Morzine family chalet Chilly Powder in the French Alps packs a real punch
There is certainly something about being up in the mountains that gives you a head space you’re not quite afforded anywhere else.
Hours seem to go that little bit slower and it’s hard to get bored of savouring the views of French Alps, draped in snow which quite literally sparkles like diamonds under the sun.
It’s very easy to be alone with your thoughts while at the same time wanting to capture and share the beauty of this dramatic landscape with everyone you know.
It was a search for ‘freedom’ and a chance opportunity which first led Francesca Eyre to venture to Morzine for a short escape from the all-consuming London lifestyle, she had been living, running her own catering business
Little did she know in her early 20s, this little known town nestled in Alps, just an hour and a half ride from Geneva, would capture the heart.
As love stories go she found an instant connection with the small community and as it happens husband Paul, a former quantity surveyor, who she met whilst on that ‘short break.’
Now French residents and 25 years later Morzine is most definitely their home.
Following their whirlwind romance they embarked on a new life and business adventure of their own, initially renting ski chalets before investing and building their own, Au Coin Du Feu translated as ‘by the fireside’ in 1996.
A name so apt, as we relaxed on our first afternoon, next to a beautiful roaring log fire at ‘Chilly Powder’, where we had the pleasure as guests for a seven night stay.
The accommodation is one of five luxury chalets under the Chilly Powder name, offering both catered and self-catered opportunities.
The 16 rooms of Au Coin Du Feu are situated at the foot of the ski slopes that link Morzine with Avoriaz, in the area of Les Prodains.
A ski to door location, the main lift to Avoriaz is just a stones throw away (1800m)
Family run business Avoriaz Alpine Ski School, founded by Ian Mckellar has been offering private and group lessons since 1992.
They are a small team of British and local instructors and all hold the highest international qualification and provide fun, informative lessons in English.
Our instructor Pierre Bayet has more than 30 years experience and over two days was excellent, in guiding us around the different terrains of the resort and in giving expert tuition.
My sister who had never stepped into ski-boots let alone taken on a slope, was competently manoeuvring a variety of runs after just three days and mastering key techniques through our lessons made all the difference. Pierre was both patient and most helpful.
You can finish your day on the slopes with a blue, red or black piste, quite literally into the back garden of Chilly Powder.
From there you're welcome to make the most of a daily afternoon tea, enjoy a sauna or a massage, followed with drinks in the private bar or the outdoor hot tub.
A blissful way to while away an hour and ease the muscles.
Everything about this trip to Morzine was seamless. It was just an hour and a half flight to Geneva with Jet2 airlines from Manchester airport. Transfers from both private and group are easy to come by.
Leading leisure airline Jet2.com offers friendly low fares and great flight times to Geneva from Manchester Airport.
Flights start from £25 one way including taxes.
For more information please visit www.jet2.com or call 0800 408 5599
There are a host of locally based ski businesses in Morzine, with a wealth of experience and knowledge.
The team at All Mountain Rental provided specialist equipment and ski boots fitted with superfeet orthotic foot bed supports. Very simple but making all the difference when it comes to the comfort of your ski boots - which always take getting used to.
The added benefit is staff deliver their equipment direct to the door on arrival in resort and collect at the end of your stay.
The resort itself, has grown significantly since Chilly Powder opened its doors in 1997 and a huge expansion is on horizon with a 35 million euro investment set to transform the area, with a new ski lift development linking Morzine and Avoriaz, set to be completed in 2021.
Despite the growing competition, the Eyres are welcome of the project. Besides there remains something quite special and unique about the Chilly Powder set-up and it’s more than the name.
A name Francesca came in a light bulb moment even before the idea of running a ski resort had become a reality.
“Chilly Powder came to me on a drive to a lunch one day - I thought it would make a good name for a ski business and I just sort of stored it.”
There is no shortfall of family friendly accommodation but what the Eyre’s who raised three children, all whilst running and managing the full time business, have mastered, is the perfect model.
A week under their hospitality, without the children, gave a unique insight into how they built-up Chilly Powder to ensure every guest staying, no matter what age is afforded a holiday.
Chilly Powder is the very definition a ‘home from home’ and this validated by the returning guests, many year on year, some stretching three generations.
Nannies, a early children’s dinner service, cinema and large playroom, kids ski school and the five course gourmet dinners with wine certainly are some of the draws.
They even host a mini celebration event at the end of the week - sharing pictures and film of the children's achievements.
The attention to detail and level of service radiates through this traditional yet quirky chalet lovingly adorned with personal and sentimental fixtures and fittings
The staff too, some long held and some seasonal, share in the Chilly Powder ethos and values.
At the heart of Paul’s vision was that roaring log fire, a living and dining space combined with an adults-only library to retreat to or the mini sports bar. All the Eyres are talented and gifted sportsmen and women.
The concept was perfectly executed. Francesca says the couple were heavily involved at all stages of the build and renovation and in creating the overall ambience.
It was she says a gamble but the food would be their niche. It certainly is. That and the award winning wines.
Evenings felt very much like a familiar dinner party, where good wine flows freely and guests share in leisurely chat, while the staff willingly share insider knowledge and local information.
Their inspiration, hard work and determination has more than paid off.