There has been much discussion in the news this week about how some ski resorts might not get any snow this year.

Using snow cannons all year round isn’t financially feasible for the more affordable resorts so it looks like skiing might increasingly revert back to being an expensive luxury.

But what if you’ve already booked a skiing holiday and you’re worried about showing up to a snow-free zone? Here’s my 60-second guide.

Snow, skiing holidays and your rights

As many a holidaymaker has found out to their cost, you can’t guarantee getting the weather you want. So it’s exceptionally unlikely you’ll get a refund on your skiing holiday if there’s no snow, in the same way that you can’t bill for a beach holiday in Barbados if the sun isn’t out. Holiday firms may be liable to compensate you if key services they offer – like the spa in a spa weekend, for example – aren’t available, but not for things out of their control.

In practice though ski resorts want your money, which is why they invest in technology like snow machines to cover themselves if nature doesn’t deliver. If it doesn’t snow, people don’t spend as much. So it’s in their interest for you to travel – and stay. That means you can potentially negotiate a freebie or two or even an upgrade if you are willing to travel.

There are three main factors that cover your rights to a refund if a fundamental part of your holiday isn’t provided:

  • If the business guaranteed that a key service – like snow – would be available.
  • If you have an insurance policy that covers you for no snow.
  • If you’ve only paid a deposit and are still able to cancel.

Skiing packages

It would be unusual for a business to offer a cast-iron guarantee that you’ll definitely have snowy slopes for your ski holiday. The industry likes to use euphemistic terms like ‘snow-sure’ which means some resorts historically have more snow. But that’s not the same thing as an assurance.

In the first instance, check your contract to see if there are refund clauses relating to not being able to ski for a variety of reasons. Many ski holidays are sold as packages, meaning you might have ski lifts, runs, instruction and equipment hire rolled in to the package. These contracts are more likely to cover scenarios where you can’t use the facilities as opposed to booking flights and accommodation separately.

Travel insurance

Most insurance policies, including winter sports add-on policies, aren’t going to pay out if there’s no snow, but you can get policies that DO cover this. However, these policies tend not to refund you for the cost of your holiday. Instead they pay out for each day there’s no snow. The contracts I found cover you for around £50 a day but have an upper limit cap, with some limits as low as £125 maximum.

Deposits and bookings

If you have only paid a deposit, then check the holiday company’s T&Cs to see if you can cancel without further charge. If you’ve paid for flights and hotels separately, you may be able to move both flights and accommodation to another date but you’ll have to pay a fee for doing this.

Don’t panic just yet though. Many resorts are still reporting that they will have snow this season. If you don’t want to cancel, why not email and ask them to confirm if you’ll get a full or partial refund if there’s no snow, if you agree to keep your booking? Get it in writing though.

Featured in Times Money Mentor – Martyn James

Please share me around

Share useful info with your friends