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Archive for October, 2013

Part 2

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Part Two: It’s the little things that make a chalet holiday so special

Five more things that can make your luxury chalet holiday truly unforgettable

In my last guest post, I explained how the fundamentals of a chalet holiday can shape your overall experience and colour the memories you carry away with you. In this concluding part, I will have a look at the smaller details and how they, too, can enhance your journey – making your enjoyment of your winter chalet holiday last not just a week, but a whole lifetime.

The Little Extras

When you book a chalet holiday, it’s great to have just one point of contact and recognising their voice each time you call can be very reassuring when there is so much to organise. If you’re the party leader, you can often end up handling a lot more than you first realised might be the case, whether it’s taking deposits, clearing balances, ordering ski hire and liftpasses, booking ski lessons, arranging airport transfers to and from Geneva – the list goes on.

The good news is that, to an independent chalet company, this is all everyday routine and they will guide you every step of the way. In many cases, the chalet company will act as an agent for all these ski extras, taking all the stress out of it for you. Before you know it, they’ve picked you up from the airport, had your skis delivered to the ski room, brought your liftpass to your chalet, shown you the way to the ski lessons meeting point, and sent you on your way with a few tips of where you’ll find the best skiing. All the extras, none of the stress.

Pre- and post-holiday service

Independent chalet companies are generally quite small, often family-run, and even where companies grow larger, the underlying ethos should remain that of a small, family business. If you choose to book a ski chalet holiday, as opposed to a hotel break for example, then you should expect quite a personalised service: you will be speaking to real people who remember your name instead of asking for your booking reference. This has many benefits when it comes to pre- and post-holiday service, as well as during your stay.

Small chalet companies rely heavily on guests who rebook, so upsetting a guest is not an option. So an independent chalet company is likely to go much further in helping you before you pay and after you leave than might be the case with a larger corporation. But this is not just hard-nosed business sense at work here. Generally, I find that ‘real’ people like to be nice to other ‘real’ people. And, spending a week with just one or two staff members, you are likely to build a positive connection with them.

Chalet Hosts

Chalet work is not well paid and yet it remains a highly competitive job market because of the perks that come with the job: free accommodation in-resort, free liftpass all season, and free time to ski all winter long. For most seasonaires, that’s reward enough. The job attracts young people with dynamic personalities and a lust for life. What this means for you is that, in most cases, you will be well looked after by an intelligent individual with a personality who speaks English to fluent or native standard. In turn, this provides the basis for a good rapport and, if you want to, you can enjoy some bon vivant and some good banter with your chalet host.

As you build up a rapport with your chalet host, they will gain satisfaction from seeing you enjoy your chalet holiday in a way which seldom happens in a large hotel with dozens of staff. Having someone who cares enough to help goes a long way if you lose your liftpass or your boots don’t fit.

The Staff Night Off

By mid-week, a good chalet host will have looked after you so well that their night off can become a thing to dread, but you should think of this as your big chance to experience the resort itself. Your host will help you to make arrangements for eating out, booking a table if necessary.

Independent catered chalets will often list their menus in advance so, to avoid eating the same thing twice, you can make a note of what to skip when ordering at the restaurant. Eating out is a good chance to indulge in some ski resort classics which might not be available at the chalet itself, such as a belt-busting fondue. For dessert, look out for the equally decadent cafe gourmand, a selection of mini-puddings served with a delicious hot coffee. After supper, take a stroll around the resort centre and take in the sights – in a big resort like Meribel there will be plenty of late-night action, while more traditional resorts like Chatel will look even more beautiful with the stars and the village lights setting off the snowscapes below.

Your Group

A holiday is only as good as the company you keep, and there is no better way to spend time with friends and family than in the comfort of a snow-draped ski chalet. Each morning, the group will be buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the day’s skiing. Each afternoon, over coffee and cakes, see how the group comes to life in exchanging stories and recollections of an unforgettable day on the slopes. Finally, at supper, fill your neighbour’s glass with the evening’s choicest wine and let tomorrow’s fondest memories unfold.

If yours is a smaller party, don’t be put off. Sharing your chalet with other groups is a great way to make new friends and share new experiences with others. Most modern chalets are large enough to offer privacy and seclusion when you want it but, gathering by the log fire each evening, you’ll be comfortable in any company.

This article was authored by on behalf of Delicious Mountain Luxury Chalets, Meribel.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Ten things that can make your luxury chalet holiday truly unforgettable

Part One: Location, Location, Location

A catered chalet holiday is a great way to get away with those you love, spending quality time with friends and family in a setting which will stay with you forever. As you travel home at the end of the week, you will carry with you the memories of a holiday which is truly unique. In this two-part post, guest author has a look at some of the things which make a chalet holiday so different and so special, highlighting ten aspects of your trip which will keep you coming back year after year. Here are the first five.

1. Ski Resort

Ski resorts are all different, so it is important to find the right one for you and your group. Chatel, for example, is the perfect destination for families: quiet and quaint but with plenty to keep the kids occupied, Chatel has retained all of its traditional Savoyard charm. In a picture postcard destination like Chatel, there will be plenty of photo opportunities so keep your camera handy.

On ther other hand, if you’re looking for the more expensive luxury chalets Meribel might be the resort for you. A luxury catered chalet in Meribel certainly won’t be the cheapest ski holiday you could find, but you won’t find a much better location if you’re looking to book something extra special this winter. Like Chatel, Meribel offers access to over 600km of marked pistes and has a lift infrastructure which is the envy of ski resorts the world over. So, choosing from resorts like these, you can be assured of a great week’s skiing, whether it’s your first time visiting or your first time graduating to a pensioner’s liftpass.

2. Chalet Location

It is also important to note that location does not stop with the resort and ski area. You should give careful consideration to how you are going to access the piste each morning. With the proliferation of luxury chalet holidays in recent years, there is a growing clamour among chalet companies to get closer and closer to the piste itself.

The gold standard in this respect is ski-in/ski-out, which allows you to put your skis on at the chalet door and keep them on until your first break for vin chaud. While only a minority of chalets will ever offer this kind of access, it’s always worth thinking ahead and planning your morning routine. If you’re more than a few hundred metres from the slopes, your chalet company should deliver you to the lift but it’s worth checking in advance.

3. The Chalet Itself

A chalet is much more intimate than a hotel and, if you pick the right one for you, your party and your budget, it really can feel like a magical dream home for the week. For some, the chalet is purely functional – somewhere to rest your head for the week, and a place where you know the kids are safe as you unwind in the lounge. For others, the chalet is as much a focal point of the holiday as the skiing itself; for some, even more so.

So it’s certainly important to choose the right chalet for you. Many people will look out for those little extra touches that turn a chalet into a luxury chalet, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the spa, the sauna, the hot tub and the extra course for dinner will add up significantly when it comes to paying the bill.

4. Price

Prices for chalet holidays can vary enormously, and it’s important to understand each of the variables in play. While a luxury catered chalet in Meribel will always cost more than a budget break in some of the less expensive resorts, prices can still vary with more like-for-like comparisons. The most obvious consideration is time: when do you want to go skiing. Early or late in the season may be cheapest, but the snow might not be as good as mid-season. If you don’t have kids, avoiding half-term and Easter is a must. A good way to reduce costs, is to go self-catered.

5. Self-catered or Catered Chalets?

For many people who book luxury chalet holidays, the chalet catering can become one of the key attractions of the ski vacation overall. One only has to look a catered chalet website to how central the cuisine is to the holiday experience as a whole: soft-focus images of mouth-watering temptations adorn every page, making you not only want to book right now but depart right now.

In my experience, chalet catering is very good indeed and is generally made with wholesome regional produce according to recipes which uphold local culinary traditions. You shouldn’t expect to lose weight, but you won’t regret the money you spend on catering if you like French food.

Of course, self-catering is also an option and one to be taken seriously. This is especially true if you are more interested in skiing than eating, if you’re trying to stay healthy, or if you’re on a budget.

Find out more about luxury chalets in part two. This article was submitted by Delicious Mountain Luxury Chalets, Meribel.

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