Gillings more determined than ever
December 13th, 2010

Zoe Gillings, Britain’s No 1 Olympic snow sports athlete today announced she is more determined than ever to again become the World No 1 snowboard cross athlete following UK Sport’s decision on Thursday to cut all funding to snowboarding from March 31st 2011.

In 2006, following Zoe’s 15th place finish at the Winter Olympics in Turn, snowboarding was allocated £248,000 by UK Sport for the next 4 year period.  Zoe received an additional Athletes personal award to put toward sporting and living costs of £13,500 per annum for the first two years and then in recognition of her success and results on the World Class podium program this was increased to £19,500 for the last two years which ended in September 2010.

Apart from the £248,000 (£62,000 per annum) that is used to put towards coaches, technician/team manager and physiotherapist when affordable, and pay for all their travel, accommodation and subsistence around the world on a 12 month basis, Zoe was provided with a full time dry land training base at the English Institute of sport at Bath University where she had daily access to a strength & conditioning coach, physiotherapist, doctor and sports psychologist.  Even with £248,000 it was extremely difficult running this program, now, Zoe will receive no funding, zero.

UK Sport released a statement, “Whilst results in Vancouver were of course taken into account, it was decided that, at present, there was not enough evidence to suggest that British Ski and Snowboard would have the programme or athletes capable of reaching the podium in Sochi in four years time or at the Winter Games in 2018.”

Zoe commented on this, “I don’t agree with that: I am capable of reaching the podium in Sochi.  I may be biased as I’m talking about myself but I believe results should do the talking.  World cup competitions in Boarder cross are the highest level of competition with all the top athletes in the World competing in these competitions.” Zoe’s World Cup rankings for the last 5 years are:-

1)      2006 – 36th in the World.

2)      2007 – 12th in the World.

3)      2008 – 7th in the World.

4)      2009 – 5th in the World.

5)      2010 – 14th in the World. (An injury sustained at the Olympics meant Zoe couldn’t fight for a World Cup ranking but finished 8th at the Olympics in any case.)

Zoe continued, “Since 2006 I have stood on the World Cup podium three times,  that was in 2008 & 2009, including a third place at the World Cup Finals in Valmalenco in 2009.  I even beat the current Olympic Gold medalist, Canadian Maelle Ricker in the 2010 Austrian Boarder cross World Cup where I finished sixth overall.”  How can I not be capable of reaching the podium?

The UK Sport website details a top 3, top 8 or top 12 finish at World Championships or Olympics for UK Sport podium funding.  Zoe has finished within this criteria both at the last World championships in 2008 and at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

Zoe commented, “There are lots of questions which I’m trying to find answers to, but the biggest is to understand how the decision has been made. I appreciate there is strict criteria on allocation of funding and if your performance is not up to scratch, then fine, but my results have improved every year since the funding began and come well within the criteria set by UK Sport on their website. Why am I not being funded?”

Zoe commented about UK Sport, “Make no Mistake about it, I may not agree with their current decision but over the past 4 years UK Sport have been the single biggest influence in my career and have allowed me to get to where I am today.  They have helped me in many ways with my World Class program including building me an indoor start gate and producing me technologically advanced equipment on the lead up to Vancouver, they are not just about finance.   They are a World Class organization and one required to take our top athletes to the podium.”

Zoe now faces uncertain times ahead but she is clear what direction she is going to take, “Even though this news is extremely demoralizing and at the moment I literally don’t know how I’m going to fund the program going forward there is absolutely no question, I will be continuing in the sport, 100 per cent.  I have faced many obstacles in the last ten years – some minor and some very serious – and even though the answer to the current funding problem is yet to be found, there is no question I will continue.”

Zoe continued, “I’ve got a few ideas that I’m currently exploring. I am contacting some high profile business men to see if they can help mentor me as I try to set up a business. Peter Jones from the Dragon’s Den and Mark Pearson from the Secret Millionaire please check your emails.  I’m now more determined than ever, if anyone out there thinks you can help, please get in touch”

“I would like to thank my major sponsors, Pokerstars, BMW and Isle of Man Sports Aid as their assistance in my program is now the most it ever has been.” Commented Zoe.

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El Bulli to close:-(
November 2nd, 2010

Ferran Adria, the experimental Spanish chef whose restaurant El Bulli has been voted the finest on the planet, shocked the gastronomic world with an emotional speech at a food conference in Madrid.

In separate remarks to The Daily Telegraph he confirmed he will hand back his Michelin stars and other awards, opening the door for Heston Blumenthal´s Fat Duck to reclaim the crown of “world´s finest restaurant” for Britain.

It was the most dramatic throwing in of chef whites since Marco Pierre White said he was returning his three Michelin stars and retiring from his kitchen in 1999.

Adria blamed his decision to close the Spanish restaurant on personal problems and exhaustion. He will snuff out his kitchen’s famous flame after 2011 for at least two years, and may not return after that.

“It is tremendously stressful working 15 hours a day while still being creative,” he said. “I saw John Galliano on TV this morning and if you told him he had to work those hours he would go crazy.”

Later at the Madrid Fusion conference, he admitted he was looking at projects beyond his restaurant – including the possibility of academic research into gastronomy for Harvard – that could keep him busy until 2020.

“This is a very personal decision,” he said. “Now I have made the decision I am very, very happy. I had a family problem and realised I didn’t want to go on like this. I don’t want to holiday in the Bahamas but for 25 years my team and I have been focusing on cooking, and we deserve more normal lives. And our families deserve more time with us.”

One suggestion is the “problem” was a major health scare for a member of his family, though this has not been confirmed.

“People talk about media chefs” he said, but he pointed to one of his helpers who had arrived at the conference at 5am to set up for Adria’s cooking demonstration “and he doesn´t drive a Ferrari. Yes it is glamorous or we wouldn’t all be here, but it is also very hard work.”

He also used the opportunity to take a swipe at the Michelin Guide, which critics argue favours traditional French chefs.

“I have to show respect to the guides [by handing back his Michelin stars and other awards] but I have to say I do not always agree with their classifications, in Spain and elsewhere – and I’m not just saying that out of patriotism.”

In a dig at chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse who have opened restaurants around the world, he said he was more interested in research than money. “Otherwise we would have opened 40 branches, everywhere to Peru,” he smiled “but we would have to do a different kind of cuisine.

“What I have to decide is whether we have taken haute cuisine as far as it can or are there other things to do. After two years of being closed we will decide if we are actually going to reopen.”

He made his decision after a heart to heart with Joel Robuchon, the French chef who is both friend and rival. “He said it was time I went home,” Adria reports, who spends much of his time travelling around Spain and abroad giving cookery demonstrations.

Adria, whose delights include Parmesan snow, was accused in 2008 of “poisoning” diners by using too many chemicals with his so-called “molecular gastronomy”.

However, yesterday he said the very term was dreamed up by marketing men. “Nothing in my demonstration today was about molecular gastronomy,” he added.

Clutching a glass of Champagne he told the Telegraph: “For me, life is all about creativity.”

Adria said ruefully: “Even the Rolling Stones don’t tour all the time now. This is an opportunity to be self-critical rather than going around saying I’m the best.”

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Snow has arrived!!
October 21st, 2010

Snow has arrived in Chatel. Myself and the family took a quick break up to Scotland to visit family, on our return yesterday driving back  through the village we came across snowy roads and white roofs. Looking at the forcast for the next week, looks like we could expect more snow over the week-end.

Also while on the subject snow. Chatel has invested over €4 million in 20 new snow guns, reservoir and re-shaping of sevral slopes. Chatel is certainly keeping up to date with giving skiers some of the best skiing.

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Zoe Gillings back in training !!
September 2nd, 2010

Following an excellent 8th place finish at the Winter Olympic Games in February, Zoe Gillings, Britain’s No 1 snow sports athlete returned back to full time training at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Bath on Monday following 6 weeks of rehabilitation and key hole surgery on her left knee which she injured in the semi final of the Olympic Games. Zoe Commented, “I’m really happy I’m  back in the gym full time.  I ended up damaging the cartilage and stretching the ligament in my knee and had to have surgery but at least I injured this during the Olympics and not the competition before! The operation went really well and my knee is nearly back to normal.”

Zoe’s 8th place at the Games was the highest finish position of all of the British snow sports athletes representing Great Britain in Vancouver, Zoe continued, “Looking back, I’m disappointed with my 8th place finish, the injury didn’t help but I have beaten all of the best snowboard cross (SBX) athletes in the world in the last 6 months in one competition or another so I knew I could do it.  I did all I could on the day though so I have no regrets.”

Its not all been rehabilitation for Zoe though, she has been invited to attend several corporate events with her sponsors BMW, British Airways and Pokerstars as her role as Brand ambassador.  Zoe Commented, “The last few weeks have been great, I attended a BMW experience driving day at Oulton Park race circuit,  drove loads of different BMW’s and they were thrilling to drive, they really are the ultimate driving machine! I was then whisked away to the Pokerstars “Snow fest” event in Austria where I got to meet skiing legend Alberto Tomba and Tennis star Boris Becker during filming.”  

Zoe’s first competition of the 2010/11 season will be in Telluride, USA, on the 15th December. “My knee is better, I’m back in the gym, I cant wait to compete in December and I’m really looking forward to getting back on snow” commented Zoe.

We look forward to seeing Zoe back at our ski chalet in Chatel very soon for a catch up!!

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Portes du Soleil ski area
July 26th, 2010


Around 40 years ago a group of passionate skiers wanted to open one of the largest linked ski areas in Europe, and they did……the Portes du Soleil ski area was created offering a winter sports playground covering 12 resorts in 2 countries – France and Switzerland.

With a massive 650km’s of pistes (not to mention the numerous km’s of off-piste!), the area offers superb skiing and snowboarding for all ages and levels. From spacious and wide slopes for beginners, cruising runs for intermediates, and challenging black runs and off-piste skiing for the more advanced skiers, the huge Portes du Soleil ski area and stunning scenery is shouting out to be explored.

The Portes du Soleil ski area itself offers a mix of open and wooded slopes suitable for all abilities. Nestled between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the ski area creates its own micro climate thus giving the area an amazing snow record – don’t be fooled by a higher resort having better snow, this is not always the case! With easy access to Avoriaz, Chatel, Morzine and the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil ski area, the area is an extremely convenient location. Perhaps ski France one day and then Switzerland the next, the choice is yours!

With such a large ski area, the amount of off-piste is massive. It is even great for intermediate skiers wishing to experience their first powder run.  For those in the know The Happy Valley at Chatel’s Linga ski area offers some of the best and varied off piste in the Portes du Soleil, and for the more adventurous, you can hike up to the bowls overlooking the Mossets chair lift to enjoy the fluffy powder fields and amazing views of Mont Blanc.

Ski accommodation

As for ski accommodation the Portes du Soleil provides lots of different options from hotels, catered ski chalets, self catered apartments and even camp sites! I personally think that a catered ski chalet is the best option, as mentioned in my previous post there are so many benefit. Also one of the closest ski area’s to be reached from the Uk which is always a bonus , the drive from the Uk can be done in a day which will give you more ski time on the slopes.

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Reasons to go on a catered ski holiday!
July 2nd, 2010

Ski chalet ChatelHave you ever been on a ski holiday and realised how much hard work it is. Arranging pick from the airport, ski hire, places to eat, these are just a few things to mention. Just imagine you have a large family what a headache!

Well a catered ski holiday is what you need. Ski chalet accommodation has been around for a long time, but only in the recent years people are starting to see the benefits of a catered ski chalet holiday. You may think that your holiday is expensive but wait to see the advantages.

All you need to do is choose your resort and search the web for your ski chalet accommodation.

Book your flights and the rest will be taken care of. If you are lucky your ski chalet will even sort out your flights for you. Then want do you do, basically nothing.

Arriving at your chosen airport you will be normally met by your chalet host who will then drive you and your party to your chosen resort and chalet. Normal transfers are around 1.5 hours to 2 hours. Once you arrive at chalet you will be treated to a warm drink while your host will place your bags in your rooms. Not a bad start to your holiday.

You will find with most ski chalet holidays that on arrival your ski pass will be ready for you so you can begin the next day skiing with not a worry about waiting in long queues and wasting valuable ski time.

If you have filled in a booking form before your holiday, the chalet may ask you for details if you require ski hire, height, foot size etc. and ski lessons. This is well worth filling in as your ski hire will be ready and waiting for you at the ski shop and lessons will be pre booked, no need to worry about ski schools been booked up. How easy is this, wait it gets better.

In the morning you will awake to a continental breakfast, after breakfast you will be chauffeur driven to the slopes, ready for a days skiing. If you are a beginner to the resort than don’t worry many catered ski chalets offer a free ski guiding service. This normally consists of been shown the best places to ski and great mountain restaurants. After a days skiing you will be met by your host who will them take you for some après ski drinks and then back to the chalet for your dinner.

If you have small children the chalet host will normally arrange a nursery for you so you need not worry. After your weeks holiday you are then taken back to the airport for your flight home.

A catered ski holiday is the way to go, you do not need to worry about a thing, your ski chalet hosts are there to make your holiday as easy as possible. Catered ski accommodation may be a little bit more expensive than staying in a hotel, but look at the advantages, this way you get a lot more skiing in and less of those headaches.

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New Website!
May 31st, 2010

Welcome to our new redesigned website which has been launched today! We would like to start off by thanking Euan at who came up with the design and helped create the look that we wanted.

We have just finished our fourth season in Chatel and felt that the knowledge we have gained over this time needed to be shown on our website and as such decided to go for a new fresh look altogether. We are extremely pleased with the result and hope you are too!

We would like to point that all the photos that are displayed on the website were taken either by ourselves, guests or friends. We borrowed a professional camera off a friend and have spent a great deal of time taking photos of the chalet and the surrounding areas etc. (to the point that Paolo carried the camera around with him all day for what seemed like months!). You will find no stock photographs on here – even the pictures of the food are the real deal!

New for this year, we are offering walking holidays and cookery courses during the summer months. For more information please visit our summer section.

Thank you for visiting our website, and if you have any feedback on it, we would greatly appreciate it.

Paolo and Lindsey

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