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In 1932 the first advert for a ski chalet holiday appeared in the Times and the concept of the chalet holiday was born. In the early years these trips bore little resemblance to the modern chalet offering. Lift systems and pistes were minimal; skis were dangerous and the chalets themselves were often very basic with self catering and shared rooms being the norm.


Over the years the ski industry has adapted and changed with the times – offering catering to combat mountain supply issues; becoming more upmarket to compete with self catered apartments; and embracing the changes in guest expectations that came with freely available flights.


With the expansion of package travel in the 1960s came the idea of being a seasonaire as companies looked for welcoming people to staff their new catered chalets. Enthusiastic and untrained these chalet girls and boys were vital in establishing a new base line for the industry. Like fruit picking or working as an aupair these jobs brought in little in the way of financial renumeration, instead they were an experience to be lived.


Nowadays the industry has changed beyond recognition. As well as enthusiastic gap year student seasonaires, companies like Ice and Fire tend to employ professional chalet chefs and experienced hosts with industry specific qualifications; providing a much higher level of service. Likewise the requirements for chalet operators have become more professional too as the regulations relating to employment, licensing and operating have changed over time.


This year the European Posted Workers Directive has changed; and with Brexit on the horizon as well; the ski industry as a whole is increasingly looking to change the way it operates; to put itself on a more professional footing; and to remunerate staff in line with the increasingly challenging roles they are taking on. We believe that this process will ultimately massively improve the industry; driving up standards for everyone.


At Ice and Fire we will be making some changes to what we offer included in our holidays. Specifically, from 1st September 2018 Ice and Fire will be offering 5 nights catering as our standard package; instead of the current 6 nights catered. This change applies to all new bookings made on or after 1st September 2018 and won’t affect existing bookings (reserved with a deposit paid) already in place on that date. These changes are being made to ensure that we are compliant with employment laws and norms; that the package we offer our staff remains competitive and fair; and so that we can continue to offer competitively priced holidays despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.


From 1st September Included In Your Ice and Fire Holiday Is:
7 nights chalet accommodation
Breakfast and afternoon tea for 7 days - continental on chalet days off
Pre-dinner drinks and canapés – 5 nights a week
A four course evening meal with bottled wine - 5 nights a week
Children's evening meals as required - 5 nights a week
Help yourself fruit bowl
Beer, wine and soft drinks in the complimentary chalet bar
Unlimited broadband wifi access
Pre-arrival booking service for ski hire, ski school, lift passes and transfers
Chamber maid and hosting service provided by your chalet staff - 5 days a week
White hotel quality linen, towels and bathrobes with a mid-week towel change
Complimentary toiletries
Use of all chalet facilities
Book exchange and a selection of board games to borrow
Free use of childcare equipment including cot and highchair
Local French Tourism Tax
Total Payment Protection (Topps) Financial Security

You can find questions and answers about our new package here or you can contact us if you need more information.


Over the next few years the ski industry expects to see some significant challenges to the way in which we work caused by a number of factors including climate change; Brexit and anticipated French regulatory changes. Ice and Fire as a company, as well as the ski industry as a whole, is working hard to address these challenges in order that we can continue welcoming guests into our industry leading catered chalets for many more years to come.

GrapesIf you come to the Savoie region this year it would be rude not to taste the local wines.

Some 5000 acres are given over to viniculture in the region and produce a wide variety of wines. They are not widely available in England, if at all, but are excellent with light summer food on a hot sunny day.

The list of white grape varieties planted includes Jacquère, Altesse, Roussanne, Chasselas, Gringet, Mondeuse Blanche, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Molette, Marsanne, Pinot Gris, Frühroter Veltliner, and Verdesse. Most of them are unfamiliar names and, thus, a chance to taste something new.

Unusually for France, the wines they produce are most often bottled and labelled by grape variety, making tasting and comparison to find your favourite easy.

White wine predominates in the region. For me, however, the standout wine is the red Mondeuse, which can stand any comparison with more well known reds from other regions.

The Mondeuse grape, which is native to Savioe, was first cultivated by the Allobroges - a Gallic tribe of Ancient Gaul who populated the region back in the day. Vines in the region were typically grown on trees before specific vineyards were established.

Like most European regions, the Savoie area was invaded by the Romans and was then part of Italy for a time - all of which has produced a diverse viniculture distinct from other regions.

The region has its own terroir – this is how the soil and local climatic conditions combine to affect the way the grapes grow, ripen and ultimately taste. The open limestone soil allows air to reach the very roots of vines – good for avoiding diseases, whilst the cooling breeze prevents the grapes from getting too hot in the summer. All this combines to produce unique wines best drunk young and close to where they were produced.

A sparkling wine and vermouth is also produced.

The Cremant De Savioe is produced by the “Méthode Traditionnelle”, it’s like a Champagne/Prosseco cross and quite delicious at a fraction of the price of champagne.

Maison Dolin & Cie is located in Chambéry and is one of the few independent vermouth producers in France. Using recipes from 1821 it creates a white, rose and red vermouth of distinctive subtlety and flavour, much drier than a normal vermouth. A recommended cocktail is equal parts of Dolin and sparkling white wine with a twist of lemon peel. Ask for it by name in the local bar!

Monsieur Mogul

 

Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

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Ice and Fire Ltd,
The Bristol Office,
2nd Floor,
5 High Street
Westbury-on-Trym,
BS9 3BY
0044 (0)7855 717 997
UK Limited Company No. 7191863

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