/Getty Images.

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