The Team, June 2016

Ski Independence go skiing and what a season it’s been! The Ski Independence team have been getting their turns in on 3 continents, in 7 countries, in 44 different resorts. In total we've clocked up over 125 ski days between us! Below we share a few of our highlights (plus a lowlight) and top tips from winter 2015/16.

Managing Director, Michael, spent a week in Avoriaz with his family:

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Michael's bluebird day Avoriaz

My top tip would be lunch in one of the restaurants in Lindarets, a small hamlet just down from the Lindarets and Proclou chairlifts.

Once a small village for goat farmers, the traditional buildings now house a great choice of restaurants serving Savoyarde specialities. The stand-out for me is La Terrasse, serving a mixture of Corsican and local dishes - book in advance and ask for a table on the terrace (and away from the band if they have one playing). The staff there are superb and on a sunny afternoon there’s no better place to be.

Marketing Manager, Vicky, put the luxury offering to the test in Beaver Creek, then introduced her son to the snow at the slightly less luxurious Glenshee:

Beaver Creek

Vicky got this shot of the boys enjoying the powder in Beaver Creek

We stayed at boutique-style property The Pines Lodge, in a lovely ski-in/ski-out position above the main resort centre. The Pines offers daily après-ski tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies in the hotel lounge by the fireplace, very homely and relaxed! The cookies are baked in-house by the Pines’ very own pastry chef and they were quite literally some of the best cookies I have ever tasted – very chocolatey, and very gooey! We were also lucky enough to sample the White Carpet Club, a slopeside concierge service including valet parking, private lockers, wash rooms and refreshments. You could even grab a tube of factor 50 if you'd left yours behind, and there was a whole tub of hand warmers if (like me) you suffer from cold hands. The White Carpet Club is ideal if you drive over for the day from Vail or Breckenridge.


My token half a day snowboarding in Scotland this winter was at Glenshee ski centre, taking it in turns with my other half to look after our 13 month old – here he is enjoying the sledging, perhaps not enjoying the ski goggles so much, and very unimpressed with the lack of a White Carpet Club!

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Enjoying the sledging at Glenshee

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Where is my slopeside White Carpet Club?

Sales Manager Gareth learned the importance of sticking to the bus timetable in Niseko.

We had the most amazing bluebird day in Niseko. While lots of the new snow was tracked out quickly the cold temperatures kept the snow in great shape and made for a hugely fun day. I was totally exhausted by the end of it, so what better way to rest those aching limbs than an Onsen? The Onsen at The Green Leaf was stunning, a beautiful outdoor hot pool fed by healing natural hot springs. BLISS. After dinner we headed in to Niseko Hirafu where we headed for the infamous (and tricky to find) Gyu Bar (aka The Fridge Door – you enter the bar through a fridge door) where we sampled excellent cocktails and local craft beers. The vibe was chilled out and they had a HUGE vinyl record collection and a DJ spinning not very loud tunes too. #1 tip – don’t miss the bus back to Green Leaf hotel at 1am, this may result in standing out in the cold for quite some time…you have been warned.

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Gareth on the chair at Niseko

Ski Specialist Karen struck it lucky in the Cairngorms:

At the end of the season I got some last turns in Scotland and experienced that rare-as-hens-teeth phenomenon – a blue sky powder day in the Cairngorms!  With a fair wind at your back there’s no better place to ski – just don’t turn round!

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Karen strikes it lucky at Cairngorm Mountain

Ski Groups Specialist Vikki ate her way round Chamonix and Whistler:


I spent 4 days in Chamonix in March, helping organise a fantastic charity trip raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis. The group were a hoot – a mixture of ages and aside from nailing the Monster Ski challenge (to ski the vertical descent of Mount Everest each day for 3 consecutive days) we worked our way round a few bars and restaurants with a favourite of mine coming out on top....MBC – Micro Brasserie de Chamonix – a quirky micro-brewery come burger joint serving the BEST burgers and topped off with DJ’s and live music. If you are a burger lover this is a MUST! La Calèche is another favourite and every time I go back I can’t resist their fondue! Proper Savoyard food and doesn't break the bank either!

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Vikki on the MS Trust Monster Ski challenge in Chamonix


I was lucky enough to spend 8 days in Whistler in March this year and what an awesome time we had! Our stay was split between the Pan Pacific Mountainside and the Hilton Whistler Resort – both awesome hotels and a stone’s throw from the slopes as well as the bars & restaurants. We quickly hunted down our favourite breakfast joint Wild Wood Bistro where we had the most amazing eggs Benedict and crispy bacon each day – the service was tip top and had us returning every day apart from one when we ventured a little further to Elements, another cracking find! The highlight of our stay from a food point of view was a trip to the famous Barefoot Bistro situated in the Listel Hotel. We sabred champagne, enjoyed a 7 course wine pairing menu and relished the theatrics of their signature nitro ice cream which is prepared table side by their Executive Pastry Chef. Whilst there, we also visited the world's coldest vodka tasting room – totally unique and great fun. You are given huge outfits to don and then you are taken in to this tiny grotto where you drink vodka off a ski – you have to do it to understand! Whistler is a seriously cool resort with something for everyone.

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The vodka tasting room at Whistler's famous Barefoot Bistro

Catherine, Ski Product Support road tested the Val d’Isère medical centre:

Back in January I hit the slopes in Tignes and Val d’Isère. Everything started so well - we were treated to sunshine and blue skies and were told we had managed to pick the best day of the season so far.  Taking the Leissières chairlift in Val d’Isère never fails to amaze as you drop over the edge of the mountain and the ground disappears before your eyes (and your stomach churns!). The Arcelle red run is particularly enjoyable (usually!) but unfortunately I fell about a third of the way down and dislocated my shoulder.  If you do injure yourself in Val d’Isère, rest assured that you will be in safe hands. I can’t fault the team there and thankfully my shoulder is almost back to normal.

Operations Manager, Pete scouted out the best spots away from the crowds in Keystone and Powder Mountain:


If you are blessed to wake up in Keystone with fresh snow on the ground, get your gear on quickly, grab a coffee & breakfast burrito from Inxpot and make your way over the mountain to the Outback lift. At the top of the lift you will see a waiting point to your left, join that queue… Before long a converted pisteur will arrive offering $10 rides to go a mile up the mountain, pay the driver and jump on board! You will be dropped off at the top of Wapiti Peak, take a snap of the incredible view before choosing to drop into North or South bowl, either way you’ll get some of the best snow on the mountain, far from the madding crowds below.

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The cat ride in Keystone

Powder Mountain There is so much amazing skiing in Utah, from Park City to Snowbird, Solitude to Deer Valley; the Wasatch Range is much vaunted and offers a huge variety of skiing for all abilities and budgets. Much as I love this area I would suggest tearing yourself away for a night to stay in Ogden so you can ski Powder Mountain. As the name suggests, this is a powder mecca! The resort has everything from gentle glades to wide open steeps, as well as a cat skiing operation for those of an adventurous bent. This is not your usual commercially focussed US resort, it has rustic mountain dining and only one bar, which often features local bands and has an incredible atmosphere. This lack of commercial focus means the resort has very few skiers or lift lines, which is just the way the locals like it. This is truly a path less travelled, but should you make the journey you will be rewarded with some of the most accessible powder skiing in North America.

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Pete with the Telegraph Group at Powder Mountain

Agency Business Development Julie bared all in Saas Fee and ticked a few boxes on her resorts bucket list in Utah:

Saas Fee Definitely visit the Aqua Allalin Spa, definitely don’t think you’ll be allowed to wear swimsuits! In true Swiss style this is a no clothes zone, but it’s so worth it for the relaxing saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs and mountain views inside. Go in the evening once it’s dark and if the spot lit mountain doesn't take your breath away the ice cold bucket shower will!

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Aqua Allalin Whirlpool (image: Ruedi Walti)


The Ski Utah Interconnect tour was far and away the highlight of my trip – skiing 6 resorts and all the untracked snow in between on one beautifully powdery bluebird day was the stuff dreams are made of, you can read more about it here. If after all that you want a novel way to rest tired ski legs, I can totally vouch for Homestead Crater, a hot spring nestled in a volcano shaped cave around half an hour’s drive from Park City, it’s unique and rustic with no airs and graces. As well as taking a therapeutic mineral soak why not try Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga or Scuba Diving!


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Julie on the Interconnect tour

Nick ventured to Gressoney, Italy and finally found skis taller than he is!

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Nick and the tallest skis on the market!

So there you have it, Ski Independence's season in a nutshell. We love the mountains, we love to ski and we love sharing our knowledge to help create your perfect ski holiday. To start planning now call our team of Ski Specialists on 0131 243 8097 | Request a tailor-made quotation online.