Val d’Isère instruction holiday December 2019

Reporter: Chris Tolhurst-Cleaver

Despite the early morning attendance at Manchester Airport, the mood of the 30 or so members of the Ski Club was upbeat and we were rewarded with on-time take-off and arrival in Geneva. Because we were so early in the season, Terminal 2 at Geneva (aka the cattleshed) was not yet open so we passed through the relative luxury of the main terminal.

Shortly before the start of the trip, we had been told that our destined accommodation had been changed and we were to stay in a brand-new building. The VIP Ski representatives met us at the airport and we were speedily on our way to the Tarentaise, amazed to see some leaves on the trees around Geneva.

The accommodation was very central, right beside the old church and about 150yards from the nursery slopes. It was arranged in half a dozen separate “chalets” over three floors. The VIP Ski staff kindly carted our luggage up to the chalet, which was a great help for me as I was on the second floor and the lift had not yet been commissioned. The décor was very modern and comfortable with log fires and balconies. Even better, our chalet hosts told us that the beer from the honesty bar, normally 2 euros, was free all week in earnest of the unfinished nature of the property. There were workmen constantly installing throughout the week and the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna were not reliable.

The feature of the week was fresh snow and people said they had never seen so much snow fall during a week. The resort was gearing up for a major slalom race at the weekend (which eventually was cancelled) and the Face was closed all week so one could not ski down from Bellevarde.

We had an introductory meeting with TDC on Sunday evening and were met outside the building at 0845 next day and divided into groups, about four to an instructor. I found the instruction excellent and heard no concerns from anyone. However the deficiencies in my skiing were quickly exposed by the dreadful visibility on the first day.

Tuesday was a little better but still gloomy and overcast. The midweek was fine but cold and several groups had extended teaching on these days as Friday was predicted to be a wipe-out. The weather was very bad and every lift was closed. Saturday was little better and a little skiing was available around the nursery slopes.

Despite this disappointment, we all enjoyed ourselves and were kept very comfortable by the cheerful and attentive chalet hosts. One area of dissatisfaction was that there wasn’t any area where we could all socialise, as not everyone wanted to frequent the town’s bars. This was partly ameliorated by a well- attended party kindly hosted by Barry and Jonquil and by a Champagne and Canapes get-together organised by VIP in one of the chalets.