The French alpine ski school has lost 90% of its Russian oligarch customers

  • Few Russian tourists visited the alpine ski resorts of Courchevel amid the Ukrainian war.
  • Their absence is being felt badly by a ski school where 90% of its Russian customers have canceled bookings.
  • The Ski5 Star owner told Insider he also has no hopes for Russian bookings next year.

The owner of a ski school tucked away in the French Alpine resort of Courchevel said the majority of his high profile Russian clients had canceled bookings following the war in Ukraine.

Filippo Casaccia from Skiing5 starsa private ski instructor and concierge service, said his business was popular among Russian oligarchs and ultra-wealthy Arabs, including the latter country’s royal family.

Before the war, business was stable, Casaccia said. But then his Russian customers were hit with sanctions. He told Insider that his ski school has seen a 90% cancellation rate from his Russian customers as a result.

Casaccia says his business was saved, however, by his wealthy Arab clients. “We were lucky because we are still working with Arabs, which makes up for the missing Russians,” he added.

Wealthy Russians seem to be deserting luxury alpine ski resorts since Russia invaded Ukraine. Their disappearance, particularly in the upscale district of Courchevel 1850, worries the owners of high-end chalets. One told Insider there’s been a noticeable lack of demand for next year from Russians, who tend to book the most expensive properties, which can cost up to 250,000. dollars per week.

Courchevel’s five-star hotels have also felt the impact of falling Russian footfall. The reservations manager Six Senses Residences and Spa, Angela Lavandier, told Insider that nearly all of her spendthrift Russian customers passed on their deposits for use the next ski season after the outbreak of war.

Some Russians even struggled to pay their hotel bills, according to Casaccia. He said some Courchevel-based hotel staff he knew had mentioned there was at least $1 million in unpaid bills from Russian customers.

Russian oligarchs have reported the hardships they are enduring in the face of Western sanctions. Sanctioned oligarch Petr Aven told the Financial Times last month that he was struggling to pay his bills and “didn’t understand how to survive”, amid the sanctions slapped on him.

In the case of Casaccia, its Russian customers gave very general reasons for cancellation. He added that there had been no Russian bookings for next year and that he and his team were “not positive” about the outlook. “I think it will be over a year before they come back,” he said. “The situation will not be stabilized by next winter.”

In the absence of wealthy Russian clients, Casaccia said his team will work to expand its customer base, with a focus on building relationships with a recent influx of Brazilian clients.

“We discovered a lot of Brazilians this winter because they couldn’t travel to America due to COVID-19 regulations, so they were drawn to Courchevel ski resorts,” Casaccia said, adding that he expects there to be even more Brazilians arriving. Next year.