About Time You Tried: Chilly PowderBy Josh Pedro
Nestled in the foothills between the mountain towns of Avoriaz & Morzine, we pulled up to Chilly Powder to a backdrop of pine trees, wood cabins & a sea of white snow. The location is quiet & remote, on a single chalet-lined road winding down to Morzine town, yet only a 5-minute walk to the main Prodains Express cable car up to Avoriaz.
Reaching Chilly Powder is a slick process, assuming you’ve arranged a transfer, being only a 1.5-hour flight from London to Geneva followed by a 1.5hr drive. If you can stomach the early wake-up like us, then you can go from bleak London airport in the morning to carving down expansive ski runs by the afternoon.
We stayed in a room in the main chalet-hotel building, Au Coin Du Feu, which houses up to 48 people, while there are also several options to have a standalone chalet or apartment for 6-15 guests. The room was a modest twin room, with an ensuite bathroom and featured bountiful lodge-style wood features. Refillable rather than single-use toiletries are one the many eco-conscious touches at Chilly Powder and there’s even moisturiser provided, to tend your poorly skin after a long day of wind chill & sun exposure.
The main dining & social room centres around a cosy log fire and large wooden dining tables, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow you to gaze out towards the al fresco hot tub & snowy mountainous world beyond. There’s a particularly nice nook on the mezzanine with comfy sofas for taking a moment to relax, read a book & detach yourself.
There is unquestionably a family feel to Chilly Powder, which is run by Francesca & Paul and their 3 children, and undoubtedly, children are well catered for. There’s a creche, with in-house childcare, as well as a movie & games room which I’m sure most of the adults were secretly pretty jealous of. From speaking to other guests, it seems that many are regular returners to Chilly Powder with their families.
Rooms are offered half board & Wednesday night is the chefs’ night off, offering a nice excuse to go into Morzine for the evening. A free, yet infrequent, public bus runs to Morzine but they don’t run until late so ensure to pre-book your taxi home to avoid deciding between paying an eye-watering fee for a mere 10-minute drive, as we did, or enduring a 2-hour walk back.
In the mornings, a continental breakfast buffet, as well as a hot option, are served. The vegan selection mostly consisted of cereal, delicious crunchy bread & a variety of fruit. For our mountain lunch, we found the options & availability of restaurants to be much greater on the French side of the mountain. Once you’ve returned from skiing, a daily changing afternoon tea was offered, although it would have been nice to reliably have a vegan option here. At all times throughout the day, there is a wide selection of hot drinks available for you to make yourself, including a good collection of syrups for those undercover baristas with a flair for spicing your lattes.
As each evening rolls in, it becomes clear that the 5-course family-style dinner is what distinguishes your stay as uniquely a chalet, rather than a traditional hotel, experience and the hospitality shines. The children eat early so come 7:45 pm, the adult guests slowly gather in the bar area to mingle & nibble the canapes on offer. At 8 pm, the start of dinner service is instigated with the resonant clanging of a huge gong to invite you to take your seats for dinner. It’s a chance to drink delicious and plentiful wine while sharing stories from the day of scary moments tackling the infamous Swiss Wall and shared optimism for fresh snow the next day.
The ski hire service was the smoothest & most efficient experience I have ever had because the fittingly named Doorstep Skis come directly to Chilly Powder to kit you out. On our first day, we arrived at 11:30, were checked in, unpacked, fitted for skis and then at the top of our first ski run by 2 pm. At the end of our trip, we simply left our gear in the Chilly Powder equipment room and texted the company to collect it.
The Ports du Soleil ski area is vast & the ski pass gets you access to 600km of ski runs spanning both France & Switzerland. We mostly skied around Avoriaz but the Morzine slopes are also easily accessible, either through some careful ski lift planning or by taking the shuttle bus into Morzine. A real highlight is the truly excellent ski park, The Stash, running down from Avoriaz & meandering its way through woodlands filled with jumps at every turn, ungroomed snow & a generous smattering of moguls.
No ski holiday is truly complete without a trip to the precarious table-top dancing après ski institution that is La Folie Douce, and thankfully, Avoriaz delivers. For those who can’t justify forking out for a magnum of champagne, delivered to the VIP area via its very own flare-adorned miniature cable car, an Aperol spritz at €8 a pop was a veritable mountain bargain. At the bottom of your slaloming ski down from Avoriaz, if there’s enough snow, you can ski right up to the door, something that feels like a necessary luxury after you’ve had it once.
After a hard day’s skiing, it feels almost compulsory to brave the short walk across the patio, sporting only swim shorts & a bathrobe, to reap the reward of plunging yourself into the toasty outdoor hot tub. As the cold snow falls slowly onto you from above, in contrast with the warmth of the hot tub, you truly appreciate the luxury and simplicity of chalet life.
Chilly Powder operates all year round, so it’s perfect whether you’re looking to hit the ski slopes or hop on your mountain bike. There are extensive winter holiday packages on offer for individuals, groups and families with winter prices starting from €995 per person per week based on two adults sharing a double or twin bedroom or €2,760 per week for two adults and two children sharing a standard family room. Prices based on a half board basis with wine included in evening meals.
Childcare facilities are also available with prices starting at €315 per week and ski school for €295 per week. The chalet also offers self-catered and B&B options in both summer and winter, and is available for weddings and events.
The other company to credit in the piece is www.doorstepskis.com.