Should you trust Skypark?

Should you trust Skypark? Skypark are one of the various airport car parking firms that operate in the UK and like most they also offer a ‘meet and greet’ service. Simply drive to the airport terminal in your own car and hand it over to a designated Skypark driver who will then take it away to be parked at a cheaper rate in an off-site, secure long term car park. When you return from holiday all you have to do is call Skypark when you land back in the UK and by the time you have cleared customs and picked up luggage your car will be waiting just outside the terminal building ready for you to drive home. On the face of it this seems an excellent service. The cost is reasonable, and your time and hassle are both saved. However, have you stopped to consider what happens to your car once you have handed it over to Skypark’s personnel?

We recently had a client who travelled from Gatwick Airport to go skiing. As the company they normally used for their ‘meet and greet’ service was already full for the week they wished to travel they found an alternative provider of the same service. This alternative provider was Skypark.

Can you spot the differences in the two photos below?

The first allegedly shows the car the day before they left on holiday. The second (again allegedly) shows the car as it was delivered back to them by Skypark’s driver on the day they returned. Their beautifully clean twin turbo BMW X5 came back with an extra 40 miles on the clock and looking like it had been rallied around a wet and muddy field.

Should you trust Skypark? Car before it was given to Skypark

Car before it was given to Skypark

Should you trust Skypark? Car as it was returned

Car as it was delivered back from Skypark

So, the next time you are considering using a ‘meet and greet’ airport car park service please do consider carefully which firm you should use.

 

 

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All Inclusive Ski Holidays

Each winter thousands of British ski enthusiasts head out to the mountains for a week’s stay in the snow. Some like to do it themselves, driving out to the Alps and booking directly into a little known resort and hotel. However, others like travelling out to the Alps in the knowledge that anything and everything has already been organised for them. All inclusive ski holidays are a fantastic way in which to diminish all potential threats of stress that you can incur from your normal ski holiday.

All inclusive ski holidays have come a long way over the last few years. A huge focus on the standard of the accommodation and in particular the quality of the food and service you can receive has lead to more and more people trying out an all inclusive ski holiday, similarly, the percentage of people returning to these style of holidays has risen too. Club Med are the market leaders in this field and offer all inclusive packages like no other.

An all inclusive ski holiday with them includes a delicious and varied breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. You also benefit from unlimited drinks during your stay as well as lift passes, tuition for all levels of skiing proficiency and plenty of evening entertainment. With a normal package ski holiday that includes catering (either chalet or half board in a hotel) you will still need to allow for the following weekly costs: lift pass (£200+), lunches on the mountain (£120+), instruction (£150+) and drinks in the evening (£150+). So at least £600 of extras that are already included with an all inclusive ski holiday with Club Med.

If you consider a Club Med holiday in mid March (2014) currently costs approximately £1,250 per person then to compare prices with other half board or chalet board package operators (holidays with flights) you need to take away the £600 of all inclusive benefits listed above. Taking away these benefits one can quickly work out that the basic Club Med package cost (flights and accommodation) is approximately £650 per person. And that my friends is an absolute bargain!

Below are some examples of prices for all inclusive ski holidays for the Easter holidays departing 06th April 2014.

All inclusive ski holidays – Club Med Aime La Plagne

All inclusive ski holidays - Aime La Plagne

All inclusive ski holidays – Aime La Plagne

All inclusive price = £1,140 pp

Approx. basic holiday cost (flights, transfers and half board accommodation) = £540 pp

This property is an office favourite for a family-friendly village. This ‘4 trident’ hotel has fantastic ski in and ski out access, a full programme of childcare and a vast ski area to explore. You can expect extravagant cabaret style evening shows with your children taking to the stage and playing their very own parts. Sports and creative activities are also held across the evening for teenagers that would rather not be seen partying with their parents!

All inclusive ski holidays – Club Med Val Thorens

All inclusive ski holidays - Val Thorens

All inclusive ski holidays – Val Thorens

All inclusive price = £1,224 pp

Approx. basic holiday cost (flights, transfers and half board accommodation) = £625 pp

Set at the foot of the Cairn Gondola, Club Med Val Thorens could not be better located. While some people enjoy the evening shows that Club Med ski holidays offer, the Val Thorens option is a great opportunity for those seeking a little more relaxation. An adult only village in the highest ski resort in Europe. Top up your tan on the terrace overlooking the pristine peaks or take a session with a personal trainer in the weights room if you’re feeling extra fit.

An all-inclusive ski holiday is an experience like no other and certainly should be considered if you’re looking for something slightly different this winter. Club Med can also organise short breaks too.

Call the Alpine Answers team and we will be able to talk you through what all inclusive ski holidays are all about. Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 1080 www.alpineanswers.co.uk

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Morzine Ski Resort

Morzine ski resort is one of the most popular places to ski in France due to its convenience from Geneva (less than one hour’s drive from the airport), links to one of the biggest ski areas in Europe and its alpine charm. It is the best base to explore the Portes du Soleil. Morzine ski resort is a busy, picturesque and vibrant town. It is only an hour transfer from Geneva making it a great resort for short breaks and self drive trips. Morzine rests in the bottom of a mountain valley whereby you can ski either side. The Pleney side offers gentler terrain, with plenty of wide tree runs. The other side of the valley, the Super Morzine area, links to Avoriaz and also to the Swiss section of the Portes du Soleil where there is plenty of skiing for all abilities. There are often concerns that Morzine is too low a ski resort for good snow conditions. However, with direct access to Avoriaz which offers high snow-sure skiing late into the season there will always be snow to ski on. There has been a lot of investment in snow-making over recent years which has also improved snow sure reliability.

Morzine Ski Resort – A short checklist of things to do

1. If you want a real challenge, the ultimate feared run in Europe is ‘The Swiss Wall’. This is a mogul field whereby if you fall – you will fall a long way. The moguls are sometimes huge and often reach the height of an average person!

Morzine Ski resort - the nororious Swiss Wall!

Morzine Ski resort – the nororious Swiss Wall!

2. After a long hard day’s ski, right in the centre of town there is a little crepe shack called ‘Chez Martine’ which quite simply makes the best crepes in the alps – I have tried and tested many.

Morzine ski resort - Chez Martine for wonderful crepes

Morzine ski resort – Chez Martine for wonderful crepes

3. Most weeks there is an ice hockey match held in the resort centre and it’s great fun for all the family to go and watch. The Morzine Penguins are a big team in the Haute Savoie region and there is every chance that a local derby match with another local team will degenerate into ‘fireworks’.

Morzine ski resort  - The Penguins ice hockey team

Morzine ski resort – The Penguins ice hockey team

Morzine Ski Resort – Where to stay?

Morzine ski resort is spread along the valley floor so if you don’t have your own car then it’s best to try and stay close to the centre as public transport here is not as efficient as other ski resorts. There are many catered ski chalets in Morzine as well as self catered chalets and apartments. Catered chalets in Morzine are mostly run by smaller, independent holiday companies offering wonderful food and personal service.

Morzine ski resort - Chalet Ferme du Lac

Morzine ski resort – Chalet Ferme du Lac

Morzine is great resort for families as there are so many things to do. Whether it’s a short break, a trip with your friends, or a family ski holiday, simply call the Alpine Answers team and we will be able to provide the perfect ski holiday to Morzine.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 1080 www.alpineanswers.co.uk

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Ski chalets in Austria

Ski chalets in Austria have traditionally been focused in the world famous Arlberg, primarily in ‘party central’ St Anton and more recently in the swanky Lech and Zurs areas of the region.  At Alpine Answers we work with just under 100 ski chalets throughout Austria and 75% of the catered ski chalets are in St Anton – indicative of the general distribution of chalets in Austria. It may come as a surprise to many but the European chalet market has not always been so franco-centric.  During the 1980’s Austria was a dominant force and the place to look for catered chalet holidays, and the market is currently enjoying a resurgent Indian summer; Austria now makes up 28% of the British ski holiday market (compared with France’s 34%).

Catered Ski Chalets Austria – St Anton

St Anton is the home of catered ski chalets in Austria, and as such offers fantastic variety.  The resort is home to some ultra-luxury chalets; the Chalet Artemis has its own private cinema and swimming pool and the Chalet Illimani with its luxurious spa facilities.  St Anton also caters for mid-range options, with well located chalets like the Eagles Nest, a short bus ride or walk downhill to the vibrant nightlife or uphill to the world famous après scene. (also one of the few options with a hot tub in St Anton!).

Catered ski chalets Austria - St Anton

Catered ski chalets Austria – St Anton

Catered Ski Chalets Austria – Lech

Lech is slowly breaking into the catered ski chalet market and now can offer both mid-range options like the Chalet Alpenland or the recently opened Uberhaus, with its outdoor hot-tub, hammam/steam room, gym, and sauna along with a ski in/ski out location.

Lech - a luxury ski resort in Austria

Lech – a luxury ski resort in Austria

Catered Ski Chalet Hotels in Austria

Larger chalet hotels are often the port of call for those looking to enjoy their chalet comforts in outside of the Arlberg and operators run properties for up to 60 guests in resorts such as Hinterglemm, Ischgl, Kuhtai, Mayrhofen and Obergurgl, among others.  Properties like the fantastically located Chalet Hotel Elisabeth in Kuhtai, offer ski in/ski out convenience combined with a snow-sure and family friendly resort, all under an hour’s drive from Innsbruck.

Catered ski chalets Austria - Kuhtai

Catered ski chalets Austria – Kuhtai

A great asset of Austrian alpine charm is that the resorts have all developed organically and can offer the authentic charm of the Tyrolean ski-hut.  These warm and charismatic chalets and chalet hotels bear little resemblance to the purpose built monstrosities that have enveloped French resorts such as La Plagne, Tignes and Avoriaz over the past 25 years.  The catered ski chalet in Austria is slowly taking control of the British ski-holiday market and with friendly locals and ferocious après; there is reason to think that the trend will continue unabated for 25 years to come.

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Catered chalets in Meribel

There is also a vast array of catered chalets in Meribel to choose from. Meribel is undoubtedly one of the world’s best ski resorts – apart from being right in the centre of the massive Three Valleys ski area and one of the highest and most extensive in Europe the resort has an extensive après ski scene and thriving nightlife, as well as plenty of activities off the slopes and a charming main village with plenty of shops and restaurants.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Meribel Centre at night.

Visitors tempted here by the resort’s reputation and snow record have a fantastic choice of accommodation with almost 100 catered chalets in Meribel to choose from, scattered across the different villages. From simple apartments with basic catering to luxurious, top-of-the-range chalets with exclusive chefs and tailored menus, there is a catered chalet in Meribel to suit every budget and skier.

Catered chalets in Meribel: A chalet that has it all.

The Chalet Bambis really is an all-round player in the league of catered chalets in Meribel. Sleeping 8-10 people, this characterful chalet boasts a ski in/out location (rare in Meribel) as well as being located only 150m from the centre of town. If this is not enough, there is also a shared driver service between 8am and 10pm for guests to make their way around resort comfortable and quickly. Four of the five bedrooms are fully en-suite, and there is also a sauna in the chalet to relax in at the end of the day. A high standard of food and service can be expected, with a cooked breakfast to start each day, full afternoon tea and then four course dinner with complimentary wines, beers, and soft drinks, plus coffee, port and chocolates to wind down the evening. No travel is included with this chalet (Alpine Answers can help to arrange flights and transfers) but childcare is available on request in this chalet.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Chalet Bambis: Catered chalet in Meribel

Catered chalets in Meribel: A chalet that is great value for money.

The Chalet Petite Silene is primarily notable for its fantastic value for money, especially in Meribel. With four en-suite twin/double bedrooms this contemporary chalet is spacious and very comfortable. Located just 100m from the centre of Meribel and 300m from the ski slopes, the location is ideal for families and groups who prefer convenience and ease of access. There is a small outdoor hot tub and sauna which are great additions, and the food is of a good standard without being fussy (wine, beers and soft drinks are all included).  Again no travel is included, but for between £600 and £700 per person per week the Chalet Petite Silene is an extremely well-priced catered chalet in Meribel – we suggest that you snap it up before anyone else does.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Chalet Petite Silene: Catered chalet in Meribel

Catered chalets in Meribel: A chalet that is perfect for children. 

When you have little ones in tow on a ski trip, the main concerns when choosing a chalet tend to include location, childcare, and being well-looked after as adults once the children are asleep. The Chalet Ardour fits this bill perfectly; the operator is well-established in Meribel and provides excellent crèche and private nanny facilities to its clients, with ski school runs, children’s lunches and high teas, toys and equipment and babysitting all very well organised. On selected weeks of the season childcare is free (subject to availability), which can make a sizeable difference to the overall cost of a holiday as well as removing the hassle from arranging independent childcare and ski crèches. The Chalet Ardour itself sleeps up to 10 people in five en-suite bedrooms, and is just 200m from the ski slopes and centre of town. For the adults, the delicious food and complimentary wines, beers and soft drinks alongside the outdoor hot tub and spacious, double-height lounge with log fire, should make for a relaxing week away.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Chalet Ardour: Catered chalet in Meribel

Catered chalets in Meribel: A chalet with flexible catering. 

Sometimes on holiday, especially on a ski holiday, you just want to relax and enjoy a meal in the comfort and privacy of your own chalet, whether cooked by yourself or your chalet host. Sometimes, however, you want to try the local Savoyarde specialities or that exclusive new restaurant that everyone is talking about. The Chalet Etoiles allows its guests to do just this; breakfast and afternoon tea are included daily but the evening meal is completely flexible at £25 per person per night. This is ideal for skiers who like to mix things up a little, catering-wise, and who aren’t quite sold on the idea of a fully catered chalet in Meribel. This modern chalet-apartment is less than 100m from the nearest piste and has private parking for 2 cars as well as a heated boot room and TV den, so would work well for a self-drive semi-catered holiday as well as a fully catered option.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Chalet Etoiles: Catered chalet in Meribel

Catered chalets in Meribel: A chalet where ‘the sky is the limit’.

One of the most exclusive and expensive catered chalets in Meribel is the stunning Chalet Brames, a wonderful property tucked away in private grounds yet just 150m from the main lift station. Deserving of its 6 stars on the Alpine Answers website, this six bedroom luxury chalet has a large garden, private office, cinema suite, billiard room, extensive spa with hammam, ice plunge pool, massage room and outdoor hot tub, and not one but two chauffeured 4 x 4 vehicles at the beck and call of guests. The quality of catering is extremely high, with a professional chef to create exquisite meals suiting the party’s tastes and preferences, daily champagne and canapés, carefully selected wines from the extensive cellar, special children’s lunches and dinners, and an open spirit bar to top it all off. All of this comes at a price, ranging from £1,600 to £5,600 per person per week excluding travel, but if money is no object then the Chalet Brames is definitely ‘The One’.

Catered chalets in Meribel

Chalet Brames: Catered chalet in Meribel

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