Our Team hit the slopes with VIP SKI
This winter we were lucky enough to swap sails for skis and head off to the magnificent mountains of Val D’Isere with our friends at VIP Ski. Coming from Sailing Holidays sets the bar high in terms of expectations and with a name like VIP Ski we had high hopes – it is safe to say we weren’t disappointed! From the moment we received our information pack the excitement set in. Like on a trip with Sailing Holidays every detail was taken care of...our flights, transfers, ski hire, lift pass...everything was sorted! We like it already.
Our Accommodation for the week - VIP CLUB Belleverde
The impressive stone-and-timber chalet emerged into view as we arrived in our private transfer bus. The VIP CLUB Belleverde in Val d'isere sleeps 24 guests and is idyllically located on the edge of the Santons piste (an intermediate level blue run that goes all the way into town). This means that you really can pop your skis on a few steps up from the ski room door.
Similarly to boats on our flotillas that are booked by boat, the VIP CLUB chalets can be reserved by the room; this solicits a convivial atmosphere assisted by the incredibly social spaces the chalet has to offer. There is a communal dining area, large living room with bar and games for children. The perfect place to meet like-minded friends, families and skiers.
CLUB Bellevarde boasts inviting sofas from which we enjoyed warming our toes in front of the fireplace. Being members of the Sailing Holidays team we also made use of the incredibly cosy bar with unlimited draft beer and wine (yes...you heard that right). Although we resisted, for the young or so inclined, there is also the ubiquitous 42" HD TV with Freesat and Wii.
On the first evening we were welcomed with champagne and canapes...a treat we gradually grew used to as the week progressed! The talented chef Andy offered a brilliantly flexible menu as part of the ‘Club’ experience meaning that we had a choice of menu for our four course meal each evening. We were beginning to realise this was no Greek Island taverna service...
The food was delicious every single day. From a wake up drink at your door every morning, on top of a colossal cooked and continental breakfast to set you up for the slopes, through to the evening. Now where do we begin - The evenings in the chalet were quite an experience. From delicate canapes through to sumptuous starters, magnificent mains and incredibly indulgent desserts...all topped off with an equally decadent cheese board. What better way to round off a day on the slopes? Speaking of...we did in fact do some skiing!
Skiing Val D’Isere & Tignes
We should tell you that our party consisted of a relative newbie (who’s experience spanned two weekends skiing in Greece before the start of the sailing season) to three of us whose skiing experience had prominently consisted of school and university trips in cramped apartments, stumbling miles towards the lifts each morning (often after a few too many Vin Chaud the night before). It is safe to say we were fully unprepared for the VIP skiing experience.
The delightful drivers would come at a time chosen by us, to pick us (and our skis) up from the chalet and deliver us to the centre of town. As we were visiting at the very start of the season the ski-in-ski-out opportunities were slightly more limited than usual. From here the wonderfully modern bubbles, cable cars and chairlifts in Val D’Isere delivered us seamlessly to the top of numerous mountain vistas throughout Espace Killy.
From here we spent days cruising along wide open empty blue and green runs – the dream! A brilliant perk to visiting in the first week of the season was that the runs were deserted and there wasn’t a single lift queue all week. We were officially spoilt. Flitting between Val D’Isere, Tignes and the areas famous glaciers we even bumped into a fellow sailor who we had met out on flotilla. We had suspicions that you sailors would enjoy skiing too but didn’t realise it would be that small a world.
So how does it compare to a sailing holiday?
Being committed sailors (and sun seekers) we weren’t sure what we would have to tell you about our week on the slopes, and how it compared to a week on the water, but there were surprising similarities between the Sailing Holidays and VIP Ski experience. From the friendly faces that welcomed us to the airport, to the excellent days spent out in the fresh air, through to the incredibly sociable atmosphere in the chalet every evening. We made friends with a number of the other skiers (including a honeymoon couple, friends and families), with whom we spent evenings regaling tales of our adventures on the slope that day. The whole week was remarkably reminiscent of a sailing holiday environment.
There were of course marked differences between the Sailing Holiday and VIP skiing experience that you should bear in mind. You will be swapping our renowned quayside punch parties for (somewhat classier) glasses of bubbly, trading sea views for mountains vistas, and worst of all you’ll be trading a cabin on board a boat for a bed that you could spend days sinking into! It was a hardship but someone had to try it out...
Our favourite bits...
Jokes aside, if you have been on a Sailing Holiday, either with our lead crew or an on-board skipper, you will know that they can make or break your holiday. The VIP Ski Chefs (Andy & Georgia), Chalet Hosts (El, Emily, Hannah and Hughie) and Drivers were no exception. From carrying our skis in the morning (...yes really) to helping us book a restaurant for the Chefs night off, as well as all the small things in between, the service really was exceptional.
After a tiring day on the slopes, the cosy chalet and Andy’s delicious cake (prepared fresh daily), would be calling our names. Oh and did we mention our favourite part of all? And where we spent most of our time? The incredibly inviting, open air hot tub, complete with drinks holders and a view of the famous Olympic run. We concluded most days with a mutual decision that life doesn’t get better than this...
Fancy sailing down the slopes?
There is still time to ski this season as we type! Check out VIP Ski’s website here and check out the slopes before you head out sailing. We can’t promise as much sun as Greece, but as you can tell by the week we had, there are other aspects that make up for this. Check out where we stayed and get in touch here.