Week 12 actually started on for us February 29th. Time is speeding by and I am going to have to start to put actual dates to weeks as they blur into one!
A really mixed week for guests this week. Half term has been and gone and the short term snow forecast is looking really good. Its the time in the season that the ‘seasoned’ winter sports enthusiasts start to come out and play.
There are a number of reasons for this and they tend to be learned after a few winters in the mountains. The rental costs are a bit cheaper in late February (some great deals to be had) and the snow conditions are normally a bit better and most importantly it’s quieter on the mountain! All in all its a good time to book a holiday!
Dan’s daily driver service is available from 08:30 until 10:30 every morning. For most of the season thus far our groups across all 3 chalets spread themselves over the entire time slot. Some groups are early birds and on the first lift and some prefer a more leisurely breakfast and head up a bit later. No one size fits all.
This week however the chalets were all requesting the super early slots meaning that all guests were up and out by 9am. It’s a full house (every bed with a body in it) this week and everyone is super keen to get as much mountain time as possible.
This week’s guests were even all-weather lovers! A few ‘white-out’ days (which is where the snow is falling so thickly that you can’t distinguish any land feature at all so you slide down the mountain a tad blind!).
Quite a lot of holidaymakers will limit their exposure to these sort of conditions but not this lot! Fair play to them! They just packed an extra hip flask and a second layer and got on with it.
The happy consequence of this weeks guest enthusiasm is that Dan finished earlier than normal every day which meant more mountain time for us!
This week also saw another Ski Gathering week. If you are not familiar with the concept of this its basically ski holidays for solos. It’s not a dating thing… it’s just a group of people that want to share a ski holiday with others and don’t have a natural group of mates to go with.
Its a fab idea and the company I work for supplies the accommodation and organises the ski instruction where applicable.
These weeks are always a highlight for the team. Initially, it’s quite demanding as 14 total strangers all arrive at different times and then size each other up. We have a bigger group role to help everyone get to know each other but by the end of the first full day the group dynamic is forming and everyone starts to settle in.
It always ends up being a really interesting group of people and so far this season each group has had a blast! There is a group WhatsApp for the guests to keep in touch during the course of the holiday. Even now the first group of the season over Christmas are all still chatting to each other and planning their next adventures as life long friends!
Week 12 for Ski Gathering happened to be an off-piste week where the guests all receive full off-piste training plus lots of tuition and all the gear to keep them safe.
Handy timing for this group in the end as just as they arrived we saw a HUGE snow dump!
You can find out more about the holidays here: Ski Gathering
This week saw potentially the best weather of the entire season. A good couple of snow days scattered with some blue sky and the wind behaved itself. Quite often a little bit of wind in Meribel is enough to close the links into the Three Valleys.
Whilst we are enjoying a pretty good season in the Three Valleys despite the warmer weather this year there are other resorts in France that are struggling!
In the news this week a resort in the Massif Central region has gone into administration after a lack of snowfall resulted in them not being able to open a significant proportion of their resort. You can read all about it here: Mont Dore
Dan and I have boarded Mont-Dore before. We last visited in February 2018 but we stayed in another linked resort called Super Besse (you can see our write up on that here). The motorhome aire is one of the best we have stayed at! A great little area and worth a visit if only to see the odd topography as the extinct volcano rises out of the plains.
We actually drove past the mountain range on our way to the Alps this season and we shall be driving past it again to get home. It’s quite sad really and we hope that they are able to get some financial help otherwise the future of skiing may be limited to the mega-resorts!
Apparently 2-3 small ski resorts each year in France go into administration!
We are over half way through our 1st season now and thoughts have turned to next year. We would absolutly love to come back and work again for the same company. The whole experience has been great!
I can’t lie, the first 6 weeks or so were really hard. A mixture of some of the biggest weeks of the season with Christmas and New Years with the most demanding guests. Plus some staffing issues and general settling in. I anticipated it would not be ‘easy’ but I don’t think I fully appreciated how tough some of the weeks would be. This lifestyle can be really hard!
We are now all into a rhythm that seems to be working. More time on the mountain, fewer dramas and it’s getting warmer. I have been reliably informed that the second half of the season is the reward for making it through the first half!
There are lots of seasonaire events planned locally with some big week-long resort-wide music festivals organised. We shall, I am sure to partake in a few but for now, the highlight of my week was receiving a care package from home (I know…rock and roll right!)
The lemsips arrived just in time! The end of this week saw me come down with a rather nasty cold. Two trips to the pharmacy and €80 worse off (drugs are expensive over here!) for some herbal stuff and paracetamol.
I frankly crawled through the rest of this week and much of the following week. Sleeping whenever I could in between shifts. Zero mountain playtime for 10 days. I was exhausted! In retrospect, it may have been something a little worse than a cold when a few emergency antibiotics seemed to perk me up!
Once the worst of the cold has passed and I had started to feel a little normal again I felt the need to spend some time heavy breathing in a steam room to give my lungs and nose a little help so I googled local spas!
There are so many options but honestly not many that would fit into a poor seasonaire budget!
I found a municipality spa (basically a government one that was attached to the local swimming pool). It was not very well advertised but those in the know told me to get there early…
It’s a good job I did! The queue was out of the door! By the time I paid my €20 (yep still extortionate) it was one person in and one person out rules!
Thankfully group herd mentality seemed to apply once inside and even though there was at least two of everything (hot tub/ steam and sauna) everyone seemed to gather together in a single one…I headed in the opposite direction and found the steam room all to myself.
An hour later and throughly clear in the sinuses all was well! A very good experience except for the wall-mounted hairdryer frazzling my poor hair! A visit from the local hairdresses needs to be a priority next week now to cut off all the burned bit! (not so much damage in reality…just lots of very dry bits now…just in case you were worried! 🙂 #girlproblems!
One interesting thing learned from this spa is that people can be very selfish! There is a relaxation area that looks out over the pistes (lovely view). It’s got a few loungers to chill out on but not enough to go around. Sadly instead of people just using one when they needed it claims were made in the form of towels on the beds.
I have never seen this behaviour in real life and it baffled me! I watched (while reading my book) for an hour with interest. Not from a sought after bed, I might add! I had one of the uncomfortable chairs in the corner! One lady spent a grand total of 11 minutes actually lying on her bed in between saunas etc.
I also realised that I have too much time on my hands and that it was time to leave! Back to normality after my little affair with luxury!
Something delicious that happened this week was the homemade soup! For valentines, Dan got me a soup maker. A very indulgent luxury but so useful!
On the basis that my immune system has taken a kicking and my vegetable intake for most of the season has been spectacularly low, this seemed like a good time to change that.
I love making soup but honestly can’t be bothered with the hassle most of the time. That and the fact that I always end up making so much of the stuff that I am bored of it after day 3…
My past experience of soup-making has been hours slaving over a hot stove chopping mountains of vegetables into little bits!
This little gadget is amazing! Its got a little line inside to show you when to stop piling things in (so I don’t make too much and waste it). Surprising little is required to fill it up! It even comes with a little recipe book to get you started. The below version is the one that we have and its a perfect size for 3 portions and the best bit is that it has a self-cleaning option! How cool is that!!
I literally look in the fridge and see what’s there and then throw a few things in. Press start and 20 mins later I have piping hot soup.
To start with I followed the flavour ‘rules’ aka leek and potato and creamed mushroom but my confidence soon grew! In the end, I was literally throwing random things in just to see if I could fool it into producing something inedible. Turns out no! My concoctions are growing riskier each week but are always edible. The tool just seems to be able to make soup even if you are culinarily challenged!
It can also do smoothies and compotes so I tried those too! Smooth or chunky – you can decide! Amazing! I am converted! So simple and I can’t wait to be using it with our own homegrown veggies!
Just to say – we are not sponsored for recommending this gadget! We just love it! We have however included an affiliate link below in case you want to buy one. An affiliate link basically means that we would earn a little bit of commission for pointing you in the direction of Amazon!
Something else that dawned on me this week is about how well we get to know our guests.
There are some guests where I could tell you all about them weeks (possibly months) after they have left us. There are other times when I would struggle to recall even a simple detail like the age/gender split of the group.
It got me thinking about why? Over and above the obvious – remembering the ones that tip big or complain!
Why some people (guests) make a mark and others don’t? I wonder if I make a mark? Might I walk down the street in years to come and a former guest will spot me but I will draw a blank on their face? Would that reflect badly on me? I would feel bad for sure!
I think there is an expectation, certainly, it’s one that I have myself, that if you are in a position of responsibility then you should remember the people you have responsibility for even when that responsibility lapses.
Years and years ago when I was a kid I vividly remember a kids club organiser not remembering me at a Haven holiday park when I went for the 2nd year in a row with my Grandparents. I was gutted! Sure a kids reaction might be more crushing than an adults but I couldn’t understand why after spending an entire week with them they didn’t recall me?
In reality this season I have already greeted and looked after over 320 people. By the end of the season, it will be closer to 500! That’s a lot of names and faces!
There are a variety of reasons for people to stick in my mind and perhaps one day I will do a post of the moments that have stayed with me the most. The good, the bad and the ugly!
Until next week, stay safe! All our Love Katie & Dan xxx