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HAPPY BIRTHDAY POWDER N SHINE

The chalet company may not have existed had its founder not had a serious ski injury. It’s now in its 10th winter.

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Sometimes events that seem disastrous at the time turn into an opportunity.

That’s exactly what happened to Francesca Smith.

Back in December 2009 she was staying in Reberty, a hamlet just above Les Menuires in the French Alps.

She had decided to take a sabbatical from her job in international advertising and spend the season skiing.

Francesca and Steve, her partner at the time, were intending to work as chef and host for a Dutch ski company.

They arrived early to get some time on the slopes beforehand.

Steve Pangli & Francesca Smith

Steve & Francesca in early December 2009

After just a couple of sessions on the snow, disaster struck.

Francesca skied into a ditch while off piste and broke her leg.

Badly.

She had emergency surgery during which she acquired a lot of metalware.

Twenty pins and two big plates.

Francesca Smith's leg reconstruction

Big repair job

While she was laid up, Steve went to work for the man who had built Reberty.

It turned out he had a lot of chalets available for rent after a number of companies had gone bust in the recession.

It gave Francesca an idea.

As she spent all of January sitting on the sofa unable to do anything else, she set to work on her laptop.

“I thought, it’s not rocket science. I’ll rent a chalet and set up a company,” she tells me.

She got a good deal on the chalet because the market was so depressed.

“I set up a website and I called it Powder N Shine because they are the two things everyone wants from a ski holiday – powder and sunshine.

“Also Steve’s surname is Pangli and I’m Smith so P and S.

“I registered the company, trademarked the name, began selling holidays for the next winter and that was it.”

Steve Pangli & Francesca Smith

Steve & Francesca

For the next few years Powder N Shine, which is a partner of PlanetSKI, expanded to take on more chalets.

It has stayed in Reberty, which sits at 2,000 metres has the benefit of doorstep high-altitude skiing.

It is part of Les3Vallees, the largest ski area in the world, with 600km of runs and has easy lift-linked access to Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel.

Chalet Bramble, Reberty

View from Powden N Shine’s Chalet Bramble, December 2019

The company’s chalets holidays are at the upper end of the middle market.

Its USP is the personal service its staff offer – PlanetSKI would argue it’s better than many good hotels we’ve stayed in – and food prepared by chefs trained at Michelin-starred restaurants.

Chalet Bramble, Powder N Shine, Reberty

Super service from chef Andreas & chalet host Katerina

“People want to have lovely food and customers expect more and more every year,” Francesca tells us.

“Customers are much less forgiving than 10 years ago when we started and the competition is high, so you have to stand out.”

Starter at Powder N Shine

Stand out food at Powder N Shine

Dinner at Powder N Shine

Stand out food at Powder N Shine

We can safely say that Powder N Shine is a stand-out chalet company with staff that go beyond the call of duty.

That was clear to me when I had the misfortune to suffer a serious knee injury on my first day this season.

It’s not the cheapest but you get what you pay for and it is, in my opinion, seriously good value for the money.

What’s more if you mention PlanetSKI when booking, you’ll get something extra when you arrive for your holiday.

Powder N Shine chalet

Powder N Shine chalet

INFO
Powder N Shine offer 7 nights in Chalet Neve in Reberty, arriving 29th February 2020, for £925pp (travel not included).

The price includes breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner on 5 nights (canapés & apertif plus 4 courses with wines selected to match).  All chalets have a Michelin-trained chef.

There is also availability for February half-term.

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