"We booked through booking.valdisere but ended up dealing with Cimaples, which, as it turned out, is an estate agency representing individual landlords - that is not a 3rd, but already a 4th party!
One month before our check-in we asked to cancel our reservation because of the COVID restrictions at the time. Although the contract we'd signed had a COVID clause, it was largely useless because it stipulated that the conditions (border closures, lockdowns etc) should be met ON THE day of arrival. Cimalpes told us that in our case we could only get the money back if they found another customer/lessee. We waited for two weeks. Then, after a slight nudge and much to our relief, we were told that new customer had been found. But the following day (over 24 hours later), after we cancelled other arrangements (shuttle bus, hotel in Geneva etc), Cimalpes told us that it was a mistake and we had to travel or else lose the 25% deposit (in fact we'd been asked to pay more than 25%)
Although it was Cimalpes' mistake, I tried to find a solution that would be mutually beneficial:
- I suggested that they keep this money as a deposit for next year - the answer was 'no'
- I asked to book a smaller unit because some of the members of the group had already made other plans - the answer was 'no'
Hoping to find other grounds for activation of the COVID clause I sent TWO ticket cancellations: Transavia from Paris for me, and AirFrance from Lyon for two other members of the party - but that was still not enough to activate the elusive COVID clause.
All I can say is their COVID clause is worthless if the terms stipulated have to be met on the day of arrival. What if the government regulations change the day before? Ski trips cannot be planned overnight, as you well know.
Moreover, the whole time La Canadienne wasn't available for booking on booking.valdisere , which I imagine most people go to looking for accommodation. We checked twice on the website and the apartment appeared as booked and unavailable. So if there were customers willing to book it instead of us they simply couldn't.
After all this mess, instead of offering us a small discount or reduction or another gesture of goodwill, Cimalpes tried to get more money out of us by adding another item to the bill - Carre Neige insurance - without notifying us beforehand! When I contested the charge, we were told that this insurance was compulsory for anyone skiing in France. However, Cimalpes' own Booking Contract states:
"It will be possible for you to add an insurance named "Carré Neige" (3/day/person), at the ski pass desk of the resort."
In sum, we were really dissatisfied with the service offered by Cimalpes and had no desire to travel to Val d'Isere at that point. When we arrived, another drama ensued with Cimalpes demanding we pay a 4000 euro security deposit with one credit card. When we asked to split the deposit between three members of the group they sent us links to do it online although we were physically present in the office with credit cards in our hands. In the end, one friend ended up paying the whole deposit by himself, thereby using up all of his available credit ! (and that's on the first day of a trip to one of the most expensive skiing resorts).
In fairness, the residence turned out to be exactly the way we'd imagined it to be and even better. When we had problems (e.g. WiFi), it was just a matter of a quick phone call or popping into the agency office and the problem would be solved. A welcome gift was a nice touch and so were the wood logs left on the balcony for the fireplace. Anne-Laure was particularly nice and helpful and even drove us to the residence on the day of arrival. Merci!"
By Leo S