VIP SKI ceases trading

UK: Luxury ski chalet operator VIP SKI has ceased trading after parent company APS-Select Limited confirmed that it had entered administration, highlighting Covid-19 and government policies on travel restrictions as key factors in its collapse.

Mark Supperstone and Simon Jagger of ReSolve Advisory Limited have been appointed as joint administrators and the company has ceased to trade with immediate effect.

Founded three decades ago, the Putney-based firm offered holidays in prime ski resort destinations in France and Austria. It operated 60 chalets in ten different resorts in the Alps, including Val d’Isere, Avoriaz, Morzine and St Anton.

VIP SKI said in a statement: “Despite the wonderful support of our guests, colleagues and partners, we have been unable to navigate the extraordinary challenges of managing a winter ski operator through the current Covid crisis. We are sorry to announce VIP SKI has ceased trading today.”

Flight-inclusive packages are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] under the ATOL scheme and non-flight packages are protected by trade body Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust [ABTOT].

Managing director Andy Sturt wrote in a blog post: “I need to let you all know that we ceased trading last night and I have today placed our tour operator in administration, without doubt the hardest decision of my life.

“I never considered VIP SKI as my business, but rather a community of people and skiers; hundreds of thousands of guests, tens of thousands of colleagues, landlords, partners and suppliers, many of whom have become close friends, drawn together over the last thirty years around a common love of skiing and unbridled enjoyment in happy selfless service. Until the very end I have always cared deeply about everyone who has been a part of this journey and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

“Since the day that Covid was added to our lexicon we have tried desperately to wrestle a path through incoherent, inconsistent and sometimes deeply unhelpful government guidance on refunds and travel restrictions, a patchwork of European lockdowns, flight cancellations and a complete and absolute lack of specific government support for our sector. Despite the support of our guests and many of our partners, it has proved impossible to navigate a way through this.

“Without a sea change in booking behaviour, for which I can see no reasonable expectation in the short term, I cannot in good faith continue to trade and put our colleagues, guests, landlords and partners through the absolute chaos, personal misery and additional financial loss that would ultimately occur were our failure to happen in the middle of the ski season.

“I am sincerely sorry to all of you; colleagues, guests, landlords and partners alike, for not being able to find a way through this and for letting you all down. I will continue to work tirelessly to try and assist our administrators, ReSolve, to ensure that this painful process is executed as professionally and courteously as possible.

“Thank you all for being a part of my journey over the last thirty years. After a little break I hope to try and find a way of rebuilding from scratch and making a new home for you all that I can be proud of once more,” he added.

According to accounts for the year ending in May 2019, VIP SKI reported a “small loss” of £143,458 due to the impact of Brexit and an unsuccessful deal with an Austrian supplier. The firm was expected to return to profitability in 2019/20 after cutting costs, according to Sturt, but its increase in prices drove up revenue per guest by 6.5 per cent.

During the 2019-20 ski season, VIP SKI welcomed an estimated ten thousand guests to its chalets.