Warwick students fled their ski trip because ‘everyone was testing positive’ for Covid

Many feared isolating in France over the festive period

Students are reporting how they fled the Warwick ski trip, organised by WarwickSnow, amid reports of positive Covid-19 tests.

The trip took over 300 people to Alpe d’Huez, a ski resort in southeastern France and was meant to span the duration of Saturday 11th to Friday 17th December.

Covid protocol in Alpe d’Huez called for compulsory mask-wearing on all ski lifts and their queues, however, just days into the trip, students allegedly began testing positive for Covid-19.

The positive tests led to a number of students leaving the trip early and seeking alternative travel home to the UK. Many of the students who have now arrived back in the UK say they have tested positive for Covid-19.

Students stayed at Hotel Club Les Bergers in Alpe d’Huez

Third year James* left France just four days after arriving at the resort as he’d come into contact with some of his fellow students who’d tested positive.

Despite two negative lateral flows and a negative fit-to-fly antigen test, he has since tested positive for Covid-19. James explained: “When more and more cases had come up, I was on the fence about leaving.

“It was only when people were saying that they were gonna get a taxi to the nearest airports back home I decided to leave. My mentality was I might test negative on my lateral flow now but what if I tested positive the next day?”

He praised WarwickSnow for their handling of the situation, explaining how they asked students to test themselves before going out to France. He was less satisfied with NUCO, the tour company that organised the trip.

“I had several friends test positive on the trip and NUCO said it was up to my friends to informally change rooms if their roommates tested positive for Covid,” James said. “From what I’ve heard, people have been swapping rooms of their own accord.”

On their website, NUCO asks travellers who test positive to distance themselves as soon as possible to avoid close contact with anyone, and to arrange alternative accommodation to isolate in.

They also commented these were “ultimately recommendations” and that “it is down to the individual independent traveller (adult) to decide on the best course of action and use their best judgement in line with local guidelines similar to how they would in the UK or another destination.”

Fleeing France also came at a large expense for many, as James* explained: “I paid roughly £750 for the trip, which includes rentals and insurance. However, I paid €80 for a taxi to the airport and a further £170 for a flight back home last minute.”

‘The spread of Covid seemed to be ferocious’

Michael* also described how he fled the uni ski trip, saying: “I left because the spread of Covid seemed to be ferocious and I wanted to get out while I was still testing negative instead of staying in Alpe d’Huez, catching Covid and having to pay to quarantine in France.”

Michael* further commented: “I would not in anyway call the ski trip a tragedy, I’m still so glad I went. The first four days were the absolute best days of my entire time at uni and I honestly have no regrets, even though I’ve had to come back and there was a bit of a panic for a while.

“However, I don’t think this is isolated to Warwick ski trips, as my friend was on a ski trip with a different university and had a similar experience.”

“I wanted to get out whilst I was still testing negative”

‘I wish I had received more support from NUCO’

Alice* also left the trip early, choosing to depart one day early on Thursday 16th December. She explained this was because she’d heard people had begun to test positive, and her roommates had begun to show symptoms, despite their negative Covid results. The day after arriving home, she tested positive.

Commenting on her decision, and the decision of many other students on the trip, to travel home on public transport despite knowing they may test positive for Covid, she said: “I think it was probably dangerous to travel, but it also felt like my only option at the time. Knowing I had potentially been in contact with positive cases, I tried to take all the necessary precautions like not sitting next to anyone on my train.”

Alice* too does not regret her decision to attend the trip, but despite having a good time, she too felt NUCO could do more: “I wish I would have received more support from NUCO – because they basically disappeared after everyone started testing positive.”

“I had a really good time on the trip and don’t regret it since it is my last year at Warwick.”

‘I wanted to get out before I was stuck in France’

Third year Olivia* explained why she left the trip: “Everyone was testing positive and I wanted to get out before I was stuck in France.

“I was negative before leaving France, but I travelled knowing I could test positive in the UK- which I did.  The vast majority of passengers on my flight were ski trip people though, and whether I was there or not, no more people would’ve been infected.

“Do I regret going on the trip? In some ways yes and other ways no. I regret getting Covid so close to Christmas, and I’m not 100 per cent sure whether I’ll be able to go to my family Christmas, but I did really enjoy the trip and it was really well run- they just got unlucky at the end.”

A spokesperson for NUCO said: “NUCO travel does as much as possible within their remit of tour operator to facilitate safe holidays and events through clear crisis management processes, communication policies and the resort support welfare teams we implement across our operations for the period of the holiday package we provide.

“As made clear at the time of booking, outside of this period, we do not have teams in resort who are able to facilitate or manage any extended stays due to Covid and this is why we specifically state and remind passengers to ensure they are confident with the travel insurance they have in place.

“We hope the above clarifies our position, expresses our empathy to those affected and assures our passengers (present and future) that as a tour operator, we do our utmost to safeguard our guests’ welfare and deliver the services booked. Our policies are regularly reviewed to ensure we improve where possible.”

Warwick Snow declined to comment.

*Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of students.

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