Corona Virus - Email Notifications 2020
We hope to be able to return to normal service of taking calls from October once the brochure has been published but it is difficult for us at the moment because of the back log of admin and queries we are dealing with. As from now Gill will be dealing with all transfer bookings from 2020 to 2021 and new enquiries and bookings for 2021 and we hope that she will be able to start taking calls for new enquiries and bookings soon.
Matt is currently doing some contract work and he is not freely available as he will be working on a cycle of 2 weeks on contract and then 2-3 days on 2020 concerns and queries. Therefore all more involved concerns and queries for 2020 will be dealt with within 2 weeks of receipt depending on when it is received. We sincerely hope any concerns and queries will now reduce and therefore this will speed up the response time but we expect the response times to concerns about re-arranged holidays to be as they are until the end of the year and possibly still affected throughout this winter.
We appreciate your flexibility and understanding at this time and want to ensure all our guests that we are making every effort to work through the additional workload at this time and find solutions for everyone.
If we are holding a deposit for you and you havent yet chosen a holiday, please do not try to book online as the system will take another deposit from you. In the first instance please email your query or request to us and we will assist you as soon as we can.
If you wish to book a new holiday with us then you can book online or email us your request in the first instance but we understand that if you havent been before you may have a number of queries in which case we will call you back as soon as we can.
In the meantime...
There is something else that is spreading around the Globe at the same time as Corona virus is bringing fear, destruction and death but it is bringing peace, restoration and Life!....
All holidays have now been moved from 2020 to 2021. We have moved a record number of 22 holidays into an already busy schedule in 2021 and we want to send a big "Thank You" to everyone for their help and support at this time.
We want to thank the tutors and the hotel staff for their flexibility in all the re-arrangements of holidays where sometimes holidays have been moved twice.
We want to thank the vast majority of our guests for their flexibility and willingness to transfer. We have received many encouraging words and we are so thankful to our guests. Some of these words have been so timely when we have been struggling and stressed by the whole situation.
We are pleased to say that with everyone working together; tutors, hotel staff, us and our guests, that despite it being a tough year for everyone we have got through this year and will come back with renewed vigour for our holidays in 2021.
We sent out a newsletter in the middle of September called “That was the year that wasn’t” which is in the list of email notifications which sums up our position very well. Please have a look at this email newsletter.
We are also thankful to some great Christian friends in our church and further afield for their advice and support and most of all we are thankful to God for his guidance because without this we would not have been able to make the decision we did.
We are also thankful for his grace, provision and protection both directly from Him and from His people without which we would not have survived this year but thanks to Him we will survive to provide holidays and serve our guests for future years.
Here are some words of encouragement from you, our guests, that made us laugh and made us cry as it relieved the stress of the not so easy situations to deal with. We know everyone has had their hopes dashed of a lovely holiday in 2020 and we want to thank you for all your support at this difficult time for us all.
"…as always anyone who knows you and your meticulous planning and attention to detail will be rest assured that you will do everything you possibly can…"
"To deal with one or two rearrangements is difficult enough but the challenge of this many... you are indeed stars. Your holidays are brilliantly organised."
"Thank you for being so helpful, it gives me great confidence in your organisation!"
"Thank you for your very helpful email regarding our holidays. Much more helpful than other companies I have dealt with."
"You poor people. I really feel great sympathy for you at this dreadful time. I will be as flexible as I can to help you get through this."
"I can't imagine how difficult it must be, like juggling chain saws? Please know that we appreciate what you do."
"Thank you for being flexible. We very much appreciate it."
"You will need a mega holiday of your own after all this. Thank you for all you are doing to sort all our bookings."
"I would like to move the holiday to 2021 and it is my firm intention to be fit and chirpy next year as I am this year but as I will be in my late eighties by then I can’t guarantee anything!"
"I feel for you at this time and sincerely hope that your brilliant company is able to recover and thrive in 2021. You have given many of us a lot of pleasure with your holidays."
"Thank you! We Alpha girls & boys won't desert you."
"This is amazing Gill!! So good. Praise God for his sustaining you through this very difficult time."
In early August we wrote to everyone about the holidays in October and again our concern was localised lockdowns and the restrictive social distancing measures and in addition to the holidays being more “unsociable” we felt that these ones being predominantly studio based, the wearing of masks for 6-8 hours would not be conducive to producing masterpieces!
However, we were also concerned about the “rule of 6” where we had questioned the legality of running our holidays due to this government ruling. We were therefore fortunate to have taken note of this because as a result of people considering an un-enforceable rule as advisory and therefore could be ignored the government brought it in as law in early September.
On the 7th September when this rule was announced that it would become law, we co-incidentally emailed all our customers on holidays in November in the same vein as those on October holidays and moved all of them to 2021.
It is clearly good for the nation, the physical/mental health of everyone and for the economy that the virus is subsiding but there are many challenges ahead. It is also good for many businesses that we are now out of total lockdown and self-catering accommodation and camping can move forward as their social distancing measures are relatively easy to adopt and still enjoy a holiday. Hotels are a little harder but still achievable in the sense of family groups enjoying a holiday.
However, as our holidays are large groups of separate individuals/family groups attempting to come together as one group for a few days, our social distancing measures required actually break the current UK Government's social distancing rules of groups and numbers of people meeting together. Therefore, as it stands our holidays are still not permitted to run.
We are following the news closely and keeping an eye on government websites and expect to update you further in Mid-Late August in respect to our holidays in October and November. Please be assured that in all this, we have your best interests, as individuals and as each group together, in the front of our minds at all times.
We then turned our attention to the holidays in late September in Jersey and because Jersey is totally clear of corona virus having followed strict lockdown rules, our initial thinking was that this was good news because there would be testing at the airport or you could get tested 3 days before you left. It still didn’t feel full-proof but potentially workable as social distancing would be minimal once on the island.
However, the tests at the airport could take up-to 3 days and during that time you would need to self-isolate at a government chosen accommodation.
When looking at the options we considered the possibility that some of the group might get in and some wouldn’t, if they tested positive and at that point in time all monies would have been paid and guests would lose their holiday and their money and probably wouldn’t get it back from the insurance company. At the same time there were rumours of local lockdowns and if this happened then some guests might not even be able to leave their house, let alone get into Jersey.
As our holidays are about the group as a whole we didn’t feel this was fair for the whole group and so we asked everyone what they thought considering the implications and the vast majority chose to move to April/May next year.
We sent this on the Friday 3rd July and that afternoon it was announced that Leicester was going into lockdown on the 4th July and one of the first flights into Jersey that evening had a passenger that tested positive and many other passengers who sat near him are now self-isolating for 2 weeks, so it clearly was the right decision.
This has now been finalised and published on the 13th July and we have started taking bookings. Please be aware that as many holidays have been transferred from 2020 some holidays in 2021 have higher tha average numbers with some nearly full.
In mid-June when we knew that the lockdown was going to be lifted, we worked on social distancing rules including not being able to car share, the need for wearing masks and not being able to eat together and we considered that whilst holidays would be viable, they wouldn’t be so enjoyable as a significant aspect to our holidays is the social part, but we thought maybe some people would still be keen to have a holiday, so we asked the guests on the early September holidays what they thought and the vast majority wanted to move to 2021 as they felt that the holiday wouldn’t be much of a holiday with the social distancing rules in place.
Please see our current proposal for social distancing rules in the notifications/documents list on the left.
In respect to the holidays in France there was the added issue of flights for guests and many were also concerned about possible quarantine issues.
Following the Government's ambiguous and confusing announcements on the 11th & 12th May we neededsome time to establish the immediate implications for our business and your holidays but one thing was clear that the holidays until 20th July 2020 would not be permitted to run and those who are affected havebeen moved to alternatives in 2021. These holidays are now available for all guests to book and details are below.
The majority of the 2021 programme is now available on the website including replacement and comparable holidays from 2020 as well as the second release of the 2021 flyer for easy reference. You can now book online for new bookings but for existing bookings transferred from 2020 please contact us by email instead. We expect others to be released in June and July.
We are working hard on find solutions for 2021 including no price increases, flexible transfer options and Transfer Upgrade Discounts up-to £50 in the UK.
We are pleased to be able to make the first release of our 2021 programme, so that if your holiday has been re-arranged from Spring 2020 or you havent booked as yet you can book with confidence or transfer to an alternative holiday for next year.
We have released over 20 holidays as can be seen in the flyer which can be found on the holidays page on our website (full details to follow) and will release more throughout the coming months online through our newsletter and on the website. Please read the "Important Notice" in the flyer for more details.
In addition, we havent published all dates yet and have about another dozen to release because we wanted the flexibility to adapt to any changes in the current situation. We intend to make further releases in July and August and will finalise the programme in September and send out the brochure as normal in the post then.
You can book online by clicking the "Book Now" button. For those of you who have already booked with us on a holiday that has been re-arranged please get in touch by email in the first instance and then we can transfer you onto your preferred holiday. Full details of the holidays will be added to the web site in the next week or so.
Following the Government's announcement that the current lockdown rules will remain in place for another 3 weeks at least, we wanted to give you a short update for those whose holidays commence after 20th June2020 that have not yet been re-arranged.
No decision has been made on the holidays after 20th June. We will continue to take advice from the government on the position nearer the time and will be in touch with those customers on these holidays but we already have alternative plans if these are not permitted to run. However, please read the email notification sent on 15th April 2020 as per list above.
There is much uncertainty about the changing situation in respect to the global pandemic of COVID19 and we want to update you with what we are doing to assist our customers as best as we can.
Thanks go to all of our customers who have been really understanding to the position we find ourselves in and have thanked us for all our efforts to find a solution, it has been heart warming to receive such thanks at such a difficult time for us all. We will continue to endeavour to do our best for our customers in looking for a replacement or comparable holidays for you.
As part of these plans we have wanted to ensure primarily the safety but also the comfort and enjoyment of all our guests on holiday and people we work with during this difficult time. We are aware that many of our guests consider themselves in the ‘at-risk’ category for one reason or another and this being taken into consideration.
Following the Government’s recent announcements (20th & 23rd March) we have all been forced to stay at home where possible and all pubs, restaurants, cafes and now hotels have been forced to close and gatherings of more than 2 people have been made illegal and so the holidays are not permitted to be run as planned for April, May and June until later in the year.
We are pleased to say that we have been able to arrange replacement or comparable holidays for each holiday not permitted to run. We obviously cannot simply lift the exact programme for April, May, June and possibly July and slot it into Sept/Oct. This simply would not be possible but we have been able to provide either replacement or comparable holidays for each holiday.
If the hotel is still in lockdown at the time of the new date proposed then we will review the situation again and update you accordingly.
If you look on the programme page and you see the words “Delayed – Re-scheduled to…” you can see which holidays have been delayed and when they have been re-scheduled for or which is the most comparable.
No decision has been made on the holidays after 20th June. We will continue to take advice from the government on the position nearer the time and will be in touch with those customers on these holidays but we already have alternative plans if these are not permitted to run.
We have communicated with the hotels on a regular basis and they have informed us that they will be following all necessary hygiene procedures in respect to this virus and will be taking all reasonable practical precautions such as social distancing that are applicable or in force at the time when they are allowed to re-open.
When the outbreak first spread, we also communicated with all tutors to find out their movements 4 weeks before their holiday with us to minimise any risk of them being a carrier or being forced into quarantine and only two tutors expressed concerns over being in an at-risk category and we found suitable replacements for these.
We are aware that it is hard for some of you especially long haul travellers simply to re-arrange for later in the year but we are also aware that many of you, would love to have a holiday later in the year should the risk subside and restrictions be lifted.
Therefore whether a holiday has been re-arranged to next year by us for whatever reason or whether you cancelled for fears over underlying health issues or being in an at-risk category we are more than happy to transfer your deposits and/or full balances to next year. We are able to refund the final balance element with a small admin fee if that is what your prefer but the deposit remains non-refundable but will remain transferable for anyone booking a holiday in 2020. This is in accordance with our T&C’s and we believe it is both fair and consistent for all our guests.
You can have the confidence in us as a company because we are financially stable and you have the assurance that we have financial protection in the case of insolvency.
We obviously cannot confirm at this stage our programme for 2021 but you can be assured of our continued commitment to our customers.
Further announcements will be made in relation to holidays after the 20th June in due course as the situation develops.
As you are aware this is an ever changing situation that is becoming increasingly more difficult for us to plan for so please bear with us and if you are able to be flexible that will also help but we will endeavour to adapt to the changing circumstances as best as possible.
If you have concerns please contact us by email in the first instance, and not by phone and we will answer as soon as we can. Gill and working hard on solutions and are currently working on other projects in order to ensure we some sort of income this year so please don't be concerned if we don’t answer immediately. We often respond the same day but hope to respond within 2-3 days but no more than 5 working days.
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