By Peter Clarke
Just about surviving the scrum that airport 'checking in' is these days we departed for snowy climes in the Savoie region of the French Alps.
Arriving in Geneva we transferred to our resort in something like 3 hours of a rather slow and tortuous journey but eventually we climbed up to the 'white stuff' and spirits were heartened by the extensive snow cover and the proximity of our hotel to the lifts and pistes.
First impressions of the hotel were confirmed as we checked in and proceeded to our rooms. It was disappointing to say the least. Rooms were pokey and poorly appointed, breakfasts were a melée of disorganisation and the whole atmosphere was one of shabbiness and untidiness. Some of the young staff tried but they were really up against it. Still it was right next door to several lifts so we avoided the tiresome walks with ski gear or waiting for the 'navette' to transport us to some outlying idyll.
I liked the group very much. There were 20 of us and there was a pleasant mix of old and new members, just old and new bodies, novice and expert skiers. And they gelled well. Everybody I spoke to really enjoyed the company and the skiing. Some of us stuck together with the same people every day others varied their skiing partners.
You can't go wrong with the Three Valleys. There is so much skiing of all grades, many updated lifts, well groomed pistes and good direction markers. Any moaning about the cost of a ski pass is soon dissipated when you experience the number and quality of the lift system. We had four sunny days when I thought I had died and gone to heaven and two poor days of cloud, wind, snow and even rain. Thankfully there were no injuries that I know of.
One group of intrepid skiers in our party had an unpleasant and frightening encounter with worsening conditions - blizzards, white out, declining light, cold, lifts closing. I will let them reveal the details of their 'nightmare'.
Our return to Manchester was smooth and uneventful although Geneva Airport seems to excel in the stressful stakes.
Just two observations. I agree with Derek that maybe we should be looking at spending more on the hotels on our holidays and also if securing a booking of 40 in one hotel is difficult, using two bases. Also it was great to see young blood in the group and these members could be targeted to encourage others to join. One of these members said that they perceived that the club was only for expert skiers and so hesitated to join for some time.
Obviously on behalf of all the participants on this successful holiday many thanks go to Brian, Paul, John and Dave for all their organisation, patience and planning. If I have missed the names of others instrumental in all the hard work I apologise.