Category Archives: Summer

2017 Our ‘Year of Doing’

Today marks the end of what is always a really busy and important period of any season. Christmas and New Year are a huge challenge for us with chalets being busy, our chalet team still learning the ropes and guests rightly expecting the great food and service that we are known for.

Our amazing team (Sam, Lynn and Andy), have been working really hard to start the season with a bang. Both our chalets have been full of happy, well fed guests who have been making the most of the early season conditions. Sam, who worked in St Joseph last season and is in Les Cabris this year, has already earned our first TripAdvisor review of the season. It is, we are pleased to report, a five star beauty.

Now that the busy festive period is over, Heather and I can start to prepare for the year ahead. As many of you will know we have had a busy couple of years. Outside of Alpine Ethos we have been bringing up our little boy Jake (now two and a half) and renovating a house a few minutes from Les Allues. These changes meant a change for the business too, with an additional chalet (Chalet Les Cabris), more guests to look after and Heather and I taking ourselves out of the daily running of Chalet St Joseph. Whilst the amazing teams we have had during the last two seasons and this current one have helped us maintain our high standards we are ready move our little company forward again.

So, we are looking at 2017 as a year of more doing and action for us. While we have been attending to multiple spinning plates we have become increasingly aware that we have been living in the mountains but not really LIVING in the mountains. We have been busy running the business but not pushing the business forward. This year we plan to change that.

With the discovery of some pretty cool and inspiring resources  (more on this in future blogs) Heather and I are pledging anew to innovate and improve what we do in the chalets, helping more people have amazing holidays in the beautiful mountains we call home. The biggest change will come this summer when we will welcome our first guests on our guided mountain biking holidays. But outside of this we are hoping to be able to announce some exciting changes to other elements of what we offer in the summer and the winter.

It isn’t just the business we are looking to improve. Having spent the last two years ensuring we can live here as a family we now plan to make more of being here. We believe that doing what we love and feeling impassioned by it makes us better at providing the best holidays to our guests, so this winter we hope to spend more time on the slopes rediscovering the fantastic resort we live in. This might mean we are still wearing our salopettes when we collect you in the minibus (so thanks in advance for your understanding!) Outside of the winter we’re planning to cover lots of ground on two wheels, in hiking boots and in trainers and reconnect with our beautiful surroundings. To do this we will need to fuel up which means lots of menu testing – good news for anyone who stays with us!

We are calling 2017 our ‘year of doing’ and we’re hoping it will make us better, fitter and happier and help us push Alpine Ethos to new heights. Keep an eye out for more blogs, photos and updates in the coming weeks.   We also have a few ideas we will share with you that we’d love to hear your feedback on.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and positive 2017 from Andy, Heather and Jake.

Bastille day: sunshine, dusty trails and fireworks

In warm temperatures on a bright and sunny Bastille day Andy hit the slopes in Meribel (quite literally at one point – an over the bars special, oops!)  The resort has been busy increasing the number of trails and way-marking more trails for different styles of riding. Most notably there are a new breed of enduro trails for those looking for a longer ride who aren’t afraid of a bit of pedalling.

The trails are running dry and dusty and the hard work put in by the dedicated trail crew is paying dividends.   New last year the Blue Line trail is a perfect warm up run with jumps, drops, table tops and berms to get the blood pumping.  You can then extend the run back to the Chaudanne on Forest Jump, also new last year which is a really well crafted trail through the woods over roots and rocks and making the most of the natural terrain.

Here’s a link to this summer’s trail map and below a few of his photos.  Keep an eye out for more photos and videos in the coming weeks.

View from Tougnete 2 chairlift
View from Tougnete 2 chairlift heading up to the blue line
View of Mont Blanc
View of Mont Blanc from the top of the Saulire
Meribel trails
Meribel trails

Marketing the summer in Meribel

We’re taking our blog in a slightly new direction adding topics that come up in our day-to-day running of Alpine Ethos for those of you who are interested.  We’ll cover issues about running a small business, marketing, social media and web-design.  Here’s our first “In house” post.

This week, with the arrival of warmer weather, our thoughts have turned to summer. Last year it was announced that this summer Meribel would host the final UCI Down Hill (DH) World Cup event of the season (from 21-24 August). This is a huge event in mountain-biking circles as it sees the world’s best DH mountain bikers complete the annual 7 stage series and will almost certainly decide who tops the standings.

Meribel has hosted a leg of the French DH championships for the the past 3 years
Meribel has hosted a leg of the French DH championships for the the past 3 years

As keen mountain-bikers ourselves and followers of the World Cup we were stoked and started thinking about how we could get involved.  We emailed some of the teams with info about our chalet and what we could offer them and were delighted when the Madison Saracen team confirmed they wanted to stay.

That was nearly a year ago now but recently we’ve been contacted by a few other team managers who weren’t ready to book last year.  They remembered our email however and have been in touch as they are struggling to find accommodation in Meribel.  Now, you may think that this is a problem for the tourist office but it seems to us that there is a much broader issue here concerning small businesses like ours in certain resorts.  Here’s some context…

When you think of Meribel you’re bound to think of a world class winter resort in the heart of the Three Valleys ski domain.  However, unbeknownst to many people Meribel also has a huge number of activities on offer during the summer months of July and August.  Several ski lifts are open allowing hikers and mountain-bikers to ascend the mountains on either side of the valley in pursuit of views and adrenaline packed (or not) descents.

A couple of hours from Motteret and you can have lunch at the Refuge du Saut in the Vanoise national park
A couple of hours from Motteret and you can have lunch at the Refuge du Saut in the Vanoise national park

There is also a swimming pool (with slide) with big windows opening onto a grassy sun-spot, tennis courts, a horse-riding stable, a via-ferrata course (like rock climbing where you are harnessed onto the wire course), a high ropes park in the forest (like Go Ape in the UK), a golf course and nearby a swimming lake to enjoy. There are several bars and restaurants open (ok not the full complement enjoyed by winter holiday-makers but you won’t go hungry/thirsty).

Obviously our favourite part of the non-winter activities is the mountain biking.  We’re talking extensive down hill and enduro/all mountain style biking with a number of brand new, purpose built, gnarly, adrenaline pumping singletrack trails most mountain-bikers would give their right arm to ride on any given weekend.  Get yourself an IGN map and you’ll discover a staggering number of natural trails running from peak to valley bottom.

So given all these activities it is hard for us to understand why Meribel doesn’t really feature on the destination list of holiday-makers looking for their fair share of adventure on summer holiday.  Did we also mention that Meribel lives up to its “sunny valley” nickname?

So what can we do about it? Well, Alpine Ethos has a summer website (which we’re in the process of updating to match our new winter site) covering all that is fun to do in and around the resort as does the Meribel Tourist Office.  But apart from these and a few accommodation providers listed on chalet-finder type websites indicating that they are open year-round that’s about it.  So there’s no collateral.  There’s no collective marketing effort extolling the virtues of  Meribel as a stunning location in which to holiday and partake in the activities mentioned.

We do understand that competition for summer holiday-makers is enormous with world-wide resorts spending millions advertising their specific brand of holiday and that’s before we’ve even considered our local alpine competitors attracting their fair share of adventure seekers such as Morzine, Les Deux Alpes and Chamonix.

That said, it feels like Meribel is in a chicken and egg situation – bring the World Cup to Meribel to put the resort on the summer holiday map and put people off  as they struggle to find (open) accommodation or don’t hold the events such as these and suffer from unfilled beds in the few places that are open.

So what is the solution? Answers on a postcard….