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If you’ve been watching any of the skiing in the Vancouver Winter Olympics you’ve probably seen a fair few of the skiers strutting their stuff with Komperdell poles in hand.  I’ve been skiing with their extendable back country Carbon C2 poles for a number of years now, and I’m a big fan.  They are super light, and very comfortable in hand.  That’s really all I’m looking for in a ski pole.

So imagine my disappointment when in the aftermath of an, err.., incident, I realised that one of my poles was 2/3 of its former self.  Fortunately the damage was limited to the bottom section of the pole.  I contacted the nice people at Komperdell to ask if I could buy a replacement section.  This was their response:

“Unfortunately we aren’t allowed to sell our products to ultimate consumer and by the way it would be too expensive for you to get it from us in Austria… I guess the easiest way for both of us will be to send you one piece of the lower part in additional for free.”

And that’s exactly what they did.  It arrived 3 days later.  Now that’s what I call customer service, and it’s how to win a customer for life.  Thank you Komperdell.  I wish more companies were like you.  You should be proud.

If you’re reading this Mr Snow and Rock, you could do a lot worse than taking a long hard look over the channel to see how friends on the continent talk to their customers.

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The ChaletPro team has spent the last couple of weeks on a road trip across British Columbia.  We’ve been trying to uncover some of the hidden gems of B.C interior, as well as visiting some of the more well-known resorts.  One of the places we were lucky enough to happen upon was Red Mountain, located just outside of Rossland.

Red Mountain isn’t exactly on the tour operator circuit, and we’d like to try to keep it that way.  It’s a real gem.  The best way to get an idea of what it’s like is to watch our short video:

We’ve recently released a new feature on Chaletpro – an interactive resort map search.  When we talked to our customers we realised that property features and location were equally important when selecting a chalet, so we developed our interactive resort maps.

For each resort the map displays all the available chalets as well as a number of filtering options.  As you change the filters, the map will update showing only properties that match your requirements, for example you may specify that you only want to see chalets that have a hot tub AND and a log fire.  Once you’ve narrowed down your search you can click on the map to see more information about each of the chalets.

Interactive Chalet Map for Morzine

The map search is accessed from the main homepage for each resort.  For example, the Morzine interactive map from the Morzine homepage.

Hopefully this will help you find not only your perfect chalet, but also your ideal location.  As always, if you have any feedback we’d love to hear it.

Continuing the ChaletPro series of interviews with luxury ski chalet owners across the world, this time we’ve spoken to Chris McCormack, owner of The Edge chalet in Morzine France. Our mouths are still watering from the thought of roast pork belly served at the chalet on Sundays, and jumping into the hot tub (with a view) and sauna after a hard day on the slopes.  Chris also divulges some of Morzine’s best kept secrets for both the summer and winter months – including hidden ski runs to watch out for, the best cup of coffee and slice of cake in the resort, and where to find a very indulgent 1m pitcher of beer!  Sounds good to us, better book quick as their customers are so well looked after they return to the chalet year after year.

The Edge Ski Chalet Morzine

What made you want to be a chalet owner?
I lived in the Swiss Alps from the ages of about 3 to 11, so I’ve had skiing and snowboarding in the blood for a long time! Since then though, I didn’t get to ski that much until quitting the day job to come out to Morzine for a season in 03/04. It was around then that I realised I wanted to spend a lot more time here and a lot less time at a desk in London, and also started me thinking about the practicalities of exactly how to do that.

What do you love most about being in the chalet business?
Obviously being out in the mountains all year round (or at least about half the year as is the case for me for the next few years) is amazing, but also having built the business from scratch is really satisfying too. We built the chalet from the ground up – we came up with the design along with our architect, so it really is just about perfect for how we wanted to run the business. Everything is accessible, all the rooms are en suite, the hot tub and the sauna were designed in from the outset – it all just works. We’re really proud of it, which means we’re keen to back that up with the best service we possibly can, and I think that makes a huge difference too – our guests always comment on it & coming into our second season, we have a lot of repeat bookings which back that up. The satisfaction of seeing people go away at the end of the week satisfied customers is probably the best thing for me.

The Edge Ski Chalet Hot Tub

What do think people enjoy most about staying in your chalet?
The thing people comment on the most is the food. Before the 08/09 season, Lindsay had done a bit of catering for groups, but nothing on the scale and relentless timetable that the chalet demands. But she is a real foodie, so she puts in time and effort to make sure everything is just right. In fact, the most common complaint we get is that guests leave with a few extra pounds than they came with, despite skiing all day every day!

What is your favourite dish on the chalet’s menu?
This is a toughie. I actually spent almost the whole season trying not to eat the food we serve to the guests – it’s fine for a week, but eating food that rich every night for five months can’t be good for you! Anyway, all three of us working at the chalet were remarkably unsuccessful at resisting! For me, it still depends on what kind of mood I’m in as to whether I plump for the Boeuf Bourguignon or the Roast belly of pork on Sunday as my fave.

What mountain activities can guests look forward to in the summer if they stay with you?
Morzine has lots to offer, but above all it’s huge for mountain biking – most of our bookings this summer have been mountain bikers. The resort has something like 650km of marked trails, 25 ski lifts adapted for bikes running, 10 permanent downhill runs and 4 bike parks. It’s the biggest resort in Europe for mountain bikers.

The area is also big on golf, there is an 18 hole course in the neighbouring Les Gets and a 9 hole course up in Avoriaz at 1800m. We’re also close to Evian, where they hold the Evian Masters – one of the biggest golfing events in France.

In addition though, you can go hill walking, paragliding, kayaking/white water rafting, canyoning, horse riding or climbing. There’s loads to do in summer! We’re also a registered ‘Multi-Pass’ vendor, which means we can sell the summer Portes du Soleil pass at a discounted price to our guests. It gives access to all the lifts, swimming pools, tennis courts and just about anything else that’s paid-for in the Portes du Soleil.

Fluffy Towels at The Edge Chalet, Morzine

What’s your favourite run in the resort, is it a gentle tree-lined blue or a 20ft vertical cliff drop?
Personally, I go for the bigger, faster runs. I actually found an amazing red run in La Chapelle this year that I’d never seen before (despite doing a season here previously). It’s the red run off the Braitaz chair. The area is just so big that there are still gems like that hidden away in the outer regions that most people will never see. Luckily, we provide our guests with a day’s guiding! If you’re lucky enough to be in Morzine for a big powder day, then the interlinked nature of the resort means that there is a lot of terrain accessible by lifts, it really is fantastic.

For the caffeine-addicted, pizza munching, pint guzzling guests among us, can you share your insider knowledge on the best places to find each of these in the resort?

Best coffee?
Monty’s. Great cakes and free wifi too.

Best pizza?
We always go to the place almost at the end of our road, Le Rocher. The Rocher Special pizza is the best, full of all the Haute-Savoie goodness like bacon, cream and Reblochon cheese that dieters the world over strive to avoid!

Best pint?
The Bhudda Bar. You can get a “Giraffe” there, like a pitcher but about 1m high with a stand & a tap at the bottom to serve your pints from. Why settle for just one pint?

What would be your top tip for someone visiting this resort?
Either get a guide or find someone who knows the area to take you around. It’s all just so big and so accessible that you will have a really hard time finding the best runs by yourself in just a week!

What is your dream ski holiday destination?
One day, I’d like to go skiing in the Himalayas, specifically a place called Gulmarg in Kashmir. It’s a real effort to get there, probably days of travelling from anywhere in the UK. A bit different to the 30-odd easyjet flights that come into Geneva every Saturday! It was a holiday resort back in colonial times, so it has a lot of history and character – and a character unlike anything you’d find in a ski resort Europe or America. And one of the highest gondolas in the world. The weather is supposed to be changeable, but on a good day amazing – and the slopes really quiet by European standards.

Skier or snowboarder? Well, we like the debate
Unusually, I actually do both. Moving out to the mountains, I was really surprised at how few people do actually do both – but I’m one of them! In truth though, I’m more of a snowboarder now. I started snowboarding in about 1989, back when you might on a busy day see one or two other snowboarders on the mountain. I also was mainly a snowboarder for most of my 20s, when I was a bit more cavalier about it all – and have the scars to show for it! Susie, who works at the chalet with us, did her first day on skis for about eight years this season (08/09 was her ninth winter season). When asked by the guests how she found it, her reply was “well, skiing’s easy.”

The Edge Chalet, Morzine France

Post written by chaletpro.com – search hundreds of luxury independent ski chalets in France, Switzerland, Austria and across the Alps to find your perfect mountain accommodation, for your perfect ski holiday.

On a recent chaletpro.com team trip to Engelberg ski resort in Switzerland at the end of last season, we discovered a magical place full of surprises.  Epic snow conditions, incredible off-piste terrain, highly alcoholic cheese fondue, an über cool lodge to rest our heads and drink warming gluvine, and to top this all off – the coolest ski gear we have ever seen and the main reason for this blog post – POC.

POC is a Swedish brand, which has just recorded the highest growth rate in the Swedish sports industry, growing 110% during 2008/09 in a contracting market.  Being introduced to POC by hoards of young, hip and rich Swedish snowriders who come and stamp their mark on Engelberg each year, we’re not surprised.

This isn’t any ordinary ski gear.  POC has worked with the European Space Agency (ESA) to bring space technology into their innovative ski products.  The result is some of the most advanced and unique protective gear available, with space material and technology integrated for enhanced performance.  Not only is this the safest gear on the market and could probably see you comfortably to the Moon and back, it’s also ultra stylish with futuristic design – think Apple for the mountains.

POC Racing Helmets
We’re most excited by the Lobe ski goggles, Poc’s newest eyewear product (pictured below). Their frameless and spherical design creates more peripheral vision than other goggles – optimising your field of view.  Made of a clever polycarbonate blend, the lens is brilliantly anti-scratch and anti-fog, ensuring a crystal clean view all the time.  No more steaming up excuses!  The inspiration for these super goggles comes both from the Swedish architect Sigurd Lewerents (who puts his windows outside the facades), and also from astronaut Neil Armstrong.

POC Lobes_Black

To give their POC gear a good outing testing its safety and style to the max, Swedish skiers and snowboarders have found the best playground to do it in – Engelberg – and they don’t come to sample the piste.  They come armed with the fattest skis known to man to sample the secret powder stash hidden away off-piste in this relatively unknown resort in the Swiss Alps, braving the avalanche prone faces and icy glacier to get their fix.  Official reviews of Engelberg say it’s not the best place for beginners due to the variety of challenging runs, but with most people off-piste on their fat skis and dressed head to toe in POC, you’ll have the piste all to yourselves to show off your skinny skis and old-school outfit!

Fat Skis 2009

We think we have unveiled a secret the Swedes have been keeping from us for a while – their super hot ski gear and a very special mountain resort.  We are certainly planning a weekend trip back to Engelberg (pictured below) next season – it’s only a hop, skip and a jump away on the Eurostar, followed by a rickety old train winding its way up the beautiful mountain at the other end.  We can’t recommend it highly enough, and the need to be fully kitted out before you go!

Engleberg

poc-logo

Post written by chaletpro.com where you can search hundreds of luxury independent ski chalets in France, Switzerland, Austria and across the Alps to find your perfect mountain accommodation, for your perfect ski holiday.


There’s an air of mystery and excitement surrounding Steamboat Mountain Resort in Colorado. It might just be the best kept secret in skiing… the famous champagne powder, off-piste terrain found only in your dreams, the small and close-knit special community, the guy who supposedly studies tree leaves to accurately predict the weather conditions every day, the list goes on! Which of these are myths and which are reality? The resort is still very much unknown by Europeans – how many of us have been there and is Steamboat on our list of resorts to visit next year or the year after? For most of us – probably not. So what’s it really like and what are we missing?

To find out and be let in on the secret, the chaletpro.com team asked the guys at Moving Mountains Chalets, some of the most beautiful vacation rental homes and catered chalets in Steamboat Springs to give us the inside scoop on this special resort and their unique place within it. We may have just fallen in love with a new place to ski…

How long have you run your catered chalets in Steamboat?
We have been operating catered chalets in Steamboat since 1998. We started with one property and as the idea caught on we have grown to the point where we now offer over 20 chalets that will sleep anywhere from 8 – 24 guests.

Black Bear Chalet, Steamboat Co

Are “catered chalets” like yours a relatively new concept in the USA?
The Catered Chalet is still almost unknown here. Americans love it (they are no strangers to the concept of great service), but for the most part they have no idea how good this is until they try it. Once they stay with us they are hooked and have begged us to offer other areas so that they can enjoy the same package elsewhere. Many US guests that seek us out have tried a catered chalet in Europe before and are already “converted”.

BRBgtroom

What should guests expect of their chalet experience with you?
We are very detail oriented and try to accommodate all requests to make the stay as custom and personalized as possible. Our homes are top of the line offering amenities that are typical of a five-star hotel – flat panel TV’s, wi-fi, luxury toiletries, robes and slippers. The menu is tailored to the guest preferences and we offer special kids menus for family groups. We try to think of every detail and our staff try to anticipate guests needs so that the stay is as seamless as possible. This allows our guests to focus on time together rather than who is making the next dinner or who is making the arrangements for snow-cat skiing.

Our full-service catered package is top of the line and includes staff collecting you from the airport in private 4WD SUV’s and offering on call driver / ski shuttle service throughout the stay including trips out to the famous hot springs. New this year we have also introduced an economy catered package that makes it almost irresistible for those willing to compromise a little on the convenience of our private shuttle service and go for a more family-style / less gourmet menu selection.

dinner_staff

What makes Steamboat special?
We get some guests from Europe, but Steamboat is a well kept secret to many Europeans who first think of Vail or Aspen when they think of skiing the Rockies. Steamboat is the third largest ski resort in Colorado, it is easy to get to as we have a major regional airport just 22 miles from town, and the resort oozes a friendly Western welcome that you don’t find with our glitzy neighbors. The snow is incredible – the footage of people skiing waist-deep powder is not done with special effects! It is the lightest and deepest snow you will ever see, and snow between December and April is not in short supply. We have averaged close to 400” (10m) / year for each of the last 5 years and with top to bottom snowmaking it’s a safe bet for early season skiing as well. One final bonus point is that Steamboat is the lowest altitude Rocky Mountain resort (base elevation 6950) so the altitude issues that affect some visitors to the Rockies are minimal here.

Waist-deep champagne powder, Steamboat

Your top tips for people visiting the Steamboat resort?

  • Stay in a chalet not a condo (of course!)
  • For untracked powder without the heli-skiing price-tag ski Buffalo Pass with Steamboat Powder Cats
  • Dine out at Café Diva
  • Take a day off and go dog-sledding
  • Soak in the Strawberry Park natural hot springs
  • Watch the weather forecast, check the 5:00am snow report and if it dumps go early to the mountain: Closet and Shadows offer some of the best tree skiing on the planet
  • Drink lots of water – it is very dry here

Contact: Moving Mountains Chalets: http://www.MovingMountains.com
Tel: 1-970-870-9359
Email: info@movingmountains.com

MMCexterior

Post faciliated by the chaletpro.com team.  For more information on Steamboat chalets and vacation rentals, and mountain property in the Alps visit www.chaletpro.com


News just in – we’ve just been informed of some special offers for two chalets in St Martin de Belleville. They’re a cracking offers for a couple of cracking chalets.  We suggest you grab them before they’re gone!

OFFER 1: All remaining availability for 8 & 22 February only £505pp (saving over £300pp). Offer available for La Ferme de Belleville & La Maison de Belleville – 6 day gourmet catered in luxury chalet

OFFER 2: All remaining availability for 1, 8, 15 & 22 March only £609pp (saving £290pp). Offer available for La Ferme de Belleville & La Maison de Belleville – 6 day gourmet catered in luxury chalet

Gourmet Food at La Ferme De Belleville

Gourmet Food at La Ferme De Belleville

La Maison de Belleville - classic chalet, contemporary style

La Maison de Belleville - classic chalet, contemporary style

This is the first in a series of interviews with chalet owners across the Alps. We hope it helps you get a bit more of a flavour for both the chalet and the people behind it.

Today’s interview is with Duncan of Alpine365, the proud owner of Chalet Epicea in La Plagne.

Chalet Epicea in La Plagne

Chalet Epicea in La Plagne

What made you want to be chalet owner?
A love of skiing since childhood, and a desire to get out of the 9-5, and be our own boss. So now we’re in the 7-11 business (and that’s 11 in the evening, as we like to put the hours in to keep our guests happy), and I’ve still got a boss – she’s called my wife!

What do you love most about being in the chalet business?
The environment – I mean, I never got to look at Mont Blanc whilst writing emails back in London (I had the A4, but it wasn’t really the same)

What do think people enjoy most about staying in your chalet?
The friendliness, the food and our amazing lounge. We try to treat all our guests as we would our friends, and we love cooking (and eating!) so spend lots of time and care making sure the food is really tasty and wholesome. And people tend to rave about the lounge – it’s a real stunner – huge ceilings, exposed beams, a massive log fire, a great balcony and terrace. And we have 4 comfy sofas, a rocking chair, Sky TV and Xbox360 in HD, and loads of books – so we can hopefully keep everyone happy. Oh, and the location, the daily champagne, and the view, and the….hey you get the picture.

Chalet Epiceas wonderful lounge

Chalet Epicea's wonderful lounge

What is your favourite dish on the chalet’s menu?
It’s got to be pudding on the final day. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s a real crowd-pleaser – we had a group a couple of weeks ago who broke into a spontaneous round of applause as it was served. It’s important to end on a high!

Can guests stay at your chalet during the summer? If so, what mountain activities can they look forward to?
Absolutely – we’re in the chalet 365 days of the year (hence the name – Alpine365), and we offer the same unrivalled service throughout the seasons. And there’s loads to do here all year round – walking and hiking are excellent, and particularly fab in May when the spring flowers are out, and in summer itself, when the lifts are open, there are all sorts of adrenaline sports, inc VTT (the French name for mountain biking), parasailing, river rafting and canoeing, sailing, climbing… we could go on. And we also look to arrange activity trips that are particularly suited to the beautiful environment, such as painting and photography courses, so it’s really a great alternative to a beach holiday for the more active type of person out there.

What’s your favourite run in the resort, is it a gentle tree-lined blue or a 20ft vertical cliff drop?
Across the whole of the Paradiski (La Plagne and Les Arcs) it’s got to be the Auguille Rouge, the black from the top of the Auguille Rouge cable car in Les Arcs, simply because it’s ever-changing. One day, it’s clear blues skies and perfect snow, and you get to ski like a million dollars – the next day, it’s in cloud and windswept, and you feel like you’re holding on to the mountain for dear life. And the views are spectacular.

Closer to home, a real favourite of pretty much everyone who skis and boards in Les Coches is Dos Rond – a wide sweeping blue with astounding views of Mont Blanc – this is a slope that flatters everyone, from the racer type who can revel in beautifully carved super-G turns, to the humble beginner who can really let rip and try turning a snowplough into a parallel. Genius, could ski it all day.

Pudding... but is it the mystery, crowd pleasing dessert?

Pudding... but is it the mystery, crowd pleasing dessert?

For the caffeine-addicted, pizza munching, pint guzzling guests among us, can you share your insider knowledge on the best places to find each of these in the resort?

  • Best coffee? We’d like to think it’s our very own breakfast brew!
  • Best pizza? La Pozé arguably has the best quality pizza, but Les Coches pizza has free delivery, great for chalet days off. So it depends how lazy you’re feeling really.
  • Best pint? It’s got to the “The Last One Pub”, as it serves up French, Irish, German and Belgian beers on tap, plus pints of good old English cider for those searching for that extra refreshment hit. It even transforms into a bit of a disco later on for the younger crowd.

What would be your top tip for someone visiting this resort?
Get a Paradiski lift pass! The two resorts of La Plagne and Les Arcs are connected by the world’s largest cable car, and it’s there to be used. And Les Coches sits right in the middle of the two areas, as it’s home to the La Plagne end of this lift, the Vanoise Express, so it’s a real shame not to take full advantage!

What is your dream ski holiday destination?
Got to be the back bowls in Whistler – I was lucky enough to ski there last season, and all you can say is wow. Really, just do it.

Skier or snowboarder? Well, we like the debate
If it’s not obvious, I’m ski all the way. Happy of course to welcome snowboarders to the chalet (we’ve even fitted another roof rack on our 4×4 so we can fit their massive planks on!), just as long as they don’t mind a bit of gentle “skiing’s better than boarding” banter.

You can find more information on Chalet Epicea at ChaletPro.com

Picture the scene:  La Rosiere,  -10 degrees, and a raging gale is blowing.  I can hardly see the tips of my skis for the lack of visibility.  Still, I manage to navigate the piste, and even the unseen mogles don’t manage to get the better of me.  And I take that elevator drop in my stride.  It’s pretty rough out there, but nothing is going to unsaddle me today….

Well, that was until I took refuge from the storm in The Roxi Bar at the bottom of the Fourclaz Express and order hot chocolate.  This bad boy set me back £4. It was pretty good though.

I know that this probably isn’t really the most expensive hot chocolate in the world, but it’s a good starter for 10.  If you know of a more expensive specimen, please let us know!

We’re off on our first ski trip of the season, but it’s with slightly mixed emotions.  The ChaletPro team had planned to see in the new year in La Rosiere.  We were all pretty excited – it was looking like one of the best starts to a season for decades, and we were going with some great friends.  None of us had been to La Rosiere before so there was also a slight sense of discovery.  It was all looking good until someone decided to open a door.  Normally not a problem, unless it’s a car door and it’s into the path of a cyclist doing about 20mph.  I’ll save you the slightly grizzly details, but the result is that we’re a man down (not permanently thank god, but just for the trip).  If you really want to see the result of car door vs. cyclist, you can find it on flickr, but I warn you it’s not for the faint hearted.

It’s going to make for a slightly strange holiday – it will be the first time in years that we’re not all together as a group.  We’ll just have to remember to take some rubbish photos, and to lie about how deep the snow was.  The good news is that we’ll all be back together for our trip to Canada in February, so until then bicycles are off limits.