The concept of ‘catered chalets’ has dramatically evolved since its’ humble origins back in the 1930s. Most avid skiers will maintain that the quality of accommodation on a skiing holiday is always secondary to the quality of the slopes. However, chalets are now able to offer both quality and comfort, and have become an integral part of what makes a truly wonderful skiing trip. |
An Entrepreneur’s Insight
In Europe’s mountainous regions dairy cattle herders used chalets as a basic building to store milk and butter during the summer months. These temporary dwellings would then be left vacant at the end of the summer as the herders would move their goods and livestock to the lowlands before the colder months arrived. As the rise of the ‘outdoor enthusiast’ arrived, during the turn of the last century, farmers began to recognise the opportunity of raising new income by renting these chalets to holidaymakers, during their ‘dormant’ months. However, the idea of ‘catered chalets,’ as we know them today, still had a long way to go.
In the beginning, a mountain chalet was accommodation at its most basic, with very few amenities or comforts on hand. However, in 1932, the British skier, Erna Low, pioneered the idea of an ‘all-inclusive skiing holiday’ in Austria. By the 1960s ‘package skiing holidays’ were growing in popularity and catered chalets were in high demand.
The early catered chalets offered very basic dwellings where hot water was deemed a luxury! Typically the furnishings would be sparse, bathrooms would be shared, and the location of the chalet may well have set you up for a challenging trek to your destination. Chalets were also ‘shared accommodations’ so you rarely knew who, or how many, guests you would be staying with.
Supply and Demand
As the demand for skiing holidays increased so did the demand for quality, even luxury, accommodation. The traditional-looking chalets are very different on the inside and the rise of ‘property management’ services has secured a much more organized and comfortable stay for visitors. Luxury amenities are now available, including hot tubs and Jacuzzis, on top of offering ski enthusiasts better, and more convenient, access to the slopes right at their front door. Although there are ‘self-catering’ options, the catered chalets remain the most popular.
The chalet hosts cater breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner for their guests and also ensure that portable provisions are on hand for skiers to carry during their day out on the slopes. The quality of catering has also improved greatly over the years and it is now common to find highly-skilled professional chefs designing menus and training chalet staff in the preparation of those menus.
A skiing holiday is not for someone who wants to lie back and do nothing. It is full of energy and excitement, fuelled by the exhilaration that comes from the brisk cold weather and the need for speed! For most enthusiasts catered chalets take away the bothersome concern, and expense, of having to eat out for every meal. The true, avid skiing fan can completely focus on their love for the sport, knowing a warm meal will be waiting for them, when they return at the end of the day.
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 chalets 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.
Related Articles -