Ski Club Trip To La Tania, France

by Ray West

Once again an intrepid band of eight Ski Club members set forth on a grey damp Manchester morning for the French resort of La Tania in order to escape Santa Claus, carols and the other paraphernalia of Christmas. In addition the holiday presented the opportunity to sample the early snow. Again an early flight at 7.00am necessitated a very early start and it was annoying when missing passengers, due to very slow checking in, caused us to loose our air traffic control slot and we therefore had a late take off for Geneva. On arrival at Geneva there was a very slow delivery of baggage. This was followed by an agreeable journey across a dull grey France to a rendezvous point at Champetel where we were transferred to a minibus for a high-speed journey to La Tania.

On arrival at the chalet in La Tania it soon became apparent that all was not right and the tour operator was in breach of his contract to the Ski Club. Paul Sharp was very angry and had details of exactly what was promised in our contract. There followed a protracted discussion as to what was to happen, with valiant attempts by the excellent resort manager to contact his Area Manager who was involved in a transfer. After 3 hours of not making much progress I announced that I had had enough and would be staying at the three star French hotel called the Le Montana in La Tania. The resort manager helped me transfer my luggage to the hotel where I booked a twin room and put reservations on 3 other double rooms for the remainder of the party, if they wished to avail themselves of what proved to be an excellent hotel.

On returning to the Chalet it was apparent that no progress had been made, but some members of the group were a little apprehensive about who would pay for the hotel. Soon after, the tour operator recognised that he was up against a determined bunch of club members and agreed to pay the hotel bill but blotted his copybook by haggling over who should pay for coffee and wine, which were provided free in our original chalet booking. Eventually the tour operator agreed to pay for half a bottle of house wine per person, but would not pay for coffee. Several lessons can be learned from this incident. First, the need for club members to stick together and to demand proper compensation for breach of contract by tour operators and secondly for tour operators to recognise when they are in the wrong and be generous in compensating clients so as to retain the future goodwill of those clients. All this and we are not even on the ski slopes!

Next morning it was raining in La Tania, but we all enjoyed the luxury of stepping out from the hotel straight onto the ski slopes. During the week we all enjoyed some marvelous skiing despite some rather flat light on some days. We visited all the places in Les Trois Vallees and found good snow at Val Thorens, La Masse and of course the Combe de Saulire. The famous black run in Courchevel 1850 named Suisse was in good condition so was attempted by all the party except one person. Unfortunately no new snow fell during our stay and the off-piste conditions were poor. There are lots of improvements and new lifts in the Trois Vallee making it probable that the Ski Club will plan a return visit to Les Trois Vallees in the near future.

Soon we all settled into the routines of the excellent French hotel, the only complaint been the length of time to serve the exquisite evening meals. We managed to reduce the time from 4 hours to a more manageable two and a half-hours. This allowed a certain club member to chat-up the female waitresses and to practise his unusual French.

For the return journey we, as usual, got up at some unearthly hour and were transported by mini bus down to Champetel where we waited in the rain for the coach to Geneva. It appeared that our tour operator, unlike other tour operators, did not provide a portacabin for clients to shelter from the rain. After some delays due to a coach breaking down elsewhere, we boarded a rather overcrowded coach for Geneva. The only change on the homeward journey was that the in-flight meals become more and more inedible and now, to add insult to injury, Air 2000 charge one pound for a coffee or other drinks.

Despite the above difficulties a good time was enjoyed by all the club members on the holiday. I would like to particularly thank Paul Sharp for organising the holiday and am sorry that he has once again been let down by the tour operator. The good thing is that club members stood their ground and obtained justified compensation by staying in the Le Montana hotel.

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