My Week at the Hotel le Chalet Blanc by Dinah Stocken, January 2016
Bridge and skiing was a new first for Stockenbridge: most of us were on the flight from Turin, transferring without delay to Montgenèvre, a small ski resort on the Italian border but just in France. First impressions of this chalet-style hotel were excellent and continued for the week. We received the warmest of welcomes from Scottish Dougie, the manager, ably supported by his friendly and ever-willing Danish and Swedish staff.
The first day or so was very cold but for the rest of the week we had deep blue skies, sun, perfect snow conditions and unusual warmth for January.
Half the group were skiers and the others show-shoers. For me, sadly now a non-skier, this was something completely new and under the excellent eye of our guide and tutor, Mike, proved to be a great way of getting into the heart of the mountains. Mike was an inspiration: he pointed out the tracks of arctic hare, chamois and the resident pack of wolves; he showed us how to draw sustenance and medicinal qualities from the larch trees and rose-hips and produced delicious crystallized ginger, coffee, tea and Genepi (a yummy spirit made from local mountain flowers). The highlight was a day’s walk with a picnic of bread, local cheeses and wine with the most wonderful views from the 'Cabane des Douaniers'.
The skiers were equally happy with fresh snow on perfectly groomed pistes: they covered the local slopes, skied into Italy and had a day in the Serre Chevalier resort, home to Claudia, Philippe and their two children. Their days were totally enhanced by the presence of Philippe: an excellent and amusing ski guide and instructor for those who needed a brush-up.
Back at the hotel, we had a large and warm bridge chalet all to ourselves, with our own dining room above. Tea and a cake straight from the oven awaited us after the physical exertions of the day: just what was required to get into mental shape for the bridge.
As ever Zeb had several enticing bridge topics on the menu: delivered with customary brilliance and humour; some gentle duplicate and supervised Chicago after an excellent dinner ensured total exhaustion and satisfaction.
For me, and I know others, this was one of the best: a great group, excellent food and wine and a superb unspoilt location.
No need to change anything: roll on next year!
I had a ball! I came back not only better at bridge and skiing, but with a clear head and renewed energy.
Thank you so much for all you did to make last week so special. As always you organised everything to perfection - I do hope you will go there next year - a brilliant venue!
Thanks for a super week of skiing and bridge. I really enjoyed myself amongst a great crowd of friendly bridge players and skiers.
Big thank you for organising a super week. It was good fun and hopefully I have even learnt some bridge...
Just wanted to say thank you to Claudia, Zeb, plus of course Dinah for making last week such fun. I would love to do it again as it really brightened up the month.
It was such a bonus having Philippe with us every day on the ski slopes - not just for guiding but excellent teaching and great fun too!
What a great time we had last week! Thanks so much for all your efforts organising everything from our walks to the impromptu lunches.