A very warm welcome to a new section of my blog. I’m calling it ‘Coming Out Of The Woods’. An opportunity to share with you amazing places outside my front door. I’m kicking off with a corker, it’s the story of how a tipsy conversation, some spontaneity and two very understanding husbands lead to four days of face aching smiles in the snow.
There are a few things that have fallen by the way side since birthing a ridiculous amount of children. They include the prompt removal of facial hair, the ability to finish a conversation and sadly, decent holidays, in particular the Winter ski type. I was lucky enough to be taken skiing from a really early age. Whilst you may think that very glamorous, I can assure you the lustre was dulled. You see, my dad was a head teacher so every year we tagged along on the school trip. These 80’s ski holidays were pretty lacking in luxury. They involved 24 hours on a sweaty coach, being dressed head to toe in C&A and wind burn, but it stamped the snow and the mountains into my bones. For that, I am eternally grateful. As I’ve got older and as money became tighter, ski holidays have never really been a priority. Opting for sand rather than snow, I’d no idea just how much I was missing out.
Cut to a prosecco fueled night out in Leeds where myself and my bestie Miriam were discussing all the things that we never get round to doing anymore. Whilst plucking was definitely high on the list, skiing was at the top, closely followed by doing anything for ourselves. Bad dancing and salty snack scoffing ensued and the piste was forgotten about, but that seed had well and truly been planted. At the gym the following Monday after a circuits session (Miz) and a cappuccino (me) we bumped into each other. The subject of skiing came up again and without a hint of alcohol in our systems we found ourselves booking flights to Geneva departing two and a half days later. Some may call it reckless, or perhaps irresponsible, we found it deeply exciting. Thankfully we must have put out relatively recently because despite it being half term AND us leaving on Valentine’s day, the husbands were surprisingly okay with this crazy situation.
Then reality hit and it hit hard. With no ski gear or accommodation and full days planned at work up until take off there was a very real prospect of finding ourselves bare skinned and bed-less. This is where the magic happened. An instagram shout out for some hotel recommendations resulted in a chain reaction that I’m convinced even Diana Ross would have been impressed by. The marvellous CJ Brough (who I’m entirely convinced has Fairy Godmother DNA) stepped into the ring and did a better job than Cilla in hooking us up with The Oxford Ski Company. The message went like this…………………Hi Katie and Miz, The Oxford Ski Company would like to offer you 3 nights accommodation at one of their luxury chalets. Food and unlimited champagne is included………………. (that’s where we stopped reading and prepared to offer up a kidney in gratitude.). I mean, with seven kids between us, we’re grateful to be served up a hot cup of tea. So, with a party of excited butterflies setting up camp in my belly, I set about the compiling the mother of all lists that 4 days away from 4 children inevitably requires.
I didn’t know much about Oxford Ski up until that point but by heck was I impressed. I was called by Sarah and it became pretty clear that this wasn’t just any company. They offered to take care of everything. Transfers, ski hire, activities, massages, it was the full concierge service meaning that when we arrived in resort, all of those jobs would be sorted and it was straight to the hot tub. If Carlsberg did ski companies…………Bearing in mind, we would have been happy to crash out on someone’s couch, this was proving to be quite the experience.
Lists written, bags packed and legs shaved we were greeted by a Sombrero and smile wearing driver from Skiidy Gonazales. Morzine is only an hour and a half away from Geneva airport so we were promptly and safely dispatched at Chalet 26. If at approximately 1pm on the 14th Feb 2019 you heard a loud bang, it was the sound of two jaws hitting to the floor. The Chalet was ‘drop the mic’ insane. Yiannis, our host showed us round the 4 floors of pure luxury. Swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor sauna, treatment room, steam room, cinema, wine cellar and well stocked bar of dreams. At that point I was convinced they were going to have to serve us an eviction notice to get us to leave. Our bedroom on the top floor was just as gorgeous, with marshmallowy duvets and fluffy towels and the living area was decked out to perfection. All in all, a dream space.
Chalet 26 is a luxury chalet located on the outskirts of Morzine. It comes complete with a chef, hosts and a Peaky Blinder cap wearing driver meaning that the robot-esque walk in ski boots is kept to the fewest steps possible. There are 6 bedrooms and room for 6 couples or 3-4 families depending on how many kids there are. It is usually booked out as a whole chalet. For one week of the year they open it up for short breaks and sell individual rooms. This meant that we had 6 other guests sharing the chalet that week all of whom were a royal hoot. A luxury breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner and all drinks are included. You really don’t want for much more than a plate of chips on the mountain.
The plan had been to ski that afternoon but with the sun shining, two tummies rumbling and a hot tub calling we took the opportunity for some us time and made full use of everything the chalet had to offer. We hot tubbed, saunad and spent a glorious hour in the cinema room watching The Good Place. Holy forking shirtballs it was a good afternoon #ifyouknowyouknow. We may have also slipped in a cheeky Nana nap. A Valentine’s fondue and an earlyish night followed in preparation for the big day up the mountain.
Now, I’m going to admit to something here. Despite having skied pretty much since I could walk, I was more than a little nervous. Having not been to the gym for anything other than poached eggs and avocado for quite some time and having had back surgery a few years ago, I genuinely worried about everything.
- Would I be able to get my boots on?
- Would I fall off the chairlift?
- Would I wobble when I skied?
- Would my back clean snap in two?
- Would I get smashed on toffee vodkas and fall off the edge?
- Would I look like a total penis
The answer to a couple of these questions was yes but after a particularly AB FAB start to the first days skiing (who knew it was that tricky to get into a van in ski boots), it really did all just come flooding back. What also came back were the overwhelming memories of family ski holidays. That first run was pretty emotional for me, a heady mix of wobbly legs, pole gripping and the pure joy of those incredible memories. Right at the fore front was my dad, he was always the driving force behind our ski holidays. I still remember skiing in between his legs and him patiently guiding me down the mountain, you know when those memories are so vivid you can smell them, taste them even? That! No helmets, no real waterproofing just scratchy ski socks, nutella sandwiches and chilly noses but the best of feelings, just amazing.
What followed was THE most incredible day. Wall to wall sunshine, perfect snow conditions and a longer lunch than was strictly necessary (that’ll be the rose). The only thing that was going to get us off the mountain that day was the prospect of afternoon tea and dinner back at the Chalet. A quick text to our driver meant that he was waiting for us at the bottom of our last run. Luxury.
Our tired (and slightly tipsy) bones were greeted by angel Yiannis and Georgina who offered up delicious cakes and sandwiches and introduced us to our Chef. Once we had got over the fact that she wasn’t the actual Cara Delevingne #doppleganger she chatted us through our menu for the night. When you’re used to snacking on left over fish fingers and grabbing dinner on the go, the thought of someone cooking us a hot meal blew us away. Each evening canapes, a 3 course meal, cheese board and free flowing wine and champagne are served and they didn’t disappoint. As with the breakfast earlier in the day, it was exquisite. All dietary requirements can be covered and children happily catered for.
The next couple of days were spent re-enacting our perfect first one. The snow remained splendid, the sun carried on shining and the toffee vodkas continued to flow. We giggled from slope to slope and we smiled that much it made our teeth sensitive. We skied, we laughed, we sang, we chatted, we had time to ourselves, we had time to miss our family, we ate, we drank, we huffed at getting back into our boots again, we pushed ourselves, we were lazy, but most of all we had time to be us. Turns out that we are pretty good fun.
So, we came back home with a mission to hit the slopes again next year but this time with our family. I’m determined to give my children the experience that my parents gave me. I want them to feel the mountains in their bones too. So once those pennies are saved, who do you think I’m gonna call. One clue, it’s not ghostbusters.
- Rose wine and chips in the sunshine.
- Yiannis and Georgina our incredible hosts.
- The fanciest breakfasts I’ve ever eaten.
- Our pockets being stuffed with snacks, tissues, water and everything else that we might need.
- First night fondue, we consumed enough cheese to fill each and every artery.
- The memories of my dad.
- Having a driver (felt like Ariana)
- Unlimited champagne
- Losing Miz on the slopes and fining out she’d taken a wrong turn, run out of piste and ended up skiing along a dog walking path.
- Filling our lungs with mountain air
- Smiling and giggling for 4 days solid
I texted Mizzy to ask her what her highlights were. Here’s what she said, it’s totally why she’s my bestie.
- Booking late. At 40, it takes a lot for me to get that kid at Christmas excited feeling. This trip gave me that for 2 days, I deserved more!
- Not having my kids there. Despite the initial hysteria of 4 full child free days, it became clear very quickly that those four sticky fingered sprouts would have loved it.
- The hot tub. The beauty of a winter holiday? Not having to shave your legs right. Trust me when I say that nobody would have wanted to see me get in a hot tub without having already used a vat of veet first.
- It wasn’t long enough. The eviction notice was served and they made us leave, how very dare they! We could have happily stayed for the full week.
Seriously though, there were no low points, there really is very little that could have made this break more perfect. It genuinely felt like the stars aligned for two mates that needed a break. I have just spent a very joyful 10 minutes watching all of our AB FAB highlights. If you fancy a giggle pour yourself a cuppa, add a hob nob or two and click here. It tells the full story and you’ll even get to see just how tricky it was to get into that van!
Thank you CJ, thank you Mizzy and a huge thank you to Oxford Ski Company who took a chance on two old birds and basically made our year.
If you fancy the Oxford Ski Experience then use the code KATIE for a complimentary magnum of Nyentimber sparkling wine if you book a holiday.
Book your ski hire before you go. Gravier ski hire in Morzine were fun and charming and right at the bottom of the Pleney lift.
Pack for all weathers. We were lucky enough to have glorious sunshine and skied with very few layers but in a breath the weather can turn. Invest in some decent ski wear. We were kindly gifted some kit from Tog24, it kept us toasty and dry. If you can, shop early in the season, sizes sell out quick.
Get some lunges and squats in before you go. The thigh burn is real.
If you’re going to treat yourself, do it on a ski holiday. It’s action packed and any extras that will free up time to help you relax are well worth it.
For complete transparency, the accommodation along with food and drink was gifted by Oxford Ski Company. Everything else, flights, transfers, hire and lift pass were paid for ourselves. All of the views on the experience, the chalet and the service are completely my own. I was under no obligation to post.