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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.

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