'I hit the snow at 64.3kph' - why you should choose a ski chalet holiday for affordability and recovery
From slap-up breakfasts to restoring hot tubs and expert advice, catered chalets are increasingly popular with Irish skiers.
"That was simply spectacular... are you okay?"
I calculated from my Yuge app (a terrific mechanism that allows you to track distance covered, max speed, average speed and pistes covered) that I was travelling at 64.3kph when I came crashing down head first.
Managing to keep hold of one pole, I used it to return to a vertical position before turning to look for its partner and the two skis that I had been parted with.
Catching a bad edge at that speed was pretty unfortunate. The brilliant Louisa (our guide and mentor from ESF) was the one who had deemed it spectacular (without knowing how painful).
I soldiered on, but couldn't help feeling that I was probably nursing a mild concussion. I certainly had a bump on the forehead.
With the passing of time on the slopes of picturesque La Plagne and Louisa's advice, however, I steadily improved.
Visiting the French Alps in April only adds to the variables one has to consider when clicking into a pair of skis. Perfectly-groomed pistes in the morning gradually turn slushy in the afternoon and the joyous traffic helps to form bumps that take some negotiating.
'Stand up in your turns!', 'Keep your shoulders facing down the mountain', 'Push your hips forward', 'Take a breather'.
These are just a sample of Louisa's instructions. There are so many things to consider when making your way from the Glacier de Bellecote to Plagne 1800 and the safety of the Chalet Alisier.
Skiing back to within 100 yards of the front door was a luxury. In fact, it's only when you get back to the safety of the chalet that you realise what a comfort it truly is.
A splash and dash shower, whip on the trunks, don the flip flops and it's out to the hot tub. The perfect tonic for weary muscles and aching bones. A nice trip to the adjacent sauna and you're almost recovered. A glass (or three) of wine and a hearty dinner will have you excited about tackling the slopes again tomorrow.
Chalet living isn't really an Irish thing, but that's changing and we're finally copping on to why it is so popular with our European cousins.
Continental breakfasts on offer in most Alpine hotels are nice, but by 10.30am you'll have burned off most of those calories and the tummy will begin rumbling. At Chalet Ailisier, a large bowl of porridge and a plate of hash browns, beans, bacon and eggs will last you till lunchtime.
Afternoon tea is offered each day and a fresh cake is baked each morning for the chalet. On six of the seven evenings, your hosts will prepare a three-course meal.
I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the food served up and the house wine was delicious. You may even get a song to accompany your tartiflette, one of the Alps' best-loved dishes, with potato, bacon and reblochon cheese.
Rob and Michael from Shropshire were our chalet hosts and for all the convenience, luxury and comfort provided at Ailisier, they were the highlight of our stay.
These were two guys living the dream. Working in the morning and evenings and skiing in the afternoon. Their energy was infectious and their knowledge of La Plagne and what it has to offer was invaluable.
It was this personal touch that sold the chalet idea to me. It makes skiing more affordable, it's ideal for families, small groups, large groups and couples and there is a homely atmosphere that I loved.
How to do it:
Cormac travelled as a guest of Directski.com to the resort of Plagne 1800 in France. It has over 50 chalets in the French Alps, in the resorts of La Plagne, Les Arcs, Meribel, Val d'Isere, La Tania, Val Thorens and La Rosiere, with direct flights from Dublin.
Directski.com offer chalets that catering for six to 22 guests. If you have a group that can take an entire chalet that's great, but taking a room within one offers a superb opportunity to meet new people and learn about the best spots for the aprés ski.
Accommodation was at the Chalet Alisier, where prices start from €1,046pp sharing based on travel in January 2019. For winter 2018/19, the chalet has been renovated and is now offered as two separate chalets - Chalet Alisier 1 has accommodation for up to 15 people and Chalet Alisier 2 has accommodation for up to 10.
Prices include return flights from Dublin with a 20kg luggage allowance, transfers, canapés on arrival, breakfast and afternoon tea each day and six three-course evening meals including wine, taxes, a L'Occitane gift and your chalet host on hand for great local advice right throughout the week.
For further details, call 01 254-6300 or visit directski.com.
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