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Organising a group ski holiday is a time consuming activity and can be a real pain in the backside. You would think that a group of ten grown adults would be easy to please but the reality is a very different story.
For the past couple years I have been given the task of organising the bi-annual ski trips. As I work in the industry, and have done multiple seasons, my friends felt that I had the experience to make this nice and easy, so I happily volunteered. The first job is always to find out who can travel and when. With dates limited to December and March for most the group that made it a little easier and I managed to pin down New Year for the first trip and a pre-Easter trip in mid-March. Brilliant, job one done. New Year is just about the busiest time of year to go skiing and when you have three accountants coming on holiday, getting them to spend money is akin to getting a Premier League manager to agree with referees!
With the budget finally sorted this was looking like plane sailing from here on in, all I had to do was find the right resort, right property and the right flights. Now this is where it gets a little difficult with most the party traveling form London and a handful in the Midlands this should be easy, but when you have people who will only travel from one airport and these don't match, it becomes a little harder. I had to find a way of getting two people out of Heathrow, two out of Stansted, two out of Gatwick with two more 'happy to do whatever' then two from Birmingham and a possible Dublin flight for good measure.
After much debate, banging of heads and thoughts from the group the answer presented itself. My hopes of an nice easy package from Gatwick for ten people had been dashed to at least the first trip. In the end after speaking to a few operators I had the perfect solution for the accommodation - the independent chalet operator. We found a great chalet company in Morzine, only an hour from Geneva, that offered chalets, with transfers, right in the middle of the resort; perfect. The next thing was to look at flights, by going through a travel agent, we were able to book scheduled flights from all the required airports and even managed to land within an hour of each other, perfect for the included transfer and for traveling to resort together.
The next challenge was to convince people that I had found the right resort and property. This was a little more difficult as I had advanced skiers wanting a large ski area, party animals hoping for St. Anton, beginners needing good instructors and easy slopes and a random Les Arc fan fighting his corner. The resorts in the mix were St. Anton, Meribel, Val d'Isere & Les Arc. After a little persuading and a few dummies being spat we agreed that Morzine would be perfect. 600km of piste in the Portes du Soleil, short transfers, chilled Apres but lively nightlife (perfect for New Years Eve) and the all important charming instructors for the beginners.
Several weeks in we had now agreed on dates and a resort. Next thing was where to stay, some people wanted 5* chalets with hot tubs, others wanted warm food and a bed near to the bars. This is where it gets really difficult to find a property, through some friends in resort and several phone calls we managed to agree on a chalet in the centre of town with a sauna.
Had we done this alone we would have had to call every company under the sun, booked all our own flights and transfers and had anything gone wrong we would have been stuck as this was not a package holiday. This is where using a travel agent to orgainse the holiday comes in handy, I was able to book the flights, chalet and transfers all through them. Not only did this offer protection, for example if the operator went under or the flights were cancelled, it also made life easier. Rather than maxing out credit cards and chasing people for money everything was sorted for us. All I had to do was to get everyone to call in and pay their deposits and balances separately.
So far so good, holiday one booked. With New Year being so popular it was very handy indeed to have managed to arrange everything by June. This gave the group time to book the week off, pay their balances and save for a week in the mountains.
Though it's hard work, being the group leader is worth the effort. This season I have a much easier job, we are almost ready to book one of three chalets in either La Tania or Meribel on a package holiday again and knowing that when multiple airports are needed a trip to an independent chalet company in a resort like Morzine is on the cards again for the main group holiday.
Written by Stephen Adam.
This year one of the most successful athletes in the world of winter sports has the chance to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. She may not be an Olympian and she competes in a sport that may not be as fashionable on the high street and football, Formula 1 or rugby but Jenny Jones deserves a nomination. Though the official nominations are not until November there is already a growing Facebook campaign for possibly the country's most successful snowboarder to gain a nomination.
Jenny Jones has had an incredible season for winter 2010. She has won both gold medals for the women's slopestyle in Winter X-Games held in Aspen and the first ever European X-Games in Tignes. This added to last year's gold in Aspen takes her to an unprecedented three X-Games gold medals in the sports premier competition.
Jenny has not only been successful over the past two seasons in the Winter X-Games but has plenty more gold medals to add to her collection including triumphs over the past seasons at the Burton US Open in Apsen, Burton European Open in Laax, the Roxy Chicken Jam, the Nissan Nippon Open and of course The Brits also held in Laax. Jenny Jones has also had several top 6 results in the TTR World Snowboard Tour since 2006.
Not only is Jenny a world class snowboarder she is great person too. If you are ever out in Morzine there is every chance you will bump into her on the slopes or at the Cavern with her friends and the usual resort locals. If the BBC Sports Personality of the Year was awarded on personality alone Jenny arguably has more charisma, charm and is more personable than Wayne Rooney, Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Pietersen put together.
If we can get the British snow sports fans behind Jenny Jones then we may get a more charismatic winner and someone we can relate to more than previous years gone by. Jenny Jones loves snowboarding, is highly influential in British snowboarding scene and is one of the top athletes in the world at her profession. If ever a snow sports enthusiast deserves to be commended for their achievements then Jenny Jones truly does.
Individuals looking to be well organised for the 2011 ski season have been given some guidance on the destination they may wish to head to, depending on what they most desire from the break.Tips from the T-List highlights the recommendations made by Eclipse Ski, referring to resorts that may best serve families, non-skiers and those looking for fun off the slopes.In terms of where couples with young children may wish to visit, Alpe D'Huez in France comes highly recommended.Alongside a top-quality ski school that will have children ready to take on the basic runs in no time, it is suggested that the slopes are well rounded to support skiers of all abilities.Furthermore, the inclusion of an outdoor ice skating rink and swimming pool when the weather is at its warmest may provide some alternate fun.The lift system is additionally recognised as being one of the best on offer within the Alps, with queues a rarity.For better skiers within the group, there is a large choice of blue and red runs, while one of the longest black runs in Europe can also be tackled.Groups that have individuals not interested in skiing are advised that a break in Vail in the US could offer the most in different activities."During the day there's dog-sledding, horse riding, snow tubing, ice skating, tobogganing and even an adventure entertainment centre at the top of the gondola," according to the news provider."For the evening there are endless restaurants and bars to relax in."Another place where evening entertainment is strong is the popular ski resort of Whistler, which recently hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.The website highlights the Canadian location as the top apres ski venue, thanks to its selection of slope-side bars, clubs and restaurants.On the slopes, ski fans can benefit from both eight and ten-person gondola lifts to transport them to a range of runs, with choices ranging from gladed tree runs to steep chutes to bump runs.Meanwhile, visitors also have the chance to take in some fabulous scenery or have a stroll around the Whistler Village, which is lined with countless shops, restaurants and galleries.Snow should not be a problem either as nine metres of the stuff is received at the destination in an average winter.Written by Chris Smith
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Travel Agent of the Year 2013