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Booking a package (with Abta/atol cover) but travelling independently

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Does anyone know whether if we book a package ski holiday - flight, transfers, accommodation, but then decide to drive to the resort (travel corridors allowing) would we be covered for the covid cover offered by e.g. TUI?
We are keen to book a holiday but I'm not over keen on the idea of airports or airplanes and would much rather drive to resort if allowed. If we pay for the package and forgo the small discount for independent travel then am I right in thinking this might be a tactical move? Or am I, as it's often the case, sadly deluded.
Any thoughts gratefully received Smile Puzzled
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Hilaryd, Have you searched for TO's who offer self drive as an alternative to flying? I know these exist (or used to) for summer holidays to the continent where they provided Eurotunnel tickets as part of the package. Not sure if this exists in the winter market.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Peak retreats and there other company are abta covered if that’s what you are looking for.
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I seem to remember that most of the big boys used to offer a discount on the normal "with flight" price if you drive.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Hilaryd, I would also recommend Peak Retreats or their subsidiary Ski Collection (we have booked holidays with Peak Retreats or Ski collection at least once a year since 2008). If you book accommodation plus travel (Eurotunnel flexi plus or ferry) through them I think it counts as a package and the whole holiday would have ABTA protection. Their prices include eurotunnel flexi plus.

I suspect that the likes of Crystal/Tui would not work out very good value if you book on an accommodation only basis through them and I don't think you would have the safety net of ATOL protection if you weren't taking their flight. If you want a package with a flight they would be fine but probably not a good option for self drive at the current time.
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My understanding is you need 2 of 3 elements to be a package
Eg 2 of flights, transfer, accommodation.
I guess if you choose not to fly, you could loose your accommodation if you booked a package.

Unless its peak season, i would play it by ear and look last minute for accomdation.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sat 5-09-20 17:27; edited 1 time in total
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Look at Sunweb.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Hilaryd, I have been thinking of doing a Tour Operator self drive holiday. My research shows that Crystal/Neilsons don't do Self Drive holidays (from their website, not tried ringing to ask..) ; Inghams website says they do, but when I tried to book a holiday I couldn't find the 'drive' option ?!?.

As suggested by Nickyj - Sunweb do


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Sat 5-09-20 17:30; edited 1 time in total
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
NickyJ wrote:
Look at Sunweb.
If you look at the "refunds and cancellations thread - who have been the good guys?" people who booked with Sunweb last season do not seem very happy. See page 30 the latest page of that thread.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Sat 5-09-20 17:33; edited 1 time in total
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I think the OP is indicating that they still willing to pay for the flights/transfers - but then just not use them. Because explicitly opting for self-drive or accommodation only might mean that it is no longer a "package" and losing some PTR or ABTA/ATOL or TUI Covid-19 cover.

For the Covid aspect you would have to check the detail of the TUI wording. The idea does seem to have some merit for the Package Travel Regulations protection.

There might be some complications if you just don't turn up for the flight/transfer. They are likely to interpret it as meaning you have cancelled, so might then also cancel any booked passes, lessons etc - and when you roll up by car just in time for dinner, there might not be any!
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@snowymum, hmm thanks good to know, well not good? But you know I mean I hope. Have used them as Self drive before.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@ecureuil, Hmm - pitfalls !!

From ABTA website

"..A package holiday must cover a period of at least 24 hours or involve overnight accommodation and is a combination of at least two different types of travel services, which are listed below:
◦transport (such as a flight, coach or train but not transfers from an airport)
◦accommodation (such as a hotel, villa or apartment)
◦car rental
◦a tourist service (such as a tour guide or a trip to a historical attraction) where this is a significant part of the holiday, either because of its value or because it is an essential part of the trip.

If I was to book with Inghams and drive - Accommodation would be one qualification ; would a 'Ski Pack' count as at 'tourists service' ??

More research needed....

===== Edit ====

Just had a look at the Inghams website again -- seems that they book your Ferry/Eurotunnel crossing, which would then make the holiday a 'Package' one...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Oh gracious, my first post after years of lurking and I seem to have opened a can of worms!
Many thanks for all your thoughts.
I have done a live chat with Crystal and they do accommodation only at a discount but you need to phone them and it wouldn't count as a package holiday, although maybe booking they lift pass through them would certainly be a more expensive 'service' than a budget airline flight to Geneva Wink
We'll look into the other operators you've recommended. We were originally thinking of hedging our bets and paying for the flight but not using it if the travel corridors were open to drive... We live in interesting times wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Just book with Erna Low or Sunweb to name a couple.

I book with Erna Low and they are TTA and ATOL protected.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We ended up doing this (unintentionally) with Mark Warner when we had to get our daughter to a sailing event in Le Harve. Based upon last years experience I expect most tour operators would look for an opportunity to invalidate their liability. We booked accomodation only last year with Erna Low and when ski resorts shut on the day of arrival they acted sympathetically.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A couple of years ago Crystals Ski were fine with 2 of our party not turning up to the flight and arriving later by themselves. We just had to let them know so that they can let the checkin staff and resort reps know about it.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hilaryd wrote:
Oh gracious, my first post after years of lurking and I seem to have opened a can of worms!
Many thanks for all your thoughts.
I have done a live chat with Crystal and they do accommodation only at a discount but you need to phone them and it wouldn't count as a package holiday, although maybe booking they lift pass through them would certainly be a more expensive 'service' than a budget airline flight to Geneva Wink
We'll look into the other operators you've recommended. We were originally thinking of hedging our bets and paying for the flight but not using it if the travel corridors were open to drive... We live in interesting times wink


Neilson are the same. When the TC fiasco hit last year we lost our original flights, they offered us Birmingham (as a replacement for Gatwick!) or we can arrange our own travel. The discount was pretty pitiful mind, £50pp....
I'm sure most TOs would happily take your money for accommodation and let you sort out your own travel at the moment!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Speak to the tour operator about self drive - the people who put TO websites together are not that interested in offering great flexibility - they are creating the illusion of "the promise". If you get fobbed off, ask to speak with the reservations manager! After last winter TOs will probably be desperate for business.
You could book a package to accommodation of your choice and the cheapest flight option but choose to make your own way to resort.
You will have paid for the package as invoiced by the TO - you should have the ABTA/ATOL protection (FWIW) that the "flight" clients will have. The only way it might fall apart is if nasty things happen causing resorts to close and then you *might* be driving home early. At a resort level, most of the TO staff will not be interested in how you got there/are getting home.
An important point for the comfort of the other people on your transfer coach to resort - make sure that someone at the TO knows, one or two days before travel (call their local office and confirm with an email?), that you are driving out, otherwise the coach might be hanging around waiting for you guys - for no good reason, thereby causing grump!

There is another option: consult Snowfinders - they have been around the block several times and are of a size where they care.
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@Hilaryd How about looking at a DIY and self-catered apartment option as well, before committing to the TO package? In many resorts, a significant proportion of hotel and apartment bookings are direct, through accommodation websites, or directly via the rental agencies in the village. And people like Snowfinders are typical of UK-based agencies that offer both Eurotunnel and accommodation. I appreciate self-catering may not be what you want, which is fine - but it looks like you're fairly flexible re transportation mechanism (Eurotunnel vs flying & transfer bus) so why not go the final furlong and organise the accommodation too? Re the pros/cons of DIY there are a gazillion threads on Snowheads to look at for more discussion and tips. To get started, how about choosing a resort, then taking a look at a few rental immobilier's websites to see what typical rates are for the weeks you're interested in. Also remember that while almost all websites only offer Sat-Sat bokings, many owners will consider weekday-weekday bookings, especially outside the peak school holiday weeks, which can be a lot cheaper in terms of the crossing price and much quieter in terms of traffic.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Hilaryd,
Quote:

I'm not over keen on the idea of airports or airplanes and would much rather drive to resort if allowed

The first step on the road to the darkside of DIY. Toofy Grin

The key to DIY for the first time is research and preparation.

First choose a resort that you know and love, it is so much easier to DIY for the first time if you already know the area

Start looking at the tourist office website for that resort, they will usually have a booking service for hotels and apartments, they may also have links to the local estate agents websites each with their own offering of lets, some of which they also promote through the tourist office. Airbnb can be a good source although generally more expensive than through a local estate agent. If you are planning on going to France and you are comfortable negotiating a French website then Leboncoin.fr is also a very good source. The website of the resort where we spend most of our ski holidays also have links to local independent property owners with properties for rent. There are other websites like owners abroad with properties available.
Establish their Covid-19 cancellation policies, the estate agent we use has an insured Covid cancellation policy.


Choose your method of crossing the Channel, Eurotunnel more generally the most expensive although they used to double up on Tesco vouchers, don't know if they still do, and quickest although the time saving over the ferry is immaterial over the total length of journey. Ferries generally cheaper and the extra time taken can be utilised having a meal and a nap.

Be realistic about the drive, most French resorts are about 8 to 10 hours drive from Calais in good weather conditions. Depending on how far you are from Folkestone/Dover it's probably too much to do without an overnight stop. Pick your stop carefully. Once we started driving we quickly developed what became our standard plan which gave us 8 days skiing for 6 days off work. Do most of the travel on a Friday. We would leave home about 2:00 am on Friday morning for a 6:00 am crossing which with two of us sharing the driving would get us to within an hour of the resort before 6:00 pm. We would do a supermarket shop, early dinner and a good nights sleep. Saturday morning, up early, breakfast in ski gear, leave by 8:00 am, in resort by 9:00 am, collect pre-booked skis and pass, on the slopes by 10:00 am. Ski until about 3:00, check in to accommodation, dinner and sleep.

On checkout day, we would pack and have left the flat by 9:00 am, most of our stuff was put in the car on the previous night, and then ski for most of the day usually leaving the resort before 4:00 pm and then driving about 3 hours north to a hotel completing the journey home on the Sunday.

Out of touch these days on what TOs charge but when we first started we could eat out every night and still make a saving against a catered package and ski for 8 days.

Do make sure your car is as prepared as possible, plenty of threads on here about winter tyres, all season tyres, socks and chains.

If you are tied to the February half term then have a look at the "Driving down for half term" thread https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150755

Ski passes can be booked online and there are usually family or early booking discounts that would not be passed on by a TO.

Ski lessons can also be booked online sometimes with discounts.

The big thing that confirmed my change to DIY was 8 days skiing for 6 days off work which when you only have one week a year skiing was a huge bonus.

Good Luck and please update us on your decision
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And if you do decide to drive and DIY do get motorway toll tag or doofer as it's known here. Lots of discussion on which is the best/cheapest but my personal choice is the SANEF/Emovis one as it's just so easy with a direct debit on my UK bank account at the end of the month after the month of travel.
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Quote:

If we pay for the package and forgo the small discount for independent travel then am I right in thinking this might be a tactical move? Or am I, as it's often the case, sadly deluded.

Like others here I'm not sure why you want to use a travel operator. Or indeed what the benefits of ABTA/ATOL cover are? If you are driving what is the point of Air Travel Organiser's Licence cover.

It may be diffenent next season but last season when Les Arcs closed early all rental money received in advance of booking was returned to the renters, our tunnel booking was rescheduled. Of course since you haven't actually travelled you will have not bought fuel, motorway tolls or food and drink. Your losses would be minimal. Years ago I suffered a heart attach just before going on holiday, by the time I'd canelled the flights, and hotel bookings I realised that I and my family were actually out of pocket by less than the excess on the travel insurance.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Many thanks everyone, when I get on't big computer I'll tag you all with thanks Very Happy
We are indeed moving towards the dark side, sliding into eurotunnel Flexi wallet territory >
We are creatures of habit and have rebooked the same resort and hotel for many years after a disastrous ski trip to France, it didn't suit us at all and I would hardly refer to it as a holiday for us. Although I'm sure there are many resorts that would suit us nowe stick with what we know.
After reading all your wonderful suggestions and advice and experience we have booked with the TO for our peak season trip and also booked lift passess through them - although I'd usually buy them direct. We will make the decision whether to book airport car parking at the last possble chance and will provisionally book Eurotunnel Flexi crossings very soon. If it becomes impossible to transit through France, considering driving hours, aylight hours, travel from the SW peninsula to Ke
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Oops ran out of characters! ... travel to Kent and most importantly govt guidelines and FCO advice / restrictions re quarantine we'll take the flight we've booked but fingers crossed we'll doing our fledgling independent ski trip - albeit with many more apron strings still to cut. We have a day van so it is possible to drive through France without getting out if we refuel before the tunnel.
Mindful of your advice we'll let the TO know if we are going to 'miss' (avoid!) the flight and text the rep too, but the onward transfer is by train so we won't be causing any delay to coach transfers. Blush
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@Hilaryd, Interesting -- where are you going to ??
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Hilaryd wrote:
Does anyone know whether if we book a package ski holiday - flight, transfers, accommodation, but then decide to drive to the resort (travel corridors allowing) would we be covered for the covid cover offered by e.g. TUI?
We are keen to book a holiday but I'm not over keen on the idea of airports or airplanes and would much rather drive to resort if allowed. If we pay for the package and forgo the small discount for independent travel then am I right in thinking this might be a tactical move? Or am I, as it's often the case, sadly deluded.
Any thoughts gratefully received Smile Puzzled


Curious to know why you don't want to fly? I've taken several flights during lockdown - twas a delight. Deserted airports and no fuss on the plane!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@dravot it's an irrational fear based on not wanting to be indoors around large groups of people for hours on end or in queues indooors wink
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@albob the Bernese Oberland. Most TOs moved over to train transfers similar to their summer lakes and mountains visitors a few seasons ago
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@johnE I think we are on the slippery slope away from TOs, it's new territory and I'm quite risk averse but now I have time to look at the details. We travelled independently this summer so we're getting used to it. Sorry to hear about your heart attack, I hope you are fully recovered now but it was very interesting to read about your cancellations etc. Similarly for us the hotel, lift pass and fuel costs would be the major expenses and I can see how they would be mitigated.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Timc we have the emovis tag, it worked great in the summer, the only problem being my panic at toll booths. I ended up in a pay lane without euros to hand but fortunately, for my continued life on this planet, it still scanned/recognised the tag rolling eyes
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Timc it was great to read your timeline for driving and skiing. Without a local airport we spend 2 x 14hour days travelling and waiting around on our week 'skiing'. I'm sure we'll find a routine after a year or two as we'll probably do a similar trip in the summer
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I can understand why some people might be cautious about air travel, but I'd feel more concerned about staying in a hotel!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I've got an increasing amount of travel booked for the next 12 months, with a mix of operator and DIY.

In some cases, large operators (e.g. BA Holidays) are offering very generous cancellation/refund conditions which gives me confidence to book relatively speculatively (I've probably jinxed Portugal...).

In other cases, DIY has given more flexibility - Avis and Hertz are both offering fee-free cancellation, as is BA (and others) for flights.

If you can find products where a refund is a standard condition (rather than a COVID special) then I think that's by far the safest - e.g. it's always been possible to pay about 10% more for an Avis car and have free cancellation up until pickup, similar with most properties on booking.com. I've travelled this way for 2 decades with work travel; probably half my planned trips got cancelled in the pre-COVID world, but it never cost us a penny as we neraly always took refundable deals.

My personal view is that we've seen the best and the worst of the travel industry in the past 6 months, and the key thing isn't anything to do with packages or ABTA/ ATOL/ ABTOT/ Chocolate Teapot Ltd bonding and membership, it's choosing your providers carefully, making sure you pay with a credit card, and reading the fine print. As @snowymum says, I think the "good guys" thread is a good place to start in determining who is any good or not.
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Hilaryd wrote:
@dravot it's an irrational fear based on not wanting to be indoors around large groups of people for hours on end or in queues indooors wink


Fair enough. BA was very strict embarking and disembarking pax by row numbers, possibly one of the most pleasant short hauls I've taken. There was no queuing per-se
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