We’re feeling festive and the snow has been a’fallin…so it’s high time for a #TeamCoco ski trip. Now if you are one of our lovely readers who has never even seen a pair of skis, don’t be afraid! This feature is specially written for you…instead of a skiing expert, we sent our beginner skier, Rachael, out to Les Arcs in the French Alps to try out a luxury chalet. She was one of the first to experience the stunning Chalet des Cascades with ski tour operator, Flexiski, and try her hand (or foot!?) on the snowy slopes…
When people talk about skiing, I always get a little nervous. I have friends who seem to have been skiing since birth, and talk of skiing holidays provokes a mixture of jealousy (wow the Insta potential of those snow-covered peaks!) and fear (how the hell do people manage to enjoy hurtling down those pistes?!). It can be pretty daunting to learn to ski as an adult, especially if you have a lingering fear that you might absolutely hate skiing…then what on earth do you do for the week?
But I couldn’t turn down the chance to be one of the very first guests at the luxury Chalet des Cascades with tour operator, Flexiski. If, like me, you are a beginner skier and are partial to a bit of luxury on holiday, welcome to paradise my friend. After all, if skiing isn’t for you then there is always the sauna and swimming pool ready and waiting.
Chalet des Cascades is in a converted farmhouse slap bang on the nursery slopes, so you can literally ski in and ski out of your luxury base. On arrival from Geneva airport transfer, we hop into a snow mobile and zoom up to the chalet, arriving in style to a glass of champagne and tasty canapés. Or for craft beer fans, a pint of Mont Blanc beer on draught.
We are greeted by our friendly chalet team of chef, Beau, server, Emily, and chalet host, Sam. Beau has come straight from the Marines but his cuisine is much more refined than army fare. He serves up some mean three course meals, with beetroot and feta risotto or salmon and avocado ceviche to start, king prawn linguine or grilled cod and potatoes as a main and chocolate marquis or lemon creme brûlée to finish. Delectable French cheeses with sweet Malaga wine follow. The perfect preparation for sleeping at altitude.
We retire to our cosy rooms with walk-in showers, feature walls, locally-inspired artwork and chic wooden design. Everything is modern luxe and the chalet can sleep up to 14 people, making it perfect for a group retreat. The suites are particularly special with eye-popping views of Mont Blanc and huge bathtubs to soak in after a day in the Alps.
Waking up in the heart of the mountains is pretty special, and despite my Instagram jealousy of friends’ ski trips, photos don’t even do justice to how gorgeous these landscapes are. We are there for the very first weekend of the ski season and the conditions are perfect – fresh snow every day and glimpses of sun throughout the day. I get kitted out for my ski lesson and nervously head out.
I can’t say I am a natural skier but it is surprisingly fun to try something new. I am lucky to have a very patient instructor throughout my stay. Les Arcs 2000 is a great resort for learners as there are plenty of baby slopes and blue runs once you get your confidence up. It is also ideal for a mixed ability group as the options for more experienced skiers abound, and you can all meet up for lunch and some hot wine on the slopes.
And, just in case you don’t take to skiing like a duck to water, there are plenty of other things to do in Les Arcs. Examples including flying through the snow on a toboggan, ice-skating, snowshoeing and even visiting ice sculptures and gorging on fondue in the Igloo Village. There are also plenty of bars for hot wine and cocktails once the sun goes down.
Learning to ski is pretty hard work and returning to the Chalet des Cascades is like a comforting hug after a difficult day. I curl up in front of the glass-encased log fire with a cup of tea whilst the smell of hot baking banana bread wafts in from the kitchen. Before dinner, I sweat out the toils of the day in the sauna and cool off with a swim and jacuzzi. A cool feature of the indoor pool is the counter current – even though the space is small, you can get a good work out by swimming against the waves.
We wave our chalet hosts goodbye and head back to Geneva airport whilst the sun shines on the snow. Although I have aches in muscles I didn’t even know I had, I find myself wishing I could spend just one more day on the slopes and planning when I can go skiing again with Flexiski. The lovely thing about this ski specialist tour operator is that they can tailor the trip to your specific needs – so if you aren’t sure about skiing then the trip can be paired with a city break or focus on spa and food as well as the pistes.
Flexiski have some lovely options in ski destinations as far-flung as the US, Japan and Canada as well as Austria and France – watch this space for the latest update in my ‘learning-to-ski’ journey, perhaps even a little further afield next time!
For more information about the Chalet des Cascades or ski trips with Flexiski for both beginners and pros, visit www.flexiski.com or call 020 8939 0862.