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A British favourite is back
Saturday December 19, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

Call it ski hosting, guiding, leading, social skiing or whatever you like but it is now being offered legally by the operator, Neilson, in France. PlanetSKI has been out with its new Mountain Experts.

"It is perfect for me as I'm a reasonable intermediate but I wanted to ski with my partner who is less experienced than me and both of us have picked up some tips along the way," said 48 year old, Jackie Taylor.

"Wow, I have just learned to ski backwards!" said 22-year old Harriot Helliar.

"I'm 53 years old and I have just done a freestyle session for the first time in my life," said Rosina Singleton.

"It's really good and my skiing has certainly improved, but above all it has been great fun," said Tim Welch.

"It has been so good to be shown round the mountain by someone who knows the resort well and to meet new people and just have a giggle," said another Neilson guest.

"I'm one of the chalet hosts and I'm just out with a few of the guests having a good time on the slopes with them and all under the watchful eye of a qualified ESF instructor," said 27-year old Will Morris.

All are out in the first week of Neilson's Mountains Experts service in the French resort of Alpe d'Huez.

First impressions seem to have given it a resounding thumbs up.

Mountain ExpertsMountain Experts















Ski hosting has been dropped by many tour operators after it was outlawed in France back in 2013 - we reported on it at the time on PlanetSKI.

The Ski Club of Great Britain has also stopped its in-house leading service in France after the courts put a stop to it.

Appeals are currently going through the French courts but the process is painfully slow and costly.

So, the tour operator Neilson decided to do something about it by employing qualified instructors to offer a similar service.

The company has a large summer programme in Greece and Turkey that includes includes free teaching in sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, wake boarding, kayaking and tennis, all by qualified professionals.

It has now decided to do the same for its winter operation.

"We are really going back to our roots as we were one of the first ski operators to offer hosting many years ago.  We simply thought that rather than fight the law we would embrace it, work with it  and make it work," said the head of overseas operations for Neilson, Pip Tyler, to PlanetSKI.

"Our customers really value the service and so we are including it at no extra cost and it is being really appreciated," Pip added.

It quietly ran a trial scheme in Les2Alpes and Andorra last year and declared it an unqualified success.

It is now being rolled out across all the Neilson-run chalets and hotels in France (Alpe d'Huez, Les2Alpes, La Plagne, Les Menuires, Montgenevre, Serre Chevalier, Tignes and Val d'Isere) as well as in its properties in Sauze d'Oulx in Italy and El Tartar in Andorra and its new hotel in Mayrhofen, Austria.

We reported the news earlier last summer on PlanetSKI when we heard about it.

The full service began last week and PlanetSKI attended some of the first sessions in Alpe d'Huez in France - from improver clinics and just being taken round the pistes to freestyle sessions and bumps.

The idea is to have a mixture of tuition & lessons with relaxed guiding around the slopes. 

The emphasis is on informality and fun.

Mountain ExpertsPicking up some tips















"It has been a brilliant week and an unqualified success. Some people want tuition and others want fun, but most want a mixture of the two as we simply go skiing round the slopes and I chuck in some tips and advice," said the Neilson Mountain Expert, Cookie.

Cookie is perfect for the new role of a Neilson Mountain Expert  - he is English and works for Neilson in the summer so he knows the company, the guests, the language and he has a wicked sense of humour too.

He is also qualified to teach in France and works for the ESF. He is completely legal.

Mountain ExpertsSkiing switch for the first time















Guests can have a guarantee of two sessions across the week and if there is room they can have more.

Mountain ExpertsDrills and skiils
















Mountain ExpertsFreestyle!
















Mountain ExpertsTaking some air
















Here at PlanetSKI we wish the service well and see it becoming a success for Neilson.

It is a great, and free, service for the people who often get forgotten in the endless legal wrangles, employment rules & regulations and ski resort politics - the skiing customer.

Mountain ExpertsHarriot















Mountain ExpertsGeorge















Mountain ExpertsRosina
















Mountain ExpertsJackie, Cookie and Tim















For full and further details of the Mountain Experts service then see here.

It's backSample programme














See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains

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