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Review of Courchevel 1650 - Le Biol Chalet

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This review relates to the visit my wife and I paid the Courchevel 1650 staying in Silver Ski's Le Biol chalet on 17-24 Jan 2010. The holiday cost was £499 per person + £25 ski carriage.

Booking: 4/5 Effortless. All information sent by email including info on purchasing lift passes in advance. Passes were purchased for us on the Monday before the holiday and confirmation sent immediately. Exchange rate was 1.08 whereas I was getting near 1.14 from cashpoints in resort.

Flights and transfers: 4/5 Good if you don't mind really early departures. Monarch flight from Gatwick to Grenoble at 06.25 on Sunday morning. Third plane out of Gatwick so minimising risk of accumulated delays. Boeing 757 with 240 seats. With a small delay arrived Grenoble about 9.00 French time. Transfer was excellent with only 19 passengers on 50 seater coach. Passes handed out by resort rep (who went on another coach). Our coach left the airport rapidly at 9.40 and arrived at chalet at 12.00. Quickest such transfer we have had. Excellent transfer and flight on the way home, arriving Gatwick at 10.30 am.

Welcome in chalet: 4/5 Very good. All rooms were ready and the chalet was clean, bright and modern. Brief introduction from the delightful young chalet team of 4 (a good ratio to 19 guests); tea and soup were on the go but we skipped in order to get out skiing.

Chalet staff: 4/5 A delightful foursome. Two Scots and two Aussies. They were all very helpful and engaging. This was their first experience of being in the Alps, and early in the season for them. They were developing their understanding of what it is to be chalet hosts and while some of the touches we have experienced in other chalets were missing, these were only relatively minor problems.

Chalet position: 5/5 Wonderful (for us). The chalet is located just a few yards from the Granges drag that gives rapid access to the main slopes in 1650 and also a quick hop over to 1850. The Granges piste takes you back to the chalet door and is a delightfully quiet run to finish the day. However, the chalet is somewhat isolated from the bars and shops of 1650. It is possible to get a free bus to and from town but this finishes at 7.00 pm. On staff night off we had a long and pretty arduous walk up the piste back to the chalet. On a couple of occasions we finished our skiing in 1650, had a few drinks in the bar (beware the Mutzig!) and then hopped on the bus home ready for dinner. While we are prepared to make our own evening amusement, and relished the peace and quiet of the chalet, it is not for those who want to carouse the bars until the small hours - and if you do there is a very sobering walk up the piste home!

[u]Social skiing:[u] 3/5 OK. This was offered on 3 of the six days and was taken up by most of the 19 guests, including a visit by 12 0f us to the 4th Valley beyond Val Thorens. Our leader was obviously still learning his way around the 3 Valleys and one of the other staff joined us each day to act as sweeper given the large number of guests using the service. My wife and I passed on a few tips as we know the area very well – I hope he found them helpful and they were certainly not meant as an attempt to undermine him.

[u]Food:[u] 2/5 Variable. For us the only disappointment. Scrambled eggs and porridge for breakfast every day, plus cereals bread etc. Afternoon tea was a bit of cake. Dinners ranged from very good (roast lamb) to indifferent. The last night meal of veg soup, shepherd’s pie, chocolate ice cream was a disappointment when we expected a meal to impress. Not sure if this reflected Silver Ski generally or the limited culinary skills of the staff (who all took their turn at cooking). Touches like having a fruit bowl available and bread and jam for afternoon tea would have been nice.

[u]Snow and weather:[u] 5/5 Brilliant. Apart from the first afternoon when we arrived, and on the Wednesday afternoon, we had wall to wall sunshine. Snow was groomed to perfection (though the reds down to Le Praz were icy and thin). Otherwise super, brilliant, marvellous (get the picture?).

[u]The resort:[u] 4/5 Great. Courchevel 1650 is a quieter and out of the way part of the 3 Valleys, with generally non-challenging slopes. They are ideal for beginners and intermediates who want to brush up their techniques. Access to 1850 and thereafter other parts of the 3 Valleys can be quite rapid – we got over to the 4th Valley with a group of 15 skiers who were of varying ability and in a relatively leisurely fashion.

[u]Overall:[u] 4/5 An excellent holiday and good value for money. Despite our reservations about the food this was one of our best ski holidays. We will certainly use Silver Ski again and would like to try their other chalets. But we will be very happy to return to Le Biol sometime soon as we love Courchevel 1650.
Very Happy
ski holidays

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