12/06/2019 | Chilly Powder
Jonathan Humphries from The Liverpool Echo came to stay at Chilly Powder last summer with his travel review published with the Wales on Sunday, Liverpool Echo, Sunday Mercury and Sunday Sun this month. Read the full article below and discover more about summer adventures at Chilly Powder...
What can you do in an alpine ski resort when there is no snow? Jonathan Humphries hits the slopes to find out.
“Who needs the Med? When the snow melts, the French Alps is the perfect place for a summer getaway. Whether you would like to relax by the pool or fill your days with adventure sports – Porte du Soleil has it all.
An unexpected feature of our week nestled in the French Alps was finding ourselves embroiled in wine-fuelled Yahtzee tournaments.
For the uninitiated, Yahtzee is a dice game, perfect for adding a competitive edge to the balmy summer evenings at Chilly Powder’s hotel Au Coin du Feu, just outside Morzine in the Portes du Soleil region.
The British run resort, a ski-todoor chalet in the winter and a relaxing 17-room hotel in the summer, encourages interaction between guests and staff.
After concentrating on keeping the hire car to the right side of the road on the drive from Geneva airport, the homely vibe exuded by Chilly Powder was just the ticket.
Each room has a theme and enthusiastic hotel manager Nick showed us to the cosy English Room just in time to avoid a summer rainstorm.
Former chef and caterer Francesca Eyre and her architect husband Paul gave up successful businesses in the UK in 1996 and poured their efforts into bringing Chilly Powder to life.
Their gamble has paid off in spades. One of the many things the Eyres and their staff have got spot-on is the balance between family time and space for parents and couples to relax.
The resort offers a comprehensive childcare service, complete with in-house nanny, and boasts a well stocked play-room for youngsters while a mezzanine level library is a peaceful adults-only oasis.
Children sit for dinner at 5.30pm, before being ushered to the play-room so mum and dad can enjoy their meals stress-free.
Chilly Powder offers a full spa and massage service through its on-site therapist Eider, who works from a relaxing yurt in the hotel gardens.
The hotel’s standout feature is easily the exquisite cuisine and complimentary wine.
The superb four-course meals are served around a big single table, and the Yahtzee shenanigans (which may, or may not, have involved a few Euros to make it interesting) that followed were a measure of how well conversation flowed.
The bar, complete with locally brewed lager on draught and outdoor hot-tub in the garden, make getting back after a hard day enjoying yourself a pleasure.
The barbecue night in the garden as the sun went down over the top of the surrounding valleys was unforgettable.
The Eyres would have struggled to pick a more attractive location. Beautiful as it may be in the snow of winter when skiiers descend, the French Alps is not the first place that springs to mind for a summer getaway.
But that was before we swam in the waters of Lac de Montriond, surrounded by sunlit Alpine vistas.
It was before we hiked through lush green valleys and tried the high-octane adventure sports and activities that turn the resort into a giant playground.
The variety of things to do is perhaps the area’s strongest asset, and one reason it really should compete with the Med for summer jetsetters.
Getting around does require a car, and all the usual big rental companies offer a variety of packages at Geneva Airport.
But for the attractions around Morzine itself, there’s a network of lifts which are available to anyone with a multi-pass, available at a discount from Chilly Powder.
Morzine is about seven minutes by car from the hotel and has plenty to offer families and couples alike.
Above the town, para-gliders drift lazily in the summer skies while the miles of stunning scenery offer endless routes for road cyclists.
Francesca, something of a superwoman in terms of her sporting hobbies, is full of advice and tips for cyclists.
For those with more hand-to-eye co-ordination than my partner and I, the area around Morzine becomes a mountain biker’s paradise in summer.
When the snow melts, the ski slopes become downhill trails, and the ski lifts carry riders and their wheels, eliminating the gruelling slog back to the top.
Preferring something which resembled exercise a little less, Claire and I decided to give canyoning a go.
After abseiling from a footbridge into a ravine, the next hour or so was filled with some truly hair-raising moments. Sliding, swimming and jumping down a mountain ravine may not be for everyone, but it was enormous fun if you can handle plunging into narrow pools from a not insignificant height. This is perfect for kids who can handle heights and does not require any great level of fitness.
The only mistake was failing to bring a spare t-shirt, which made for a soggy drive home.
For those looking for more easily accessible thrills, the top of the Chaux Fleurie lift in nearby Lindarets offers a chance to ride the 100km/h Fantasticable zip-line.
What better way to experience the Alpine scenery that speeding along head-first 240m above the grassy valley floors below? In Morzine itself, a chairlift to the top of the Pléney takes riders to the summer luge ride; twin 980m tracks which gives riders the ability to control the speed of their toboggans.
It really is a lot of fun, and I could not resist giving it a second go immediately after reaching the bottom.
Not every activity and attraction involves a spike in blood pressure, and families with children, in particular, will love the chance to take the famed Les Linderets ‘Gelfie’, aka the Goat selfie.
The peaceful village, a short drive from Morzine, boasts spectacular views and quaint cafés, but visitors can pose with the dozens of goats roaming freely among the chalets. For those looking to relax by a pool and get those summer thrillers read, Morzine’s open-air Olympicsized offering, with a decent water slide for the kids, wipes the floor with any all-inclusive resort on the Spanish coast.
Only one thing to remember for the chaps; French hygiene rules mean tight trunks only, so ditch the funky board shorts and reach for the Speedos.
If that offends your delicate sensibilities, just a 20-minute drive away, Lac de Montriond really is special, offering a chance to swim, kayak, or paddle board under the blazing sunshine.
There’s a café and restaurant on the shore, with toilet and changing facilities. Porte du Soleil is an obvious place to don your hiking boots and the Chilly Powder team will be able to recommend routes for all abilities and fitness levels.
There are some fine walks from the rear of the hotel, including an ascent through a wooded valley to spectacular views. Insect repellent is a good idea to keep the horseflies at bay.
With so much on offer, it’s easy to fill your days with adrenaline fuelled excitement so make time to relax by Morzine’s pool or on the shores of Lac de Montriond before your stay flies by all too quickly.”
■ Jonathan Humphries visited Chilly Powder as a guest of the resort, which operates all year round offering active holidays for individuals, groups and families looking to experience the stunning natural scenery and beautiful mountains of the Portes du Soleil region.
■ Summer prices start from £575 per week based on two adults sharing a standard bedroom or £1,575 per week for two adults and two
children sharing a standard family bedroom, on a half board basis with wine included in the evening meals with self-catered chalets also available.
■ The chalet also runs a winter program and is available for weddings and events.
■ To book, contact Chilly Powder on info@chillypowder. com or 020 7289 6958 or visit www.chillypowder.com