Ryanair, very much the Piers Morgan of the airline industry, has just jumped on the Brexit bandwagon by offering 50 routes to Europe “from £2.99”.
Now of course, most of the flights aren’t actually £2.99, and most touch down in the middle of nowhere, but we’ve scanned the list with a beady eye and discovered four bargains for any opportune adventurers out there keen to celebrate pay day with an Epic Weekend.
Join us in Verbier to ski with pro skiers, enjoy VIP event viewing, meet the riders, go to the after party, enjoy a luxury chalet, demo the latest Faction skis and unique 3D terrain visualisations with FATMAP, and have a pro photographer with you.
This one-off experience runs 31st March – 3rd April, and is limited to 10 spaces.
Interested? You’ll need to register by 11.59pm, Sat 11th Feb for chance of a space.
If you, like us, want more adventure in your life and a much better answer to “how was your weekend?” when you get back to the grind on Monday morning, you’re in the right place.
This handcrafted series of nine unique mini adventures, all run by awesome local hosts, take out all the complex planning usually required to maximise your time away. All you need to do is book your flights, turn up and be epic.
All of these trips may be booked as a private group for you and your mates, or you can join other like-minded weekenders on our pre-set dates.
1. Kayak and Wildcamp under the stars in the Norwegian Fjords. 1/2 day off work, from just £325pp.
This weekend trip will be one to boast about. Put yourself in the heart of the stunning Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Access little visited areas of the fjord only accessible by kayak, and enjoy a night under the stars around a campfire.
2. Sea Kayaking & Wild Camping in Sweden’s Archipelago. 2 days off work, from just £499pp.
Step off the plane with your hand luggage, and into the wild freedom of the Swedish Archipelago. This trip is for those wanting to REALLY escape the 9-5. Your expert local contact handle all the logistics and equipment you will ever need for cooking, navigating, sleeping and exploring this magical place.
3. Climb Mt. Toubkal and Explore Marrakech. 2 days off work, from just £249pp.
This weekend trip will be one to remember. Mt. Toubkal is the highest mountain in the Atlas range and is on the bucket list of many! You’ll spend a night in a mountain hut at 3200m, and 2 nights in a beautiful riad. There’s plenty of time to explore Marrakech, famed for it’s bustling souks and UNESCO heritage market square before and after your trek.
4. Raft and Canyon on Montenegro’s Wild Rivers. 2 days off work, from just £275pp.
This weekend trip will have you exploring, rafting and canyoning amongst some of the most special scenery on planet earth.Beautiful, little visited Montengro borders Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and is home to one of the most pristine environments in Europe – the UNESCO world heritage site of the Tara river canyon.
5. Via Ferrata Climbing in the Dolomites. 1.5 days off work from just £625pp.
Climb war-time ladders and walkways on the cliff faces of the mighty Dolomites to reach spellbinding views that very few ever have. This weekend guarantees to push thoughts of work to the back of your mind as you tackle some of the most beautiful Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, and take in the sunrise and sunset from your mountain refuges.
6. Mountain Bike Finale Ligure, Italy. 1/2 day off work, from just £425pp.
Escape the British drizzle and head to Finale Ligure for an epic weekend riding some of Europe’s most scenic trails. With awesome runs ending on the Mediterranean coast and year round sun this place is on every rider’s bucket list. The final round of the Enduro World Series visits here every year and for very good reason. Finale’s flowing trails, spectacular views and rugged landscape make for amazing riding.
8. Road bike the very best of Mallorca. 1 day off work, from just £735pp.
Fancy a change from the same old Sunday club run? On this epic weekend, you’ll experience everything Mallorca can throw at you on two wheels. Escape to Mallorca for the weekend and immerse yourself into everything the island has to offer on this amazing long weekend. Everything is taken care of for you, from top-of-the-range bike hire, on-the-road vehicle support and mechanical assistance, to bag transfers and amazing overnight accommodation. Simply hop on a plane and you’re good to go!
9. Learn to Surf or perfect your skills in Lagos, Portugal. Only 1 day off work, from just £165pp.
Spend your weekend surfing world class breaks and hanging out in beautiful Lagos. Just a short flight from the dreary UK weather lies a slice of surfers paradise; Portugal. A regular stop on the World Surf League tour and home to some of the best waves in Europe this trip is not one to miss! If you’re polishing up on your surf skills or trying for the first time (you’ll be standing before you know it), the balmy Portuguese weather means you’ll be sunning and surfing. Return home having perfected your trim (and tan).
So pick your favourite of the bunch, book it, and head back to the office with a smug look on your face, a pocket full of amazing photos, and the feeling you’ve had a much longer, much-needed mini-break in the great outdoors.
Now here’s a couple of questions for all you ski holiday enthusiasts to ponder. Put to one side the resort and the weather, what are the ingredients that make a great chalet holiday for you? Is it the food, the location, the other guests, the rooms, the facilities, the price; or is it a combination of all these things? And how many truly great chalet holidays have you been on? There’s a lot of variables to take into account, and as a chalet company, a lot to get right if you want to run a successful business in a crowded market place. Hats off then to Small Wonders, who have got a very good handle on the majority of these factors, and tie them all together in a great venue that is Chalet White Eden.
The winner of the Ski Club Ski Holiday For Life competition, Rob Wycherley, has been in Sainte Foy Tarentaise this year. He gives us his review for Chalet White Eden, Small Wonders.Everyone at Small Wonders, from the Managing Director down to the chalet staff in resort, hold the same philosophies regarding genuine hospitality, taking pleasure in looking after their customers, the enjoyment from being in a wonderful environment and that crucial aspect, attention to detail. All this became evident in the week that I spent as their guest in Chalet White Eden, tucked nicely in against the Home Run in the small resort of Sainte Foy in the Tarentaise, close to Bourg St Maurice and within striking distance of the Paradiski and EspaceKilly. We’d chosen to hire a car and drive the just over 2 hours from Grenoble, giving us flexibility during the week, but the chalet will arrange a minibus pick up from the station at Bourg, as well as run you to other resorts should you choose to stretch your ski legs. After a short drive up the mountain from the Bourg to Tignes road you arrive in the resort of Ste. Foy, a collection of modern, tastefully presented, chalets and residences. Chalet White Eden is in the upper part of the village, and has the benefit of an underground car park, that proved to be an absolute godsend due to the levels of snow that we had during the week.
The chalet itself is only a few years old, and unlike a lot of its competitors in this price bracket spread across the Alps, it is not lacking for space. Aside from the underground car park there is room for a separate ski and boot room (equipped with powerful heaters and a sofa to change your boots on, heaven, and a massive tick from me!) as well as a sauna, a lift, generous living areas, a
Jacuzzi on the balcony (great fun to bubble away in as the snow falls) and large bedrooms and en-suites, where you don’t have to trip over you and your companion’s gear as you get ready in the morning.
White Eden is set up in a style of what is best described as boutique chalet-hotel, with Savoyard architecture, and a smattering of art and carvings, making for a sophisticated but relaxed environment, with subtle lighting and a welcoming log fire in the hearth. Twice a week there are “Le Chic” Happy Hours, where champagne and mouth-watering canapés are served up, however outside of these times there is an honesty bar, which also includes quality teas and coffees. Although the hosts are generous with after dinner drinks, at this level of service with typical properties in the Alps,local beer and wine runs free of charge throughout the stay.
Now on to the food; one word, wow! Expertly cooked and beautifully presented, with a wonderful repertoire and great matching wines. My mouth is still watering from the thought of it all after 3 weeks. Local produce is high on the list, and after an initial foray into gauging the right amount to serve for the guests on the first night, we settled into a well-balanced and perfectly timed series of dinner parties with our fellow holiday makers. Unusually for chalets in the Alps, during the week that I stayed it was a cosmopolitan mix of Europeans, with guests from France, Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland; and myself and my buddy were the only Brits in the mix. As the French were the most numerous, it was their language that dominated at the table, which might be a bit intimidating if you don’t speak the lingo, but everyone made a real effort and we all learned more about each other and had a lot of laughs in the process.
For those of you interested in bringing children, as after all the resort is fabulous for families, there was a first sitting for dinner, and plenty of space for the kids to retreat to so that they can watch television and access the free wifi.
So, back to those questions I posed at the start. Small Wonders have that combination right, and it is testament to the company and their product that there was an almost unanimous re-booking for 2017 from the guests that stayed. This was a great chalet holiday, oh, and the snow played its part too!
Have you heard of this resort? If you have, you’re in the minority. There might be a number of reasons why you could have, either you’ve passed through the main village on the road from Bourg St Maurice to Tignes and Val D’Isere, you might have a young family and wanted something quiet and safe, or lastly you’re a back country officianado who has heard whisperings of the awesome off-piste, and acres of powder that remains untouched days after all the other nearby major resorts have been skied out.
To be honest with you, I was very fortunate to find it, being given the opportunity as a guest of Small Wonders, staying in Chalet White Eden which I was reviewing for the Much Better Adventures website. Like you, I went online and checked out the usual sites for a review of the resort, full of statistics and mouth watering photos taken on bluebird powder days. I was apprehensive, as for a week’s skiing I normally plump for large ski stations with excellent links, miles of piste, ample eating and drinking opportunities with access to a range of off-piste opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I love a smaller resort, and have been fortunate enough to ski in plenty across the globe, but normally from a larger centre, or for a long weekend or day trip. Ste. Foy however lends itself to do things the other way around, so you can stay at a smaller, more intimate resort and then use it as a base to explore other larger ones that are nearby. In my case, and having the benefit of a hire car, I skied in Val D’Isere and then a day in Meribel where I caught up with friends, though there are other resorts nearer such as Les Arcs, La Plagne, Tignes and La Rosiere within 40 minutes or so.
For those with family, or with more intermediate desires, then the resort offers ample skiing withaccessible pistes from a handful of well linked chairlifts. This makes it easy to navigate for those inclined to use piste maps, and gives reassurance that older children won’t get stuck in the wrong valley when they pester to go off with friends. There are a small number of restaurants to rendez-vous at, all serving good mountain fare, but in busier periods, or with inclement weather it is best to book for meals. My stay co-incided with European half term, but it never felt too busy or crowded on the slopes, and lift queues only became apparent when bad weather forced the closure of the two top lifts due to high winds and avalanche risk.
So then, what about the off-piste opportunities? Well, if you catch the weather right and you have fresh snow, you’ll think you have won the lottery. The top lifts open up a significant amount of area, from the unpisted blacks through to tree skiing and itineraries, it is all here, and what’s more there are only a small number of like minded individuals doing the same, so it is possible to make fresh tracks for a number of days after. My friend and I cut first lines on an epic run of 1,300m of vertical from the top of the lifts via the deserted hamlet of Le Monal down to the village of Le Miroir.For a long time we were following the hoof marks of a small deer, which met an unfortunate demise on the path with only its head left on show in a pool of red snow! Eeek! We didn’t hang around long to look for the culprit, but safe to say we asked locals from the safety of a bar about the likely wildlife able to carry this ambush out. At Le Miroir there is a handy bus service that takes you back to the main resort. To get the best from the off-piste then, hire a local guide, gear up and get stuck in.
Safe to say that the nightlife in Ste. Foy is pretty quiet, but there are a small number of bars and eateries, including a pretty decent wine bar that has some atmosphere, so you can venture out on the chef’s day off. We ate at the Maison a Colonnes at the base of the slopes, and thoroughly enjoyed a “Witch’s Hat” pierrade (see pic) with all the theatre of cooking your own grub.
Well then, there you have it, a super little destination that is becoming increasingly better known in skiing circles, and ticks a lot of boxes for a wide range of needs. It’s a relatively new resort that retains a lot of charm, and for those that have found it there are enough compelling reasons to keep coming back, and to keep it as quiet as possible from the rest of the skiing fraternity.
We’re delighted to say we won our first business award last night and are now the proud owners of a shiny gong for business growth!
The #MakingBusinessHappen awards, organised by the University of South Wales, were set up ‘to recognise graduates of UK universities who have gone on to start their own successful and growing businesses with an effective or innovative idea’.
The award includes a generous cash prize which will be reinvested in the business, along with valuable mentorship and advice from the award sponsors NatWest, Santander and the University of South Wales Business School.
We also met some really talented young entrepreneurs on the night in Cardiff (like Edward Shorney, who went home with the Aspiring Entrepreneur award for his startup Go Rookie) and are expecting big things from them all!
We’re honoured to be recognised and it’s entirely down to you for supporting and sharing Much Better Adventures – thank you!
I was lucky enough to spend a couple of nights at the White Valley Lodge this March and have to offer high recommendations to the chalet and especially to the hosts Nancy and Andrew who put every effort into making your stay special and memorable.
The White Valley Lodge sits in a fantastic spot, a 15 minute walk from the resort centre of Morzine, in Vallee de la Manche. It is a perfect choice for those looking for a tranquil spot with the ease of a concierge service. The surrounding snowcapped trees create a superb view through the valley and you’ll feel pleasantly secluded sipping from a glass of champagne in the hot tub or on the balcony. The Nyon cable car lift is a minutes drive away taking you into one of the best areas of the Morzine/Les Gets ski area, in the morning a quieter area from the crowds.
The super comfortable beds in this chalet make it difficult to jump out of bed first thing in the morning but the draw of a hearty breakfast certainly helps. I could choose from a classic continental option or some hot pancakes and bacon and I greedily opted for a bit of both to set me up for the day ahead.
To get to the slopes in Morzine it is best to be taken directly there and Andrew is ready whenever you are to chauffeur you in the 4×4 to whichever lift option suits you best. Either the Morzine/Les Gets side or to the slopes of Avoriaz and the resort of the Portes du Soleil.
When you’re ready to come back another lift is just a phone call away to get you back to the chalet. I happily hung up my boots on the warmers and found a cosy spot on the sofa to indulge in some afternoon tea and cake. With a few hours before dinner there’s time to spoil yourself with the luxuries of the chalet. I can highly recommend resting your tired legs in the hot tub or taking in some sun on the balcony.
It is also worth spending your relaxation time in the quietness of your cosy bedroom dozing on the decadent cushions with a bit of TV or listen to some music for background. There are some real treats to enjoy from your room including superior showers REN bathroom products, GHD hairdryer and straigteners give you the comfort that will certainly spoil you.
Whether it be a G & T, a glass of bubbles or a cold beer choose an aperitif to kick start the evening. Our chef Gekko brought out a selection of delicious homemade canapes and were a fabulous prelude to the meal to come. Paula, your friendly and efficient hostess, helped serve the splendid 4 course meal of langoustine linguine to start, loin of pork and dauphinoise potatoes followed by a ginger and orange creme brulee and finished off with a cheese board. To accompany this a selection of thoughtfully chose wine flows alongside to elevate your dining experience.
Carry on with drinks and conversation after dinner, dip back into the hot tub or take an early night ready to get back on the slopes for the following day.
Your hosts Nancy and Andrew offer you a genuinely memorable chalet experience and will help to make every detail of your stay effortless whilst you relax and enjoy beautiful surroundings. They have thought of every comfort you could possibly want and are also on hand to go out of their way with any other extras you may need.
‘The chalet is warm and inviting, much like the reception you get from the guys who work there, and it takes no time at all to get settled in and down to the important business of enjoying your holiday.’
The wonderful winner of the Ski Club Ski Holiday For Life competition, Rob Wycherley, has been in Meribel this year. He gives us his review for Chalet Magic Rock, Go Ski Meribel.
Do you get that urge to continuously check the weather reports for the two weeks or so before you go on your ski holiday? Or maybe it’s the frequent re-visit to the website of the chalet company that you have booked with, to re-assure yourself that you have made the right choice when dropping loads of your hard earned Wonga into a company you may never have heard of? Have you done the right thing, do the pictures tell the whole story, what about the reviews? Aaargghh! It’s enough to make your head spin, it’s meant to be a holiday….
Hopefully, the first signs that you get to indicate that you have made the right choice come from the interaction surrounding your booking. All you’re looking for are prompt and polite answers to satisfy your queries and an informative website to know you are on the right track. This is where Mat, the owner of Go Ski Meribel stands out from the crowd. In a former life he was like you and I, making chalet bookings for himself and his friends, trying to make the right decision to maximise those precious moments when we can escape the ritual grind and indulge ourselves in the splendour and majesty of the mountains. He’s got it right, back in 2008 he gave up the successful career in finance, thought to himself “I can make this chalet experience better” and then walked the talk (or skied the slope?)
Chalet Magic Rock is one of four chalets in Meribel that Go Ski operate. It’s the newest of the bunch, and sits in the quiet hamlet of Le Plantin approximately 900 metres outside of Meribel Village; which itself is a few kilometres from the main centre of Meribel. If you’re after bright lights and bars in the evening, Le Plantin is not the place, but Go Ski operate a very efficient minibus service from 08.30 to 22.30 every day to move you around as required. The drivers will happily drop you off at the nearest lift, The Golf, in Meribel Village two minutes away, or alternatively run you up to the busier Chaudanne where there are more choices of direction. In the afternoon you can either arrange to meet the minibus again, or alternatively if the conditions are good you can ski a picturesque route back down the golf course and arrive 50 metres away from the Chalet.
The Chalet itself is nestled a few metres below the road, and sits amongst a motley collection of new and old buildings, affording fabulous views down the Valley when the weather is right. The chalet is warm and inviting, much like the reception you get from the guys who work there, and it takes no time at all to get settled in and down to the important business of enjoying your holiday. The week that I was there the chalet was full, with 17 people the maximum, but it never felt like you were crowded or excluded.
The Go Ski team work incredibly hard at making it feel like a personal service, and were on first name terms with everyone by the end of the first evening. Nothing was too much trouble, and everything was done with willingness and a smile on the face, reflecting the company’s desire to deliver a high quality experience to its customers. The food in particular was awesome, with a wonderfully varied menu created by the professional chef, tailored to dietary requirements as necessary, that began with Canapés at the bar for 19.15pm before being followed up by a gourmet four course sit down affair, washed down with copious amounts of wine. In fact the bar is free for your entire stay, with draught beer on tap, and plastic mugs available so that you can take your drink outside onto the deck, sit in the Jacuzzi, and soak away the aches and pains from a hard day’s skiing.
The hub of the chalet is on the bottom floor, with plenty of relaxed seating, a log fire, Sky TV for sports fans, the bar area and the dining table. Here it’s easy to congregate with your fellow chalet mates, tell your skiing stories or simply chill out. There’s also a sauna available to warm the bones on cold days. The bedrooms themselves are simply furnished, and perhaps lacking in adequate storage for all the kit that one needs to bring out nowadays, but they are light and clean, with either individual bathrooms or en-suite facilities.
Perhaps the one gripe that I had was with the boot room; is it just me or do chalet designers not take into account that there will be pinch points here at the start and end of the day? More than two people getting into their ski boots at one time is an issue, and the boot heaters were a bit pathetic, but hey, that’s not going to detract from a superb overall experience, and Mat is looking at ways to improve this for next season.
From the pick up at the airport, right through to the drop off a week later the experience was first class, and nothing too much trouble for all of the Go Ski team, which was typified by Mat going out of his way to help organise me and my ski buddy onto a heli-skiing trip to La Thuile, booking tickets for the comedy night, as well as making us feel included on an afternoon around the slopes with them. I would thoroughly recommend both Go Ski Meribel and Chalet Magic Rock, for a stress free winning combination. Now get checking that 3 Valleys snow report, they’re waiting!
The Adventure Travel Show is set to host the greatest adventure speaker line up ever. Taking place on 17-18 January at Olympia, the record-breaking adventurers and renowned explorers speaking at the show include:
– Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Described by the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘World’s Greatest Living Explorer’
– Monty Halls: Adventurer and presenter for the BBC including the Great Barrier Reef and The Great Escape Series
– Doug Scott: Renowned pioneering mountaineer, and the first British climber to summit Everest
– Paul Rose: Explorer, mountaineer and TV presenter
– Russ Malkin: Motorcycle film producer and director of the Long Way Round and Long Way Down featuring Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor
– Benedict Allen: Britain’s most prominent explorer, particular known for his extreme unsupported solo journeys without satellite phone or GPS
– Leon McCarron: Adventurer and cameraman, specialising in long distance, human powered expeditions
– Felicity Aston: The first woman in the world to ski across Antarctica solo
– Ann Daniels: Polar explorer who holds a world record for walking to the North and South Poles as part of an all women team
All these speakers and more will be at The Adventure Travel Show which hosts over 100 free talks to inspire and excite visitors.
The Adventure Travel Show has the biggest collection of specialist travel operators under one roof who will all be on hand to offer advice on everything from walking and trekking, epic journeys, cultural discoveries, exploratory travels and exclusive expeditions to safaris, overland trips, life-changing volunteering projects and much more.
MUCH BETTER TICKET PRICES:
We’re offering a reduced price advance tickets to the show! Get your tickets for only £6 (that’s saving £4 off the door price!) by quoting ‘BETTERADVENTURES’ when booking tickets online at www.adventureshow.com or when calling 0871 230 7159. (Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras).