When Wales on Sunday came to stay

27/11/2019 | Chilly Powder

Last winter we welcomed journalst Paul Turner from the Wales on Sunday, as he joined us for a week of skiing with his partner.

His review featured as part of a double page travel special in the biggest natioanl newspaper in Wales. 

Read below for Paul's full review of his stay with us here in Morzine ... 

Bodering on perfection 

PAUL TURNER finds ski heaven on the Alpine boundary between France and Switzerland

I feel like I’m on top of the world, balanced on a summit between two countries, two ways down, each to a different nation, France on one side, Switzerland on the other. And I’m drinking hot chocolate. It’s ever so slightly surreal, but in a great way.

Most of the time, I’m in an office, the windows looking out onto walls. On this day, I’m on a mountain in the ski resort of Avoriaz called Pointe Des  Mossettes, 2,277 metres up – more than double the height of Snowdon – and the clouds are closing in around us.

Fortunately, there’s the warm and welcoming Cookie Café to take away some of the trepidation. Refreshed, our courage levels ever so slightly higher, my wife and I set out on a blue route down from the summit (ski routes are classified green, blue, red and black, in order of increasing difficulty with the latter the hardest.)

This particular run links up with another that will take us down to Les Crosets in Switzerland. We arrive at lunchtime and traipse in our clunky ski boots into a little wooden hut where we eat and refresh ourselves.

Then it’s back up the chair lift to take a meandering course down the other side of the mountain back into France.

After a few more runs, we come to a halt practically at the door of our accommodation, where the hot tub beckons.

We are guests of Chilly Powder, which likes to do things a little differently. Owners Francesca and Paul set up one of the first chalet companies in the Alps and say they were the first to offer a crèche and ski school all on site. Getting here was easy. We flew from Bristol with Easyjet, landing at Geneva Airport with just a  90-minute transfer time. Once at Chilly Powder, the staff can do everything for you. And with the crèche, you can sample some of the more testing slopes safe in the knowledge that the kids having a great time.

Whenever we passed by, all we could see were happy, smiling faces. Even the most clingy of youngsters soon seemed to forget their parents were elsewhere. But then the whole ethos of Chilly Powder is friendly and relaxed. There’s no stuffiness here, no standing on ceremony. While the service is akin to a top hotel, you also feel like you’re staying in someone’s home, with very attentive hosts. If you want to wander around in your dressing gown, no-one will blink an eyelid! Our room was large with plenty of space for kids. We had a lovely view of the mountains and everything was clean, luxurious and comfortable.

The chalet has a lounge and dining area, a separate lounge space upstairs with a pool table, books, games and big comfy sofas with lovely views down the valley, and a little alpine bar. In the middle of the room is a large open fire, lovely to snuggle up in front of after a long day on the slopes of the Portes du Soleil region. When you return to the chalet a gorgeous afternoon tea will be waiting for you, with different cakes and savouries to enjoy every day.

Afterwards, you can take a dip in the hot tub outside. It’s a cheeky little dash through the cold of the afternoon, before plunging into the warmth of the bubbles, snowy mountains framing you. There’s also a sauna in the chalet for those who prefer a dryer heat. Then, after a freshen up, dinner is served – and what a dinner! There are five chefs at Chilly Powder, and there’s the option to have one of them cook for you in your own chalet if you’re not in the main building.

Dinner starts with drinks from the bar and some gorgeous nibbles served by the very professional and friendly waiting staff. Then it’s three courses of some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. By the time the cheeseboard arrived I was stuffed, but still could not resist sampling the delicious offerings.

And after all that, you still have a hearty breakfast to look forward to in the morning.

It’s all communal dining at Chilly Powder, and you can meet some great people with a shared passion for the slopes. We dined with vineyard owner Paul Boyer, who supplied Chilly Powder with the very wines we drank during our stay. As well as being fascinating, he also made sure there was always another bottle of wine on our table, ready to be savoured. His vineyard is run on sustainable principles, a passion shared by Chilly Powder. It composts, recycles and uses green cleaning products wherever possible.

The sense is that everything has been thought of to ensure the perfect ski break. For example, there are massages and other treatments on offer in a cosy yurt, great for aching limbs after a day on the slopes. My wife enjoyed an aromatherapy massage which involved various essential oils and wanted to go straight back the next day for a repeat.

If, like us, your skiing is a little rusty, Chilly Powder can also help set up instruction with Avoriaz Alpine Ski School.

Instructor Mark gave us first-class individual tuition which went a long way to ironing out errors we were both making. He also showed us some of the best slopes to hone our new-found knowledge on.

That kind of help can be priceless when you’re unfamiliar with a resort.

Chilly Powder can also arrange special experiences such as snow-shoeing, provided by Jean-Luc of Indiana Adventures, who took us up into the  mountains on a trek through deep snow. Jean-Luc had a great sense of humour, but was also attentive to his guests and knowledgeable about the landscape and its wildlife.

He was determined we would catch a glimpse of a goat native to these parts called the chamois, and we did, despite them being very shy. It was a fantastic way of seeing the Alps from a different perspective. You really felt like an Alpine explorer. Before and after our excursion, we explored the town of Morzine. This popular ski resort boasts a large number of restaurants and cafés serving some delicious Alpine food.

We had a glorious cheese fondue in one of them, but book in advance because they all get very busy, especially at the height of the season.

The hassle of organising the many facets of a ski holiday can put some off, but whether you’re a raw beginner or a veteran of the slopes, a family of five or a couple on a romantic break, Chilly Powder can add a memorable kick to your holiday.

TRAVEL FILE ■ PAUL TURNER was a guest of Chilly Powder, Morzine, France which operates year-round packages in the Portes du Soleil region. Winter prices start from £795 a week based on two adults sharing a standard bedroom or £2,195 per week for two adults and two children sharing a standard family bedroom. That’s on a half- board basis with wine included with evening meals.  ■ CHILDCARE facilities are also available from £270 per week and ski school for £240 per week.   ■ THE chalet also runs a summer programme and is available for weddings and events. Call 020 7289 6958 or visit chillypowder.com