2021/22: A season of three halves

I am writing this back in the UK. We’ve been back for a week and already I’m missing La Tania, the sun, snow. And, of course, everyone who took a leap of faith and came to see us over the last few months. I am very aware that to book a ski holiday with a new, unproven business in the midst of a pandemic not to mention Brexit you need, well, as the French would say avoir des couilles. Over 400 of you proved that you are made of stern stuff and I can’t thank you all enough. Despite a rather large setback in January, we have survived to welcome you to La Tania next season.

The season got off to a great start, once I’d got the 3-day drinks licence course out of the way. I’d like to boast that my French was up to three days of French law on ‘débits de boissons’ and how to be street legal (literally) with regard to tables on the pavements, but it wasn’t. I spent last summer watching Peppa Pig in French and the original of ‘Call My Agent’, aka ‘Dix Pour Cent’ in France.

Our two chalets, Jacqueline and Amber had been empty for nearly two years when we arrived and they were like tombs (complete with a liberal coating of little black worms). It took a while for the heating to banish the chill, but that didn’t really matter as we generated our own heat with all the cleaning. By the time the BIG DAY, Sunday 12th December, arrived everything was spotless and warm. More importantly, there was cake.

What makes being a chalet host such a great job (apart from the skiing, of course!) is the people and we couldn’t have started off with a better group – a really good mix of folk who got on well with each other. Easy to please, appreciative and fun. Within a few hours it was like having a chalet full of friends staying. What’s more, the chalet was full over the next few weeks and beyond, so we couldn’t be off to a better start.

Until the 16th December, when the eponymous (nearly) Macaroon decided that Omicron was too good a chance to miss to poke BoJo and the Brits in the eye and slapped a totally pointless travel ban on, essentially, skiers heading to the French Alps. At the time we didn’t know how long it would last, but we had given an undertaking that we would pay everyone back if they were prevented from travelling so we did. I can tell you that there’s nothing that focusses the mind than spending your Christmas and New Year sending money the wrong way, but mostly we felt really sorry for people who had spent so long looking forward to a week’s skiing and now couldn’t come.

The travel ban was eventually lifted a month later, which wasn’t a moment too soon for us. Luckily for us, many of those who booked opted to carry forward their bookings to next season, so that’s another Big Thank You we owe. I can’t tell you how much that helped.

The rest of the season passed pretty much without serious incident and we settled into something approaching normality. Our guests, without exception (almost), were wonderful and I think it’s fair to say we never looked at each other and invoked the second part of the old chalet hosts’ saying “some guests you’re pleased to see arrive and some you’re pleased to see go”

Sadly, we couldn’t accommodate everyone that wanted to come and ski with us, so we have added two more chalets to our little fleet for next season. It’s exciting but a big step for us as we have to take the dreaded step of (drops voice to a whisper) employing staff, bit more of that in my next blog

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