It is past mid-April and some of the French high-level resorts are still open for business – as staff writer Jimmy Callery found in Tignes.
Jimmy was on a 3-day off-piste introduction in the peaks above one of France’s most Brit-Beloved resorts.
And he found Tignes had perfect snow, perfect weather and a great fun crowd in the Mark Warner chalet Aiguille Percee.
All chalet guests who took the off-piste course rated it highly and Jimmy said:” It was amazing to be on wonderful, real snow when most skiers are getting out their mountain bikes or heading for the beach.”
The off-piste course is run by Mark Warner mountain expert, guide Henry Schniewind, an American, who loves the French Alps more than his native States. And Mark Warner big boss, David Hopkins chimed, up, explaining – “The sheer size here is amazing– Tignes is 8 times bigger than North America’s No 1, Whistler. And much friendlier.”
Mr Hopkins told me why he was doing the off-piste course right now – “It’s no secret that the ski market is pretty static, with as many people falling out of skiing as there are coming into it. There is no doubt that the industry is changing. The way people ski, what people do on skis, is changing.
“Part of the reason we’re putting on these new courses is to give people other options and to give family groups or groups of friends different options if you’ve got if you’ve got mixed abilities within the groups. Ultimately the standard ski holiday needs to evolve and we’re trying to adapt to that and give people more options.
“When you’ve got 30cm of new snow and not a cloud in the sky the Alps is as good a place as any.”
“I want customers to spend £495 on their course, and for them to think ‘that’s the best £495 I’ve spent all year’ David added: “I’ve been skiing with Henry for about 25 years now. We felt very strongly that it was time to put together a course that enabled our guests to be introduced to off-piste with one of the foremost experts in the Val “It’s an exciting new project. Henry knows the mountains, understands the mountains and has improved my technique over the years. A lot of our guests are confident skiers who can ski red and black runs. They look at off piste with a little bit of fascination but never really have the opportunity to try it. We’re saying that there is an alternative to pisted runs and the course can provide that.
Jimmy’s weekend powder trip cost £699 per person for 7 nights’ accommodation at Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee, return flights, transfers, breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner with wine, plus evening childcare and lift pass collection service.
1. Introduction to off-piste course £495 – includes:
2. 3 mornings exploring off-piste terrain + intro to off-piste
3. 1 morning working on on-piste technique to improve off-piste technique
4. 1 morning ‘talk and ski’ covering snow conditions
5. 2½ hours afternoon transceiver session
6. video material
7. 2 evening avalanche talks
8. lunch & 1 evening meal with Henry
9. Access to HAT online training portal in advance
10. Certificate of off-piste excellence
11. Exclusive prices for beeper, backpack, shovel, probe and airbags
Next season prices – piste next prices for next season:
Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isère
22nd January 2017 from £819 per person, based on two sharing
Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin
26th February 2017 from £969 per person, based on two sharing