Category Archives: Ski holiday

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.

Increase your ‘hygge’ and your happiness…

A lot has been written lately about the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoogah).  According to Visit Denmark hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Here at Alpine Ethos we reckon you can’t get much closer to hygge heaven than on one of our ski holidays.

An important element of hygge is being kind to yourself with food, it’s all about eating heartily and happily which is definitely a concept we believe in.  We plan and cook all of our meals from scratch to provide a hearty, varied, tasty menu with something for everyone whether you’re a cheese, meat or chocolate-lover. Aside from that, you can’t get more warming and hearty than a good fondue, raclette or tartiflette – staple dishes of our local mountain restaurants!

Hygge is also all about to making your surroundings more cosy and delightful to spend time in with soft furnishings, candles and more.  Our chalets are both warm and cosy places with comfy sofas, underfloor heating and hot tubs to really indulge yourself in after a day on the slopes. Chalet Les Cabris also has a wood burning stove for that extra heart (and feet) warming sensation.

The final important ingredient in hygge is spending time with friends and family which is apparently key to staying happy and sane. Recent literature on the subject concludes that embracing hygge has led to Denmark being one of the happiest nations on the planet.  Who are we to argue?  So why not get some more hygge in your life, get your diary out and make a date with your gang to visit an Alpine Ethos chalet this winter?

A bientôt!  Heather & Andy

Why there has never been a better time to go on a catered ski holiday

With Brexit having the effect of reducing the value of the pound against the euro (now at around 1.17 euros the to the pound compared to 1.35 euros to the pound this time last year), there has never been a better time to book a catered ski holiday.

We, like the majority of British catered chalet operators, have fixed our prices in pounds.  We include the majority of your meals for the week and can help you find and pre-book other elements of your stay including transfers, equipment hire, lift passes and lessons for the best prices possible.  This gives you the security of knowing your costs before you leave the UK and not coming back from holiday to find your holiday has cost more than you had anticipated.

Here is a bit more about those great budget-saving reasons to stay with us here in Meribel this winter:

  • Free WiFi in the chalets and several free WiFi hotspots on the slopes in Meribel and 3 Valleys too (say no to roaming charges!)
  • Filling chalet meals – fill your boots at breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner
  • Delicious chalet wine served with every evening meal
  • An honesty fridge in each chalet with cheap beers, wine, soft drinks and snacks (a lot cheaper than drinking in the bars)
  • Knowledgeable hosts who can point you in the direction of the bars’ happy hours and cheap mountainside lunch stops / the best picnic areas
  • Discounts with our partners such as Slide Candy for equipment hire (and Verre Gourmand our wine suppliers – more about this coming soon)
  • A discount for booking your lift passes through us in advance rather than buying them at the lift pass office

So what are you waiting for? Check out our prices and availability and get in touch to make the most of your ski / snowboarding holiday this winter.

Heather & Andy

What does the referendum result mean for this ski season?

Before the referendum there was a lot written by Brits in the ski industry (who are all pro-remain without exception for obvious reasons) about the effect Brexit would have on your ski holiday. This was all in an attempt to wake people up to the fact that European holidays would become more expensive if we left the EU and to convince people to vote remain. And with the argument that the pound would lose value against the Euro, changes could be made to the freedom of movement of Brits employed in ski resorts and other elements that would be up for renegotiation such as mobile phone roaming fees and reciprocal healthcare arrangements via the EHIC system there was plenty to persuade us to keep the status quo.

Unfortunately, the majority of voters in the referendum didn’t share the ski industry’s concerns.  So with a British exit from the EU on the cards in the next few years what now?

Well, the answer as far as we are concerned is not a lot.  Don’t get us wrong, we are extremely concerned for the future of the British ski industry in Europe and our livelihood in particular but in the short term very little will change whilst we are still a member state of the EU.

Alpine Ethos is still able to enjoy the freedom to second people from the UK taking career breaks or gap years to come and work in our chalets and experience life in one of France’s premier ski resorts.  Guests and employees can still benefit from the EHIC system in case of accident or illness, use their mobile phones with every decreasing roaming charges etc etc.

The one thing we can’t guarantee is how the pound will fare against the Euro. To date the exchange rate has worsened for British holiday makers however you can mitigate against the effect of this by booking your catered ski holiday with us.  How? Easy, you pay us in pounds (as you always have) and relax safe in the knowledge that you are going to enjoy a fantastic holiday. We have weathered poor exchange rates before and have built contingencies into our business model.  We have a proven track record of 7 years in business in the 3 Valleys with nearly 90 excellent TripAdvisor reviews to back us up. Your ski holiday is in safe hands with us.

To save your euros during your stay you can fill your boots at breakfast time with our continental spread and daily hot option, quiz us on the best value lunch stops around the 3 Valleys (we know them all!) and head back after a fun day on the slopes for cake, a 3 course meal and wine. You can also buy your 3 Valley ski lift pass through us saving 15 euros off the price of buying it at the lift pass office and speak to us about best value providers for transfers and ski lessons.  A catered chalet holiday with knowledgeable, helpful hosts (as opposed to a self-catered stay) has never made more sense.

And what if things are to change for the worse in terms of travel to Europe as/when the exit is completed? Well, there’s no time like the present to make the most of the EU and get yourself out here on the slopes.  We’re taking bookings right now so get in touch and let’s make the most of the fact that we are still European citizens!!!

Our Guide to What’s New in the 3 Valleys for 2015-16

New ski lifts

Combes 1 & 2 – The biggest development in Meribel has been a total reshaping of the Mont de la Challe area of Mottaret (where the pistes come into Mottaret centre from Meribel direction).  Three old chairlifts (of the ‘hit you in the back of the legs and tip you off at the top’ variety) have been replaced with one bigger, faster, modern chairlift with a mid-station for more comfort and convenience.

St Martin Express – Just over on the St Martin side from Meribel the St Martin 2 lift has been completely revamped now travelling at higher speeds and carrying 6 passengers on each chair significantly reducing queuing time and time on the lift itself. The chairs will also have wind covers to protect you from face freeze in the colder months.

Bettex chairlift – The old Bettex lift in Les Menuires has been revamped and extended to reach the top of the Violette piste.

New pistes

Mottaret – The slopes below the new Combes 1 lift have been reshaped making them easier for beginners to access Mottaret centre from Meribel.

Lory piste – this is a great addition to the piste map, a run from the reasonably new Thorens Funitel down to Orelle, the ‘fourth’ valley.

Chasse piste – another great addition that links the Pluviometre run in VT to Boulevard Cumin down to Les Menuires.

Bouquetin run – an extension above the existing blue run on La Masse means that less advanced skiers can make the most of this awesome and often quiet face.

Montagnettes piste – another new dedicated beginner (green) run into Les Menuires.

Plan du Vah – Courchevel have reinstated a run that used to go down through the woods from the bottom of the Creux run (by Aiguille du Fruit and Roc Mugnier lifts) down to a bus stop on the road between Courchevel 1650 and 1850. 

Free wifi on the slopes!

You really will be able to make your friends jealous of your ski holiday this season. Meribel has been busy installing free wifi hubs which you will find at the top of the Saulire Express, the top of the Tougnete 2 chairlift, the top of the Altiport lift and at the Moonpark hut too. There are also already a number of hubs in Val Thorens.

Race your friends!

Race your friends and family on a timed and filmed parallel slalom course located just below the Dent de Burgin chairlift on the Saulire side of the valley.

With all of these new elements improving on what was already an epic ski domain. What are you waiting for? Get in touch, come and stay and get out there!

Heather & Andy

Alpine weather predictions for your ski holiday 2015-16

Whether you have already booked your ski or snowboarding holiday or not, we are sure you’ll be interested in what the skies will bring this coming ski season. With that in mind we have been checking  out what the meteorologists have to say.

As you may have heard, a strong ‘El Niño’ pattern will have a big influence on the weather system in Europe this winter which in general terms means slightly warmer temperatures than average and plenty of precipitation with most experts agreeing that here in the French Alps we will be in the path of several large storm tracks. These storms will bring snow to mountain areas from November and more abundantly in December.

“The high frequency of storms moving through the heart of Europe will favor above-normal snow in the Alps and a good season overall for skiers,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.

According to La Chaine Meteo (the French weather channel) temperatures in January are likely to be a couple of degrees milder than average and skies sunnier. The Dauphiné Libéré (our local newspaper) says that early February should see temperatures drop and new snow arrive. Temperatures will stay colder than average during March with plentiful snowfall in the mountains. “Les chutes de neige seront très abondante”, they say). Finally, spring will start to become evident in April as temperatures start to rise.

So what does all this mean? Well, in essence with the snow arriving nice and early and temperatures set to be cold well into March, we should have ourselves a nice long season of snowy loveliness for skiing, snowboarding and other snow based activities. So if you haven’t booked your stay with us yet, what are you waiting for? Get in touch!

Heather & Andy

Pricing up a DIY ski chalet holiday in Meribel

There are many benefits to organising your own ski holiday with an independent catered chalet company as opposed to booking with an ‘all inclusive’ holiday operator – a great choice of ski accommodation, lovely, delicious homemade meals, knowledgeable and helpful owners/chalet hosts, flexibility to suit your needs, I could go on…

That said though, one of the tougher aspects of booking this type of chalet holiday is working out how much your ski holiday is actually going to cost in order to talk the rest of your group into joining you. So here’s our blog that will hopefully help you out.

Firstly, what do you need? Accommodation, that’s a given and is usually the first thing you will want to secure. Next is travel to your chalet which is usually flight + transfer (although could be train + transfer or self-drive).

For a ski holiday in Meribel in the middle of the season (using the week beginning 30th January as a guide) in one of our great chalets with lovely chalet hosts (us) this is our guide per person:

Accommodation (half board, afternoon tea and minibus service): £449 at Chalet St Joseph

Return flight Gatwick – Geneva: £140 (Easyjet price based on search made on 1st October 2015 with one hold bag)

Return airport transfers: from £60 (based on 8 people sharing a private transfer)

So that’s just £649 for ski accommodation with a hot tub and travel to resort. We think that’s pretty good (and in fact significantly cheaper than some other ‘all-inclusive’ ski holiday operators in the area).

After that you’ll want to factor in your ski pass which works out at £203 for a 6 day 3 Valleys pass (600km of ski runs, 5 snow parks and unlimited off-piste) and for anyone wanting to hire equipment, ski & boot hire starts from £70 with our 10% guest discount at Slide Candy (great service, delivery and fitting at the chalet).

Add a bit of a slush fund for a few après-ski beers and a bite to eat in the middle of the day and you’re ready to go!

This is the best time to book if you want to secure the best price for your flights and ensure a stay at your favourite Meribel-based chalet company (or future favourite!). In Chalet St Joseph, the week commencing 30th January is still available along with weeks in March so you can still take advantage of the incredible value for money and service we offer. Just get in touch.

TTFN, Heather & Andy x

Skiing in Meribel at Christmas

What could be better than waking up to a snowy view on Christmas morning, having your breakfast cooked for you, opening your presents (if you have been good of course) and hitting the slopes to return a few hours later to a traditional Christmas dinner?

Well, all this could be yours if you decide to go skiing this Christmas but what about the finer details?

Christmas in Meribel 2012
Christmas in Meribel 2012

THE SNOW

This is the the crux of your ski holiday and Meribel is a safe bet in this regard due to it’s location, height of slopes and proliferation of snow cannons. Our guests have been able to ski on lovely groomed slopes every Christmas week since we began 6 years ago (and before, so we’re told).

Christmas in Meribel Les Allues
Christmas in Meribel Les Allues

THE RESORT

Ski resorts don’t close on bank holidays, nor do they on Christmas day. All of the ski lifts are open for business and the bars and restaurants are ready to pour you a festive vin chaud and serve you a little something to keep you going in between breakfast and Christmas dinner back at the chalet.

The resort (festively decorated of course) also put on Christmassy events such as carol singing in Meribel centre on Christmas eve and in Les Allues the evening before. There is also a torchlight descent where local ski instructors descend the piste in formation into the Chaudanne on Christmas eve carrying flaming torches and Santa also pays a visit on his sleigh.

THE CHALETS

Christmas should be a time to relax with family and friends so why not let us take the strain?  We will welcome you into our chalets decorated for Christmas with a Christmas tree to stash your presents under.  We will cook you breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner and your Christmas dinner will be served with all the trimmings – turkey, gravy, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, carrots and sprouts (cooked with lardons and chestnuts – we’ve never had a bad review!) We even import crackers for those extra funny jokes and party hats. And the best thing of all? You don’t have to do the washing up.  So what are you waiting for? Get in touch to book your Christmas holiday Alpine Ethos style. We are offering a week long Christmas break from Saturday 19-26th December from £549 per adult fully catered.

If you would like to read what some our guests though of their Christmas holidays with us check out their reviews on Trip Advisor here and here and below is a little note from our Christmas guests in 2012…

Christmas at Chalet St Joseph
Christmas 2012

Progress at Chalet Les Cabris

We said we would keep you updated as Chalet Les Cabris takes shape. This is how it looked when we wandered past on Sunday evening….ok, it’s not pretty (yet) but the first floor is up.

Chalet Les Cabris gets a first floor
Chalet Les Cabris gets a first floor

The metal work and services have already been run up ready for the second floor.

Chalet Les Cabris metalwork for the 2nd floor
Chalet Les Cabris metalwork for the 2nd floor

This is the view inside the first floor which will be the lounge, dining room and kitchen.

Chalet Les Cabris Inside the first floor
Chalet Les Cabris Inside the first floor

You can see Heather having a chat with the landlord/project manager inside.  He confirmed the second floor would be going up this week followed by the roof timbers the week after.  This is great progress and keeps things very much on track for the grand opening in early December.  More photos soon!

 

8 Top tips for your February half-term ski holiday

Any parent who loves to ski or snowboard wants to take their kids skiing. It is fair to say that the best and therefore most popular time of year to do so for the best snow conditions is the week of February half term.  With this being one of the busiest weeks in the calendar for every European ski resort you it is worth thinking and booking ahead to ensure you and your family have a holiday to remember for all the right reasons.  Here are our top things to consider to make your half term ski holiday a success:

1. Before booking anything, do your resort research

Meribel
Meribel

Resorts vary enormously.  Elements of a resort to consider are: number of slopes suitable for your family’s level of skiing (is there a good selection of beginner/intermediate/advanced slopes/snow parks?), is the ski area large or small? What is the lift infrastructure like? Are you going spend hours of your holiday queuing for lifts? What is the resort/village like? Will there be enough going on to entertain your family or do you want a quiet getaway?

For what it’s worth (and yes, we know we’re biased but here we go) we believe Meribel to be amongst the best destinations for families with children of all ages for a number of reasons:

  • The wide range of pistes for different abilities including some great beginner and children’s zones at the Altiport
  • The huge size of the ski domain. This means that once the queues have dissipated after the morning ski school rush, everyone has spread out throughout the 3 Valleys meaning less queuing during the day than at other smaller resorts
  • Plenty of entertainment going on both on and off the slopes during half term including a chance to meet avalanche rescue dogs, watch a torchlight descent, swim in the pool, have a game of 10 pin bowling or relax at the cinema.

2. Book your accommodation and travel early

Meribel chalet
Meribel chalet

It is a given that prices during the half term holidays are higher than during term time.  To secure accommodation and travel shop around to find the best deal for your family. What is included in your accommodation price? Catered packages can often work out more cost efficient whilst allowing you to have a more relaxing break than self-catered deals. Also, don’t think that you have to go basic to get a good price. Simply basing yourselves slightly outside the main resort can guarantee you a number of extras including a hot tub, free Wi-Fi and private minibus shuttle to the slopes which can mean you get on the slopes faster than someone staying closer to the piste who has to walk.

3. Plan your journey

Whether driving to resort or flying and getting a transfer, roads to resorts get busier (and we mean busy!) later in the day on arrival days.  If you can arrange to arrive in resort by lunchtime you can save yourselves a lot of time sat in traffic.  This also gives to time to relax into your accommodation and familiarize yourself with the resort before your first day of skiing.

4. Book your ski hire in advance

Meribel Ski Hire
Meribel Ski Hire

This can save you a lot of time (and effort) on your arrival day.  We work with Slide Candy who deliver your pre-booked kit to the chalet and then pop down to ensure a good fit once you have arrived.  Their prices are competitive, you get the kit you want and there’s no queuing in hot, busy shops or carrying your equipment back to the chalet – winner!

5. Book your ski lessons in advance

Meribel ski school
Meribel ski school

Bagging a good ski instructor or the right type of group lesson for your kids (or yourselves) is central to your family progressing on the slopes and enjoying their skiing or snowboarding.  There are some fantastic British run ski schools in Meribel offering a variety of lessons but they do get booked up quickly so think ahead and don’t miss out.

6. Order your lift passes in advance

Meribel
Meribel

Ok, the lift pass office isn’t going to sell out of lift passes but the queues can be enormous so make life easy on yourself and book your lift pass through your accommodation provider.  You won’t lose out price-wise and it means there’s no need to queue and you waste no time in getting on the slopes on your first day.

7. During your stay, maximize your time on the slopes

The quietest time on the slopes during half term is the magic 2 hours between 12 and 2pm when the majority of people will stop for lunch.  So why not fill up at breakfast or take a snack to munch on a ski lift and wait until later for a lunch stop / break?  Beating the ski schools to the lifts in the resort centre (or waiting until after they’ve departed) can also help as they get priority in the lift queues.  Ski schools in Meribel set off at 9.15am, 11.30am and 2pm.  There are often quieter pockets of slopes in resorts too so why not ask your chalet hosts where they’d be skiing?

8. Book, book, book

We currently have availability in both our chalets in Les Allues, Meribel this February half term and will be providing a full chalet service including breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, minibus to & from the slopes and an earlier 2-course children’s dinner sitting. All we need is a £150 per person deposit to confirm a booking. We also have a self-catered apartment available for groups of 2-4 people.  So what are you waiting for? Book now.

Chalet St. Joseph (sleeps 16, catered): £699 per adult, £599 per child aged 12 and under

Chalet Les Cabris (sleeps 8, catered): £749 per adult £649 per child aged 12 and under

Apartment Petit Cabri (sleeps 2-4, self-catered): £750 total