Ah, skiing. There’s something about the mountains, the snow, and the feel of sitting in a chair lift as you climb up to sights unseen that never gets old. Since moving to London I’ve, sadly, only been able to hit the slopes once. While I had a great time in Andorra last year, this year I was keen to try something different. That’s where Crystal Ski swooped in and saved the day. Crystal specialise in ski holidays departing from the UK and a few weeks ago I had the good fortune of sampling a bit of what they have to offer.
Travelling with fitness blogging superstar Cantara of Gymbags & Gladrags, we embarked on a sponsored 4-day/3-night ski trip to Courchevel 1850, located in the 3 Valleys ski area of France. I later found out that not only is this the largest interlinked ski area in the world, but Courchevel 1850 also happens to be the mother of all luxury ski resorts in France.
So, without further ado, here’s a quick look at our travel itinerary for your reference. If you’re interested in a similar ski holiday, I’d urge you to take a look at either Crystal Ski or flexiski, as both have loads of different options for a range of budgets.
Thursday, January 15th
4am is never a good time to wake up, but the fact that I was headed to the Alps helped me a bit. With a 8:30am flight to Geneva departing from London Gatwick, I booked a car through my favourite local minicab service, Carrot Cars, which mainly operates in and around Canary Wharf.
The car picked me up promptly at 5am and I was at Gatwick within 80 minutes. The journey took longer than usual because of a torrential downpour (accompanied by hurricane-force winds), but I made it safely to the terminal at just about the same time as my fellow blogger and travel partner, Cantara.
After checking in our bags, we ate a quick breakfast before boarding our EasyJet flight to Geneva. Crystal Ski had arranged for their sister company, Flexiski, to handle our airport transfer. After we made it through immigration and baggage claim, we were promptly greeted by a driver holding a sign with my name. Our driver spoke almost no English, so it wasn’t exactly a chatty two-hour drive to Courchevel 1850. Despite the slight awkwardness it turned out to be for the best as I think we both ended up sleeping on the way over.
Awakening from my in-car nap, I realised we had made the journey from grey Geneva to the winter wonderland of Courchevel. As we made our wake up the mountain, the views only got prettier. Before I knew it we reached the adorable Hotel Saint Louis, which is managed by flexiski, a sister company of Crystal Ski. The hotel was set up like an older style ski chalet, complete with wooden walls and a roaring fireplace. It’s not a five star hotel by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clean, comfortable, and charming.
After checking in and dropping off our things, it was time to pick up our ski equipment before enjoying a quick walk around town, followed by a much deserved nap – I did wake up at 4am after all.
Friday, January 16th
I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night to be honest, and the 1-hour time difference between France and the UK didn’t help things. But with the view of beautiful mountains right outside my window, I summoned myself out of bed and downstairs for a hot breakfast before gearing up and hitting the slopes with Cantara.
We had a ski lesson at 2pm, so we figured we’d get a little practice in before lunch. After a year off I definitely needed to find my legs and Cantara was a complete beginner, so perhaps we were being a little too ambitious.
By the time lunch rolled around I was ready for a nap! Crystal hooked us up with New Generation Ski & Snowboard School and our instructor, Andrea, met us at our hotel at 2pm. We caught a ride up to the nursery slope and spent the next two hours skiing down green runs.
Saturday, January 17th
On Saturday morning I woke up to fluffy snow falling outside my window. A bit tired from the previous day, Cantara and I decided to take it easy before our lesson. So instead of skiing all morning we borrowed a small sled from the hotel and went to town. Hotel Saint Louis is right across the street from a side entrance to a green slope, which happened to be practically empty on a lazy Saturday morning. It had been a good 20 years since I last sledded, but I can tell you that it’s no less fun in your 20s as it was when you were a kid. I probably could have sledded all day – and would have if the trip was longer.
Because I have a little bit of experience skiing and Cantara only just started the day before, on Sunday we split our two hour group lesson into one hour individual lessons. I was up first at 2pm and spent the next hour with Andrea working on technique, keeping my skis together, and using the poles properly (who knew they did anything other than prop you up?!)
After Cantara finished up her lesson at 4pm we (sadly) hung our skis up and dove into a little apres ski for our last night in Courchevel. After dinner we headed up the road to try the bar at Le Strato, which turned out to be a very swanky five-star hotel (let’s hope my boyfriend takes note of this!). The bar was lovely and filled with plush faux fur sofas that practically begged you to cuddle with them. The cocktails were, naturally, out-of-this-world good, and I later found out that the attached restaurant has a Michelin Star. Not a bad way to end a trip 😉
Sunday, January 18th
Sunday morning marked the worst part of the holiday – leaving. The one advantage to waking up early (our airport transport arrived at 8am) was that we were able to catch the sun rising over the Alps. It was truly special, as was the trip itself. I can’t recall the last time I was so bummed out about heading home, and when I did reach home later that day the first thing I did was start planning a return trip. If that’s not the mark of a good holiday, I don’t know what is.