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No snow!

For the past 3 years, the sounds of ‘No snow!’ ring out through the media. Whilst there is an element of truth in this general claim, it is not entirely accurate and should be contested. Particularly inaccurate has been the reporting of Chatel which has done superbly well to keep their pistes open.

What does ‘No snow!’ actually mean – not enough to ski on, not enough to make a snowball, as from where I sit in the Alps, there is snow around at altitude, on lower altitude north facing mountains, in those low to mid high resorts which do an outstanding job managing the snow fall they have had with the added assistance of artificial snow which has been heavily invested in over the past years.

Our first clients arrived on the 13th December 2016. Other clients due to come cancelled their ski holiday based on media reports. Poor them. Those who did have faith in people like myself, who live, breath and are actually on the ground in the alps are able to give a more positive over view.

Now Chatel and the Portes du Soleil is deemed as possibly the largest ski area in the world. It incorporates many resorts of varying altitudes, north facing and south facing and of different gradient slopes and mountains. Other factors include the ground itself and as a majority of it, is pasture land, then less snow is required before the snow can be pisted for bashing, perhaps only 5-10cm deep in contrast with greater depths required at altitude due the rocky nature. We can even boast micro climates allegedly. In the main, when the 650kms of pistes are covered, there is no better or more varied skiing place to visit in the world.

So then I revert to ‘No snow’ – so lets say the Portes du Soliel has perhaps 10-20% of their slopes open……hold on, that is still 65-130kms of pistes….possibly more than most small resorts. The two recorded areas of the Portes du Soleil namely Avoriaz and Chatel must therefore be applauded for their foresight and vision in implementing snow making facilities, for their continued mechanical and logistical efforts along with of course their geographic fortune. I take great umbrage for Chatel to be languished with the same ‘No snow’ reports or  a likened to Morzine and Les Gets, when clearly we are defined in our own right. Out sourced media reports of Chatel demean the excellent work done by local British tour operators to report the actual situation without bias and clearly and rightly so report that Chatel has had snow, when others have not. We as a British culture are exceptionally negative and the media is the driving force of this negativity. So I challenge any media source to actually spin their stories into a positive. But then perhaps, this interrupts the next story when the exodus of British businesses fold due to the lack of tourism as a result of the negative feed ‘No snow!’

We have had blue skis and cold temperatures during this El Nina period. The snow now is getting thin admittedly and due to volume of people at this holiday time of year, the slopes crowded. These two resorts are now chastised for being over crowded, a victim of their own success one might say. But hold on, would you prefer to be at Milton Keynes, Tamworth etc. What about those other places who really do not have snow??? Why are we not praising Chatel and Avoriaz – surely this is a great thing to have some snow??? Our clients have been amazed by both the quality and quantity of snow available to them to ski on,

I like many others look forward to a good dump of snow. I am as passionate about the mountains and its offerings. I am realistic also and am noticing changes, but lets not accelerate those changes in minds and enjoy what we have and what we have now.

Brexit

What does Brexit mean to many overseas businesses like mine? Primarily a reduction in income or turnover. As a business who has priced in £ sterling for the past 12 years, it is a consideration if we can afford to keep taking the risk. Is it time to start pricing in Euro and let the punter take the risk of higher or lower ski holidays.

Many questions are raised with the fluctuation of the currency situation due to the recent Brexit vote. It certainly is not in favour of those travelling abroad and having endured the recent recession and come through, we are now back there following the UK Brexit vote. The £ sterling is not buying you many beers abroad anymore!

Whilst there will be winners due to a weak pound, the British ski industry will inevitably suffer. I would imagine that the option to ski in the USA has also been hampered by a super strong dollar, which to be honest, helps us here in Euro land. During the recession and the weak pound, it was noticed that clients did not necessarily stop skiing, but were certainly more cautious with their spending money…..apart from when it came to the bar and ordering beers. I am sure they would rather miss lunch as long as they could afford the apres ski revelling 😉 People will give up summer holidays for their ski holiday, and as seen recently, the UK is making great inroads in keeping Brits in Britain for the Summer.

The past couple of years of poor snow fall in Europe has not helped business this year for many. Christmas and New Year are usually booked well in advance of Summer, but this year, many hotels and chalets are struggling to fill either. Chatel is blessed to have a fantastic snow record and therefore can boast to being open for the past 2 years where as many resorts cannot. Unfortunately people are naive and look at altitude, so are by passing this great place.

Chatel is probably around 40-50% cheaper in the main than most other major ski resorts such as Chamonix, 3 Valles, Val D’Isere and of course all Swiss resorts! It is also a gem of a place with access to the largest ski area in the world. Catered chalet holidays allow you to keep within a budget also, and guaranteed to have a great time with a list of ectras included. Plus no shopping cleaning and cooking required by you!! lol

The snow this weekend is estimated to be 80cms here in Chatel. A great start to the season and fantastic for the Albedo effect. It has been cold and wet recently also, so excellent for the snow sticking and creating a great base for the off piste skiers amongst you.

Brexit is a unknown and how it will affect business or residency in the future of so many British businesses, remains to be seen, but irrespective, Alpinebreaks will not be going anywhere soon…..we love it and if we didnt have a mortgage, would do it for free lol 😉

Thank you

Wow – that winter season has just shot past! A big Thank you to you all for staying with us this season. We have had an amazing time but all over far too quickly. Whilst the season does not officially close until the 24 April 2016 here in Chatel, most people assume that after Easter holidays, the slopes all close. This means the empty pistes are there for abuse! lol

Thank you to my amazing team, Abi and Oli, Abi and Sam, Luke and Grace, Alice and also Tim and Elaine who left us early due to an injury sustained on the slopes.

An extra thank you to Abi and Oli have been around Chatel for a while now and are departing shortly for new ventures. Looking after the administration of the business ensured smooth running and extra help always on hand. We wish them all the best in whatever they choose to do. We know you’ll be back though 😉

Luke and Grace will be with Alpinebreaks throughout the Summer 2016 and also looking to return next winter which is fantastic news. They have been a brilliant pair of hands and have built an excellent rapport with guests, nothing being too much trouble. Thank you to them for stepping into Tim and Elaine’s shoes in February following a helicopter ride of the piste for Elaine. Watch out for Benidorm this year, where Tim and Elaine are extras on this popular TV show lol.

Abi and Sam did an amazing job in our new Chalet this year. They served and looked after Chalet 1972 with great care and attention. Thank you to them both for their humour and wit and we wish them all the best in the future wherever they end up as not quite decided what doing next.

Then there is our young Alice, in the midst of a gap year, who assisted in Chalet Lac de Vonnes with her beautiful smile and personality. Thank you Alice and we wish you all the best in your future at Uni.

We would like to say thank you to you all for your custom. We have had alot of new people stay with us this year who we hope to see again. Our reputation at Chalet Lac de Vonnes and Chalet Linga saw 80% plus of people return from previous years! A total of 457 people came through our doors this season….456 of you are welcome back anytime lol 😉

Several people have already re-booked for next year which is testament to our great job the teams are doing here in Chatel. Or is it because of Heinz the dog? lol Thank you from Heinz for all the gifts you brought him. He is now on a diet! incidentally, someone did think Heinz was my gay partner as only heard about Heinz and didn’t appreciate he was a dog…..lol

So we move on, and the many jobs to do in the chalet, repairs and refurnishing etc. All exciting and all in preparation for the next winter 🙂

Thank you, it has been emotional,

Darren, Heinz and the Alpinebreaks team

 

 

New chalet in Chatel

We are pleased to announce our new chalet in Chatel. Chalet 1972 is a beautifully renovated chalet oozing charm and character. Detailed attention throughout the chalet means this is the perfect place for your ski holiday, accompanied of course by the Alpinebreaks customary high standard of service. Our new chalet in Chatel is not the average new build style of chalet. It has charm and character with old beams restored and the blend of old and new. Located centrally in Chatel just 600m south of the church square along a quiet road, it has easy access to the town and the new spa pool complex. Not having a hot tub at this stage, those needing to rest the limbs can use the new pool complex in Chatel. To get you to the slopes each day, we offer a fantastic private transfer service, so no need for buses or walking in ski boots. Our hearty breakfast each morning will get you started for the day, but dinner in our beautiful open plan large lounge/dining room will ensure a relaxing and enjoyable ambiance. The open log fire adds to this as well as the views of the mountains and vallley.

Our new chalet in Chatel, Chalet 1972 is a welcome addition to the Alpinebreaks portfolio and the aim to maintain the already excellent standards achieved. We have employed professional chefs this year and our exciting new menus are mouth watering!

Summer in the Alps

Where better in the world to visit during this Summer than the Alps. It offers a bit of everything, even for those beach dwellers amongst you. Chatel is a beautiful village nestled in the Alps on the French and Swiss border. Only an hour away, you would be at the Italian border also. Resorts close by to Chatel include Morzine, Les Gets and Chamonix. Places of interest include Lake Geneva. However, did you know that the border runs through Lake Geneva and therefore the French side of the lake is actually called Lake Leman? Along the lake edges there has been many man made beaches built where you can bathe and swim. As the temperatures down by the Lake are usually around 30 degrees, the water is lovely and warm. The temperature on the mountain is usually a little cooler averaging between 25-30 degrees. The benefits of being up in the mountain are that there are no mosquito’s and it is not at all humid. There are water parks, places of interest including a chocolate factory, a velodrome, Gruyere cheese factory, museums and much more.

Summer in the Alps itself offers an adventurous outdoor lifestyle or a place of peace and tranquillity.  The activities include mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, hiking, via ferrata or just absorbing the traditions from our wonderful farming village. It is worth checking out when the several festivals are during the summer as these are very special affairs, particularly Bastille Day or the Beautiful Cow competition.

Finally, choosing where to stay can make a difference. With many apartments available or self catered chalets, you can experience Summer in the Alps as home from home. However, if you would like a little bit of pampering, no shopping, no cooking, no cleaning, then why not try our excellent value fully catered package at Chalet Lac de Vonnes with your wonderful hosts and of course Heinz the dog.

Chalet Lac de Vonnes

Views from the Chalet

 

Summer Mountain Bike in Chatel

It is fast approaching the end of the ski season and the focus for a lot of people now, is Summer holidays. In particular Summer holidays in the alps have become better value with more facilities and activities now available. Mountain bike holidays have exploded in the past 10 years in Chatel and the alps. The lift systems have been adapted accordingly to take mountain bikes on the lifts to avoid the big climbs up. The trails for mountain biking have developed from the odd one or two man made trails to a plethora of tracks built on all sides of the mountain ranging from a green low level to the crazy black levels.

The lifts connect all the Portes du Soleil ski areas, so once again offer a huge scope of riding and trails.

Other activities in the Summer in the alps, include such things as hiking. The routes are well marked and easy to follow. The best time of the day to climb is early morning. This will ensure you reach the peak at the clearest part of the day, avoid heat exhaustion walking in the midday sun and most importantly, to find peace and tranquillity.

The white water activities are abundant or for the ultimate adrenaline rush, try the canyoning which is certainly not for the faint hearted. Then there is the Via Ferrata which is a form of climbing developed from the armies who were responsible for implementing gun emplacements into the mountain. Again, not something for the nervous person.

Chatel offers the Multi pass which is great value. For €1 or €2 a day, you have the option to go on the chairlifts or use swimming pools and even use tennis courts. Great value.

Summer holidays in the Alps offer a fantastic time with lots of festivals and activities on display. Enjoy

Let it Snow in Chatel!

Finally winter has arrived in the Alps and in particular, Chatel and the Portes du Soleil. With weather predictions of 27cms of snow by one website to arrive in a night was completely way off as approx. 80+cms fell, the piste was non-existent. The piste was covered with the white fluffy stuff way above the knees. The edges were way higher and many reports from clients and friends of getting stuck in snow far too deep to ski through. This amount of snow is not without it’s dangers as some young local teenagers found out. Although very experienced and excellent skiers, four of them were caught in a large avalanche in one of Chatel’s famous back bowls. Although no one was killed, they did sustain injuries and the attention of local media. There have been deaths all around the Alps this season due to avalanches, so caution is advised when leaving the piste. Chatel is blessed with a micro climate which consistently provides a good base layer of snow form the beginning to the end of the season. Coupled with its north facing slopes, Chatel holds onto the snow very well.

Compliments should be paid to the tireless effort the snow plough team have made keeping the roads clear and removing the great amount of snow to the shaded areas of the mountain to be brought out later in the season to top up any patchy areas which may appear. The driving conditions have been tough and without snow tyres or snow chains, roads would be inaccessible.

To summarise, it appears that current cold weather is what we would expect in January with temperatures feeling below -10 degrees. Perhaps this could mean great snow towards the end of the season also, so well worth considering booking a late stay.

Just to add, the new connecting lift system between Super Chatel and Vonnes and then to Linga is now open and has made a fantastic impact to the ease of getting around this amazing area.

Snow in Chatel and away we go!!

A somewhat panic resulting from the lack of snow in Chatel and the Alps reported by the media has prompted many emails to me along with low expectations on arrival. Chatel and Avoriaz once again have done fantastic ensuring their pistes have been open form the outset of the season. Reported as some of the lowest amounts of snow across the entire Alps, Chatel and Avoriaz were at the beginning of the season 2 of only 20 resorts open in France out of a total of 200. The Christmas crowds arrived from abroad but still the slopes were quiet as the French appeared to stay away. This was and still continues to remain the same, with no real explanation…perhaps the lack of snow or the flagging economy? Our first guests brought walking boots so were blown away that they could ski, testament to the ski area that the Portes du Soleil offers. The ski area has so many positives and that is whether you are at altitude or between the trees at lower heights. Chatel and the Portes du Soleil is predominantly pasture land and not rocky, so only small amounts of snow are required before you can ski on it. Those who manage the pistes have done a sterling job. Christmas was great fun with Santa making his annual visit at Lake Vonnes, his sledge running over one of the clients who got too close! A fantastic banquet by our staff ensured the pain dissipated quickly or was that the alcohol?? New Year and the amazing fireworks around the valley saw in the New Year, particularly from Chalet Lac de Vonnes where our view point is enviable. We have experienced to date yet more wonderful guests and the start to the season albeit not with out its challenges (another story), has been a fantastic start. The Alpinebreaks team are amazing and providing the high service you have all now come to expect.

Chalet Lac de Vonnes and Chalet Linga update

It is commonly suggested that out of season, I take a long break and venture of on holiday. If only 😉 Chalet Lac de Vonnes has had some major work this year already, with stunning new full length windows in the lounge fitted, allowing the mountains to come to you. The view is stunning and breaths in the ambience and beauty of Chatel and the Abondance valley. With the new decking laid, the Hot Tub has been moved to an even better viewing experience, if that was at all possible. Chalet Lac de Vonnes has only a few weeks available but sure it will maintain it’s 100% occupancy, as it does every ski season.

Chalet Linga is proven to be a very popular chalet as always for next season. The decking housing the Hot tub was long overdue replacing and over the past week, the stripping out of the old decking to be replaced with new is in progress. The Hot Tub is being moved slightly forward of its usual position to give you a better view point of the piste so you do not have to strain your eyes lol. Chalet Linga has already had new defined car parking spaces added and the gardens landscaped, albeit during the winter, the garden is very much under snow!

The staff for both chalets this year are excellent as always but the quality of the cooking just gets better year on year. More importantly, the chalet wine is superb as always.

We are working hard here at Chalet Lac de Vonnes and in Chalet Linga as well as everyone else in Chatel. We are preparing everything for your enjoyment, the new lifts, new pool and spa complex, Chatel is a place that only a few have experienced, but once they have guaranteed to come back!

Summer in Chatel coming to a close

Chatel Bike Park has closed this week and preparations for the winter now start to kick into action. The new link between Super Chatel and Linga is fast progressing but with the adverse weather conditions, delays in it opening could be possible. The weather however has improved remarkably over the last week. The last week of clients were from London. The Havebike team who support the Barclays Bike project did turn up on their own bikes. Anna Glowinski of ITV 4 ‘Cycle Show’ was also present and it was a delight to show her the excellent Chatel Bke Park. Chatel Bike Park has certainly been under pressure this season, coping with the inclement weather amazingly so. The army of workers repairing the tracks should be commended on their effort to keep the trails flowing and free of break bumps! The hive of activity is apparent in the Autumn as people prepare for the harsh winter months in Chatel and the Portes du Soleil. However, the Chatel Golf Open being held this Friday, is an annual event for all comers and a great anglo-francais competition which isn’t necessarily about the golf skills of individuals, but getting everyone in the village together for a great end of season party. Alpinebreaks and Mountainbikebreaks wish to thanks all their clients this Summer season for coming and we can honestly say, it has been a pleasure to host you. Abi and Oli have been outstanding in the kitchen both producing some of the most amazing meals and cakes. We look forward to having them back in Chatel for the winter. To conclude, it has been another successful summer in Chatel with record numbers of people visiting, the new swimming complex being open and all the village festivals going with a boom!! See you next Summer here in Chatel!