New catered chalets in Avoriaz

Avoriaz was built in the mid 60’s by three young dynamic architects who were at the forefront of building design. Their high rise architecture (12-16 storeys) made more than a passing reference to the fashionable building style of Le Corbusier but instead of exposing harsh concrete (as in Flaine) the exteriors of all the buildings in Avoriaz were clad in red cedar, so that when seen from afar Avoriaz really does blend into its landscape. Gerard Bremont, the son of a leading French industrialist, was one of the earliest and largest investors in the building projects and within a few years Avoriaz, and especially the Hotel Dromont and its restaurant and Discothèque, was proclaimed the “Saint Tropez de Neige” – the centre of jet-set skiing. For 20 years from 1973 until 1993 Avoriaz was the host of “Festival international du film fantastique d’Avoriaz” – a film festival mainly devoted to science fiction and horror movies. Steven Spielberg’s debut, Duel, was the first prizewinner of the festival. From the early 70’s to the mid 80’s Avoriaz was fashionable and hip – celebreties went there to see and be seen. As a ski resort it was vibrant and ‘on the map’. After the closing of the film industry Avoriaz became more mainstream – the celebreties moved to other resorts and Avoriaz lost its shine and glitz.

New catered chalets in Avoriaz - the pedestrian and horse only centre

New catered chalets in Avoriaz – the pedestrian and horse only centre

Avoriaz now tends to be one of those ski resorts that is all too easy to overlook. It’s a name that we are all familiar with but people tend to think of it as a rather tired and down at heal apartment style resort that has long since had its heyday. Going back 5 years perhaps there was some truth in that sentiment – the resort was made up by serried ranks of high rise apartment blocks and the one hotel in Avoriaz promised much but sadly failed to deliver compared to other hotels of a similar price in neighbouring resorts. We all knew that Avoriaz was a high ski resort which offered genuinely snow-sure ski conditions for a long winter season. We also knew that it was within easy reach of Geneva airport with only a 1.5 hour transfer time (compare that to the 3 hour run to the Three Valleys or Val d’Isere/Tignes ski areas.) and that it offered the perfect gateway to the mighty Portes du Soleil ski area with its many interlinked resorts and 650km of piste. However, despite the promise of snow, the short transfer and the large ski area we didn’t really give Avoriaz a second thought.

Five years is a long time and much has happened in Avoriaz during that time. We think it now deserves more recognition and with a growing number of new catered chalets in Avoriaz it’s high time we sat up and took notice.

New Catered chalets in Avoriaz – VIP Ski

You might assume that VIP refers to ‘very important person’ but in VIP Ski’s case it in fact refers to ‘Val d’Isere Properties’ and long before that (and I am going back to the late 1980’s) the business went under its original acronym of APS (Alpine Property Services) and was based in the Portes du Soleil. Can you see where this is going now? So, VIP Ski are heading back to their Avoriaz and Morzine roots and now offer some great new chalets in Avoriaz. Chalet Poudreuse (sleeping 12 guests) is a prime example and very quickly it has become one of their most popular chalets and sells out early. Right now there are only 5 weeks of the 2015-2016 season left to sell!

New catered chalets in Avoriaz - Chalet Poudreuse

New catered chalets in Avoriaz – Chalet Poudreuse

With its great position beside the nursery slopes and near the resort centre it’s not difficult to understand why this chalet is so popular. Factor in the great value price for this chalet, the huge ski area and short transfer from Geneva and you start to see why chalets like this in Avoriaz really deserves your attention.

To view all the best new catered chalets in Avoriaz simply use this link. To get one of them booked up couldn’t be easier. Simply call 020 7801 1080 and speak to one of our super friendly and helpful sales team. Your dream Portes du Soleil ski holiday is just moments away.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New catered chalets in Avoriaz

Why book with one of the small ski chalet operators?

Organising a ski holiday can be very stressful and most of us simply gravitate towards picking up the brochure of a large holiday company to see what is on offer. The large selection of resorts and chalet properties might at first seem endless but quickly you get the feeling that you can’t find exactly what you are looking for. Perhaps you might pick up one or two other ski holiday brochures from other large companies. And then perhaps you get to thinking…. just how many individual ski chalet holiday companies are there? The average ‘once a year’ skier might be doing well to think of ten companies. There are Inghams, Skiworld, Ski Total, Crystal, Ski Esprit, Mark Warner, Neilsons, Thomson, Scott Dunn and Le Ski. Can you think of any others? Perhaps you can name another five ski chalet companies at a push. However, if you checked out the brochures and websites for 15 different ski companies then you would be spending hours and hours trawling through pages and pages of information, most of which would be irrelevant.

What if we told you that we work with over 150 different ski chalet holiday companies. And what if we told you that by spending 5 minutes using our on-line chalet search engine you could check the availability of holidays from all 150+ companies? That might be a neat thing, right? But it gets better than that. In fact it gets much better. You can find the ski chalets that are the right size, in your preferred resort, in your budget range and that have the right features you are looking for (hot tub, sauna, childcare, fireplace, or proximity to the lifts or the centre of resort). Once you have found your list of chalet properties you can then sort them by price, or size, or resort, or by whatever order is useful to you. In just 5 minutes you can have a list of say 10 ski chalet properties that would be absolutely ideal for your holiday needs. Sure – some of these chalets might be the same ones that are featured in the brochures of large holiday companies but the chances are that your ideal chalet list will contain many more properties that are offered by small ski chalet operators, ones that you have never heard of.

Alpine Answers provides an un-biased chalet broker service that points you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the right ski chalet. And more often than not that direction will be towards a small ski chalet operator. Our years of experience have taught us the value of using these small operators and the major benefits they offer our clients. Talking from firsthand experience of working for a small chalet operator based in only one resort, I’m going to outline the benefits of booking your next ski holiday with a small ski chalet operator!

Use small ski chalet operators and your travel prayers are answered

Your prayers have been answered – you no longer have to get up at an ungodly hour to make your flight. Single resort and small chalet operators have huge flexibility when it comes to travel and can arrange flights times to suit their customers. The holiday company that I worked for also changed their transfer days from a Saturday, to a Sunday. This meant their clients would avoid the hassle of gridlocked Saturday roads and also enjoy skiing on the empty pistes for the last day of their holiday. Single resort operators have a very close line of communication between one UK team and one resort team meaning the running and arrangement of bookings and travel plans is effortless.

Small ski chalet operators - flexible travel

Small ski chalet operators – flexible travel

Book with small ski chalet operators and feel the passion

One resort = one passion. Sticking with one resort clearly displays the passion small operators have for their chosen home and is definitely one of their main selling points. A benefit of this is often reflected by local outlet partnerships and the great discounts clients can receive from ski hire shops and ski schools. Operators that keep their company small allow the owners to care passionately about wholly managing the business, providing top quality service, and producing consistently high food and wine selected from local regions.

Book with small ski chalet operators and receive better food and service

Their own worst critique! Small operators based in a single resort have time to apply a more personal take on all their chalets. The chalets are often trialled and tested by the owners and their families themselves to be their biggest critique and produce the perfect chalets (certainly true for my company whose co-founder was out 3 times during the season checking each chalet individually). Being a smaller operator also means they can be very particular about recruiting exactly the right staff to suit the chalets and clientele. This way the owners get to know their staff on an individual level, creating an amazing atmosphere to work for, much better than just making up the staff numbers as the large multi-resort tour operators do.

The chalet cuisine is also something smaller ski chalet operators in a single resort do exceptionally well. They have the time and space to accommodate long pre-season training courses, with some master chef judging to ensure every chalet chef is outstanding. These kinds of operators also attract a lot of professional chefs who are looking to show off their own unique flair in the kitchen and not be constrained to the pre-set weekly menus that larger holiday companies use.

Small ski chalet operators - quality chalet cooking

Small ski chalet operators – quality chalet cooking

Book with small ski chalet operators for peace of mind

Can you think of many chalet operators where the Managing Director is in resort 24/7? This was definitely the case with the operator I worked for, available day or night so any problem could be sorted immediately by the owner himself. Single resort operators often have decades’ worth of experience so you can rest aside – no problem is too big or unheard of that cannot be quickly solved. This is why small ski chalet operators have half of their clients as returning customers – testament to the great levels service and attention to detail that they provide.

Small ski chalet operators - the Alpine Answers team

Small ski chalet operators – the Alpine Answers team

Why not speak to one of our experts at Alpine Answers? We can advise you on the best chalet holiday run by one of the small ski chalet operators. The difference in your holiday experience compared to that with a large company will be like night and day. In fact you might never pick up a large holiday brochure again! And wouldn’t that be a relief.

Posted in Ski Chalets, Ski holidays | Comments Off on Why book with one of the small ski chalet operators?

Skiing with Children – the perfect family ski holiday

Skiing with children and the thought of planning a family ski holiday can bring many parents out in a cold sweat. Cue images of temper tantrums, long transfers and lost gloves. But it needn’t be that way. Taking children skiing can be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences. You just need to plan ahead and ensure that you pick a family friendly break, that all the family can enjoy.

Skiing with children

Skiing with children – don’t leave things to chance. Book ski school at the same time as booking your holiday

Skiing with children starts with choosing a family friendly ski resort

First off you need to consider the resort to choose. This is the most important choice, and one that will make or break your holiday! Important things to consider when choosing the best resort to ski with your family:

  •  How long is the transfer time from the airport? The shorter the better to avoid over tired tots and frazzled parents.
  • What level of skiers does the resort cater for? Are there sufficient beginner slopes if your children are starting out? Ideally with a magic carpet or at least an area away from heavy traffic with skiers returning to resort.
  • What ski schools operate in the resort? Ensuring they have the best first experience on skis is crucial to the future of your family ski holidays.
  • If required, are there creche or childcare options that suit your needs?
  • Are there many après ski activities which are family friendly? Sledging, carousels, soft play areas, bowling, swimming and ice skating options are available in many resorts, but it’s worth checking before you book.
Skiing with children

Skiing with children – there is nothing like a ski holiday to make your children happy and smiling

Choosing the best time for a family ski holiday

The second most important decision to decide early on is when to ski. With children you will most probably be restricted to the key holiday weeks. Half term is the obvious choice for many with the best chance of good snow. But the price generally reflects this and it’s often one of the busiest weeks of the year on the slopes. Likewise New Year can be pricey and busy as holidaymakers come out in force. This leaves Christmas and Easter as two of the best options.

If you’ve never spent Christmas in resort then you’re missing out! The lights and decorations give an instant festive feel and most of the chalets and hotels will inject some Christmas magic, without you being stuck in the kitchen all day. So you can enjoy the week with the family without the stress which often accompanies this time of year. And despite the poor press, snow conditions are generally good by Christmas week and the prices are much lower so you can grab yourself a bargain.

Last but not least is Easter. Think long days and sunshine and it’s easy to see the appeal. Yes, leaving it a little later can bring some risk to the snow conditions but the price reflects this risk and you have the added bonus of warm temperatures, great for little children who get cold quickly.

Choosing the best ski school is vital when skiing with children

To ensure their first time is not their last it is important to think ahead with regards to ski school options. Especially during peak weeks when things book up fast. Aside from booking your holiday, this should be one of the first things you arrange to ensure availability and avoid disappointment. When choosing the ski school to entrust with this all important first experience it’s worth considering the following:

  • How big are their group sizes? Large groups will limit their learning and also possibly their enjoyment so aim for groups with a maximum of 8 children.
  • Are their lessons taught in English? Unless your children are proficient in a second language it’s worth checking that their instructors speak fluent English and that the lessons are taught in English to ensure your child can understand the instructions and can socialise the others in the class.
  • Are their instructors fully qualified and experienced? Don’t be afraid to ask this question of any possible schools.
  • Do they put an emphasis on fun? Do they organise any activities or games throughout the week or on the last day which will leave your children grinning from ear to ear?
  • And what sort of client feedback do they get? Many schools work with independent feedback systems such as Feefo, so you can see how past clients rate their services.
Skiing with children

Skiing with children – choosing the right ski school is so important. Get that right and the rest is easy

Resort chosen. Holiday booked. Ski School arranged. Who said going skiing with children is something to worry about? Now all you need to worry about is how you’ll find space in your bags for all their Christmas pressies and whether that well used onesie you wore as a child might also fit in.

Written by Sara Fernie-Jones, New Generation Ski & Snowboard School

Posted in Family Ski Holidays, Ski Schools for children | Comments Off on Skiing with Children – the perfect family ski holiday

Ski train holidays to the Alps

Our website features an ever increasing number of independently run catered chalets. We like the personal service these companies provide. Another advantage is the freedom they give us to organise your travel separately to fit in with your preferences, be that driving, flying from your local airport or taking the ski train.

Ski train to the Alps

Ski train arriving in the Alps

With Eurostar tickets for the forthcoming ski season now on sale, it seems a good time to review the various rail travel options for your journey to and from the Alps. There are now three different routes giving access to a bigger range of resorts than ever before.

The first of these is the direct ski train from London St Pancras to the French Alps, which stops at Moûtiers, Aime La Plagne and Bourg Saint-Maurice. This provides convenient access to resorts such as Courchevel, Meribel, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Val d’Isere and Tignes. As well as the daytime train each Saturday there is also an overnight train on Fridays, which returns the following Saturday night and allows for eight full days’ skiing.

The second option this winter is a new direct Eurostar train running from London to Lyon every Saturday in just over four and a half hours. This route will provide easy access to the Southern French Alps, in particular Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes.

If you are looking to travel to the Northern French or Swiss Alps, Eurostar has also introduced a service to Geneva with one easy change at Lille, a journey of just over six hours. Many resorts are easily reached from Geneva, including Chamonix, Morzine and Verbier. Tickets for this route go on sale on 15 October.

Just as with flying, booking early can ensure you get the best prices on tickets. A return to the French Alps costs from £149, with fares to Geneva from £127 return and those to Lyon starting at £89 return. There are no additional costs for luggage and ski carriage is also free.

So if you don’t like flying, hanging around in queues at airports, or long airport transfers, the various train services to the Alps provide some credible alternatives to consider.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Ski train holidays to the Alps

Ski Travel Agency – Dreaming of a white Christmas

A question I often get asked is “what do you do all summer?” well the simple answer is that I put my feet up, play lots of golf and tennis and generally have a jolly good time…Oh if only that was the case. The end of one season means a new one is just around the corner and although the pace in the office is not as hectic during the summer months, there are plenty of things going on behind the scenes that need to be implemented as we head into another busy booking period.

Ski travel agency - The Boss hard at work

The Boss hard at work

We have installed a new phone system; we have added lots of new and exciting chalets to the website; we have started recruiting new staff; we have put in place a marketing strategy for the next few months. All this as well as dealing with our larger groups who tend to book early to get exactly what they want for their next winter ski holiday.

As we head into our twenty third year as a specialist ski travel agency , the question I have often ask myself is how do we differentiate ourselves from other brokers or so called agents. When I started in the ski holiday industry there were probably four maybe five specialists. Today with the internet having taken over the way people research their holidays there must be over thirty agents all purporting to be the number one agent!

Alpine Answers are certainly not the largest agent by any means, however by employing great staff all of whom have worked seasons in the Alps and have demonstrated a passion for skiing, by training our staff in the art of customer service (friendly knowledgeable service with a smile), by making sure our chalet portfolio is diverse yet constant in terms of the standard we know our clients expect, keeps us ahead of the game. I really believe that by keeping standards high and our team a manageable size allows us to oversee a successful business. “Bums on seats” is not a winning philosophy with regards to the market we work in.

We are here to help you get the most out of your ski holiday, so whether it’s going back to an old stomping ground like Val d’Isere, or you want to try something new get in touch as we would love to hear from you.

Happy skiing from Earl Knudsen, Partner

 

SKI TRAVEL AGENCY – MY TIPS FOR THE 2015/16 SEASON

If you want to ski in early to mid December don’t book now, wait and see what the snow is doing.

Christmas will be a cheap week to go. The slopes are always empty until the 26th December.

If you want to go for New Year or Half term– Don’t delay as these weeks will be sold out soon.

Try a ski weekend – you get all the fun and don’t have to take so many days off work.

Try a new resort. These are some of my favourites – St Martin De Belleville, Serre Chevalier, Gressoney, Madonna di Campiglio, Engelberg, Andermatt, Saalbach.

Look us up on Facebook and Twitter too!

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | Comments Off on Ski Travel Agency – Dreaming of a white Christmas