Skiworld Olympics

 

 

In light of the imminent Olympics we decided to run our own Olympics looking at the best of what skiing has to offer.

 

We’ve chosen four elements (events if you will) that are common considerations that affect people’s decisions on where to go skiing. So, here you are, our medal winning resorts for snow, cuisine, families and ski-in/ski-out chalets.

 

 

 

 

SNOW

 

When choosing a resort you tend to look at a number of factors and snowfall tends to be at the top of most people’s list. As a result we’ve named our top three resorts for snow (based on last years’ snowfall) with a top resort from France, Austria and Switzerland so that we have representation from each country.

 

So with that in mind, our flag bearers for the opening ceremony are as follows:

 

From France; Val Thorens had the best snow for the duration of this past season. As shown in the graph below, Alpe d’Huez and Tignes out performed Val Thorens in places during the season, however the snow that Val Thorens displayed over the Christmas period (90cm compared to Alpe d’Huez (56cm) and Tignes (61cm) respectively) and towards the end of the season rewards the highest resort in Europe, Val Thorens with the gold medal.

 

 

 

From Austria; St. Anton consistently outperformed its Austrian rivals this past season. Lech was its closest rival for snow especially when looking at upper and lower piste levels, Lech’s height helped see the resort to well over 100cm of snow on the lower piste from mid-January all the way through to the end of March. However St. Anton took gold due to its volume of snow on the upper piste which throughout the whole season was higher than all the other Austrian resorts topping out at 242cm in the first week of March compared to 215cm in Lech and 122cm in Mayrhofen. St. Anton and neighbouring Lech also saw little drop off in snow levels towards the end of the season and actually had better snow in April (average of 200cm) than they had in January (average of 126.5cm)  thanks to a late flurry.

 

 

 

From Switzerland; Zermatt was our overall winner. Like Val Thorens, other resorts had better snow at times but Zermatt had fantastic snow on the upper piste from before the season even began. Having the snow that Zermatt had for the peak dates of Christmas (125cm) and New Year (133cm) almost made it the automatic winner and as the resort performs consistently well year-on-year, it’s a great choice for those looking for a Christmas ski holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD

 

When selecting a ski resort, food is a real variable for each individual in terms of how influential it is on your decision. For some people any holiday is another opportunity for a gastronomic pilgrimage, whilst to others food is fuel… to keep you on your skis all day. Wherever you feature on the culinary barometer, we’ve got you covered – after all you can’t run on Jagermeister and schnapps all day although many have tried… and many failed.

 

 

 

The Gold Medal; Lech/St Christoph

As Lech is home to more award-winning restaurants than any other village in the world, our choice was pretty much made for us. In a country which champions quality food, Lech sits atop them all as the king of gourmet destinations, offering a fantastic range of mountain and village establishments serving both international and local cuisine to cater to everyone’s palate.

 

If you fancy discovering a couple of hidden gems, head towards St Christoph – you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the restaurants on offer here but in particular keep your eyes peeled for Hospiz Alm. Head Chef Daniel Rauter’s food his highly sought after by those in the know, he’s particularly au fait with lobster and scallops so this is definitely one for the seafood lovers. The plump wine cellar has a reputation which rivals the food and it attracts just as many people in its own right. The cherry on top is that this restaurant has a sun terrace so you can enjoy the great food and wine whilst also drinking in the incredible views.

 

If you want to rub shoulders with royalty and celebrities then the hamlet of Zurs (which harbours about 25 buildings) is the place to eat. Although a destination for the rich and the famous, our superior chalets offer great value skiing in Lech.

 

 

The Silver Medal; Zermatt

Zermatt is well known for being the best destination for culinary experiences in Switzerland and to be fair to the resort, it came within an entrée of gold medal. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the variety on offer; including authentic and traditional all the way up to very high end fine dining establishments… and few places will know how to do fine dining better.

 

There is undoubtedly a strong argument for Zermatt to be the top for culinary destinations and with a couple of Michelin starred restaurants (in the form of Le Capri and After Seven) it would be hard to object too strongly. Head Chef at Le Capri, Salvatore Elefante, specialises in southern Italian seafood and has been awarded one star for his food. His restaurant can be found in the Grand Hotel Mont Cervin Palace. After Seven’s Head Chef, Ivo Adam, has also been awarded one star for his creative European cuisine, you can discover his menu in his restaurant at the Hotel Backstage.

 

The Bronze Medal; Mayrhofen

A relatively small resort which packs a punch with regards to the food it has to offer. Austrian resorts tend to have a bias towards their own cuisine however Mayrhofen is slightly more diverse with a top Italian restaurant (Ciao) on the main street and a few places that offer pub grub. Mayrhofen has a lot of lunchtime retreats up its sleeve as well though and the hearty Tyrolean dishes can be found on the mountain side and in resort. A top choice is Schneekar, which can be found at the top of the Schneekar chair lift, it has an open fire for when you need to warm up and a large terrace to let you bask in the sun. This is a great place to go if you have a propensity for decadent food and fine wine.

 

There may be a small uprising against us for our decision not to include a French resort in our top three. The French are famous for their great cuisine, however, with French ski resorts you can get such a vast array of food –both in terms of cuisine and standard and that’s why we choose the resorts we did.

 

 

 

 

 

SKI-IN / SKI-OUT

 

When asking the product team what our best chalets were for ski-in / ski-out I inadvertently opened up Pandora’s Box… the impassioned department had me scribbling down 30/40 chalets before I had a chance to say we needed a top three. Excitedly outdoing each other and weighing up the pros and cons of each chalet we eventually whittled down the extensive list to our top three ski-in/ski-out chalets.

 

The Gold Medal; Chalet Tetra

Les Arcs | Sleeps 12/13 | Superior Chalet

Located just above Arc 1800, you can ski-in/ski-out with utter convenience – ideal for those looking to waste no time hitting the slopes.

This superior class chalet also offers an enhanced service including the superior standard menu and wine offering as well as a few other perks… you can see what’s included in superior chalets here.

 

 

 

The Silver Medal; Chalet Morille / Chanterelle / Girolle

La Plagne | Sleeps 12 | Classic Chalet

These chalet apartments, named the mushroom chalets, are all part of the same complex. Based on the piste of Balcons de Belle Plagne you’ll have a great run before even coming to your first lift, a great way to start the day.

Each chalet sleeps 12 people and benefits from an open fire and all rooms have Jacuzzi baths in their en suites. The complex also has a sauna, pool and fitness centre for its guests to use as well as a bar, a ski hire shop and restaurants.

 

 

The Bronze Medal; Chalet Louisa

Alpe d’Huez | Sleeps 16/18 | Superior Chalet

Chalet Louisa is situated just above Les Bergers with runs straight into the excellent resort, this chalet is ideal for families as the ski school meet is in Les Bergers and the chalet has a family room (a standard room which can cater for children too). Plus we offer half price places for the kids too.

In terms of facilities the Louisa has a hot tub and sauna to help relax those weary legs after a long day’s skiing.

 

 

 

 

 

FAMILY FRIENDLY

 

Going on holiday as a family can be like mobilising an army, so we’ve looked at the top three resorts for families and why they make your holiday as relaxing as possible. Some top tips for families would have to include choosing accommodation which is near a ski school (if the kids are heading that way). The usual school run is tough enough, but add wobbly morning ski legs, gloves, goggles, hats, sun cream… and the equation is far more complicated and, if you’re late and the ski school has set off you’ll have trouble tracking them down. So make sure you’re in striking distance. Also ski door-to-door is recommended; otherwise you’ll be the one lugging all of your gear and children to the nearest patch of snow.

 

 

The Gold Medal; La Rosiere

Whenever anyone asks, La Rosiere is always our number one destination for families, especially for those taking first time skiers. Boasting a fantastic ski school, it’s a great place for the youngsters to get started. We also have a number of chalets in resort which offer half price places for children (2-11 years old).

 

As a resort, it is well laid out for beginners with a high volume of blue and green runs and a well linked lift system. La Rosiere is quieter than the larger resorts and can offer a more pleasant skiing experience, especially for those starting out and a little unsure of their ski legs.

 

The best ski school in resort is Evolution 2; they are familiar with handling children of all ages (starting from 3 years old up to their Junior Academy which caters for children and teenagers). Their group sizes never exceed 8 students per instructor. For adults, they have a range of classes too as well as private clinics, off-piste guiding and heli-skiing.

 

 

 

The Silver Medal; La Plagne

Always near the top for being one of the best ski resorts for families, La Plagne has a real family-focussed atmosphere which will help make parents feel at ease. Because of this we have a large number of half price chalet places for kids. The Mountain Flower chalets in Plagne Soleil (which are newly built for this season) are a great option for families as the piste runs past the chalets… saving mum and dad from grappling with all the skis and poles.

 

In resort there is a huge selection of ski schools and over half of the runs are blue or green. Despite this La Plagne is regarded as a better intermediate ski resort than beginner – though with a great ski school system it is a great place to take kids of varying standards.

A top choice ski school in La Plagne would have to be Lime Snowsports. A British owned school which prides themselves on being able to develop beginners in confidence and ability. They cater for all ages (again, starting from 3 years old) and abilities.

 

 

The Bronze Medal; Val d’Isere

There are loads of activities off the slopes for families and on top of that, new to Val d’Isere this year, is the picnic area which is a great place to gather for lunch. There’s a kid’s corner for the youngsters where there’s cushions and a TV showing cartoons and for the older kids there’s entertainment like table football.

Val d’Isere is great for families, even just for the variety of skiing alone. Whether you go as a small group or large, you can always be assured that every standard of skiing will be catered for and even the biggest snowheads couldn’t ski the whole area of Espace Killy in a week. There are 155 runs in Val d’Isere and Tignes; 58% are green and blue runs, 27% are red and 15% black.

If you’re looking at ski schools, New Generation is a great option; it is a British run school that caters for all ages and abilities – so they’ll be able to take care of the whole family. If someone from the family is looking to try out snowboarding their instructors are particularly good. They are well known and have been around for years now.

 

 

 

 

If you have children we recommend T4 Nanny, a nanny service that can come to your chalet to look after your children for the day – leaving you free to ski. They look after kids from four months to 12 years old and will put on a day of activities for them.

T4 Nanny operates in La Rosiere, La Plagne, Val d’Isere, Courchevel, Tignes and Meribel.

 

 

 

 

So there we have it, our Olympic entries. As mentioned, there is probably some cause for debate… and we would gladly welcome any comments or suggestions.

At the end of the day we can pore over stats and reference our own experiences, but it’s all subjective so please let us know what you think on facebook or twitter.

 

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Make Sure Your Holiday Is Protected

 

The high profile failure on 15th July of the travel company Lowcostholidays has caused many holiday makers to look again at the issue of financial protection.

 

The figures are big; Lowcost is said to have had 27,000 people in resort, 110,000 more with bookings and of all these it is reported that 77,000 are British holidaymakers. 120 staff in the Crawley based UK office have lost their jobs.

 

 

Tales are emerging of holidaymakers in resort being asked to pay again for their hotels. Those who have paid but not yet travelled may only receive around £7 back from the £1000s they have paid in good faith for their much-anticipated holidays and may not be able to travel at all.

 

The administrators Smith and Williamson and CMB Partners said that as well as stiff competition, Lowcostholidays were affected by uncertainty before and after the referendum and the fall in the value of the pound.

 

“The group experienced significant market headwinds in the run up to the EU referendum as holidaymakers delayed decisions. This was compounded by the leave vote itself and the subsequent fall in value of the pound,” said Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson.

 

“Regrettably, in these extraordinary conditions, the directors had no option but to place Lowcost Travelgroup Limited into administration.”

 

 

For many, a holiday is often one of the largest financial commitments of the year. So just what should you look for to avoid finding yourself in the same situation as the unfortunate customers of the Lowcost Travelgroup Limited?

 

 

The long and short of it is that a package holiday offers the best form of financial (and other) protection BUT you need to check that the company you are booking through is a member of ABTA and/or are ATOL protected.

 

In 2013 Lowcost moved their operations to Palma Mallorca and it was therefore registered with the Balearic Island authorities and not covered by the UK ATOL scheme.

 

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers License which is a UK government scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is designed to cover flight-based package holidays and protects around 20 million holidaymakers and travellers a year.

 

 

Companies with an ATOL have been checked by the CAA. If they go under you are protected; if you are on holiday when this happens ATOL makes sure you finish your break and get home as planned. If you have not travelled, ATOL will make sure you get a full refund and in some cases you may be able to continue with the holiday you had booked. In short ATOL covers:

  • Flight inclusive packages booked directly with a tour operator or through a travel agent
  • Flights and accommodation and/or car hire booked at the same time or the next day with a travel company
  • Flights booked with an ATOL travel company and you don’t get a valid ticket immediately

 

Companies that are ATOL protected will issue you immediately after you have paid with an ATOL certificate which you need to keep safe just in case. This is the proof that the holiday or flight that you have booked is protected.

 

 

ATOL does not cover all holidays so you are NOT protected if you book:

  • Just a flight and you get your ticket straight away
  • Just accommodation or car hire
  • Or a holiday with no flights

 

For more information visit www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk or call 020 7453 6700

 

 

If you buy a land or sea based package (i.e. rail or car hire) ATOL will not cover you financially so you need to check that the travel company you purchase through is a member of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents). ABTA will cover packages and Flight Plus holidays.

 

ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association and members consist of both tour operators and travel agents. Members abide by a code of conduct which helps ensure high standards and also provides recourse should your holiday arrangements go wrong. Importantly, if an ABTA company fails you are entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel and transport costs if you are abroad when it happens.

 

For more information visit www.abta.com

 

There is no doubt that ATOL and ABTA are the biggest and most well-known protection schemes but there are others. In recent years alternative organisations and consortiums have been set up which allow smaller travel companies to provide the same level of protection to their customers

 

 

Protected Travel Services (PTS) was set up to provide travel trade solutions for smaller tour operators and agents. They offer their members payment facilities, back office systems and a number of other tools to help run their business, but most importantly manage a trust account keeping all customers money 100% protected.

 

For more information: www.protectedtravelservices.com

 

 

There is also The Travel Trust Association (TTA); they work in a very similar way to PTS. For the customer, they are another trusted travel network who guarantees 100% financial protection.

 

For more information: www.traveltrust.co.uk

 

 

For those booking flights on their own The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 265 airlines or 83% of total air traffic. They support many areas of aviation activity and help formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues. IATA strives to maintain fair flight prices, ensuring that there isn’t price fixing. They also look at a number of different elements which effect customers such as baggage allowance and punctuality of journeys. They don’t offer any financial protection however.

 

For more information: www.iata.org

 

 

So, in many respects the UK package travel industry is unique in offering this level of protection in the event of a company failing. It simply falls to us, the travelling public, to make a few small checks to ensure the company we are travelling with is protected.

 

And bear in mind you may find prices cheaper with a non-bonded company…..but there is a good reason for that; your money may be at risk.

 

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Austria: This Year’s Top Destination?

 

Austria is a great destination for a ski holiday yet for some reason it goes under the radar for many people. Whilst all the resorts have little nuances which make them special, there are some overarching elements which make Austrian resorts such unique places to go skiing.

 

When skiing in Austria, you’ll quickly discover that the local culture and tradition is still dominant, from the chocolate box chalets and villages to the taste bud bursting array of schnapps and delicious Kaiserschmarrn.

 

Sticking to Traditions

 

When skiing really took off in the 60s and 70s, some European resorts leapt at the commercial opportunity and built high-rise hotels and apartments. The Austrian Alps in contrast were well established when the boom came around and had no need to create new ski resorts; all that happened was that the existing alpine towns shifted their focus to skiing. The result; Austrian ski resorts have authenticity and tradition… they are unquestionably beautiful and there is something to be said for spending your time in an attractive ski resort. Skiing in the Alps can never disappoint in terms of views, however a charming and authentic alpine town to descend into after a day’s skiing, or to stop off at for a belly bursting Wiener Schnitzel and Kaiserschmarrn, just raises the skiing experience that extra level.

 

Food and Drink

 

Food in the Alps can be extremely varied at the best of times; however Austria consistently maintains high levels when it comes to their cuisine. Some people have said that Austrian food isn’t for them, however to get the full Austrian ski experience you have to embrace the local culture and to be honest there is something for everyone.  They are fantastic at creating hearty stews (goulash) which are ideal lunchtime chow. They are also experts when it comes to game and naturally, with their proximity to Germany, they are also pretty au fait with the odd bratwurst and its various permutations. Last, but certainly not least; their national desert, strudel, has got to be in everyone’s top 5, as well as perhaps the aforementioned Kaiserschmarrn!

In terms of drink, for the coffee lovers, Austria has the Mokka which is akin to an espresso but extracted slower and offers a fuller flavour. For non-coffee drinkers looking to keep warm there’s always the famous Viennese hot chocolate, and alcohol wise, the wide array of Schnapps will certainly keep you fired up for your afternoons ski! You can also find a few local beers like Stiegl and Ottakrineger which can be served in your old friend/enemy – the stein.

 

Top 3 Resorts…

 

St. Anton

 

It’s hard to say what St. Anton is most famous for… well known for being a challenging resort for even the most seasoned skier, a party haven for the wildest hedonists, and a great off-piste powder blessed resort – St. Anton wears so many different hats. It is consistently one of Europe’s snowiest resorts and regularly ranked in the top five best ski resorts in the Alps.

 

 

Lech

 

Few resorts have been more popular with royalty than Lech, Princess Diana was a famous patron and members of the Monaco, Dutch and Jordanian royal families have visited. However, despite this, Lech has remained relatively rural, although has seen an increase in up-market hotels and some gradual expansion of late.

 

The terrain in Lech is far more friendly than the neighbouring St. Anton and is probably best suited to intermediates. The big news for this year, is the 4 new cable car lifts which will connect Lech/Zurs with St. Anton, adding to the existing bus links. This will not only drastically increase the ski area and the variety of skiing of both resorts, but also create the largest ski area in Austria.

 

 

Mayrhofen

 

Thanks to Mayrhofen being the epicentre of a number of villages (including Hippach, Finkenberg and Lanersbach); you can choose from a wide array of accommodation to suit your needs. From somewhere in the thick of the action to somewhere more secluded. This resort has been a long-running favourite with Brits, Mayrhofen has an equally formidable reputation for après as St. Anton; party-goers aren’t going to be disappointed here either.

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Brexit: What does it all mean for skiers?

 

That is not an easy one to answer. Not right now anyway.

 

The old adage ‘a week is a long time in politics’ has never been so true. Since 23rd June politics in the UK have been at warp speed. Days and even hours have been jam-packed with changes and events that normally would have evolved over a period of weeks. Resignations, leadership battles, legal challenges, a new PM……….Who would have predicted a month ago that Boris Johnson would have become our Foreign Secretary?

 

For skiers, any travellers in fact, all of this does affect us; it’s all about the value of the pound. Perhaps we snow-lovers notice it more as we have lift passes to buy and possibly skis and boots to hire. We have meals on the mountain to account for too. And the occasional Kir or Gluhwein. More occasional for some of us than others.

 

The sky is blue. Trees are green. Markets don’t like uncertainty.

 

And the value of the pound has dropped perhaps because of all this uncertainty and fears of a recession. The optimists amongst us say it will rally. The pessimists don’t think it will rise to the heady heights we enjoyed pre-Brexit when that warming Gluhwein or cheeky red at lunch looked particularly good value.

 

Strength of the Pound – One month

 

What we do know is that we are moving in uncertain waters here. We are off piste without a guide. Unknown terrain. That may not be a bad thing. It’s just where we are now is on choppy waters. Rough snow. Crud even.

 

So to buy or not to buy? Hamlet may not have had lift passes or ski holidays on his mind when he asked that(ish) question, but we do. We have as you can imagine, been asked that question quite a few times this last month.

 

Most ski companies, whilst they contract accommodation over 12 months before the season starts, don’t pay for it then and there. That would be a mighty demand on cash flow. So sooner or later prices are going to have to rise to account for the weakening in the value of the pound. So it might be a reasonable course of action to buy now and at least avoid the uncertainty. Lock-in and look forward to a chilled Apremont or Weissbier on a terrace with a wonderful view.

 

Strength of the Pound – One year

 

And lift passes and ski hire? Same applies. Our advice would be to buy when companies are holding the value of their offerings (for Skiworld that is until 21st July) and then you can just stop worrying about it. Move off that difficult uncertain terrain and glide down a groomer or into the powder. Alternatively, let the operator take the risk with an all inclusive ski holiday… something which incorporates ski and boot hire as well as lift passes.

 

So, will we see you on the slopes? I’m sure we will.

 

 

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Snow-Camp: An Innovative Snowsport Youth Charity

Snow-Camp, an innovative youth charity and apprenticeship provider, recently hosted their annual City Drinks and Summer Auction. Hosted on the spectacular roof terrace suite at Norton Rose Fulbright, next to City Hall, it was a fitting location for an amazing event, with views to match.

More than 250 guests were hosted by the apprentices and snowsports stars, including; Chemmy Alcott, Jamie Barrow, Graham Bell, Cara Brown and Dougie Crawford.

During the City Drinks and Summer Auction event, guests got to hear some of the beneficiaries’ journeys from over the past two years. A candid approach really drove home how far many of these young people have come and the obstacles they’ve had to navigate on their way. It was clear in all the stories what an impact Snow Camp had on their lives (and future prospects) as well as the appreciation and gratitude they felt.

 

Snow-Camp supports inner-city, disadvantaged young people using snowsports as a way to engage with them – and what a fantastic subject to get them impassioned! The charity addresses personal development, work experience and apprenticeships to increase employability, tackling NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) head-on.

This is done through providing lasting experiences and qualifications; starting off with a young person’s first experience on the snow (UK artificial slopes and indoor snow domes), through to work experience, apprenticeships as well as qualifications to facilitate progression including NVQs and BASIs (British Association of Snowsports Instructors).

Skiworld is a proud partner of Snow-Camp and a strong advocate of the work they do, having employed people from the programme in the London office as well as fundraising too. On the night we were represented by one of our Directors, Diane Palumbo, and also donated two of the prizes for the auction.

The auction itself raised £18,000 with 100% of the money going to delivering the programme for its beneficiaries, which is the case for all donations made to Snow Camp, as Gift Aid and contributions from youth project partners cover running costs of the charity.

 

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Working in the Mountains: A Recipe for Success

Written by Paul Kay – Overseas Operations Manager for Skiworld

 

 

17 years ago I started my first winter season, I remember leaving completely amazed that somebody wanted to pay me to work in the mountains. Every second of that season was a privilege and I soon realised what a quality lifestyle you could have working in a ski resort.

 

When I went on my first ski season I had the life skills necessary to look after myself and perform my job. I would put this down to the fact that when I was growing up I would have had to do my share of everything – cooking, cleaning, maintenance etc. and if I wanted spending money (for clothes, socialising, or anything else) then I was told to go out and earn it.

Unfortunately, I feel that those times have changed and the generation coming into the workforce now don’t possess the skills and experiences needed to look after themselves. They have noticeably less life skills than they had been back in the 90’s and some kids are lacking common sense when it comes to everyday living. Personally I blame modern technology and computer games; I used to want to go outside just so I wouldn’t get roped into any more chores.

 

Regardless of how you slice it, ‘doing a season’ gives people a broader outlook on life and a skillset which will take them wherever they want to go and I’ve been extremely fortunate to witness this first-hand. It teaches people those good-old-fashioned, pre-games-console values of what you put in directly correlates to what you get out of something.

Running a chalet gives you life skills which will stay with you, skills which can be transferred, not just into any other career I can think of, but in the appreciation of life, relationships, and the variety of true possibilities they have in life. In truth it changes people, and invariably for the better.

 


 

So with Skiworld, we felt we had this amazing journey for people who came to work for us… but with some applicants not knowing what it takes to be a chalet host and we had to address it to maintain the standards we set ourselves.

Speaking to a number of our staff, we wanted to find out what they wished they had known when they first left home – whether that was when going to university or indeed on their first season.

Some of the answers were staggering! They ranged from how to use washing machines and dishwashers, to how to change your hoover bag and how to make a simple meal… all the standard ones you’d expect. But there were also some corkers in there too, like for example how does the food get into the cupboard and how to freeze things.

 

Initially we had thought of setting up The Mountain Cookery School as a straight forward cooking course but through the research we’d conducted (both internally and externally) we decided we needed two focuses.

The first, the Life Skills Course looks at cooking skills (tailored to the individual), financial management, shopping efficiently, domestic skills, time management, personal wellbeing and CV and covering letter advice. We realised there were people who were moving out of home for the first time… going to university, buying their first house, or getting their first job away from home who needed these skills.

With the second, the Season Worker Course the course looks at developing the culinary skills to chalet standard, food safety, basic French and German as well as educating what life will be like in resort and what you’ll need to complete a ski season.

 

 

 

It was clear that a short, intensive course would be hugely beneficial – it presented time away from home (to get a flavour of what life would be like during the season) whilst at the same time learning vital skills, especially for those who wanted to work a ski season.

The courses are based in our chalets in Tignes which offer breath-taking views, and run throughout the summer months. The afternoons are split with learning by  a plethora of summer alpine activities and sports such as sailing, hiking, mountain biking, tennis, table tennis, trampolining, via ferrata, rafting, hydro-speeding, para-ponting, golf (crazy or otherwise)! All told there are about 100 activities on offer; alternatively you could lose several hours on a PlayStation soak up the summer by the pool or on the lake-side beach.

 

Tignes

Higher definition than a games console!

 

 

 

 

So whether you’re looking to work in the mountains for a ski season, or you’re leaving home and want to gain a few valuable life-hacks, The Mountain Cookery School will equip you with everything you need to survive.

 

Call The Mountain Cookery School to book on 020 8600 1658

To find out more about working with us click here

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Snow Sure Ski Resorts for Christmas 2016

 

 

December 2014. The month that sends cold shivers down the spines of us ski lovers. Dubbed ‘one of the worst starts to a season in living memory’ by the Guardian, it was a month that bought great misery to snow seekers across Europe.

The Alps sat expectantly, longingly awaiting glorious flakes of whiteness to fall from the skies above. Nothing came. Even the most hardened seasonnaires, who claimed to have seen it all, had not seen anything like it. It was that bad.

 

 

 

 

 

As the 2016 Christmas ski season fast approaches we couldn’t think of anything worse than putting you lot in that dreaded position. Although we can’t control the weather (we’re good, but not that good), we can guarantee you a holiday where the snow is as certain as the Jägerbombs.

We have collated together a few snow sure resorts for Christmas 2016. So if the curse of ’14 strikes again, at least you will be prepared.

Oh – and before we forget, to help you all get over December ’14 (sorry to keep bringing it up) we are giving up to £150 Off your holiday to these resorts and many more! This offer is set to end on July 21st 2016, so make sure you don’t miss out. Check out the link to see what chalets are available.

 

Val d’Isere

 

Val d’Isere thinks it is so clever! Not only is it home to some of the best runs, bars, clubs and restaurants in the Alps, it can also guarantee you snow.

 

Being home to two glaciers, The Pissaillas and Grande Motte, you can ensure snow right throughout the season. Additionally, the resort benefits from snow from Italy, as well as the north and north-west. So smug.

 

With the misfortunes of last Christmas still lingering strong, Val d’Isere is destined to be more popular than ever, so be sure to book as early as possible. We recommend Chalet Maison Rose– a fantastically located chalet with ski-in/ski-out.

 

Chalet Maison Rose

Chalet Maison Rose

 

 

 

Val Thorens

 

Val Thorens sits proudly at the summit of the awesome ‘Le Trois Vallees’ (The Three Valleys), often peering down, perhaps gloating, at the below resorts, marvelling in its copious amounts of fresh snow.

 

Val Thorens sits at 2,300m, so snow is never really an issue. Not only this, but as a member of the famous Three Valleys, and the fact that it has great links to neighbouring resorts, it also benefits from everlasting amounts of skiing.

 

With live DJ’s, a choice of over 40 bars, restaurants and clubs and a newly renovated leisure centre, Val Thorens is a resort that has it all.

 

We couldn’t recommend Chalet Phoenix any more – this Superior Chalet really lives up to its superior title. All rooms have en suites with Jacuzzi baths. It boasts not only a sauna (perfect for relaxing those ski legs) but also a 270º panoramic balcony which is a great place to enjoy your favourite tipple.

 

 

 

Chalet Phoenix

Chalet Phoenix

 

 

 

 

 

Tignes

Known by some as Val d’Isere’s little sister, but don’t let that fool you for one second!

 

Lifts open here as early as October so you can see why we are confident enough to put it on our list for Christmas 2015. Benefiting from the same glaciers as Val d’Isere (The Pissaillas and Grande Motte) you will not be left disappointed.

 

This all action resort is all about Go, Go, Go! If it’s hard core skiing with extra activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, husky dog sledding and ice diving then Tignes is the one. With a decent selection of bars and Val d’Isere only a stones through away, you are never too far from a party either.

 

With all this action you are going to need a place to sink into pure comfort and the spot we recommend for that is Chalet Annapurna II. A fantastic ski-in Chalet with a lovely spacious interior. Be sure you snap this one up before someone else does!

 

 

 

Chalet Annapurna II

Chalet Annapurna II

 

 

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Revealed: The Most Popular Chalets – as voted by you

A chalet holiday with Skiworld offers a relaxed experience in a comfortable environment; the intention being to create a home away from home.

 

We asked our guests from this past ski season for their feedback on the chalets that they stayed in. We are always keen to hear what you have to say as we want to know what we are doing well and what we can improve on.

 

We have three categories of chalets; Classic, Superior and Signature and as a matter of fairness we have selected the most popular chalet from each category.

 

Classic Chalets are three to four star chalets and offer a good standard of accommodation with ensuite rooms and Wi-Fi. One of our proudest elements to these chalets is the food; we offer a fantastic three course dinner inspired by local ingredients to the resort, and this is always a winner with guests.

Superior Chalets add a touch of luxury to the Classic grade, these chalets are rated four plus and five star and you will experience an enhanced food menu, wine package, and added extras like vin chaud when you arrive. Also the chalet itself tends to have additional features such as hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms.

Signature Chalets are the crème-de-la-crème of our chalet range, they are graded five plus and are truly luxurious from appearance, to the features they have, and the food and wine that is served.

 

 

So without any further ado, our most popular chalets from this ski season are…

 

The Best Classic Chalet

 

Set in a tranquil location in La Plagne, Chalet La Foret was the most popular chalet with this year’s guests. This chalet boasts amazing views and is well located for the slopes as well as the resort centre. Little features like the open fire and heated boot rack make this chalet a real winner with those that stayed.

 

What our guests said:

“Stunning views from the large balcony” – Allison Ivory

 

“Rhiannon and Tony [the chalet hosts] looked after us superbly … being endlessly cheerful and welcoming to cooking us sublime food- my son says the chocolate orange cake was the best ever!” – Pandora Clifford

 

“Fantastic chalet in a superb location & I have already booked Chalet La Foret for my 2017 skiing holiday.” – Simon Bailey

 

Chalet Foret

Chalet Foret

 

The Best Superior Chalet

 

The best Superior Chalet from this season can be found in Tignes. Chalet Dominique has always been a customer favourite so it was no great surprise to see this great chalet as this year’s favourite. The Dominique is especially great for families as the ski school meeting point is just on the other side of the piste and the Tifs ski lift is also conveniently right next door. What clearly made this chalet stand out though, were the additional features of the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room which have continuously won over guests.

 

What our guests said:

“Our first experience in a chalet and we loved it. Our hosts could not have done more for us, food was excellent.” – Christopher Angwin


“It was our third stay at this chalet… already booked our next stay at the Dominique for Jan 2017. Guess that says it all”
– Claudia Rose

 

“Tom and Emma (the chalet hosts) were perfect, the food was great and nothing was too much trouble.” - Alan Betts

 

“Was great that the chalet was right next to the chair lifts and just next door to ski hire, it was super convenient.” – Emma Richardson

 

Chalet Dominique

Chalet Dominique

 

The Best Signature Chalet

 

Our most popular Signature Chalet is Chalet Rosablanche, situated in the heart of the stunning Swiss resort of Nendaz. Undoubtedly one of the best chalets to look at, it is fantastically luxurious and finished to the highest standards, right down to the smallest detail such as Bluetooth speakers in every room. Boasting a great location close to the town centre and piste, the Rosablanche also features a hot tub and open fire – giving the evenings that added touch of luxury.

 

What our guests said:

“Hosts (Charlie and Mario) were great, very experienced – best food I’ve had on a ski holiday.”
“Nendaz is a very pleasant town, not purpose built, with its own charm
.” – Steven Brade
“Luxuriously furnished with wonderful mountain views from the balcony and hot tub”

“The food that Charlie and Mario produced was divine and such a treat from our usual home cooked dinners!” – Jennifer White

 

Chalet Rosablanche

Chalet Rosablanche

 

We would like to thank all those who sent in your feedback. It is always appreciated and helps us improve the skiing experience for our guests year-on-year.

 

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Insider’s Guide: Top 5 Tips to Unlocking La Plagne

 

Skiworld is a company which is run for skiers by skiers. Almost everyone in our London office has done at least one season skiing. As a result we like to think that we know a little bit more about the resort than what can be found from a quick browse of the internet.

 

In this piece we’ll tell you what we know about La Plagne, looking at the hidden gems that other people miss out on.

 

But to start us off, let’s cover off the basics. As most people will know, La Plagne boasts a huge skiing area – Paradiski. It is an area that encompasses La Plagne and Les Arcs which amounts to over 400km of piste, 70% of this is above 2000m. This means that La Plagne has a really solid history of getting good, consistent snow.

It’s one of the most well-known resorts in France, however it is underrated – this coupled with the expansive ski area means that La Plagne is rarely over crowded.

 

Right, now on to the business end of things…

 

 

1/ “La Plagne” of action…

Do it like a local. Get an early breakfast in and catch the first lift of the day. This way you’ll get the fresh snow to carve – as purists will know there can be nothing more satisfying. La Plagne is well known for its fair weather and a bit of sunshine, along with perfect ski conditions, goes a long way.

All this morning skiing will make for thirsty work. La Bergerie is a great mountain bar and restaurant with a large veranda – ideal for a vin chaud (although I believe other drinks are available). It’s easy to while away the hours there.

For the evening there are loads of restaurants to choose from, or if you’re looking for something more upbeat head over to Scotty’s, they typically have a live band on the go.

 

La Bergerie

 

 

2/ What if there’s a white out?

Skiing over in Montchavin and Montalbert will often offer relief as the tree-lined runs of the lower slopes offer clearer visibility. Incidentally, thanks to the trees, these two areas offer some of the best runs in La Plagne. The scenery is simply breath taking and an absolute must in sunny conditions.
Alternatively, you can always wait for the weather to clear in the age-old manner – a mountain restaurant. We’ll come to our top pick restaurants later but keep your eyes peeled as there are a few with open log fires which are always a great shout during white outs.

 

Montchavin

 

 

3/ La Plagne, great for beginners and families

There are four predominant ski schools in La Plagne; ESF, El Pro, New Generation and Oxygene. Each offers a wide range of expertise to suit various needs and offer group lessons, private tuition and off piste guiding.

If you’d like to know more; speak to our Ski Gurus who live and breathe for skiing. They’ll be able to tell you who is the most suitable, who has the best rates etc. You can get hold of our Ski Gurus by phone on 0330 102 8004.

 

 

4/ What are the best ski runs in La Plagne?

We asked our staff what their favourite runs were…

 

Favourite Blues

The best blue run in La Plagne starts from the L’Arpette ski lift, in Plagne Bellecote. It runs through Belle Plagne and back to Plagne Bellecote. It has a gentle gradient throughout so is ideal for beginners and kids alike. This run is perfect in the morning as it is a sun trap at that time of day.

 

Favourite Reds

The red from the Becoin lift down to Plagne Centre. It’s wide and open, at the same time as being steep making it an exciting run and can challenge those looking to graduate from blue runs. For added incentive Scott’s Bar is at the bottom for a celebratory drink – if necessary.

 

Favourite Blacks

It is widely considered that the best black run in La Plagne is also from the Becoin. The black however goes down to La Roche. It’s the longest run in La Plagne and can be testing. Due to it being on a west facing slope the quality of snow tends to remain.

 

Off Piste (with a guide)

The Northface of the Bellecote Glacier undoubtedly presents the greatest challenge. Its 1900m total vertical, starting from 3400m, and the beginning isn’t for the faint hearted kicking off with a daunting 45 degree descent. The run finishes in Peisey Nancroix.

 

 

 

5/ Eating out in La Plagne

As previously teased earlier on in this piece, there are three restaurants with fires so let’s kick off with those.

 

Le Loup Blanc (Plagne 1800)

This restaurant is a dream or a nightmare for those who find it difficult to choose what they want to eat! Le Loup has a bit of everything…. pizzas, fondues, raclettes and specialty meat, not forgetting their famed pancakes which are ideal with a hot chocolate. Perfect for warming the cockles. It is the first of the three restaurants which has a fire.

 

Le Grizzli (Plagne Village)

You know its good when it’s popular with locals and quite frankly it’s easy to see why. This place has the Alpine trifecta for the ideal mountain restaurant – tasty traditional dishes, friendly atmosphere and an open log fire. Ideal.

 

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Plagne 1800)

Chaperon is a slightly more upmarket restaurant, definitely one for the foodies. This place prides itself in serving a great selection of local food and it’s widely considered that they serve the best steaks on the mountain. With an energetic ambiance and a log fire, this place is always a fan favourite for those who know of it.

 

L’Arlequin (Aime La Plagne)

This is one of the best restaurants in the resort. Completely unassuming, it’s just like a typical French auberge – no nonsense, quality food. The place feels like a family run establishment, owned by two welcoming locals; George and Monique. The food is traditional Savoyard cuisine and is a real crowd pleaser.

 

L’Avalanche (Plagne Centre)

Serving traditional Alpine food, you won’t be disappointed here. Located right on the slopes, you can practically ski in to your seat. You can expect some true French classics from here such as tartiflette and fondue.

 

Le Loup

 

 

If you have any other tips for skiing in La Plagne, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking for hidden gems that make a skiing holiday that much more special.

Just drop us a comment or message on Facebook or Twitter.

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Our Best Dishes of the Season – as voted by you…

 

We’re really proud of the menus that we assemble for our guests so it is brilliant when we get such great response in terms of what you think of the food. There are a number of staff who are dedicated to making sure our guests have the best food experience possible during their ski holiday.

 

When designing the menu, a lot of thought is put into making sure it’s in-keeping with the local culture and that it utilises the local produce.

 

Without any further ado our dish of the season…

 

 

Overall most popular dish

From your answers to the survey, we’re happy to announce that the confit of duck was the most popular dish with over 95% of people describing it as “very good” or “amazing”.

The duck is also a long standing staff favourite and as a result we’ve made sure its available in all of our chalets.

 

If you haven’t had the joy of sampling this dish, it is served with vin chaud jus and accompanied with carrot ribbons, pea puree and gratin dauphinoise.

Our dauphinoise is made with the local beaufort cheese which is produced in the Savoie (an area which encompasses Espace Killy and Paradiski). Interestingly dauphinoise was historically served with ortolans, a french bird akin to quail.

The confit of duck itself is a South West speciality and came about as a way of preserving the meat but most importantly, as anyone who has ever tried it will know, is tastes delicious.

 

 

Signature chalets most popular

The haunch of venison proved to be a huge success with those who stayed in a signature chalet. An incredible 67% of you said the dish was “amazing” and when adding those who described the dish as “very good”, venison almost got a 95% rating too.

 

This dished is served with a red wine jus and wild mushroom tartlet, accompanied with crème fraiche mash and savoy cabbage with juniper.

Venison steak is high in protein, low in fat and is ideal after an active day on the mountain… plus it tastes delicious!

Wild mushrooms are a firm part of mountain cuisine and locals harvest them as they grow abundantly in the forests towards the base of the mountains.

If you walk the Alps during summer you will see hundreds of juniper bushes lining the pathways. And as all gin fans will know juniper is the main flavour… to me however any mention of juniper bushes just makes me think of Life of Brian – who of cause is not the messiah but a very naughty boy.

 

 

 

Other favourite dishes

Every dish in the top five received over 90% feedback in “very good” and “amazing” catagories.

 

Pork Dijonnaise.

Back by popular demand, it proved to be a successful return for the pork with almost 92% of customers praising the dish. Only available when you stay in a classic chalet.

The pork is accompanied by sticky red cabbage, mange tout and crème fraiche mash. It is a dish brimming with local flavours, using wine and mustard from Dijon.

 

 

 

Beef Bourguignon

Served with sautéed root vegetables and wilted spinach (available in classic and superior chalets).

 

A dish that needs almost no introduction, however we cook the beef as a whole piece of meat rather than a stew, as many of the French do. As can be expected from bourguignon it’s a big, hearty dish which is massively satisfying after a hard day of skiing.

Interestingly sauté is from the French verb sauter, which means to jump – something the vegetables do as you fry them off.

 

 

Thank you to everyone who voted. It’s great to hear your feedback, especially when so positive, and it helps us see your favourite (and least favourite) dishes on our menu.

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