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In the late 1990s, I came across Avoriaz while on a ski holiday with my eldest 2 children just over the border in Champéry in Switzerland. High winds had closed the lifts in Champéry and we couldn’t get up in the cable car to ski, and the children’s ski school amounted to a portacabin in a muddy field, which was at the bottom of the mountain and involved us picking up our daughter only a couple of hours after dropping her off, which didn’t work for her or us and she ended up going to the hotel creche instead. On top of this we had a kilometre walk carrying all our ski equipment and that of our children down an icy road in ski boots every day – not really a very good set-up!
When we finally got up the mountain ski-ing again after 2 days, we skied through Avoriaz and found a complete snow nirvana – a children’s ski school village in the centre complete with Disney characters, restaurants and ski pistes all around, no cable cars or wind closing the lifts and no mud. In the evenings the slopes gave over to sledging and various activities for the children. There were also no cars and the only “vehicles” were horse drawn sleighs – there was way more snow than in Switzerland, the trees were full of lights and there were lots of apartments, which are better suited to family ski-ing than hotel rooms and a lot more cost effective.
Needless to say we checked out of the hotel in Switzerland and took a taxi over to Avoriaz where we stayed in an apartment for our 2nd week, which, for all the reasons I have outlined, proved to be a brilliant week. My 3 year old daughter was skiing every day and my 4 year old son spent the whole day in ski school. They both progressed brilliantly and we got plenty of time to venture off on the slopes ourselves.
We had such a wonderful time in Avoriaz, which is so well set-up for families, that we re-booked again twice that year and 2 years later we looked for somewhere to buy, which is how and why I came to buy our first chalet (Chalet Ardoisiere), which was a new build chalet that I bought off plan and was completed in 2000.
Having invested in the chalet, we spent the first year travelling every weekend from London and all the school holidays and in year 2, I decided to spend the whole of the winter term with the children in the chalet.
My eldest two children, who were 6 and 8, attended the local French school and both joined the local ski club. My youngest child, who was only 1 went to the nursery a couple of mornings.
It was a great opportunity for me to improve my French and we enjoyed it so much that we carried on doing that for the following 5 years.
By the time we spent our last winter in Avoriaz in 2005, I had 4 children all actively ski-ing and going to school in Avoriaz for one term out of 3 per year. During my penultimate ski season in Avoriaz in 2004 I met Philip, who was standing in for a colleague as a Ski Club of Great Britain rep.
Having spent several winters in Avoriaz, I was fairly familiar with the landscape and lift systems and I was generally guiding Philip and his group around what is a vast area of over 650km of pistes and stopped him from getting lost on several occasions!
When my eldest son turned 13, it was getting too difficult for him to miss a whole term of UK school and I decided to return to the UK full time, which meant my chalet was empty in the winter outside of school holidays, so we started renting it to cover the costs. This went very well and we soon built up a loyal following. Due to demand we bought a second property (Apartment Choucas), which we gutted. We refurbished both proeprties and word of mouth quickly led us to have the 6 properties, all of which have been fully refurbished, that we have today.
We chose Avoriaz because it really is the best ski resort we know for families., It is very accessible, being only 1 ½ hours from Geneva airport, and within 1 hour of the direct train from Paris and is very snow sure. It actually has the highest annual snow fall in the whole of France., Although, it’s not the highest resort, because of its proximity to the Mont Blanc, it has its own micro climate, giving it exceptionally high snowfall.
The 2019 season will be the 11th year for Avoriaz Chalets. We are unique in that all 6 of our properties are owner managed, with Philip and I spending each winter season in resort, representing the owners. We take pride in personally meeting and greeting our guests on arrival and supporting them during their stay.
We pride ourselves on our very high standard of cleanliness and maintenance and we have a loyal guest following with over 35% of our guests returning year on year.
We have evolved over the years to become something of a boutique operator. Aside from the best value highest quality accommodation in Avoriaz, we also offer transfers, lift passes, ski hire, ski school reservations, restaurant bookings, etc and a wide selection of experiences, many of them unique, such as our famous fondue and sledge night.
In between looking after our guests, we also ski a good percentage of the time ourselves. About 3 years ago we joined the Kandahar ski club and have since got involved in some amateur ski racing ourselves and we travel to other ski resorts during the winter too.
Aside from being keen skiers, we are also keen sailors and enjoy coastal cruising, which we have done as a family, with our children, for the past 12 years. We have been fortunate to sail in many different areas from the Med to the Caribbean and from Tahiti to Australia.
Up until 2016, when we not in Avoriaz, we lived in Hertfordshire in the UK, where our four children attended school / university. In 2016, with our eldest 2 children both at university and feeling we needed a change from the UK, we upped sticks and moved to Phuket in Thailand where the 2 youngest boys attended an International School. Phuket boasts beautiful beaches, wonderful food, great sailing and an amazing climate, all of which we fell in love with and we have since decided to spend a portion of our non-ski year on this magical island where we are actively involved in swimming, cycling, running and going to the gym in addition to supporting a number of charities and fund raising.
I am also learning to speak, read and write Thai, as we hope in the future to have a Thai villa to add to our rental collection.
We pride ourselves in offering all of our guests a personal service and are on hand to help as much or as little as required. One thing we can guarantee is that our accommodation is second to none and we will do all we can to ensure that your next ski holiday as is the very best you’ve ever had.
We look forward to meeting you.
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