What was your first ski experience?
Other than a school ski trip, I was a latecomer to the world of winter sports. Whilst working in Paris in the early 90s, I hopped on the TGV after work one Friday and headed for the Alps. I hired a snowboard, and with no gloves and wearing jeans, I headed up the mountain. Predictably, my first day snowboarding was an uncomfortable experience, but I soon got myself organised and was from then on, I was hooked.
Having done it the hard way, I can can confidently advise people not to do what I did. My advice: get good gear and get a teacher.
Then after 20 years of snowboarding and with two winter seasons living in a ski resort under my belt, I switched to skiing and am loving it.
My next ski challenge?
With three children that have now caught the ski bug, my next challenge is to teach them to ski, although I suspect that my goal will soon be just to keep up with them!
Which is your favourite country and why?
What I really love is going to new places that I’ve never been before, so it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite.
But if I have to pick just one place, in summer it would have to be Greece. I love everything about the island life. Stunningly beautiful views, crystal clear sea, harbour-side tavernas and all kinds of watersports! For me, that is heaven.
Being a snow-addict, in winter it would have to be Switzerland – beautiful, ‘chocolate box’ chalets and snow covered mountains. Just writing about it now makes we want to be there again.
Which is your favourite resort and why?
Whilst there is no such thing as the ‘best’ resort, as they all have their own pros and cons, my personal favourite is probably Zermatt in Switzerland. I just love it there. With the Matterhorn dominating the skyline, the beautiful ancient wooden chalets dotted around the village and some of the best skiing in the world, there is nowhere else quite like it.
Which is your favourite chalet?
That’s a toughie as we have over 500 ski chalets in our portfolio, each one personally selected because we love it, so It’s a bit like having to choose your favourite child. There are just so many stunning ski chalets in our collection.
If I have to choose one, it would be Chalet Sapphire in Morzine. Fo me, it’s that perfect combination of cosy Alpine charm and incredible luxury. It’s super-stylish and ticks every box in terms of facilities, including stunning indoor pool, bar and games room and outdoor fire pit. How can you not love it.
Which is your favourite villa?
I’m a huge fan of the gorgeous Villa La Bergerie on the Terre Blanche estate in Provence. It manages to capture that Provençal ambiance, whilst being a modern villa built to the highest specification. The gardens are beautiful and the service is outstanding. It’s the perfect villa for a luxurious country escape.
Another absolute favourite villa of mine is Villa Bayview, perched high on the hillside overlooking Cap Ferrat on the Côte d’Azur. Ultra contemporary and ultra stylish, Villa Bayview has what must be one of the best views of any villa.
Where is your favourite après ski spot?
Once upon a time I would have said the Mooserwirt in St Anton. No one does Après ski quite like the Austrians. Think ‘nightclub meets Oktoberfest’ but in the afternoon and halfway up the piste! It’s certainly an experience.
I also have a soft spot for the “Ronnie” (aka Le Rond Point) in Meribel. With live bands and a big sunny terrace, it has a relaxed vibe. My first ski season was in Meribel, so I have some great memories from the Ronnie.
But these days, I prefer somewhere a but more relaxed. I love Le Rouge in Verbier for it’s rustic alpine charm, especially when the weather is snowy and it’s warm and cosy inside.
What is your favourite ski memory?
There are just so many brilliant memories after so many trips to the mountains and a few seasons working in the Alps, but one of my best memories is cruising down a lovely sunny and empty blue run in Cervinia in Italy, with my wife a 3 young children skiing all together side by side, each one grinning wildly and having the best time ever. It was one of those moments when the stars align and everything was perfect.
Where are your favourite places to eat/most memorable dining experiences?
My most memorable dining experience in the mountains was when staying at Chalet Les Anges in Zermatt in the summer. After taking the Gornergraat train up the mountain and having a lovely morning hike though the impossibly beautiful trails, past lakes and breath-taking views of the Matterhorn, we were treated to a gourmet barbecue up the mountain by the expert chef and the team from the chalet. They had brought everything up from the chalet, including champagne on ice and sheepskins to sit on, and had it all ready for us when we arrived. It was fabulous! Gourmet perfection in the most incredible scenery.
What are your favourite activities to do off the slopes on your ski trips?There is nothing quite like easing into a steaming outdoor hot tub after a long days skiing to ease those aching muscles and, of course, to discuss the day’s antics. That’s my number one favourite thing to do after skiing. And if it’s snowing, even better!
My other passion is mountain biking so love to get out on the trails in the summer time.
I also recently went paragliding high above the valleys of Val d’Isère and it was absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it if the opportunity arises.
What are your top travel tips for ski trips?
1. Book early, especially if you are travelling during a peak week. Availability gets very limited for key weeks, so book early and get your No.1 choice of chalet.
2. Let us advise you on the properties that are best for you. Our team knows the ins and outs of the different resorts and properties and we have a wealth of experience we can share, so take advantage and ask. We love to help.
3. Book ski lessons – essential for beginners, but also highly advisable for intermediate skiers too. With a good instructor, your ski ability will progress much more rapidly at every level.
4. Make lunch reservations – avoid the stress and anxiety of not getting a table for lunch, so book a table in advance and relax.
5. Not strictly a ’ski’ tip, more of a ‘chalet’ tip – consider booking a ski chalet in summer time. The Alps are glorious in summer and chalets represent fantastic value as the rates are generally lower than in winter. It’s such an underrated destination for a summer family holiday.
Which was your favourite balcony view?
I have 2 favourites..The view from Chalet Nyumba in Verbier. Most chalets in Verbier are blessed with a great view (due to the resort’s topography) but Chalet Nyumba is located right up at the top of the village, so the views are breath-taking.
Chalet Les Anges in Zermatt is high up on the opposite side of the valley to the Matterhorn, so the view is a postcard picture over the village with the famous mountain peak as the backdrop.
Where is next on your list/would be your ultimate ski trip?Having been lucky enough to visit so many ski resorts around Europe over the years, I’d love to do a ski safari in Canada and the USA, and explore the best resorts of North America.
What would you love to do off the slopes that you haven’t done before e.g. heli ride, climb a mountain etc
I love everything to do with mountains and snow sports and therefore want to try everything on offer. There is so much to do, the list is endless. There’s dog-sledding, ice climbing, ice-diving, ski-touring, snow-kiting, hell-boarding …You name it, I want to do it.
Why do you love to travel?
I love it for so many reasons. Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures holds an endless fascination, but on another level, I now love to take my children places and letting them discover the wonder of new landscapes and new experiences.
And for ski trips it’s not just the fun of the skiing itself (which is great of course), it’s the bonding you get from having a shared amazing experience on the mountain, be it with family or friends. That’s hard to beat.
What was your funniest ski fail? (More for my amusement than the website!) I once got my rucksack strap caught on a chairlift so when I went to ski off the chairlift, instead the chair went round and headed back down the mountain with me dangling off the bottom of it by my rucksack. Not my finest moment!
Your property added to shortlist.