Andy Sturt has revived the VIP Ski brand, a stalwart of the British ski sector for more than 30 years, after buying it out of administration in January.
Sturt was managing director of VIP Ski when it collapsed last November, and blamed the government’s "incoherent, inconsistent and sometimes deeply unhelpful" guidance on refunds and travel restrictions – as well as the lack of sector-specific support for travel – for VIP Ski’s demise.
The business was authorised to carry around 8,000 Atol-protected passengers when it failed. Sturt paid £175,000 for the brand and several assets back in January through a new company, Vita Brevis Limited.
VIP Ski returns as a luxury chalet operator serving the French Alps, although it won’t offer flight-inclusive packages this time.
Instead, it will offer transfers from a manned desk at Geneva airport. It has also negotiated favourable, subsidised rates for clients with several local taxi partners to offer transfers from Lyon, Grenoble and Chambery airports.
"Thirty years on from VIP Ski’s pioneering beginnings, the British-born luxury chalet operator is back," said the firm. "Keen to enrich more skiers, its core values are unchanged, and its passion for ski is undiminished."
Sturt added: "I think the relaunch of VIP Ski is a positive news story post-Covid, and we are confident this is good news for the ski community."
It will operate more than 40 luxury chalets, Club chalets and luxury ski hotels in five French resorts in the Portes du Soleil ski area, as well as Val d’Isere and Les Arcs.
Sturt said the decision not to charter flights for VIP Ski’s operation was due to a lack of demand from guests, who preferred instead to fly at a time that suits them from their local airport. "The plethora of low-cost airlines and regional departures made this change inevitable," said Sturt.
Sturt said VIP Ski has instead focused on the more expensive, and difficult to organise, transfers from the airport to the resort and back.
The business will have a staffed desk at Geneva airport, which will serve as the firm’s transport hub. From Geneva, it will offer three complimentary coach transfers to and from each resort every Sunday.
"VIP Ski will also use the desk at the airport as a liaison point for those that have booked to travel to resort independently, and to aid all VIP Ski guests throughout the day," said Sturt.
Taxi transfers from alternative airports, such as Lyon, Grenoble and Chambery, will be available from £20pp to £40pp.
New resorts include Bear Resort in the village of Arc 1950, the design of which Sturt worked on himself. It is located on the piste, near the ski lifts, and a short walk from the centre of the village.