Category Archives: Meribel

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


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


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

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….

Progress at Chalet Les Cabris

This a little picture blog about our new chalet for next season, Chalet Les Cabris. We hope you like it….

Chalet Les Cabris started life as a traditional Savoyarde barn…

Chalet Les Cabris pre-renovation
Chalet Les Cabris pre-renovation

With planning permission granted, work got underway on 1st April 2014 dismantling the existing structure to turn it into an 8 person chalet and a one bedroom apartment with parking.

Chalet les Cabris being dismantled
The barn is dismantled from the roof down

And by the end of April there was nothing left but a hole in the ground…

Hole where a chalet will be
This is where the old barn was and the new chalet and apartment will be

But then, from the ground, the new chalet started to rise…

First wall of Chalet Les Cabris
The first wall of the chalet, 1st May 2014

And by 14th May it looked like this…

Chalet Les Cabris 14 May 2014
The building work is progressing quickly

We’re looking forward to seeing the building grow over the summer until it looks a bit like this…

Architect's drawing of Chalet Les Cabris
Architect’s drawing of Chalet Les Cabris

We’ll be keeping our picture blog updated as the build moves along. In the meantime if you would like to take advantage of our special offer of a 15% discount on all winter 2014-15 bookings in Chalet Les Cabris get in touch before 1st June (that’s when the offer expires).