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Long time skier but chalet holiday virgin, Bernard Goyder, stayed in Chalet Rive Gauche, Val d'Isere, before Christmas. Here are his thoughts on what the chalet holiday experience is really like.
So, what is it actually like to stay in a catered ski chalet?
I love skiing, but had never stayed in a chalet before. Coming from a big family, my parents always took us on self-catering holidays, because they felt it was cheaper. We had great trips in resorts like Meribel and Les Arcs. These holidays were followed by the university ski trip, a day on the coach from Victoria on the way, and the panicked cleaning of our tiny Tignes apartment on the way back.
Compared to self-catering, my first chalet holiday has been an incredible experience. Having tasted the food, the service and the atmosphere, it is going to be hard to go back to self-catering. Having yet to turn the heating on tonight in my London terraced house, I'm already missing the warmth and dryness of the chalet, with its under-floor heating and climate controlled rooms.
The Rive Gauche is beautiful. Spacious and cosy, it is ideal for a party of eight. The chalet sits underneath the Fornet cable car, by the ravine that passes through Val D'Isere.
The first impression of the chalet is the warmth of the architecture. Open beams of untreated wood salvaged from Savoie farms give a traditional feel to the interior. But the steam room and plunge pool add a modern touch of luxury.
It is the attention to detail that makes this a 5 snowflake rated property. The mirrors so clean they are mistaken for doors and the wood covered fittings add to a feeling of cosy luxury.
If you haven’t been on a chalet holiday before, it is difficult to estimate quite how well looked after you are with a premium operator.
The tea and homemade cake, the four course meals with canapès, delicious main courses and wine all blow self-catering out of the water as a ski holiday experience. Considering you can pack your breakfast bread and croissants as a packed lunch — the full English cooked breakfast was good enough for me - leaving more money for après-ski.
Val d'Isere has a brilliant apres scene, from the Moris Pub and Saloon via Dicks Tea Bar to Doudoune, a night club over the piste that hosts DJs from across Europe. But a new addition to the after hours festivities that I would recommend is Fall Line — a bar which had a great cover band on, when we went for a pint.
All in all, a great holiday made memorable by the high standard of accommodation and catering. I'd recommend a chalet holiday to a party of keen skiers looking to splash out on something special.
We're delighted to announce that when you visit Igluski.com on your phone, you will now enjoy a whole new lovely experience. Here's a whirl through five key features:
1. Helpful Header
At the top of every page you'll see this header. We wanted you to be able to do all the key, useful stuff you already can do from our desktop website without compromising simplicity and clarity. We spent a lot of time crafting this area to get it just right.
At the top, you can search for any words (or phrases) — that's for finding specific pages or words across our site. On the right is the phone number and it's just a tap to give us a call from any page. We were careful with the opening hours too, sometimes they're a bit too dense and cluttered, we've reduced them to this simple one line. You'll notice that when we're closed, this switches to show when we next open. We think on a phone you just want to know the score right now. You can still find the full breakdown on our Contact page.
Underneath those are the three main points of navigation: 1. Search for a holiday, 2. Browse our current deals and 3. Check out the snow. We get all sorts of traffic on our site, but those three things cover the vast majority of requests, so all are an easy tap on every single page.
If you compare it to our existing desktop site, you can see just how much we've reduced it down:
2. It's Beautiful
Modern phones allow us to make the site look truly beautiful. If you've got one of the latest iPhones or Android phones, you'll be treated to wonderful high resolution photos and icons. Afterall, nothing beats a lovely, crystal-clear shot of Chamonix.
And naturally we had to choose a quality font that matches that great look. As phone screens become higher in resolution and quality, it means typefaces that are traditionally used for print now look great on screens too. So if you're on an iPhone, you'll get to enjoy browsing our site in Gill Sans.
There are also plenty of other neat touches around, from subtle dropshadow to soft patterns, giving a really solid and high quality feel as you browse.
On a phone, you've got data speeds and bandwidth to worry about. When you're on a train and browsing with 3G (or — shudder — EDGE), there's nothing worse than a stop-stutter website that's cruising through your data usage. We put a great amount of effort into keeping our site lightweight and quick. Everything (other than photos) is pure code, which means it's quicker to load and it's much more efficient than before.
With a desktop site, you have to support a lot of older browsers and therefore sites often get designed without a lot of the latest technology to make them easier support. With current iPhone and Android phones we were able to make great use of all sorts of better tech, without compromising load times.
Even our logo is pure code — no, seriously:
4. Everything is There
One thing we desperately tried to avoid was removing any useful functionality. A complaint we often hear about mobile sites, is that a missing feature forces people to switch to the desktop site. Although a lot had to change, pretty much everything key is still there. So for example our handy date grid on holidays is too big and unwieldy for a phone, but you can still change dates and airports whilst seeing prices really easily:
On top of that we've made templates for almost every existing page, so even if you find some of our most obscure pages via Google, you'll still end up on a mobile-optimised page with all the content that is present on the desktop page. And if you are struggling to find something specific, just use the search box at the top of every page, or browse the sitemap.
What we've found in testing, is that all key functions of our site are now easier. Since the size of a phone screen is so small, we've been able to focus on distraction-free functionality. So searching and filtering criteria is a cinch, snow forecasts are automatically show on all holidays, enquiring by phone is a single tap and even enquiring by web form is just three simple fields and the type of keyboard automatically changes to help you fill them in sharpish.
It means you can do the same actions quicker and easier than you could before — and it's pleasant to do so.
Unlike an app where you've got to go away to the App Store and downloading something, our mobile site just works. You don't even need to follow a special link, just the next time you visit our site on your phone, it'll all be working nicely for you. Try it and let us know what you think: Igluski.com.
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AAA Large Online Travel Agent of the Year 2013