Coronavirus update

23/03/2020

Here’s a link to a summary in English of the latest situation in Switzerland: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/covid-19_coronavirus–the-situation-in-switzerland/45592192

It’s now been a week since the ski-lifts closed, and the village is settling into a quiet version of the inter-season. A number of second-home owners came up for the weekend to close down their chalets after winter, and there were lots of windows thrown open and vacuuming sounds echoing across the valley before they all retreated back to wherever they live. Now the majority of the cars in the village have the local VS numberplates.

Out on the footpaths we crossed a few people, fathers out sledging with their daughters, older couples out for a walk. One gentleman with a group of four others that was walking up to the Maison de la Foret hastily pulled his mask over his face when we got within 10m. It’s the first person I’ve seen up here wearing a mask and I wish him good health.

The playgrounds are deserted, up here and down in Saillon. The La Tzoumaz playground is covered in snow but the Domus area is lovely and sunny in the afternoons. The donkeys there are almost as chatty as the climbers slowly making their way up the rock crag. The rabbits look a bit grumpy but the Japanese bantams are happily pecking at the ground unaware of how much the world around them has changed.

The footpaths and pistes are in excellent condition, considering they have been closed for a week. The snow is solid and crispy underfoot, which makes it a very pleasant surface to walk on, even when carrying a wriggling backpack full of toddler. The sledge run has only about 4cm depth of snow as it winds up through the trees, so we need to make the most of it before a few days of warm weather spoil our fun. There are many footprints and a few snowshoe marks, some sledge tracks and of course the skidoo tracks of our favourite local mountain restaurant owner.

Skinning up to ski down by starlight was a wonderful experience, with the head-torches just picking out the few small moguls that are starting to form in the otherwise hard and slippery surface. We didn’t see any wildlife but that may have been because we were chattering too loudly to each other…

There’s an inversion today so we are just in the cloud-line, with the view below obscured in thick fog. We resort to the webcams when we need a fix of sunshine:

http://www.verbier.ch/en/webcams/webcam-croix-de-coeur.htm http://www.verbier.ch/en/webcams/webcam-savoleyres.htm

19/03/2020

We have completed the set up of our remote office facilities and the resort team is busy fixing outstanding defects in the chalets and completing the standard post-season check and close of all the chalets. There are a couple of chalets still occupied by rental clients and owners. Our agency remains closed to visitors but we are still working, as are the local tradespeople (carpenters, plumbers, dishwasher repair etc).

The village is very sunny and fairly quiet. All bars and restaurants are closed. The tourist office is closed. The supermarket is open daily in the mornings. Some people are out walking with their children, others are running or cycling. People are greeting each other but keeping their distance from one another by crossing the road etc. A few people are enjoying the ski pistes by using skis de randonnee to climb up and ski down. We might try it later by torchlight when our toddlers are in bed so we can see what’s happening to the snow quality 🙂

17/03/2020

The Federal Council has annulled the decree issued by the Valais Cantonal Council and therefore we no longer have to close all hotels and holiday homes from midnight tonight.

Our teams are up and running and all services are functioning as normal, with the exception that we will not receive clients in the agency. If you are a chalet or apartment owner you may rest assured that we plan to maintain our Property Services as usual and continue to take good care of your property.

16/03/2020

Valais has decreed an Extraordinary Situation for the entire canton until further notice. From Tuesday 17th March 2020 at midnight, they have mandated the closure of all hotels and holiday homes, including those managed by people such as 4v4s, who use online booking sites like airbnb. As such we will close as a Holiday Rentals Agency from Tuesday at midnight. We will be directly contacting all affected holidaymakers as soon as we can.

If you are a chalet or apartment owner you may rest assured that we plan to maintain our Property Services as usual and continue to take good care of your property.

Here is the full text of the official communication (in French):

https://www.vs.ch/web/communication/detail?groupId=529400&articleId=6916182&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vs.ch%2Fhome%3Fp_p_id%3Dcom_liferay_asset_publisher_web_portlet_AssetPublisherPortlet_INSTANCE_BJTNLOOExi2c%26p_p_lifecycle%3D0%26p_p_state%3Dnormal%26p_p_mode%3Dview

15/03/2020

Switzerland has mandated the closure of all ski domains and so TeleVerbier has closed all of the lifts in the 4 Valleys until the end of the season. At this time we do not know if they will open for the summer season in mid-June. The supermarket remains open every morning and is currently well-stocked. All other commerces (bars, restaurants, hotels) are closed, including the Tourist Office.

You can follow the latest updates from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (in English) here: https://foph-coronavirus.ch/

If you have a 2019/20 winter booking with us

We are in the process of contacting all of our confirmed clients to discuss cancellation and refunds with all clients who have booked holidays and skipasses with us. We consider that the early closure of the ski domain represents a change in the product we have offered our clients versus what was booked, and so based on Swiss law we are offering every direct client a 100% reimbursement if the cancellation is not covered by travel insurance. Please contact us at holidays@4v4s.com if you have not yet heard from us.

Some of our clients are choosing to retain their booking if they are still able to travel to the resort, eg Swiss residents. It is a very quiet village now that the ski season has ended so it is perhaps easier here to manage social distancing and self-isolation. The mountain views are still beautiful, and the footpaths remain open for snowshoe hiking and walking.

If you would like to make a new booking

We are offering “free cancellation until 30 days before, and 90% refund at any time” for any new bookings made from now for travel dates before 30th September 2020.

If you have a 2020 spring/summer booking with us

We have updated our cancellation conditions and all existing bookings up to 30th September are now eligible for “free cancellation until 30 days before, and 90% refund at any time”

Feel free to contact us at holidays@4v4s.com if you already wish to cancel under the standard conditions. Your travel insurance may be able to cover any cancellation fees for you. Otherwise, we recommend that you take a decision as close to your departure date as possible.

If you wish to stay in Autumn or Winter 2020/21

For any cancellations made before September 30th 2020, a full refund is available for any Autumn or Winter 20/2021 bookings.

Also for any non weather-related closure of the entire ski domain for a prolonged period during winter 2020/21 we will offer a full refund. This also applies if the ski resort is open, but either your own government or the Swiss government blocks international travel to/from Switzerland.

Our standard cancellation conditions still apply in the following circumstances: Bookings for Winter 2020/21 that are cancelled after 30th September 2020 in the event that the ski domain is operating normally, and international travel is possible. As a reminder, these are our standard conditions: “For cancellation up to 2 months before arrival (or upon resale) the fee is 15%. Up to 1 month / 80%, thereafter / 90%.”

12/03/2020

There is a lot of uncertainty right now in lots of different parts of the globe, and there are starting to be impacts to many people’s daily lives and to their holiday plans. Here’s where we are today:

Swiss governmental advice

We expect a significant update on decisions affecting Switzerland after an emergency meeting of the Federal Council that will take place on Friday 13th March. Here is the link to watch the press conference live at 15h30 (Swiss time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFI7vQU-YnY&feature=youtu.be

There is no current travel restriction on travel to/from Switzerland issued by the Swiss Government.  People travelling on routes from or through Italy will, however, face restrictions.  The general advice from the Swiss government is to avoid greeting people by shaking hands or kissing and to practice good personal hygiene, avoid touching your face and wash hands frequently. Recently they have also advised people to keep their distance from each other.

You can follow the latest updates from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (in English) here: https://foph-coronavirus.ch/

Your governmental travel advice

The dynamics of this situation are such that we are unable to monitor advice from every country.  Please consult your own government website for information on travel advice.

Current situation in La Tzoumaz/Verbier

At the moment there are no special precautions in place in our resort as there are no confirmed cases, and people (including me) are skiing, socialising, and working or attending school/kindergarten as normal. Except for hand sanitizer and masks, shops are well-stocked and no-one here seems to be panicking.

Standard cancellation conditions

Just as a reminder, here are our standard cancellation conditions:

“For cancellation up to 2 months before arrival (or upon resale) the fee is 15%. Up to 1 month / 80%, thereafter / 90%.”

“Advance-purchase skipasses are non-refundable once issued.”

Travel insurance

We recommend that you check the cancellation terms and conditions in your travel insurance for accommodation and skipasses, and also for any transfers or flights etc that you have booked.  There may be a difference if you choose to cancel based on government travel advice against travel to/from Switzerland or your home country, versus if you cancel based on your own risk assessment.

New bookings

For any new bookings made between now and September 2020 we will offer free cancellation of those bookings if you cancel before September 2020

Stay safe and protect your communities by washing your hands, coughing into your elbow, not touching your face, and staying home if you are unwell.

Wishing you and your family good health over the next critical months.

From Anna, Percy & the whole team here at 4v4s