Holmes and Blacketts dust off their skis in Eucherts, La Rosiere.

Holmes and Blacketts dust off their skis……………

Chalet Valerie, Les Eucherts, La Rosiere, France 19th to 26th March 2016

Well here we are at last on our first ever Holmes family skiing holiday! The boys commented last night at dinner that they were so pleased that at last we had taken the plunge and booked a ski holiday after years of rhetoric and no action! Now thanks to Mountain Beds who followed my brief to a tee (somewhere small and relaxed where I wouldn’t lose the children and no cool posers to make us feel self conscious, good value, catered and near the slopes) they are predictably hooked as are Dominic and I after not skiing for over 25 years and even then, not hugely experienced!

We are here with my brother, Jamie and wife Sheri and son Olllie (21) who have had several holidays over the years but not for a while. Ralph (12) complete beginner, Freddie (15) skiied 1 week before and Hector (17) skiied 2 weeks before, are all attending ski school every morning while the other 5 of us have fab private instructor from the ski school, Didier. He is just what we need to get us out of bed and bring our confidence back. Not sure we are looking quite the style he is trying to achieve but I think we are getting there and have plenty to put into practice in the afternoons!

The team La Rosiere

The team La Rosiere

Only problem…..sad to admit to stereotyping the men in our party, they just want to go everywhere at what seems break neck speed and no chance for Sheri and I to put into practice our elegant shussing. First afternoon, we bowed to Ralph’s request to ski with his brothers and cousin after only a morning on the nursery slopes – terrifying as he headed off down every run at 100 mph snow plough. A few forays off piste and a few wipe outs but by the end of the day we had to declare “ by Jove, he’s got it!”

Second day, we headed over to Italy after ski school where the slopes are north facing – so better snow, as opposed to the south facing slopes of La Rosiere that can get a bit slushy in the afternoon. There are some great runs over there but means a steep red run down from the chair lift followed by longest button lift I have ever seen – which I managed to fall off half way up! I was rather hopeful that one of those snowmobiles with a hunky driver would sweep down and pick me up but frustratingly, I had to walk up the rest of it to the top. Great annoyance from my sons at having to wait for me and couldn’t believe I could be so stupid but it was a good point at which to break into 2 parties – girls and boys! Sheri and I have discovered some lovely authentic Italian bars with yummy hot choc which is solid melted chocolate and some great motorway runs and the boys have challenged themselves on the few blacks they can find and covered large area of runs in both Italy and France.



Lunches, we make and take with us and eat surreptitiously outside a bar having bought beers and some bowls of chips to share – whenever a waiter scouts around, we grab a chip very obviously and haven’t yet been chucked out!

The boys are now all looking really good and it has been worth them sticking to ski school despite Hector and Freddie finding the adults in their group a bit restricting and Ralph annoyed at having to stay on nursery slopes for first couple of days but he was soon moved up a class and now doing parallel turns and looking better than the rest of us! It hasn’t been hugely cool for Ollie to ski in the mornings with his parents and aunt and uncle but good for his skiing as it is ironing out bad habits and he still looks cool and having unpicked all our bad habits, we seem to be similar standards although I am the only one with a big black bruise on each cheek…not on my face after I skiied straight into Ollie and took him out. When Jamie took Sheri out, Didier produced his medicine – Genepi – a local speciality a bit like green chartreuse which he says the ski bums make when they have nothing else to do all summer! Instant remedy!

Time to relax

The Boys

The boys have been out a couple of nights after we have settled into bed to discover the night life which resulted in Didier having to ask Ollie one morning if he was “ung oovair!”

Fog and midweek lethargy which Didier said was normal, gave most of us an excuse for an afternoon off on weds but no rest for Dominic and uncle Jamie who were dragged out by Ralph for an afternoon on the slopes – the fog cleared and they had an afternoon of great skiing on fab snow, on empty slopes – that’ll teach the rest of us! We’ll have to work hard for rest of the week to make up for skiving!

La Rosiere

La Rosiere

Have to mention the comfortable chalet to ourselves – apartment really – which sleeps 8 with amazing views – and we have very helpful Andie looking after us and cooking yummy breakfast, tea and 3 course dinner with unlimited wine – all this typing is making me peckish for another scrumptious flapjack! Her cakes are to die for and haven’t hung around!

Wednesday was Andie’s day off so she booked us a table at a very authentic Savoyarde restaurant called Les Marmottes. We had a fondue to start then yummy main courses but the servings were so large that we were defeated so tip for future is to have either fondue or main but not both! The walk to La Rosiere is like a trip to Narnia along a snowy wooded track with lampposts along the way. Ralph was dead beat after his exertions and none of the rests we had all had and he and I managed to find a free minibus to drop us right outside our chalet! The other boys headed out for some apres ski and were heard returning at 3.30am – all a little quiet at lunchtime, having miraculously made it to ski school and only coke for lunch instead of the usual beers.

A welcome rest

A welcome rest

Yesterday we lunched at the much better value bar at the Fort at the head of the San Bernard pass – very historic – Hannibal brought his ellies through and Napolean his armies and the fort would have been a key position in both world wars with France and Italy on opposing sides. Very welcome vin chaud as quite chilly at the top! We skiied from there to La Rosiere to spend a while sitting in the sun on the pistes watching a ski acrobatic jumping competition.

I have opted for a day off as I’ve annoyingly got a raging temperature and chesty cough which required a trip to Dr Nawi for some antibiotics – yet another amazing service from Melissa who happened to know the doctor here. He is charming – the only doctor in the region and has been here 37 years so hugely experienced.

Sounds like I opted for the best day to rest – everyone headed off for a final long day, skipping ski school to have some fun in Italy but have just heard that they have already had 2 restaurant stops, weather is horrid and ski lifts shut. It is snowing lightly down here in the village so probably good snow up the pistes for next week’s skiiers! Lucky chaps!

Annabel Holmes.



Eve’s Trip to Verbier

In the Cable Car

In the Cable Car

First lift up. Not much snow on lower slopes but enough open higher up for a cruising long weekend with my mum. Lots of sun, so lunch on le Dahu terrace. Pizza so yummy I ate it before I remembered to take a photo!


Montfort too icy so had a delicious long lunch at la Vache on day two with a table for 14 all to ourselves. One of the good things about coming to Verbier before the Xmas crowds. Our favourite restaurant.

La Vache

La Vache

Cuckoo Nest. I shared mummy’s snails. All food delicious again ending with tea and biscuits in the comfy seats in the ‘Porsche lounge’!!! Mummy thinks you probably need to be James Blunt to sit in there in high season!




I had curious but surprisingly tasty vegetables for room service supper at the gorgeous Hotel Cordee des Alpes. The best spa ever. Beautiful pool to swim in when it’s dark outside. No pictures sorry, too busy relaxing.

romanesco broccoli
Eve (age 13)

Great start to the 2015 Ski Season

VERBIER – 26-30 November 2015 – Temperatures -12, fresh snow and empty pistes – BLISS……………….. a better start to last season when it was warm and did not snow properly until Christmas eve…………

26 November 2015 – Luton / Geneva with Easyjet as no flights yet from Stansted.  We picked up a Fiat 500 which is a great car for midgets.  Myself at the wheel accompanied by Joyce Reid/Peak ski – a Verbier veteran for over 30 years + Melissa in the back- many stories were shared about the last quarter of a century.

sunrise verbier friday 27 november 2015 view from concorde bedroom

Sunrise and snow

 We arrived in Verbier covered with snow and colder than -12 degrees C.  So it was off to the Pub Mont Fort for their in-house burger, washed down by beer and dole blanche.

27 November 2015 – woke up to Crystal clear skies and a wonderful sunrise over the Mountainbeds after days of snow – trees creaking with the weight…..





new ski boots and 35 year old ski pants - the height of fashion for season 2015-2016

35 years old pants but new boots!

Sudden alarm – I discovered that my lack of skiing last year mean’t my kit was no longer in Verbier but tucked away at home.  Much to Melissa’s horror I had to dig out my 1980’s ski pants and top it off with my everyday fleece jacket.

Melissa had always vowed she would never be seen skiing with me in those ski pants in Verbier but after 10 years together I finally got my way and much to our amusement no-one even noticed!!!  In my brand new atomic ski boots fitted by No1 and 35 year old ski trousers, I never expected to be a trend setter in fashion. 





sunset over creblet verbier Friday 27 november 2015 an epic first day of the winter season

Sunset over Creblet

We worked most of the day then snuck up the mountain for a late ski at 3pm  – empty pistes, cold air, fresh tracks galore – an epic start to the ski season and a wonderful sunset over Creblet on our way home.

Friday evening brought us down to earth with a cold shock – a quick trip to the agency to collect the key and open up Chalet Larzey for the Household Cavalry turned into an 18 hour challenge.   The chalet temperature was -1 degrees C and when we turned up the radiators there was no improvement.  Ice cubes dropped from the kitchen sink so we had a problem………….keys to the boiler room were finally tracked down by about 8pm and we discovered the boiler had locked out/no hope of starting.


We sat shivering for about 45 minutes in the old chalet where Melissa had worked in 1990 and more recently arranged for the chalet to be used in the series Ladette to Lady.   The trusty boilerman was called who fortunately managed to kick start the boiler and change the oil feed – My french plumbing vocab has definitely improved and we shut off the water keeping everythiing crossed that the chalet would defrost for the arrival of the cavalry at midday on Saturday.   An 08.30 meeting with another plumber resulted in my discovery of a great swiss technique of defrosting pipes by passing an electric current through the pipework with a machine which looked  like a small electric welder.  This process worked BUT not completely…………….


When the ski team of the Household Cavalry arrived we still have frozen pipes and about 2 hours after we had a panic call to say that the kitchen was flooded and water was pouring into the downstairs bathroom -The trusty plumber returned to confirm that  the plastic pipe to the dishwasher had burst and the dishwasher was now KAPUT……………..we had narrowly escaped a flood and the soldiers good humour saved the day and the good news is they will have a brand new dishwasher.    NO skiing for us on Saturday.

Sunday 29th – A great morning ski before cramming in lots of chores for the rest of the day…………….Finished off  by an evening walk under a clear night sky to a delicious dinner washed down by Dole Blanche at Le Rouge.

Melissa skiing

Melissa Skiing

Monday 30th – After 28 years of skiing in Verbier, Melissa finally managed to get on the first lift in the morning and we were even there waiting for the gates to open.  




Empty piste


We rattled up and down from Attelas/james Blunt chair 9 times on freshly corduroyed empty pistes till 10.30 – when the British army hit the slopes for their assessment it was time  to evacuate – a fabulous morning and a great way to start the week.


It was very satisfactory to be back at our computers at 09.30 UK time………………

AN EPIC START TO THE SEASON 2015-2016 – lets hope it continues in they way it began.


Summer in Verbier

Walking in the Swiss Alps

Summer in Verbier

We drove to Verbier to do some walking in the Swiss Alps. This is something I have wanted to do for years and so was very excited by the prospect. The wait was worth it, the mountains in the summer totally surpass the winter vistas.  The village has a very relaxed and calm atmosphere with people sitting outside all the restaurants, it is much quieter and you don’t have all the clobber required for skiing.

Verbier Meadows

Verbier Meadow

Meadows Flowers in Verbier

The mountains are covered in a carpet of alpine flowers, the sun did not stop shining, the air was clear and you really felt it was making you well just breathing it in.

View from Pierre Avoi, Verbier

View from Pierre Avoi

Pierre Avoi

We did some wonderful walks and even reached the peak of the Pierre Avoi, it was worth the climb for the panoramic views.


Pierre Avoi Verbier

Pierre Avoi Verbier

I had to restrain myself to not break into a rendition of “Climb every Mountain” expecting to see Julie Andrews round every corner or at the very least Heidi, sadly we were disappointed on that front.

Walking t hesnow line.Summer in Verbier

Walking the snow line.

We walked in the snow line and saw high mountain lakes, marmotte’s playing in the sun, endless streams with ice cold crystal clear water tumbling down, amazing butterflies and of course some of the most stunning flowers. From the intense heat we have been having around Europe recently the mountain air was a real respite from it, a memorable and very exciting trip, one to repeat and something I would recommend to anyone.

Thank you Charlotte for your words and happy memories.

If you would like help finding accommodation in Verbier please click here .


Skiing in Champoluc Italy

Skiing in Champoluc Italy

Getting to Champoluc via Turin

Who doesn’t love a chilly 3.30am start to their day? Well not us particularly, but the thought that we might make it to the slopes of Champoluc by lunch time spurred us on.  After much fast driving to the airport we arrived in good time to sit down to a civilised breakfast at Pret a Manger.  I say civilised, it was only 5.30am at this stage, but their coffee and freshly baked pastries are by far the best offerings at Stansted, so an essential stopover on the way to the plane.   Sadly, for some of our party, they didn’t get into the priority checking-in queue – evidently their flirting techniques weren’t quite up to scratch.

I find there are two types of travellers on those early morning flights – those who stay awake and those who fall asleep; so some of us marvelled at the view of the mountains as we soared into Turin Airport and some of us woke up when the wheels hit the tarmac.  Ryan air exceeded themselves with one of their many on time flights and fanfares on arrival.

It was beautifully sunny as we stepped off the plane and headed for the second coffee hit of the day whilst the more organised amongst us went to get the car we had hired from Sicily By Car.  Some say Mussolini died in 1945 but we were sure he was there behind the car hire desk being officious and making us stick to our allotted car pick up time!

Arrival at Hotel Relais des Glaciers, Champoluc

Finally, after much faffing in the car park we located our spacious vehicle and started the one and a half hour drive to Ayas/Champoluc , driving through a mixture of industrial and farm land with the promise of glinting mountains far off in the distance.  A little after midday we arrived in Champoluc at the Hotel Relais des Glaciers to be greeted by “local” Simon from Ski2.  It seemed that within a nano second we were booked in, changed, driven up to the office, given lift passes and pushed up in the gondola quicker than you could say “where am I having my lunch?”

Mountain Restaurants

Restaurant Le Rascarde Frantze Champoluc

Restaurant Le Rascarde Frantze

For those of you in any doubt, lunch, or LUNCH was talked about with relish pretty much every hour.  Where were we going?  What could we eat? What were we drinking?  Was it small, quiet and out of the way?  Our ski day was dominated by LUNCH – but that’s because we are food and wine obsessed.  The general idea was to ski with only a small stop for coffee until about 2.30 to 3 whereupon we would hole up in some mountain top restaurant for a bit and then ski the last lift down.

Spa at Hotel Relais des Glaciers

At the end of the day we enjoyed a few beers and nibbles in a nearby bar before heading back to the hotel for some not very well earned spa time.  The Relais has a great spa basement with a huge bubble pool, steam rooms, saunas and even an outdoor Jacuzzi which we managed to abuse on a regular basis.  I have to say that the first day it wasn’t really necessary to indulge in the spa but it was so well worth it on the following days when we had been buffeted by every wind known to man, had freezing snow pelted into our faces and given our legs a thorough workout.  Running up the outdoor steps in a wet swimsuit before hopping into the outdoor Jacuzzi with the snow falling on your head was an experience that will linger for some time.  Oh yes, that and the snow angels we all did directly outside the hotel reception area – and yes, we are all approaching 50 years old… I hope they didn’t notice!

Champoluc Ski Area

Off Piste Champoluc

Off Piste Champoluc

The next day, having had a relatively early night, we met Emrich from the Champoluc ski school for a 9am start.  Keen as mustard we started up the mountain with the first topic of conversation being LUNCH (I did warn you).  Emrich recommended the restaurant Campo Baso which serves an amazing Tibetan curry on Tuesdays.  This confirmed, we headed off for a great mornings ski taking in a bit of off piste down to Stafal for coffee then over towards Alagna and Gressoney.  Lunch at 2.30 was very much looked forward to as we didn’t really slow down in between.  That evening we sat in the hotel restaurant reliving our face plants and eating a large amount of cheese.  The local cuisine is very heavily biased towards cheese, cabbage and potatoes.  I will let you make up your own mind about that!

Eagle Couloir Champoluc

Eagle Couloir Champoluc

On Wednesday, we booked Emrich again.  Our party of 5 split into two groups with the more intrepid members skinning up the mountain for two and a half hours to do some off piste and the others sticking to on piste and skiing all the way to Alagna.  The runs, despite the horrible weather, were fabulous.  Empty, wide, well pisted etc.  The off piste group had a mixed result with some skis not behaving terribly well and some interesting charades later for us to guess what movements they were doing on the mountain side!

Mountain Restaurant L'Aroula Champoluc

Restaurant L’Aroula Champoluc

We met up again for lunch at the fabulous l’Aroula – it’s a quick little off piste runnette to the restaurant with the cosiest little room in which to thaw out.  Our food options were varied but it appears that mountain soup is not for the faint hearted.  Their love of cheese, cabbage and potato was embodied in a bowl with the added thrill of a sausage or two.  Good thing it was so cold outside that we could burn calories just by breathing.   We decided, in a fit of madness to open a bottle of Amarone, the classic, full bodied, heavily fruited Italian red wine delicately served in a glass decanter no less– not bad for a restaurant in the mountains!  Well, at 16% alcohol we were all feeling somewhat light headed and more than a little silly as we skied home.

Thursday brought heavy snow all day so we kept to the pistes.  The wind was so forceful at the top of the mountains that we were scared of getting stranded.  Our lifts, both chair and bubble stopped on various occasions, and we were left to swing gently in mid air which is always very reassuring.  I am not sure the Italian couple in one lift appreciated our rendition of 80’s hits.  Luckily I only understood a little of their conversation.  I think the expression on their faces rather said it all.

Mountain Restaurant Collebettaforca

So this was critically the last day of LUNCH.  At the very beginning of our stay, Ski2 had given us luncheon vouchers to be used at various eateries both on the mountain and in the town.  We had been told that the restaurant Collebettaforca at the top of the Collebetta lift was a hidden gem and took the vouchers.  They were right.  OMG, we had the most delicious lunch of all successfully using 19 vouchers in one go– feather light fresh cottage cheese and homemade pillow like foccacia.  The most awesome foie gras with onion relish.  Guinea fowl with slow braised fennel and garlic and of course the eponymous homemade mountain pasta.  It was mouth-wateringly good.  The service was friendly and charming and we loved it.

The thought of the ski down to Champoluc in the gale force winds having spent a good hour and a half tucked up in the warmth with great food and wine was rather daunting but we made it down and no one had any broken bones or twisted legs and arms so we all thought we got off lightly.  The day was finished off with one of our group – who shall remain nameless – singing karaoke Abba and earning herself a free grappa.

That evening the spa was a welcome and warm friend.

Snorkel Powder

Ski Jump Champoluc

45+ going on 15

Our last day dawned with the surprise of over a metre of fallen snow on the hills.  With only hours to go before we were due to head home, the lure of “snorkel powder” was too great – in fact it was a FANTASTIC opportunity to experience sun, snow, powder, great conditions etc etc and at least two of our group sprayed themselves top to toe with snow by about 9.10am.  By 11 we had dug the car out of the car park hotel and were on our way back to Turin.

We will return to Champoluc

To summarise, we had a really great few days in Champoluc being royally looked after by Ski 2 and the lovely team at Relais des Glaciers.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at every moment.  The resort is small and compact but has beautiful, well-maintained runs.  The food and wine we found was exceptional and we are all looking forward to returning next year.  Thank you Mountain Beds for arranging it all.

If you want to see more skiing in Champoluc have a look at our Swedish Off Piste Pals video

Thank you to our guest blogger Filippa Scott.

Mountain Beds can arrange ski holidays to Champoluc please call 01502 471960 or email info@mountainbeds.com



Ski Holidays in Slovakia

Ski Holidays in Slovakia in the Tatras Mountains

I spent a great weekend looking into Ski Holidays in Slovakia checking out ski resorts and accommodation in the Tatras Mountains. Although the skiing is not extensive there is enough for good skiers and free-riders to have a good short-break or for beginners/young families for the week.  Transfer times are short and the hotels offer fantastic facilities including super wellness areas and good food at reasonable prices.  To add to the fun there are some large water parks heated by thermal springs offering indoor and outdoor pools with slides and extensive wellness areas in the valley nearby.  Your lift pass covers either a day on the slopes or entry to the water park offering a great alternative for young families or those wanting a break from skiing.

Flights (well priced and short transfer times)

Wizz Air offers flights from Luton to Poprad/Tatry in Slovakia for approximately £100 return.  Poprad is very small, newly built and just 20 minutes away from Tatranska Lomnica and 50 minutes from Jasna.  Wizz Air has flights on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday leaving Luton just after 2.00pm and departing Poprad at 18.15pm.  So you arrive in time to familiarize yourself with the resort and depart after skiing on the last day.


Jasna, Low Tatras about 50 minutes from the Airport.

Jasna 1117m is the largest ski resort located on Mount Chopok at a height of 2024m.  It has 46km (27km artificial) of assorted slopes (blue 20%, red 49%, black 21%) as well 12 free ride zones, a snowpark and Maxiland for young children.  There are 4 cable lifts, 8 chair lifts and 18 tows.  In the evenings enjoy night skiing, hotel wellness, partying at the Happy End Champagne bar and Nightclub or enjoy a 5 course meal up the mountain via piste-basher.   Try out the small ice-rink, go to Tatralandia an enormous water park heated with thermal water and an extensive wellness area or try flying on a jet of air at Superfly (need to prebook).

There is a ski-bus running during the day and there are some evening buses.  There are also buses to the nearby town of Liptovsky and Tatralandia (about 30minutes away).

Wellness Grand Hotel Jasna

Wellness Hotel Grand **** just across from the lifts, very nice rooms, large light modern lounge and restaurant with Wellness including indoor pool with massage jets, whirlpools and saunas indoor and outdoor and treatment rooms.

Jasna Chalet Deluxe

Chalets Jasna Deluxe **** by the lift in Zahradky (just lower down the valley).  Great serviced self-catered chalets

Tri Studnicky Hotel

Tri Studnicky Hotel **** 6km down the valley.  A boutique hotel with a fabulous kitchen.  A combination of rustic charm with stylish features and a Wellness area of indoor and outdoor whirlpools, saunas, relax and treatments rooms.

There is a ski-bus running during the day and there are some evening buses that stop at both Tri Studnicky and Jasna Chalets.  There are also buses to the nearby town of Liptovsky and Tatralandia (about 30minutes away).

Tatranska Lomnica High Tatras about 20 minutes from the Airport.

Tatranska Lomnica 850m has 9 lifts including new heated covered chairlifts.  It offers 12 runs which are mainly blues and reds with one black run and a free ride zone.  There are 11.9km of slopes 57% blues, 33% red and 10% black. The neighbouring resort Hrebienok 1285m has another 3 lifts offering 4 pistes green and blue including a 2.6km toboggan run lit at night.

Enjoy the view from the restaurant at Lomnicky Stit 2634m the highest point accessible by Cable Car.  Skalnate Pleso is at the top of the red runs with restaurant, view point and accessible by bubble.  Enjoy an evening trip by piste basher with dinner and/or alternative ways of getting back down the slopes including toboggans or bike skis.

Exterior Grand Hotel Praha

Grand Hotel Praha ****  perched on the mountainside with far reaching views.   A beautiful old style hotel with lovely rooms and modern bathrooms as well as a fantastic wellness area including indoor and outdoor pools.  Excellent food is served in the traditional dining room.

Ski Holidays in Slovakia can be arranged by Mountain Beds please give us a call on 01502 471960 or email camilla@mountainbeds.com