A week of much snow

The snow really started to fall last Thursday and by Sunday we had received a further 3-4 foot. This had made our chalet access and egress a little challenging. I’d like to say that it was only really possible on skis but as even that involved a trapse through thigh high snow it was a bit tricky and we were almost cut off. The snow was so soft and powdery that one just sunk straight down (and if you’re me, you manage to cross your legs in the process at this depth whilst disappearing into the fluffy stuff, not good at 7am)

Our group did seem quite pleased but identified that eternal dilemma of not being able to have good skiing if it doesn’t snow but not really wanting it to do so when they wanted to go out. There were two distinct subgroups. The first were down at 8am, mostly the men and ready for the slopes by 8.45 by which time the rest of the group (bar 1 couple) had materialised so arrangements were made to meet up mid morning at specific points. Finally our last couple emerged for breakfast at 1-2 minutes to 9 asking for cooked breakfast, boiled egg etc and then proceeded to sit at the table with the laggers until 9.30-9.45 which prevented Roger and I from having our own breakfast or from me being able to get on with the rooms as it was one person from each couple who remained. We did manage to work round this after a fashion and it did become a consistent routine which also helped.

We managed to get out on the hill a couple of times in the week but on one occasion, when the morning had displayed glorious sunshine on fresh snow and we had determined to get a move on so we could be out earlier we’d completed by 11.45, a record for us, and donned our sallopettes etc only to find that it was starting to cloud over. We decided to go out anyway as we were all ready but chose to go low so as not to have vision impaired by cloud but found ourselves too low and back into another layer anyway. On our route back towards the main resort we were in the vicinity of my nasty fall and discovered that area to be in sunshine; I had to face my demons sometime. We made our way back to the top of the run

Top of my nemesis

Top of my nemesis

where I had fallen/been catapulted which was now open and as we cruised towards the start we could see the offending rope coiled up on one of the two fixed posts either side of the start of the

The offending rope!

The offending rope!

piste only now it displayed fluorescent orange ‘ribbons’ at intervals along it, so perhaps my mishap has prevented further accidents, potentially more serious as it could have garrotted a child. The run itself did transpire to be really nice so we had to repeat it before the weather starting closing in there as well.

On Saturday night this group held a similar presentation ceremony to the previous group (but much more respectable) and started with a thank you to ourselves, presenting us with a very generous tip before embarking on their awards. On these final evenings we also have to ask guests to fill in a feedback form. These appear to be the absolute gospel as far as the company is concerned and are used to compile all sorts of league tables. Some of our colleagues appear to be quite paranoid about them whilst we have remained blaisè.  This was helped by previous forms being very complementary of us, even to the extent of winning us the welcome award which will comprise our manager taking over an early or late shift for us at some point in the future. We had also determined that our own standard will be the size of our tip but the second week put paid to that idea when we worked our bums off, received good feedback and zero tip. However we do feel that we know when we’ve done a good job and this generous tip was a very pleasant surprise as we hadn’t really felt that we’d engaged with any of them. It was quite surprising that not one of them asked, at any time, what we, as a more mature couple, were doing there and what we had done previously. We realise that we are not the focal point of interest for the guests but as most of them are PLUs and the question does tend to crop up fairly early in the week. Therefore we shouldn’t have been surprised to get our worst feedback so far despite combining with our second best tip??! They weren’t all bad, in fact 2-3 of the forms were of our usual standard but a couple were not very complementary at all so that was a bit of a shock. I feel a resurrection of ‘Guest-assess’ particularly after one person asked for rare lamb as we were actually in the process of serving, what was I supposed to do at that point, uncook it?

We disgorged them at 6.10am on Sunday after a bit of a contratemps with management about the excessive snow clearing required for an inappropriate access and with no Fergus to help as he’d been drafted elsewhere to cover sickness, we embarked on another more manic turnaround day with first guests due at 11.45am. We also had to complete another stock take as the previous one had shown a 20% deficit! I had the 4 first floor rooms and communal areas finished by 11.30 whilst Roger had cracked on with the food prep and hot tub emptying.

Part of the access path

Part of the access path

We’d heard nothing from anyone by this time so were unsure of arrival times but as it hadn’t stopped snowing all morning we thought that there might be a bit of a delay. The path which had been dug was beginning to refill but there was little point in clearing it at that time, we’d leave it until we’d received the 5 minute warning call and carrying the rubbish bags down to meet the bus would enable us to re widen it. We are unable to make outgoing calls on our French phone so have to rely on people ringing us. This is a stance we have adopted in protest at the company expecting us to pay for a phone as we don’t actually need a French one for anything other than work and there is no other means of communication available, so we were left in the dark but concluded that this might be a good and possibly the only time to take a break so were able to indulge in some lunch, the vegetarian dish prepared for someone the previous night who had been unwell and unable to eat it.

We continued with the turnaround and stock take and had just about finished when we got the call at 4.10 to say that our first group of 6 were 20 mins out but could be longer with the conditions. At 4.30, having heard nothing else, we started to get into our own outdoor gear (we are indoor staff so don’t get provided with outdoor uniform) to get ready to take the rubbish down and clear the path again when we received a call to say that the bus was here. Ignoring the rubbish bags we almost ran down to meet the new guests and prepare them for the assault of the north face of Alpe d’huez to reach the chalet. Guests always arrive pretty cheesed off by the time they’ve negotiated our access so the fact that we get excellent feedback for our welcome is a double acclaim as we have to turn round a negative situation in the first instance.

These 6 were 2 couples and 2 singles with another 2 from their party arriving in a later group from a different airport along with another 3 guests.  Only 11 people and no special dietary requirements – what luxury! Our first reprieve since starting. The only minor downside was that all the rooms would be in use so whilst meals would be considerably easier, the cleaning would be little different. I just hope that the singles don’t adopt the practise of those in one of our other chalets where they tried all the beds as well because I’m hoping that I’ll have 5 less bads to change next Sunday. The rest of the party arrived around 9am which was great as the last group were due to arrive at 7am and with the 4-5 hour delay of the first group we weren’t expecting them until nearer midnight. So after a 5am start we were able to fall into bed at 11.30 ready to get up again at 6.30.

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