What’s most important to me…
…About European skiing and hotels? How do I pick them? What do I look for? Why? What’s it like when I go visit a place? Why is a resort or hotel dropped? How long have most been in the program? What intrigues me about a place or a hotel? What do I like? These are some of the questions I’ve been asking for the past few decades.
From the very beginning, I’ve always liked small, family run hotels. When I started the business, I figured if I liked small, maybe others would too. I also like cozy – the cozier the better. Also, hotels that are small but significant. The smaller the better: like the Haus Alpina, the Walserhof, the Wynegg, and Maison Famille Les 5 Frères with seven, nine, fifteen and seventeen rooms respectively. Many families, managers and directors have become friends over these years. Really nice –
And what about star ratings? To a large degree they don’t matter to me. Some two-star hotels, or those with no stars, are wonderful places to stay. Today, though, it’s tough to keep a good hotel down. Many in the program have been upgraded over the years. An example is the l’Hameau Albert 1er: way back in the early 90s, it was a three star; today it’s a five.
If someone wants a large American-type hotel, don’t come to me. If one travels to a foreign country, I think it’s important to learn about, experience and share their culture.
Occasionally a resort or hotel is dropped. Why you may ask? Well a few years ago before a Cortina conference, I went to the nearby Alta Badia. The differences between the two were night and day. I realized how little had been reinvested in Cortina since 1956, yes, since the 1956 Olympics and how the Alta Badia had wisely been upgrading infrastructure and hotels over those same decades. Cortina’s getting the Olympics again in 2026, and things may change. But until then, it’s out of the program.
I try to visit resorts and hotels every few years. If a hotel’s quality has dropped or if they don’t treat our clients nicely and with respect, they’re out. That happened to guests this winter, and was inexcusable. The hotel’s gone.
When I first started, I’d visit a resort’s marketing department, explain the type of hotel I was looking for and then go visit unannounced. I still do that because I want to see how someone off the street is treated. If pricing is ridiculously over the top, if the linens are shoddy quality or I see plastic plants or fake flowers, forget about it – all reasons, the resorts and hotels occasionally change. Yes, I’m pretty picky!
Where I’ve been, and next?
In December I revisited Courchevel for the first time in a number of years while attending a conference and had the good fortune to stay at the lovely Chabichou. Then in March it was off to Lech with some friends and afterwards Klosters, Davos and Zürich. Next year, apart from a Chamonix conference, it’s way too early for me to start planning!
Many thanks for being an important part of the fun. Be in touch and see you in the Alps!