Ski specialist VIP Ski has ceased trading and filed for administration, with managing director Andy Sturt hitting out at the government’s "incoherent, inconsistent and sometimes deeply unhelpful advice" in a heartfelt parting note published on the firm’s website on Tuesday (17 November).
Mark Supperstone and Simon Jagger of ReSolve Advisory Limited have been appointed joint administrators of APS-Select Limited, which traded as VIP Ski under Atol 3556. The business was authorised for just over 8,000 Atol-protected passengers.
"The company has ceased to trade with immediate effect," read a post on VIP Ski website entitled, "we are so sorry, our doors have closed", with Sturt adding in a longer note addressed to colleagues, guests, landlords and partners the decision to place the business in administration was "without doubt the hardest" of his life.
"I never considered VIP Ski as my business, but rather a community of people and skiers," said Sturt.
"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."
He continued: "Since the day 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."
Stuart said that without a "sea change" in booking behaviour, which he did not foresee in the short-term, he could not continue to put colleagues, guests, landlords and partners through "the absolute chaos, personal misery and additional financial loss" that would otherwise occur if the business failed mid-way through the forthcoming 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," said Sturt. "I will continue to work tirelessly to try and assist our administrators, ReSolve, to ensure 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."
VIP Ski’s package clients have been advised by the business’s administrators to contact the CAA. Those with non-flight package or accommodation-only bookings should contact Abtot, or their credit or debit card issuer.