Even for the most dedicated skier, a winter holiday can't be all work and no play. Not that skiing is exactly work, but in order for your body (and mind) to recover from what's often quite a strenuous activity, it's important to factor in some down time and a variety of other activities at the end of the day. |
In fact, for many people, what goes on away from the slopes is a huge part of the fun of a ski holiday, and the après-ski culture of a resort is often what swings the choice of where to book a catered chalet.
The French term après-ski literally translates to 'after ski', and if you rent a cosy, luxurious catered chalet, there certainly is no shortage of fun to be had once you’ve come in from the cold.
Make Your Own Fun
The evening meal becomes a very social occasion when you're staying in a catered chalet – every night is a fabulous dinner party (from a professional chef's menu). You'll dine on traditional local cuisine, including rich, hearty, slow cooked stews and tagines and mouth-watering hot desserts - and the best thing is you won't even have to do the cleaning up!
Baby it's cold outside, but inside the chalet it's warm and cosy! After a hearty gourmet meal accompanied by some great wine, you can retire to sit around the open fire and trade tales of the day's skiing escapades. Good company, good conversation, and some good tall tales make for the best après-ski of all.
In the name of fun, you never have let the truth get in the way of a good ski story. Down a black run backwards on one leg? Yep, that happened!
Fondue: Having a fondue party makes for the perfect bonding activity, and one that everyone can get involved in – even young children. Most places will have a fondue set squirrelled away in the cupboard and, if not, just ask your hosts and chances are they'll find one. Head to the local supermarket and stock up on some Gruyère, Fontina, or whatever they suggest, and get set for some delicious and decadent cheesy fun.
Eggnog, Hot Chocolate and Cocktails: Have your very own cocktail party – chalet style! What you imbibe in will depend on the company, of course, but whether it's a brew of homemade egg nog, Glühwein, some creative winter-themed cocktails (try Hot Buttered Rum, yum!), or marshmallow-rich hot chocolates, cocktail hour in your catered chalet makes for a wonderful après-ski event.
Pace yourself: If you're indulging in a few cocktails it's important to remember that alcohol does not play well with altitude! Drinking may affect you faster at the elevation of some resorts and you don't want to risk wasting an entire day's skiing on a hangover.
Hit the Hot Tub
There's no better place to start a conversation than in a hot tub, so even if you're sharing your catered chalet with people you don't know, this is a fabulous way to socialise without leaving home. It is important to remember the 'hot tub etiquette', though (yes, it's a thing). A hot tub is not a bath, so have a shower before you get in, and let whoever's in there first set the dress code (no birthday suits if your tub mates are fully-clothed).
A couple of hours relaxing in a hot tub will iron out the kinks of aching muscles and allow you to indulge in one of the most pleasurable après-ski activities available.
Out and About in the Resort
Of course not all the off-piste entertainment needs to be confined to your chalet, and every resort has its share of lively bars where you can enjoy anything from a quiet mulled wine in front of the open fire to rowdy tabletop dancing in your ski boots.
A word of warning though: don't start the celebrations too early. A couple of Jägerbombs in a mountain refugio might seem like a good idea at the time, but skiing while sloshed is never, ever a good idea.
Wherever you choose to go for your ski break, make sure the resort's après-ski possibilities are in keeping with how you'd like to spend your downtime.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for the best catered chalet accommodation in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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