The Riders Lodge - James Cove, Tignes
It is a new concept in a ski and snowboarding holiday aimed at freeriders, people young at heart and those who want to get more out of their time on the slopes at an affordable price. Just don't call it a chalet.
Tuesday January 10, 2012 - Email this article to a friend
From the outside it looks pretty much like any other chalet or ski accommodation and, as I headed inside with my 12-year old son Max, there wasn't much difference either.
The staff greeted us in the same way as we kicked the plentiful amounts of January snow from out boots, the rooms were pretty much like any other simple chalet - clean and comfortable with few extra frills.
There was a TV in the corner of the lounge area, some sofas dotted about the place and the odd picture of a freeride skier or snowboarder on the wall.
The dining room was, er, a dining room and a log fire crackled away in the corner.
There were various notices up about meal times, ski hire and the like.
As with any other chalet or chalet hotel holiday we were sharing it with a mix of strangers - some of whom would no doubt be firm friends by the end of the week and others who might not.
There was though a pool table in the corner, an Xbox 360 with a selection of games and on the bar was some free beer and nachos.
The welcome meeting was not given by a chalet manager telling us all about bar crawls and when the staff had a day off. Rather it was given by someone styled a "Snow Guru."
He talked about the riding, the park and the videos we'd be making. He mentioned the apres ski bars in town and talked about organising lessons if we wanted them and where the best places were to ski.
The Riders Lodge is a new concept from Crystal and there are two in The Alps this winter and more will undoubtedly follow if the product is successful.
Both are in France; one in Val Thorens and the one we were staying in was at the Terrachu in Tignes Le Lac.
The idea is to appeal to people who want to try a few tricks in the park, have a go in the powder and whose passion is spent out on the snow.
It is billed for hardcore(ish) people with an interest in freeriding.
I'm probably a bit old for it and Max was somewhat young, but our average age was pretty much spot on.
However I was a bit sceptical about it all.
I questioned how much the so-called snow guru would know about the slopes of Tignes and whether The Riders Lodge was just a chalet holiday with different branding.
I am glad to say I was wrong. The Snow Guru, Ashley Stewart, knew his stuff.
He didn't pretend to be a mountain guide or ski instructor as he took us round the slopes of Tignes but he was knowledgeable and, most importantly, knew his limitations.
He wasn't a ski bum on an ego trip, rather a guy passionate about the mountains who wanted to share his experiences.
He knew where to go, how to handle a group and how to make it fun.
On the day out riding with the Ashley he bought a Go-Pro camera to record our day.
It made for an interesting watch later as we sipped beer and ate nachos back in The Lodge.
As he said in the video the food is simple and energy giving - I don't think I have eaten toad-in-the-hole in a ski resort.
It was a great idea and Max agreed too.
It was also great to get a free packed lunch for 4 days of the week as us Brits need to watch the costs in a ski resort at the moment.
The concept of The Riders Lodge was developed by Richard Sills, an assistant product director at Crystal.
"The idea is to offer a holiday that caters for the growing freeride market with a different atmosphere in the accommodation that attracts keen skiers and snowboarders who want to try out the park, enjoy freeriding and then talk about it in a relaxed and laidback atmosphere," said Richard Sills.
In the chalet for our stay was a mixture of people; a group from Scotland out to ski and party hard, some students on a budget and a couple of families with younger children.
Crystal says the take up is good for the season with 80% of holidays sold in Tignes. It seems Crystal may just have caught on to something as the freeriding scene is undoubtedly a growing market.
If you want to try something slightly different, improve your freeriding and have all the benefits of a traditional chalet holiday then it is well worth a look.
Just remember not to call it a Chalet.
It is a Lodge.
Prices start at £555 in Tignes and £615 in Val Thorens
For more information then see here.
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