The summer season in the French Alps broke all records with hotels, chalets, bars, and restaurants not only open but very busy indeed. They needed a good Summer season and it looks like they have had it. Children’s summer holiday camps and clubs were and still are in full swing. But of course, things have tightened in France, as well as in the UK, and none of us can be certain of what will happen next season. We understand you want confidence and flexibility when booking and if you have already booked you will want to know how we will handle the possible situations:
- You can be assured your money is safe – Our COVID-19 Guarantee covers all the angles and gives you the flexibility you need now
- We are working hard to make everything about your holiday as safe as possible
We recognise that the current uncertainty is difficult for our guests. As a result, we have changed our booking terms and conditions to provide full clarity and reassurance of how we will protect your holiday money in different circumstances and deal more effectively with the pandemic. We have until now made a commitment to defer or refund you if we cannot deliver holidays, but we are now covering other likely situations, including where guests can’t take holidays even though we can provide them. These terms and conditions apply to all holidays booked from 11th September 2020 but will be available for bookings made earlier by agreement. We will honour the terms offered at the time of your booking but we will make changes to this guarantee and booking terms if the situation requires. The ultimate protection is provided by our ABTOT bond which protects the money you have paid us in the event our insolvency and stands behind all the following.
1. We are giving you flexibility now until 8 weeks before your holiday when your final balance is due. We have reduced the time limit on final balance payments from 10 weeks to 8 weeks before your holiday and until then you have these options:
- Carry on as normal – pay your final holiday balance with the assurances of 2, 3, 4 and 5 below,
- Transfer your holiday to next season 2021/22 – if you have paid your deposit only – this includes the value of the normally non-refundable deposit. All we ask is a £50 per person booking transfer charge to contribute to holiday set up costs. Normally this deposit is strictly non-refundable. You will keep any early bird discounts which will be applied against the new booking, at the same percentage rate,
- Transfer your holiday to next season 2021/22* – if you have paid your full balance – you can transfer 112% (one hundred and twelve%) of the value of your holiday including deposit. You will also keep any early bird discounts which will be applied against the new booking, at the same percentage rate,
- Cancel your holiday – losing your non-refundable deposit as per our normal terms.
*Clarification 19/11/20 21-22 season: Normally, we would not confirm 21/22 prices until the end of January next year, when the likely costs of the new season become firmer. Despite current uncertainties being higher than usual, we will base the costs on this season 20/21 prices with a price increase cap of 5% (this has been higher in the past). The only exception will be if we need to apply the currency surcharge term (clause 4 in the terms and conditions). We have not done this ever so far in the life of the company but can’t rule it out.
Clarification 22/9/20: Options 2 and 3 deal with what happens if we unfortunately get to a point where your holiday can’t happen. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to give up before necessary, so this point would be 7 days before your holiday starts to see if eg, quarantine is lifted. However, if it becomes clear earlier that your holiday will not be able to go ahead, it will apply from that point. If at that point you had not paid your final balance for any reason, you will be able to transfer the full non-refundable deposit to the following season 21/22, but it will not be refunded.
2. If we can provide your holiday but you can’t take it, because:
- there is a local lock-down where you live and are travelling from, or
- your flights, tunnel or ferry crossing are cancelled specifically because of COVID-19 and you are unable to travel to take up your holiday (you must provide satisfactory evidence of this)
We will offer you a holiday credit of 100% of the full amount you have paid to us for your holiday, including the normally non-refundable deposit for a holiday next season 2021/22 or, if we are able to offer it, later this season 2020/21. (You will have paid your final balance for this to apply.)
3. If you can’t go on holiday and/or we can’t provide your holiday because any or all of the following apply:
- there is a quarantine restriction in the UK or your Home Nation which means you would be required to self-isolate for more than 7 days on return,
- there is an FCO advisory notice (or Home Nation equivalent – clarification as of 6th Oct) advising against all but essential travel to France,
- the chalet, resort or country is closed due to local regulations and we are unable to offer you an alternative chalet or resort,
- we are not able to provide your accommodation because of any COVID-19 related reason
- there is a quarantine restriction in place in France or Switzerland (if that prevents transfers),
We will refund lift passes and adult ski lessons in cash where we can recover them. For the remaining balance (including accommodation, childcare and the normally non-refundable deposit – clarification 19/10) you can decide between:
- taking 100% of that amount as a holiday credit for 2021/22 or, if we are able to offer it, the current season 2020/21, or
- receiving a cash refund of 75% of your full holiday cost, including deposit, less refunded amounts, (bear in mind that considerable holiday set up costs have been incurred)
4. If one of your family members has tested positive with COVID-19 within 14 days before the start of your holiday or at the time of your departure one of your family members is required to be in self-isolation under the NHS test and trace regime (not under inbound UK quarantine restrictions) we will offer you a holiday credit of 100% of the full amount you have paid for your holiday, less deposit. This offer will apply to all members of the family affected, not all party members. You must provide proof in all cases.
5. If after arriving at your chalet one or more of your family members has symptoms of, or tests positive with COVID-19, or is required to self-isolate by local regulation, we will provide all the assistance we reasonably can – to offer accommodation or find alternative accommodation, but cannot accept liability to provide you with accommodation beyond your contracted holiday dates. Where possible, we will arrange for you to remain in your existing accommodation with COVID-safe support from our staff but this cannot be guaranteed. You will be responsible for the accommodation cost at full price for any extension beyond your holiday dates and other costs you incur, and should ensure that your insurance covers this eventuality.
Holiday credit may be applied to a booking for this season 2020/21 where possible or the following season 2021/22 where specified above. The booking must be made by 31st March 2021 in all cases to preserve the same ABTOT bond protection as the previous booking. The new booking is subject to availability and will be at normal prices. If you later cancel the new booking you will receive a refund of recoverable amounts paid for lift passes and adult ski lessons in cash. You will also receive 70% of the value of your original holiday including deposit net of these refunded extras.
The final payment date will be temporarily changed whilst there is a COVID-19 pandemic from 10 weeks before your holiday to 8 weeks before your holiday. If payment in full has not been received by us by the new due date, we shall have the right to cancel the booking and retain the deposit paid, and in this case, no refund or credit note will be due.
Please bear in mind that COVID-19 is likely to have an impact on holiday arrangements for some time. We may, for example, be unable to provide certain advertised services or facilities as a result. We may also need to change your accommodation or resort at short notice if it becomes unavailable. Greater flexibility is therefore likely to be required for the foreseeable future, both before and after departure and our booking terms stipulate that you will not be entitled to a refund or holiday credit and will incur cancellation charges if you do not accept a reasonable alternative.
We’ll be working hard to keep you safe
Best practice continues to evolve and we will adapt our approach, especially as we learn from Summer holidays and the return to school this Autumn. Plans now are as follows – but these will evolve in the light of experience:
We think the special chalet experience could be essentially as we know and love it, but there might need to be some changes to the facilities we can offer and how we provide them. We have anticipated all we can now, as set out here:
- All our hot tubs are outdoors and sterilisation levels are checked twice daily. To help keep them operational, we expect guests to follow our guidelines on occupancy.
- Everyone, including staff, will be expected to wear face coverings while travelling to resort in our transfers and this will, of course, apply to air travel to and from Geneva. (Don’t forget your face coverings which may be necessary in public spaces)
- There will be a huge emphasis on COVID-specific hygiene training for our staff and they will be provided with appropriate PPE
- Regular sanitiser and hand washing will be the norm with staff and guests
- Staff will prepare and serve food wearing PPE
- Meals including breakfast will be served rather than help yourself
- Room cleaning will be managed to minimise exposure and guests may opt-out of room cleaning
- Staff and children in our care will have temperature checks
- We already keep children in their childcare groups and these groups will be managed to minimise contact and maintain hygiene
- Children eat within their specific group, with food and drink served by our staff
- Our childcare staff are trained in deep cleaning and preventing the spread of infection, but these processes will be reviewed and tightened further
We’re keeping our full chalet programme
We have been working with most of our chalet owners for over 20 years and we are keeping our full chalet programme even though many companies are cutting back dramatically and sadly, some will not be around next season. As well as preserving valuable partnerships, this will give us more of an opportunity to provide accommodation options if we need to deal with a local outbreak. However, we could well be seeing a situation similar to summer holidays in the UK now, where availability is very limited as people look to make up for holidays lost this year, especially where there are far fewer chalet options with childcare. The complete withdrawal of the biggest operator Crystal from chalet holidays and many others is going to increase pressure on what is available. We know people like us always say this, but this could be a very good time to make use of our guarantee to book now. Many of our guests already have.
Our availability checker will provide a general quote, and we will email you with detailed options if you request them.
All our holidays remain fully ABTOT protected as normal, this means that if we cease trading then the bond refund protection applies.