If you’re considering different accommodation options and one of them is “catered” – take some time to think about how suited you are to the service. The reason: you’ll almost certainly pay a premium for catered accommodation, so it’s important that it’s a good fit for your snowboarding holiday. This article will help you decide.
Features of a catered holiday
Most often, your catered accommodation will be in the form of a chalet, within which, the hosting staff will cater for your needs. Not every company offers the same service, but if you’re new to the concept here’s an overview of what to expect:
- Afternoon tea (tea, coffee and cakes)
- 3 course evening meal + wine
- Transport to and from the slopes
- Assistance with things like organising lift-passes and equipment hire – they can have them ready for you
- More remote? Catered chalets tend to be bigger and therefore further from either the town or slopes, or both
Do you want these features?
Based on my personal experiences, I’m going to pose some questions surrounding the features of a catered holiday. It’s horses for courses, so you may find yourself in agreement with my viewpoint, or you might have the exact opposite. The aim is to discover if you like catered holidays…
3 course meal every night. Do you want to eat a big meal every night? If so, that’s great. Personally, this was the first thing that struck me: wow, I’m not sure I want all of that food again tonight. What’s more, whilst you should expect the food to be good, you are eating at the same table every night, so it’s not like sampling different restaurants.
There were definitely times when I would have been happy with a light-bite.
Drop-offs and pickups to/from the slopes. If you’re further away from the slopes and town centre, you will most likely need transport. The daily transport service provided can be excellent! It is nice to step right from your chalet doorstep into a mini-bus and be delivered to the ski-lift. Similarly, you arrange a collection time for the end of the day and boom, there they are. Door to door service.
But it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. There will likely be restrictions on how late you can be collected; the staff are needed to prepare the evening meal. So there’s a loss of flexibility here, if you want to make use of the collection service. First, you have to set a time to be collected. Second, you don’t have the option to “stay out” off the slopes.
This time-table element is important. Meals and lifts happen at the same time every day. Other services may also revolve around staff shedules. For example, there was a restricted time window, before dinner, in which we could use the chalet hot-tub.
Mixing with other chalet guests. Chances are, you’ll be sharing the catered chalet with other guests, people you probably don’t know. This can be exciting, rewarding, fun, and sometimes not. What they likely all have in common, is that they’re nice people. But it can be a mixed bag…
Does the chalet allow children? What will the age group be like? Skiers? Snowboarders?
All of the guests on our two week holiday were nice people. But they were mostly skiers, were a little bit older, and had a different mind-set. I had no problems socialising with them, I happily made conversation, which is fine. But making conversation over dinner for two weeks can get a little tiresome…
Excellent staff! This shouldn’t be underestimated. The type of people who own and run catered ski/snowboard chalets lover to be in the mountains. And it shows. They can impart their local knowledge to you, giving advice and tips, suggesting good runs to try. They may even be able to help you with some guiding on the slopes? They’re there to help. It’s a great element!
Looking for budget? This may seem obvious, but it you’re looking for a budget solution, a catered holiday isn’t for you. You pay extra for all of the services: meals, cleaning, transport… Do you need them? If you’re happy to sort out your own lift pass, find accommodation where you can get yourself to the slopes and sort yourself out for an evening meal – then you can have a snowboarding holiday for a lot less money.
Is a structured holiday for you?
Getting guests to and from the slopes, providing afternoon tea and then serving a 3 course meal, undoubtedly introduces more structure to the holiday; they need to operate on a time-table. The question is, how does this suit you? Do you see the structure as less hassle, a positive framework, and handy guidance? Or does it seem a bit restrictive?
To me, the structured nature of the catered holiday meant a lack of flexibility – a flexibility that I enjoy. Some nights we’ll stay out from the slopes. Have a few drinks, grab something to eat and then make our way home at 10pm still carrying a snowboard. Maybe we’ll rush back, get a shower and then head out for a meal? Or just chill in the chalet with some beers, chips and a french baguette, then jump in the hot-tub at 10pm…