Lloyd and Sarah Rogers, both title winning British snowboarders, met on the ski slopes of Val d’Isere. Sarah is now retired, and for the past 14 years the forty-something couple have run Chalet “Number One“. A chalet in a restored 500-year-old Savoyard, stone-built farmhouse in the hamlet of La Masure near the ski resorts of Val d‘Isere Tignes, Les Arcs and Sainte Foy. Lloyd describes a typical week during the snow season…
This is the most unpredictable and busiest day because it’s when one lot of guests leave and the next arrive. Usually those on their last morning have their breakfast between 8am-9am. As well as breakfast and dinner we also serve afternoon tea, so while the guests are eating their croissants, Sarah will make a cake, such as carrot or marble, for the afternoon. Once the guests have gone she and the hired help will strip the sheets from the six rooms and give the place a thorough clean. I look after our two children, Nelson, 7, and Maya, 10, and take them to the slopes. Both love skiing but differently. Nelson’s ski club is focused on racing while Maya’s is more fun with free-sking and going off-piste. Usually, guests start arriving late afternoon but it can be unpredictable because of the weather. We went through one winter where it snowed very heavily almost every Friday and that caused chaos, with guests arriving late into the night, and even the next day. Dinner on Saturdays is usually something like a hot pot that we can keep warm for those who have been delayed.
We usually got to bed by about 10.30pm the night before, although it has been as late as 1am. People always have a lot of questions for us to answer – especially about the weather forecast – and because it is their first day here they like to stay up. Tiredness usually doesn’t set in until the day after they arrive. But breakfast is still from 8am so no rest for us!
After we’ve tidied away breakfast our family goes skiing. We try to get in a good half day before we come home in time for Sunday lunch – usually roast chicken, the children’s favourite. Guests start returning from the slopes in time for tea. While they’re enjoying the cake we prep dinner, and starting cooking between 6pm-7pm to serve it at 8pm. Everyone eats around one large table. One of my jobs is to be the convivial host so I will often have dinner with everyone, especially if it’s a number of different groups and couples, to get the conversation flowing.
Breakfast as usual but on Mondays – and another two times during the week – we also have to deal with an early morning delivery of fresh vegetables other necessities, at about 7.30am. We also have to get the children off to school – they get the 8.15am bus from the village. After breakfast I hit the slopes. Every moment is precious on the mountain. Also, whilst I am a snowboarding champion, I am still learning to ski properly! Sarah comes with me sometimes – these days, though, she is more likely to go the gym! The children usually come back for lunch – but if Sarah and I are doing something all day they’ll eat in the canteen. This is one of our two evenings off each week so the guests eat in one of the many restaurants around here. We almost always stay at home in the apartment attached to the chalet. You don’t socialise much with your friends in winter because the French ones are working late and the English have chalets too. Also, when you have time to yourself you just want to chill and do nothing.
Not too different to Monday. I try and meet up with each of our guests on the slopes about once a week although we do not offer a guided service. There are a number of good places to ski around us so even in bad weather there is somewhere for people to go. And because we’re not right on the slopes, once everyone has gone for the day they don’t keep popping back to the chalet which makes things easier. Today I was asked by a male guest for a romantic place for lunch and I suggested a restaurant tucked away off-piste. When he came back he announced that ‘it had worked.’ He had asked his girlfriend to marry him and she had said ‘yes’ (phew!). This is such a romantic place we get a lot of engagements.
Most guests are a pleasure to have. We’ve only had three bad experiences in the 14 years we’ve been here. One was an anti-social family who didn’t mix at all, another was a couple who I am sure are no longer a couple. Our worst, though, was a group of 12 men, aged between 25-51 years. I heard them arrive mid-afternoon and went down to greet them. The car doors flew open and they all rushed straight inside completely ignoring me. They were trying to bag ‘the best rooms’ apparently. It gets worse! They had come with seven cases of wine and by 6.30pm they had drunk it all. They got through another eight bottles with dinner and afterwards were bar diving from the dining room to the lounge that are on different levels. They did calm down a little after that, but we spent the week going to bed with earplugs. We decided afterwards never to take group bookings of men!
We used to have a summer season for walking holidays but we stopped some years ago because we don’t need the income. The winter season runs from mid-December to mid-April and that is enough for us to make enough money to live on. It’s a great lifestyle as you get so much free time during the year. The past few summers have been spent building our own house, traditional on the outside but modern within, that we plan to move into this spring. We love this job but after 14 years we want to do something different. We may do up another property and I am about to start teaching snowboarding. Thursday is another evening off for us – other chalet owners only do one night and we can’t understand why. You need time for yourselves.
This is usually the day Sarah and I do our big shop down at the supermarket – although we will change this according to the ski forecast! Tonight is the guests’ last so we do something special for a night to remember. A menu is something like a starter of red onion and goat’s cheese tartlets, followed by roast venison with blueberries and white chocolate torte. We will also serve champagne. All this is devised by Sarah – she has thousands of cookbooks! But her cordon bleu skills are reserved for the guests – the family never get anything so exciting!
Chalet Number One: www.chn1.co.uk
Like the sound of what Lloyd and Sarah do? Well, it could be you. Chalet Number One is up for sale. For more details, contact the couple on 0033 ((0)4 79069533
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