Ski Club 2.0 Home
Snow Reports
FAQFAQ

Mail for help.Help!!

Log in to snowHeads to make it MUCH better! Registration's totally free, of course, and makes snowHeads easier to use and to understand, gives better searching, filtering etc. as well as access to 'members only' forums, discounts and deals that U don't even know exist as a 'guest' user. (btw. 50,000+ snowHeads already know all this, making snowHeads the biggest, most active community of snow-heads in the UK, so you'll be in good company)..... When you register, you get our free weekly(-ish) snow report by email. It's rather good and not made up by tourist offices (or people that love the tourist office and want to marry it either)... We don't share your email address with anyone and we never send out any of those cheesy 'message from our partners' emails either. Anyway, snowHeads really is MUCH better when you're logged in - not least because you get to post your own messages complaining about things that annoy you like perhaps this banner which, incidentally, disappears when you log in :-)
Username:-
 Password:
Remember me:
👁 durr, I forgot...
Or: Register
(to be a proper snow-head, all official-like!)

VIP SKI go into administration

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Snowfinders wrote:
Wow, gents, this is some kangaroo court. They contracted chalet hotels; perhaps the amount was for one of them? Maybe it was staff digs for the season? Maybe it included renovation works and refurb? They also contracted on blocks such as the aspen lodge that housed many chalets (Lys Martagon building in Val). Certainly they didn’t market a chalet by the name vita brevis Charlie and who’s to say they named it that? Maybe the owner named it that? Lots of jumping to conclusions here which isn’t helpful or fair.


I was a regular VIP customer and would expect that they did make decent profits through their business. That's why they do it.

To be in business for 30 years, they were obviously doing something right. But to lose the end of last season and potentially the whole of the next season is not a viable business model for any business. Its not at all surprising they've gone under and i don't think it should be a negative reflection on the company or the directors in any way.
snow report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Rather than just dwelling on VIP, a company who never had the benefit of my business as I do not really do or can afford "high end", the wider comsequences are more relevant.

Personally, I prefer a hotel with the flexibility of dining times, meals seven days a week if I wish, and the better chance of meeting people from a range of different countries or I would B&B and enjoy dining in a range of different places.

There is another reason for my bias against the chalet market - that is it generally catered for the couples market - they would generally rather have empty rooms rather than not charge a ridiculous single supplement, even for very late bookers. Outside France single rooms are quite often available at little or no premium in B&Bs and hotels.

The sad reality is, at the top end, the chalet companies were charging hotel prices for effectively free wine with dinner. Even the extra "benefits" they ahd been able to offer eg guiding had been banned by law.

My suspicion is that the reality is, and as has been commented elsewhere extensively, with proper employment regulations being applied to chalets the business model was already on the way out and what has happened with VIP and others has just accelerated that process. How much of the cost structure has been driven by very high competition to rent high end properties I do not know. May be one result will be chalet holidays reduce to more competitive price levels in the future if chalet rents drop significantly due to lower levels of demand. Of course, a hotel has a summer and autumn season whereas I suspect a lot of chalet owners had to earn their rent just on a winter season.
snow report
 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?
@countryman,

Quote:

Rather than just dwelling on VIP, a company who never had the benefit of my business as I do not really do or can afford "high end", the wider comsequences are more relevant.


See...
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3499913&highlight=future+chalets#3499913
snow conditions
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
I took the Phoenix reference to be one made re prepack administrations which often seem to be used to wipe out a slate of creditors and carry on the same business immediately. Some of those can appear dubious particularly where there have been significant drawings from the business or preferential payment of close associates prior to the administration.
latest report
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Snowfinders wrote:
Wow, gents, this is some kangaroo court. They contracted chalet hotels; perhaps the amount was for one of them? Maybe it was staff digs for the season? Maybe it included renovation works and refurb? They also contracted on blocks such as the aspen lodge that housed many chalets (Lys Martagon building in Val). Certainly they didn’t market a chalet by the name vita brevis Charlie and who’s to say they named it that? Maybe the owner named it that? Lots of jumping to conclusions here which isn’t helpful or fair.

At 31 May 2019 they had £1.5m in assets, and were perhaps one of the stronger capitalized smaller operators. To go into administration suggests that £1.5m has been lost from the company over 2019/20 and this summer.

I wouldn't have expected them to make a profit for 19/20, but by mid-March they would perhaps have roughly broken even. I doubt they employ 130 over the summer. I could quite understand them just closing the business, because they don't see much prospect of making money for a few years, but I do find it surprising that they have gone into administration
snow report
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Are they the company that used to weigh chalet hosts regularly to track weight, ahem, discourage ‘chalet girl bum’?
snow report
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
What puzzles me is that they claim to have built 60 chalets and 2 hotels, but these don't show up on their books as assets. I mean, that's at least £50m in properties. Their USP was that they ran and owned these themselves: they said they weren't just an agency and that they had skin in the game because they built the properties. But it looks like while they built them, they sold them on, and didn't actually own them, so in fact, they were 'just an agency' after all. They were a developer who then offered owners the chance to organise rentals through a successful agency. Which is pretty common practice for apartment (the same immobilier builds an apt block, then administers it for the co-props, and rents on behalf of owners if they want). Or am I mis-reading the Annual Report?


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 19-11-20 14:22; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
DB wrote:

He appears to know more about them than DG knows about Admin's taxes.


I've got to say you are on form at the moment. A career in stand up beckons.
snow report
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
The directors seem to be involved with 4 companies including property finding and the travel company. The travel company appears to have lost money in both 2018 and 2019 accounts and the losses seemed to be growing. This probably means that the losses for Y/E 2020 would be even greater especially given the loss of the end of the season. The group company did have significant "cash in hand and bank" in the y/e 2019 accounts.

It's a difficult time for the ski holiday industry and we have to wonder who's next Sad Sad
ski holidays
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
In the absence of VIPSki, do knowledgeable snowheads have any tips for which (surviving) operators I should try instead? Early intermediate skiier, thinking France/ Austria / Italy in early 2021, provided resorts are open by then.
I think that's how I should phrase it, rather than asking which ones to avoid, although that's of interest too.....
latest report
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@peerless ploughman, just do it yourself.
snow report
 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.
I think you need to wait until literally the week before, there’s this viral thing doing the rounds which you may have heard about ?
In that week you would be able to ascertain, in no specific order:
1) What your local travel and lockdown rules are
2) If you are Ill or under self isolation due to a notification
3) What countries are open
4) what resorts are open
5) If you can get there with any confidence
6) if when you get there you have digs

So, a few pieces to move there. Very Happy
snow report
 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
@peerless ploughman, I've not used them but have heard good thinks about Kaluma https://kalumaski.com
snow conditions
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@peerless ploughman, If you are solely looking for a package then I would recommend LeSki.
Otherwise - go DIY and definite last minute - as Orange above indicates
snow conditions
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I took the Phoenix reference to be one made re prepack administrations which often seem to be used to wipe out a slate of creditors and carry on the same business immediately. Some of those can appear dubious particularly where there have been significant drawings from the business or preferential payment of close associates prior to the administration.


Maybe you are right and I'm just showing my age, but Pheonix companies has been a term used since long before prepack was a thing.
snow report
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
peerless ploughman wrote:
In the absence of VIPSki, do knowledgeable snowheads have any tips for which (surviving) operators I should try instead? Early intermediate skiier, thinking France/ Austria / Italy in early 2021, provided resorts are open by then.
I think that's how I should phrase it, rather than asking which ones to avoid, although that's of interest too.....


Agree with what someone else said. If you're not going DIY then go with LeSki! Excellent group of people.
snow report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
almost there wrote:
Which chalet was that! Their average chalet size was 10 to 12 people and would be circa £1200 p.p per week . At £1500 per week per person, would only bring in 360k over a 20 week season. Couldn't have had many chalets earning more than that!


I think you're missing the point, the aim of that is to extract money out of the business, not to drive profit on that particular chalet and it's rental.
snow report
 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?
midgetbiker wrote:
Also someone asked higher up the page whether a Pheonix business meant people had been ripped off, and no, it doesn't. All it means is that one business is birthed from the ashes of another.


I'm not sure that's accurate? IF a business goes under then it suggests it's unviable (maybe at a point in time), but if you restart instantly it's clearly a viable business. All that's happened is you've destroyed one legal entitiy with debt or obligations and created a new legal entity without those debts / obligations.The concept of a company going bust, then another 'phoenix' company doing exactly the same thing, with the same suppliers / structures is indeed to offload debt / debters and effectively screw the suppliers / banks.

Note: I'm not saying that they are doing that...
ski holidays
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
orange wrote:
I think you need to wait until literally the week before, there’s this viral thing doing the rounds which you may have heard about ?
In that week you would be able to ascertain, in no specific order:
1) What your local travel and lockdown rules are
2) If you are Ill or under self isolation due to a notification
3) What countries are open
4) what resorts are open
5) If you can get there with any confidence
6) if when you get there you have digs

So, a few pieces to move there. Very Happy


That pretty much sums up what I an doing. I have a couple of weeks targeted and will assess. Flights will be more, but hoping that late accommodation will be less - all the rest will be normal
snow conditions
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Sad to see a great company go under. Been with VIP a few times and they’re the best we’ve had to date. Great service and nothing was to much trouble for the staff. R.I.P V.I.P.
ski holidays
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
I've traveled with VIP quite a number of times since around 2006, always been very happy with them and even when there were issues they rectified them as satisfactorily as possible. They had a solid offering with excellent standards albeit at a slightly higher price. I wholeheartedly believe what they have said in their statement, the coming season is frankly impossible for a company like them to navigate a way through. Deciding to pull out now is probably a good idea rather than have hundreds of people stuck in resort when it goes wrong later in the season.

I'm not connected with VIP in anyway but I do hope they return to the market in some form when this is all over. I'd have no hesitation in booking with the new company.
ski holidays
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
My only experience of VIP was the chalet they had in Les Gets, as we were living in Les Gets in the winter at the time. It was a good place to meet up with other visiting members of the family and have lunch. Their chocolat chaud was the best around. The nannies were lovely - when one of our little grand daughters got splinters in her hand one of the nannies spent ages coaching them out, telling her she was a brave girl etc. The staff they employed in that chalet appeared to be very competent and friendly.
ski holidays
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I hear you folks, but this thread is the only reason I know I won't get the VIPski holiday I've paid for.
Otherwise, I'd have found out when I turned up at Gatwick.
Alternatively I'd read elsewhere about french ski resorts not opening in time, and then I'd ring VIPski about it and get the apologetic ansaphone message.
As it is, I'm now watching the CAA/ ATOL website, pending publication of the specific claim form needed.
snow report
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Well if anybody wants a VIP SKI Hol next year, he's back!

https://mobile.twitter.com/vip_ski?lang=en
ski holidays
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@chocksaway, seems to be promising money back for trips cancelled end of last season and this season.
latest report
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@PeakyB, From the company or through ATOL, it's a bit vague isn't it? Perhaps PlanetSki will ask him for us wink
snow report
 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.
@chocksaway, yes, you're right, a bit vague. Maybe snowHeads directly affected will ask too? I'd forgotten how big they were...65 chalets or chalet-hotels, mostly France with a few in the Arlberg.
ski holidays
 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
Quote:
I'd forgotten how big they were...

!0,000 passengers per annum, according to TravelMole: https://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?c=setreg&region=2&m_id=s~dmnT_T_&w_id=38495&news_id=2045742
snow report
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
According to travel mole, he's bought it back through his company called Vita Brevis.
I'm not a Latin scholar but I think it means Short Life.
Will be interesting to see if people booking for the 21/22 season can pay by credit card.
latest report
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
chocksaway wrote:
Well if anybody wants a VIP SKI Hol next year, he's back!

https://mobile.twitter.com/vip_ski?lang=en


Will let you know once I have detail on whether he intends re-employing the local management team and any other snippets.
latest report
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Maybe translates as 'Life is Short'? (O Level Latin, 1983, so may not be correct)

I think this issue could benefit from some more detailed investigation. Rather like Alpine Elements and Ski Weekends, all three businesses went into administration, therefore writing off their debts (by passing it on to ABTA/ATOL and the tax payer) and in each case the previous owner then bought back the business.

In the case of VIP apparently there was an “intense & highly competitive” process, which would put it one step ahead of the other two administrations which were 'pre-pack' deals (arranged even before the administration was announced). Happy for any insolvency accountants/lawyers out there to clarify this.

To me this sounds very dubious practice, even if apparently legal. I suspect other companies, who have done the right thing by their customers but struggled through, will be very aggrieved.
latest report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
ecureuil wrote:
Snowfinders wrote:
Wow, gents, this is some kangaroo court. They contracted chalet hotels; perhaps the amount was for one of them? Maybe it was staff digs for the season? Maybe it included renovation works and refurb? They also contracted on blocks such as the aspen lodge that housed many chalets (Lys Martagon building in Val). Certainly they didn’t market a chalet by the name vita brevis Charlie and who’s to say they named it that? Maybe the owner named it that? Lots of jumping to conclusions here which isn’t helpful or fair.

At 31 May 2019 they had £1.5m in assets, and were perhaps one of the stronger capitalized smaller operators. To go into administration suggests that £1.5m has been lost from the company over 2019/20 and this summer.

I wouldn't have expected them to make a profit for 19/20, but by mid-March they would perhaps have roughly broken even. I doubt they employ 130 over the summer. I could quite understand them just closing the business, because they don't see much prospect of making money for a few years, but I do find it surprising that they have gone into administration


you don't go insolvent from running out of net assets, you go insolvent from running out of cash. having a £1.0m asset you cant convert into cash if of no use if you have a £100k bill you need to pay.
ski holidays
 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 have no skin in this game, but a quick scan of the public documents would suggest that this is a corporate structure which was set up with fire breaks and with a high degree of protection for the owners. Despite the claim that VIP Ski own all of their chalets, that's not legally true as their accounts make clear, since they include amounts for rentals, and no significant property assets. instead, VIP Ski is a trading name of APS Select Ltd, and it is this company which was put into administration and then bought by Vita Brevis Ltd, which was apparently incorporated for that purpose.

APS Select had Andrew and Sarah Sturt as officers, and they are also officers of 3 other UK companies - APS-Select Travel Limited which arranged flights, Alpaccom Limited which supplied accommodation, and Alpine Property Search Limited which provided property finding services. Alpaccom had no property assets of its own.

According to http://www.theodul.at/en/ VIP Ski had entered into a 5 year management contract to take over the running of their hotel from the retiring owners.

Many of the other properties seem to have been owned by a selection of French companies, which are imaginatively titled Vita Brevis Bravo, Vita Brevis Charlie, Vita Brevis Delta, Vita Brevis Echo and Vita Brevis Foxtrot. One chalet in Avoriaz was owned by APS-Select Avoriaz SARL, which was 98% owned by VIP Ski, and that has recently been sold.

The largest company creditor is VIP Chalet Services SA, of Sierre in Switzerland, so presumably this is another related company which owns property - they are owed £190K.

So to me, and I could be wrong, it looks like:

- the main operating company has been loss-making for a while, and had few assets
- it paid three other UK companies to provide transport and accommodation for its holidays
- all of these companies were owned by Andrew and Sarah Sturt
- the accommodation company Alpaccom seems to have arranged leases with multiple providers, including Vita Brevis companies B-F and Hotel Theodul in Lech
- and so the conclusion is that the company owned by the Sturts paid them as managers, and then also contracted their other companies for services, which paid them as managers and then also paid them dividends as directors, and that at least one of these companies then contracted their other companies in France for chalet rental

None of this is illegal, and in fact is probably fairly typical of a multi-national operation in the holiday market, but it does mean that one link in the chain has gone phut and left ATOL and ABTOT looking at £6m of claims, while all of the other companies remain unaffected and the Sturts retain their Alpine property portfolio, and they've bought the company back fairly cheaply and hope to rinse and repeat as before.

On the flip side, they had a £500K CBILS loan from the UK government via Barclays, who happen to be their corporate bankers, and it looks like Barclays have sequestered the company funds of £827K to cover this plus potential chargebacks of up to £750K arising from Barclaycard customers, and so the company will see none of their bank balance.

On the administration application document, much of this is laid out, and it is very clear that there were 3 offers for the company - one of £50K plus 10% of revenue in the 20/21 season (!), one of £200K with no revenue share which retained some staff, and the Sturts' offer of £150K plus 0.5% of revenue which retained some staff and also offered £1.5m to reduce the outstanding debts of the company. The document also states that the company had 68 lease agreements in France and Austria. How many of these were with Vita Brevis B-F is not clear.
ski holidays
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
@ousekjarr, impressive research and analysis.

Unfortunate Honest Brokers?
Shrewd operators ride out storm?
Shysters ducking and diving?

How do customers affected feel about that labyrinthine structure?
ski holidays
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
This structure is how they've chosen to take the risk of having a business and its allowed.

Are/will any customers be out of pocket once ATOL ABTOT pay out? If not I doubt they ultimately would really care. And new customers should/will just look for similar protection.

I guess there are issues around passing the liability to those bodies (are they funded by levies on the industry or taxpayers?) but thats the deal, you’re a member you’re covered.

Thrn there are suppliers, well you always take a risk with customers going out of business and you protect yourself as much as you can , insurance , cash bond, personal guarantees etc, but again thems the breaks.

Employees - sound like most have come out ok? Still got jobs with the new entity.

And I’ll bet you will find a similar firebreak structure in all the big TOs , and this one sounds like it was a reasonable sized one with assets to protect and money/nounce enough on setting up the appropriate structure to do it.

Nothing much to see here unless they deliberately drove the business under and it can be proved) to buy it back for pennies on the pound.
snow conditions
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Quote:
On the flip side, they had a £500K CBILS loan from the UK government via Barclays


Every Director I know with a CBIL has had to give a personal guarantee (that's right, it's not 'free money') so, if the sequestered £827k isn't enough, and it doesn't look like it is, the Sturts will need to find that £500k personally. Prepack administrations aren't the get out of jail free cards they are often presented as. Nevertheless, they live to fight another day and the pent up demand for season 21/22 and beyond should make for an immediately successful business.
snow report
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
The optics of such convoluted (but legal) arrangements are frequently that the owners arrange things so that they personally are comfortably off, leaving taxpayers and others to pick up the bill.

In this case I think it is misleading to claim "We ... operate over 60 of our own luxury chalets, CLUB Chalets and luxury ski hotels " when the actual holiday company owns almost nothing! APS-Select Limited (the holiday company) appears to have gone into administration because it couldn't continue to meet rental payments, but the above suggests that those rental payments might effectively be payments to the same directors via different companies.

For any company transferring cash to directors via rental payments may mean it is not transparent and not recoverable - when direct payments might be recoverable. IDK if that is the case here - but the more complicated the structure, the more suspicious I am!
latest report
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@ecureuil, - +1
snow report
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
I think the point to remember is that VIP have traded successfully for a long time, don’t have a track record of going bust and have a very good reputation. The Sturts are not shysters like Philip green.
snow conditions
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@lower, no one's a shysters till the shyster hits the fan and then the shysters reveal themselves.
You think trading successfully is going pop at the back end of the season when most revenue would already have been taken?
snow conditions



Terms and conditions  Privacy Policy