It’s a dilemma troubling Jill Helm and her family.  They are booked to travel to Val Gardena in the Dolomites this Saturday.  She tells PlanetSKI her story.

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Jill, husband Keven and three other adult members of the family, were looking forward to their week-long holiday skiing and snowboarding in northern Italy.

Then came coronavirus.

Italy is the worst affected country in Europe and most of the cases are clustered in the north.

Let’s be clear.

Jill is not particularly concerned about the risk of contracting the virus on the slopes which she agrees is low.

The South Tirol province, which includes Val Gardena, is not considered a high risk area.

The latest official statistics show 8 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Tirol, also known as Trentino-Alto-Adige.

Val Gardena, Italy, February 2020 - photo resort

Val Gardena, Italy, in February 2020 – photo resort

The 5 skiers and snowboarders in Jill’s group are all fit and healthy and aged between 25 and early 60s.

They are fully aware of the measures needed to keep themselves safe.

They will also avoid enclosed lifts, such as cable cars or gondolas, and stick to chair or tow lifts.

It’s the what ifs.

  • What if the UK government changes its view on travel to Italy while we’re on holiday?
  • Will we, in those circumstances, be able to come home as planned or have to go into quarantine?
  • What if we have to self-isolate? Some of us are self-employed and Jill has a sick elderly mother to look after.
  • What If we feel fine for a week after our holiday and then become ill? We might have already passed on the virus.

Jill told us she wanted to cancel the holiday because of the uncertainty and re-arrange the trip to France instead.

However, until and unless the Foreign Office advises against travel to northern Italy, her travel insurance will not pay out.

No insurance policy will cover a ‘disinclination’ to travel.

Each of the party stands to lose around £1,500 already paid for their travel and hotel in Selva if they cancel now.


Jill Helm & husband Keven

Jill Helm & husband Keven

“We’re all uneasy,” Jill told PlanetSKI on Wednesday evening, around 40 hours before she was due to fly from Manchester to Verona.

“If the government changes the recommendations tomorrow, we will change our trip and we will all be quite relieved.

“Even on Saturday morning, I would just jump in the car and drive to France.”

At the end of our conversation, the situation was that they were all still heading to Italy.

We wished Jill luck and a great holiday to Val Gardena in the beautiful Italian Dolomites.

Little more than 12 hours later we heard that one individual in the group had had second thoughts.

The nature of that person’s job, which we have agreed not to disclose, requires close contact with others and the decision was taken that it would ‘irresponsible to go to Italy’.

“We are all very sad to have to change our trip but we think this is the best option for all our group,” Jill told us on Thursday morning.

“We feel really bad letting the hotel in Selva down at such short notice but we are hoping to re-book with them next year.”

Jill Helm & family skiing in the Dolomites

Jill (left) with Keven, niece Emily & sister-in-law Karen on an earlier ski trip to the Dolomites

So, it was back to square one and a frantic last minute effort to find a holiday for 5 people in France, starting Saturday.

After hours of searching online, discussions between the group (and a little bit of help from PlanetSKI), it was sorted.

They are driving from North Yorkshire, via Eurotunnel, to the French Alps and staying in a chalet in La Plagne Montalbert.

“The crossings are really cheap! And there’s loads of availability,” Jill told us on Friday.

There’s even more good news.

“All seems to have worked out well. I got a full refund on my car hire from Rentals.com and we have organised a 70% cancellation fee with the hotel in Italy so at least that’s something.”


And the snow conditions are absolutely fabulous, too.

Bon voyage et bonnes vacances.

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