The ski trip with “Tignes” appeal
It was our final night at the Crystal Riders’ Lodge Terrachu in Tignes… Tired but exhilarated from powder-bashing, we sat round the television, watching the footage of our week’s skiing. It had been filmed by our very own Snow Guru – a personal rep devoted to our well-being on and off-piste for the week. George (9) was amused to see his mother on the telly; Max (13) was thrilled to have cracked powder skiing and to have those precious moments captured on You Tube to show his mates back home.
One week beforehand, we’d arrived in Tignes late at night to find the snow was piled so highly outside that it virtually obliterated the entire ground floor of our accommodation! Stepping in, it was instantly apparent that the Riders’ Lodge offered a funky, youthful atmosphere, somewhat different from your standard chocolate-box-cute pine-clad chalet. Picture a spacious white-washed interior adorned with skiing photography; clusters of deep settees; piles of board games; an open fire blazing in a cosy corner; a large TV screening free-riding films; an Xbox 360 with a selection of games; a pool table and bar area.
The children shot straight to the Xbox, while we tucked into free beer and hot cheesy nachos at the bar (a nightly trademark of the new Riders’ Lodge brand – as well as the more standard ‘chalet tea’ with home-baked cakes). Here, I caught up with Crystal’s assistant Product Manager, Richard Sills, who is developing the Riders’ Lodge concept. “The lodges offer all the benefits of a chalet holiday, but with a handful of added extras,” he remarked. “…homely, nourishing food; a “Snow Guru”; the chance to learn a few tricks; to film yourself in action and then to hang out and chat about it with like-minded people in the evenings.”
There are two lodges in the Alps at present – both in France (Tignes and Val Thorens) – with further openings scheduled for Austria next year. Richard explained: “They’re geared to appeal to groups of mates aged 20-40, whose hearts are more in the mountains skiing than in the bars après-skiing; freeriders; and families with kids who can ski competently – ultra-keen teenagers who want to check out the powder and try out a few tricks in the park.”
We were greeted on the first night by our very own personal “Snow Guru” – a cool dude and experienced rider, with two ski seasons in New Zealand already under his belt as a Ski Host and Courtesy Patroller. He explained his programme of ski-escorting and filming over steaming bowl of vin chaud. It turned out that Ashley Stewart (25) was not exactly a mountain guide or a ski instructor, but he certainly knew his stuff. He toured us around the slopes of Tignes with charisma and confidence, and was happy to give tips on ski technique when asked. His love of the mountains, and especially boarding, was apparent and combined well with his second passion – filming people skiing. You can read more about Ashley in our Snow Guru report.
Ashley was just one of a number of cool, experienced seasonaires at the Lodge. Tom (20), our chef, was working his third season in Tignes. His menus, chalked on the blackboard daily, focussed on nourishing, homely cuisine – warming soups, hearty beef stew, apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding (all ideal for fussy kids), washed down by jugs of wine (great for the adults too!). The Lodge also provides free packed lunches and some extra ‘Mountain Munchies’ (for a nominal extra cost) for 4 days of the week – perfect for those on a budget.
For the non-skiers in our party, there were plenty of snow pursuits too: bobsleighing, husky-mushing, ice diving, ice driving, quad biking… you name it, Tignes has it! The Lodge is perfectly placed on the edge of a vast frozen lake, beside the ice-rink, just a 5-minute stroll to the shops and restaurants at the heart of the resort. For those with an Espace Killy ski pass, the smart, modern spa-and-swimming-pool complex and ice rink are free and provided hours of après-ski fun.
Was the Riders’ Lodge a truly family-friendly experience? Well, our boys (9 and 13) thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but kids here definitely need to be keen and competent on snow and probably teenage… in attitude if not in age!
FamilySkiNews.com believes Crystal have the makings of a truly winning formula to fill a much needed gap in the ski market with their Riders’ Lodges: an affordable, good value, simple formula packed with appealing added-extras to attract free-ride devotees and families with teenagers. Barman Will (21) summed up the Riders’ Lodge experience best when he remarked: “It’s cool going on holiday with my parents, but only if I can board and hang out with like-minded people at the same time”.
At the new Crystal Riders’ Lodge, you can.