Snow joke: altitude with a touch of attitude

The man who skis all day

What's your agenda for a winter-sports holiday? Possibly little more than skiing or boarding, a few associated snow-sport activities, eating and sleeping, plus socialising in bars and nightclubs. But if you fancy something different, perhaps some film screenings, evenings of stand-up comedy or live rock music out on the slopes, there are ski resorts where you'll find each of those things, and more.

Mayrhofen has the Altitude Comedy Festival, which ran for three years in Méribel but has now relocated to Austria. It will present a stellar line-up, including Jimmy Carr, Al Murray and Tim Minchin, from 26 to 31 March.

Méribel still has a music event (previously the Little World Festival, now Méribel Live), taking place from 19 to 23 March; and the Portes du Soleil ski domain, on the French/Swiss border, will Rock the Pistes from 24 to 28 March. (See page V for more details.)

And film screenings? Look out for the 2012 Festival of European Cinema at Les Arcs – the 2011 festival took place this season from 10 to 17 December.

You will see, from that small sample of a fast-increasing number of events at winter sports resorts, that they take place mostly late in the season, during the off-peak period. That's when resorts have empty beds for entertainers, organisers and festival-goers.

The Les Arcs festival is unusual in that it is largely a trade event, devoted to distribution deals, production-funding and the development of the European market during the day, with screenings, open to the public, in the evenings. For the local authority, which provides funding, its virtue lies mainly in the attention the resort gets from the French media, especially when popular actors and directors attend. And it takes place in the early season (also off-peak), when publicity is likely to stimulate immediate ski-holiday bookings.

Did it seem strange going to a screening at a ski resort? Absolutely not: it's a perfect fit. Skiing finishes soon after 4pm, which leaves time afterwards for dinner followed by a film or two. The cinema at Arc 1850 is a stunning, all-wood conference venue which easily accommodates an audience of 500. The films are subtitled – in English and French for the German film, which was the only one I managed to see. Next December my attendance will not be so brief.

More surprising than the notion of a film festival in a ski resort was the discovery I made in Val d'Isère, en route to Les Arcs. The new, upmarket chalet company Consensio (consensioholidays.co.uk) put me up for the night in one of its luxurious properties where, over dinner, I learned that British guests only just outnumber their Russian counterparts; by 43 per cent to 41 per cent.

Once upon a time, my assumption that chalets were almost exclusively a British thing was correct. But the days of mucking in, sharing washing-up duties, and queuing for communal bathrooms are long gone. Now chalets are mostly well appointed and comfortable and, at the top end of the market, they offer a degree of luxury comparable with that of five-star hotels and much greater privacy, plus the possibility of bespoke food and service, which is where the affluent Russians come in.

Consensio's managing director, Ceri Tinley, gave me a run-down on why chalets appeal to Russians. They like instant service, she says, and they don't like the word "no". Nor do they like waiting for the housekeeping round for the chalet to be cleaned. And they want to be served their vodka of choice, whether it's Absolut, Grey Goose or Belvedere, even if that involves the staff going out to negotiate the purchase of a couple of bottles from a nearby hotel.

Tinley says that the firm "embraces" its Russian clientele, with a local representative in the country and a Russian-language website, computer keyboards with Cyrillic script in the chalets and a database of Russian nannies and ski guides. It has the properties to suit, too. New this season in Val d'Isère is the extraordinary Chalet Marco Polo (pictured); its jet-stream disco/pool is served by DJ equipment and a projection screen, and its reclaimed fixtures and fittings have been imported from Afghanistan, India and Thailand.

The chalets sleeps 12 adults; and on the back of a large envelope I worked out how much each guest would have to pay to stay during the most expensive week. The answer was almost €6,000.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links