24 April 2010

The Lodge

If you go to the Virgin Limited Edition website we will see a whole host of amazing properties. They all have a similar style of layout with long sociable dining tables, comfy spacious chill-out lounges and bars where you can help yourself to just about any drink or cocktail you can dream up.

One of my favourites is The Lodge. It is particularly special to me as my early memories of the Alps always involve bus trips and cheap hotels. As I grew a little older I progressed to chalets, but invariably you get what you pay for. I am in a fortunate position to be able to experience The Lodge, at £80,000 to £90,000 per week, it is a place for the discerning skier who wants to really live it up in the mountains. It is the ultimate hideaway, with a beautiful style of bleached & distressed wood throughout the building. Down stairs there is a swimming pool and jacuzzi with a steam-room and gym. Although the gym is small, really with skiing all day (if you fancy it) and mountains to run up and down, even I seldom use it.

Another great point is the location. And even though it is only 250 yards from the bottom of the main lifts in the resort of Verbier, Switzerland, the team here drive you to and from the lift entrance.

Do you remember the queue at the ski rental shop? Here the guys from the ski shop bring the boots and skis to the Lodge for you to try on at your leisure. Nothing is too much trouble for the team of superstars that Branson and the managing director John have hand selected.

The food really is something else too! We are not the easiest people in the world to cater for. We are incredibly disciplined and my wife and I eat no dairy, wheat, and my wife takes it even further with zero citrus as well. Yet the chefs are all too accommodating. Cutting out wheat and dairy more or less rules anything scrumptious out of any meal. Not for these guys, Gerwyn the head chef and his crew design and make cakes you could not believe were possible, using blends of rice and tapioca flour and soya milk. The Michelin stars are evident the moment you put food to the palette.

The bedrooms are wonderful, all spacious and have great touches like funky ducks on the sides of the baths, and bath hats you feel compelled to take home for the kids. There is nothing quite like the Lodge. The jacuzzi, a cup of tea and a Bolivar cigar complete a good days skiing and prepare you for the evening of kicking back and enjoying a bottle from Richard’s wine cellar. That is something that is common to the Virgin Limited Edition properties. You really do feel you are in someones home, and with pictures of Richard Branson with his kids and wife and friends on the shelves, it simply makes it all the more special.

I know it is out of most peoples price bracket, however the touches that these guys lay on can be done by any operator. It’s just that people don’t overlay this layer of attention to detail. Things like:

  • your names are written on your door in chalk
  • the boot room has an elaborate system which dry and warm your boots so they are warm in the morning and again with areas named for your hats gloves and equipment.
  • postcards with stamps already on them are in every room
  • a cuddly toy dog with “let sleeping dog’s lie” to leave outside your room if you want a lie in
  • great books you can pick up and put down everywhere, in every corner of the house

the list is really endless.

Hat’s off to Hannah and her fantastic team and best wishes to Hannah and Paul who are expecting their first little-one soon. We are thinking about you and we look forward to returning soon and catching up.

If you are thinking about having the ultimate mountain holiday skiing or even mountain-biking in the summer, this is the number one place on the planet for it. I use it for team building and training sessions too where I am able to take people outside of the office environment and get their undivided attention. It is a great place to work!

The Lodge, Main lounge

BBQ Lunch on the veranda

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