And so, dear reader, I suppose I must mention the guests. Now, what happens in La Tania stays in La Tania of course, so scope for scandal is limited. Anyway, they are by and large quite a staid bunch and overwhelmingly lovely. Of all the guests we had in all four chalets, we had only one group who made life difficult for their hosts and this was fomented by the less-than-acceptable behaviour of one of the team to whom we had to reluctantly say goodbye. But we did recover her Val Thorens ski passes.
There were, as one would expect, quite a few drink-related incidents, one of which involved one of our more distinguished guests who ignored warnings about the ferocity of the vins chaud in Les Peupliers in Le Praz. He took on board four and then found it necessary to crawl through the streets of Le Praz barking like a dog. He was rescued by his son before the gendarmes realised that drink was involved and not an extreme skiing trauma.
The lure of the Ski Lodge remains irresistible for some and we always try and accommodate guests with regard to dinner time. Usually they are back on time (just), but a special mention must go to Late Martin and Late John. Every evening they were 10 minutes late. We agreed to a 10-minute extension for the next evening, but, yes, they were ten minutes late. Eventually the timer was reset to 7.30. They managed 7.40. They had gone to purchase some Val Thorens ski passes
No Cheese is a much-loved and valued guest. He, as you may have guessed, professes to dislike and therefore not eat, cheese. He is a self-proclaimed meat-and-two-veg kind of guy. We usually do our best (I can’t in all honesty say we’re happy) to accommodate such ‘dietaries’, but sometimes it’s difficult. As a host, how would you serve the very French tartiflette or lime cheesecake to No Cheese? Obviously, you rename them bacon and potato pie and lime pie, respectively. No Cheese ate them with relish and pronounced them delicious (in case you’re wondering, we did admit our deception. He asked for seconds).
I can’t move on without mentioning Zoe and Milo who were part of a group (which included Late Martin). In common with many of our guests, I would like to think have become friends.
Milo was charged with organising the week on behalf of the others, so not unusually in such cases, I got to know him quite well through our email conversations. As many people do, Milo very kindly asked if he could bring us anything from the UK. Usually, I say no, thanks, as a) we bring most things with us that we can’t get in France and b) who wants to add weight to their luggage by carting jars of Marmite?
For some reason, though, wag that I am, I said “that’s very kind. Can you bring 4 bottles of Exmoor Gold, a chicken dhansak, pilau rice and Bombay potatoes?” and thought no more of it.
I managed to save one bottle of Exmoor Gold until the end of the season. Fortunately, they decided not to bring the dhansak et al for safety reasons.
I still cringe now with embarrassment at the thought of it but would be untruthful if I didn’t say I was very pleased. Leffe is OK, but not a patch on Exmoor Gold.
The Team. Evie, Sam, Ted, Mike, Michelle and Ollie. Honestly, I tear-up a bit here. These guys were tremendous.
Mike adapted from a lifetime in the army to being a seasonaire amazingly well and let’s face it, they are about as far from each other as you could get. He did revert to being The Colonel on occasion, but for quite understandable reasons. Michelle is an absolute rock and is an expert cook and eye-roller (especially where Mike is concerned!). We were sad when they had to return to the UK a little early for family reasons.
We never saw Sam without a smile and he and Ted, who looked after Ava were an exceptional team. They took everything in their stride and produced some tremendous meals. They won the hearts of their guests and so had loads of great TripAdvisor reviews.
Evie stepped in at the last minute to look after Isla, after we were given choice but to ask the previous host to leave. Evie arrived on the Saturday, deep-cleaned the chalet and was ready for a chalet full of guest on the Sunday. She, Sam and Ted ran the two chalets as a team and from then on we had no worries and loads of happy guests! They asked for some Val Thorens ski passes!
Ollie was our ‘floater’ and, with Sam, raised the spirits of everyone. He has the rare and enviable talent (or charisma) to get to know everyone within a week or two, wherever he is. You could be on a chair lift in Val Thorens and your fellow passengers would know Ollie. He was a master at snow-clearing and bathroom cleaning.
Our young hosts played hard and worked extremely hard. La Tania is a small community and they got to know everybody, which means we were lucky enough to get to know most of them too. If ever you worry about what is happening in the world, don’t. It’s in exceptionally capable young hands.
We parted ways with one of our colleagues half-way through the season. This was a difficult and traumatic time for all of us. At the risk of sounding a little self-satisfied, we do our best to live up to our values of integrity, working hard and supporting each other so that we all – our little team and guests alike – have the best possible time while we’re in La Tania. We all slip at times, but persistent refusal to accept these values when the rest of us have, and the consistent focus on self-interest over the needs of guests, colleagues and the business, causes discord and disharmony. We felt very let down.
Sometimes it’s just easier to get it over with, isn’t it? Here’s part 3 >>>>
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