Chalet White Eden – Sainte Foy Tarentaise – Chalet Review 2016

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.TheLodgeexterior4skiinout 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 Espace Killy. 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

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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.


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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.

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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!
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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.


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For those with family, or with more intermediate desires, then the resort offers ample skiing with accessible 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.

chalet white eden exterior2

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.

Damn, I’ve let you into my secret.

Want more of Rob? Check out his review of Go Ski Meribel Chalet Review 2015

 

How to get more bookings?

We recently circulated some handy booking stats to our members, and a look at what’s next for us.

Want to take advantage of more bookings? Who wouldn’t?! We’ve looked at the trends and spoken to all the best performers. Here are the top tips:

Invest in photography

It makes a huge impact. More on that here.

Reply fast

Even if it is to decline the enquiry. Customers are always impressed, and often come back with new requirements you can help with.

But not too fast!

Customers love Much Better Adventures for finding friendly, personal and expert local operators. Quick, rushed, officious replies can do more harm than good!

Follow up

Once you have sent a quote, pop the customer a message a day later to see if they have any questions. You can quickly find out their hesitations, and often turn it around.

Keep availability up to date

It pushes you higher up search results, and means less wasted enquiries. How to manage availability.

Check your prices

How do they compare to others in the area? Undercutting isn’t necessary, but being a few £ higher than others for no obvious reason can be a killer. Don’t forget our Best Price Guarantee either (see terms).

Check your products

Are they detailed, accurate and do they cover all the little details about your service, pricing, the accommodation and local area? Customers will prioritise the ones that don’t leave them with doubts or uncertainties. See ‘How to manage your products.’

Game the system!

Our reputation relies on the customer experience, so our matching algorithms are set to prioritise those that reply quickly to customers (even when it is a no), have up to date availability, and convert enquiries into bookings at a higher rate.

We hope that helps. Do you have a top tip or suggestion for us that would help you? Email support@muchbetteradventures.com or pop it in comments below 🙂

Things we heard at The Bike Show

Sam, Guy, Aidan and Rory downed tools and headed to The London Bike Show recently.  We wanted to get a sense of what sort of cycling holidays people did and what they wanted to do in the future. 

We were armed with a few key questions but didn’t just survey people. Instead, we had proper open-ended chats, learning what people enjoyed the most from their recent trips and what they struggled with when booking them.

Should it help with your own sales and marketing, we thought we’d share some of the things we heard:

On Destinations:

“Mallorca’s very much on my bucket list”

“Mallorca is the place I’ve enjoyed the most”

“I want to ride in more off-beat destinations, but I’m not sure how…”

“I’d want to know good the cycling infrastructure is before riding anywhere new”

“Would love to ride in Scandinavia… Eastern Europe… Northern Africa”

“We use Strava to work out the best routes”

“I would love to have access to route suggestions from local riders”

On Bikes:

“I hate the hassle and risk of taking my own bike”

“It’d be great to ride a better bike than mine for a week”

“I’d happily pay more to rent and ride a better bike”

“I want to be sure the bikes to rent are of high quality and well maintained”

“I’d want to know the actual bike brands and sizes available to rent”

On booking holidays:

“I really want to go on more cycling trips, but it’s hard to persuade the family”

“I prefer to just book everything independently”

“It’s often hard to gauge how bike friendly some accommodation is”

“Packages seem more expensive and restrictive”

“Help with luggage transfers is very desirable”

“Happy with basic accommodation, so long as there’s somewhere safe to store bikes, or you can keep them in your room”

“We tend to find specialist holiday operators through word of mouth… through the cycle club, or during socials at the end of sportives, not so much in magazines”

“When booking we consider how specialised it is for road cyclists and how nice the location is”

“The main reason for going sunshine, quality time with friends and family and seeing new places – in that order”

“I book everything online”

Taking bookings and payments

When a customer wants to book then they will send you a booking request via the platform by clicking ‘Book offer’.

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When a customer sends a booking request, you will get an email notification immediately with a link to ‘Accept or Decline’ on the site:

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When you ‘Accept or Decline’ the request you have the option to leave the customer a message regarding the next steps to confirm their booking:

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When you accept the offer, the customer is notified immediately:

booking accepted

You are sent the customers contact details to get in touch to take payment direct:

Accepting bookings

Once you accept this then we will give you the customers email and phone number so you can complete the payment through your normal channels.

We will then issue a commission invoice. Payment will be due within 14 days of accepting the booking. Full details on these terms can be read here.

Quoting and Declining enquiries

This article explains how to respond to customer enquiries on the site and boost your chances of getting more enquiries and bookings.


We understand that you to be flexible and personalised with your communication from the start. We’ve built our quoting system with this in mind.

Notifications

When a customer sends you an enquiry, you will immediately receive an email notification with some key information.

Click the blue ‘Reply or Decline Now’ button and you’ll be taken to the new enquiry in your Inbox in Manager, where you can send the customer a bespoke quote and message.

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Note: Replying to this notification email does not email the customer. Your initial offer should be done via Manager so that your product and quote can be included in your thread with the customer.

Quoting

Once in Manager, if you can help, click ‘Create Quote’ and confirm the product to offer the customer:
Quoting

Confirm the date and add the price breakdown.

You can add multiple lines to your quote to make it’s clear what’s included.
Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 16.59.06We do the sums for you automagically.

You then add your personalised message and submit it to the customer:

Messaging

We notify the customer immediately with your quote and message with a link to view your product and company details on the site.

Making multiple offers

You can offer more than one product to a customer by clicking ‘Create another quote’ once you’ve submitted your first one. Add a second quote

Customers can then reply to you via the site or from within their email inbox:

The offer

Likewise, you can then respond to customers via the site or from your inbox:

Inbox replies

Declining an enquiry

If you can’t help a customer, please click ‘Decline…’ and leave the reason if you can.

Declining

Your reason for declining will be passed on to the customer. If a reason is not given a customer will receive an email like this:

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For information about taking bookings, please refer to the customer journey.


 

If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com.

Better photos = More bookings

It’s a no-brainer that a great set of photos make can make the difference between a customer choosing to click ‘Book’ or leaving the page.

Customers use our site because they are in the mood to book an exciting trip or an escape so it’s important that the visuals on your products reflect this. It’s not surprising that the most popular products on our site have strong visuals.

Studies indicate that ‘70% of customers rely on photos’ to learn about a holiday. User testing that we’ve done have shown that it’s the first thing people look for when browsing their options and good images keep users far more engaged and encourage them to read more and enquire.

Good practice

As a minimum, if your products are accommodation-based they should:

  • Always include images of the outside the accommodation (covered in snow if it’s a ski product, and doused in sun for summer products)
  • Always include all rooms and bedrooms in the property
  • Always include all major features (eg. hot tubs, details)
  • Always include images of the service (eg. great pictures of your food)
  • Always include floorplans

Avoid

  • Uploading fewer than 5 images
  • Stretched or blurry images
  • Using stock imagery

How to check and change your photos

Head to your Products page in Manager and click ‘edit’. This will take you to a page where you can upload new photos and re-arrange them.

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Scroll down the page and click Add Images. You can then bulk drag and drop your files in.

In terms of order, we suggest putting your very best one first, followed by living rooms, any special features, then bedrooms, food and floorplans at the end.

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Want new photos taken?

We’ve recently sent our resident photographer to some ski chalets with some great results.

Let us know if this is something you’d be interested in having new photos taken of your chalet and we can help arrange this.


If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com.

Managing your products

This article explains how to add and edit the holidays that you sell on Much Better Adventures. 


Your holidays are sold as ‘Products’ which are created for you on request using your website and details you send us when you first join the site.

Please let us know when you’ve added new holidays so we can keep you profile up to date.

There is currently no way to add a new product from within Manager. To add a new product, simply email us and we’ll do it for you.

Everything to do with your products is entirely editable by you.

To access your products go to Manager and click ‘Products’.

Products

Then click ‘Edit’ on the products you want to make changes to

edit

You can then enter each field for your product to make changes

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Don’t forget to click ‘Save’ at the bottom of every page that you make changes to and then ‘Preview’ when you’re done to make sure you’re happy with how it’s all being presented on the site.

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If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com.

 

Adding Special Offers

This article outlines the process of adding Special Offers to display on your products. The best 5 offers are sent to our customers in a weekly curated email so it’s well worth adding your deals for the extra exposure. 


To access your pricing page, click ‘Your Products’ in Manager

Products

Followed by ‘Update Availability’

availability

This will take you to your pricing page

availability page

Click ‘Options’ on the right hand column and then click ‘Add Special Offer…’.

specialsInclude your text and new price and hit ‘Save’ at the bottom of the page.
Add specials


If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com.

 

Managing your Calendar

This article explains how to add and edit your pricing, availability and special offers to your products. 


1. Why is it important to keep my pricing and availability up to date? 

Keeping your availability up to date means you get more of the enquiries you want, and fewer of those you don’t.

Also, products that are more recently updated appear higher in our search results and this will drive you more enquiries.

2. Where can I update my availability data? 

Click ‘Your Products’ in Manager and then the ‘Update Availability’ link: Productsavailability

availability page

3. How do I update my availability? Can it be automatic?

If you use a booking management system that can distribute availability, contact support@muchbetteradventures.com and we will look to sync with it to save you the manual work. We are adding integrations with most widely used systems one after another.

Otherwise, you can quickly and easily update it manually. There are two ways you can do this.

a) If you’ve sold some spaces of a given period but still have some availability left, you can just update the Spaces Available column accordingly (ie. from 8 to 2 spaces left).

This will ensure you only get enquiries for that period from groups that are no more than 2 people.

spaces available

b) If you’ve sold the whole period, you can either change the Spaces Available column to 0 or click ‘Options’ and ‘Mark Full’.

mark as full

4. How do I add new pricing and availability periods? 

At the bottom of your product’s availability page, you’ll see the option to ‘Add a period’.

Add a new period

This will create a new line which automatically follows on from the previous period. Select the start date for a new period by clicking the start date and using the calendar.

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Then click the end date for the new period.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 14.08.19You can then update the price for the new period.

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Keep clicking ‘Add a period’ to add multiple new periods.  

5. I have a lot of products, can I bulk upload my pricing details? 

Not yet but we’re working on that. In the meantime, you can send your pricing spreadsheets to support@muchbetteradventures.com and we’ll load them in for you to edit from there.

6. Can I set a minimum group size for enquiries that I receive? 

Yes. Click ‘Options’ and set the minimum group size to whatever number you want. You won’t get any enquiries for any groups below this.

Min size

7. Can I allow for shorter stays in and around our set periods? 

Yes. You can turn this on and off for certain periods by clicking the Allow Shorter Stays under ‘Options’.

short stays

 

8. Can I change what’s shown as ‘Included’ and ‘Optional Extras’ in my product prices? 

Yes. This can be done below the group size section under Services and Inclusions. Just tick the boxes that apply and hit save. If there are any services not included please let us know and we’ll add them in.

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If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com

The Customer Journey

This article breaks down the process a customer will go through from landing on our site to making a direct enquiry, receiving and reviewing your offer and booking with you. 


First, the customer enters their basic criteria to search for matches:

Much Better Adventures home page

The customer can then add additional criteria to filter their results:Search results

From the search results, customers can save matching products to a shortlist by clicking the red heart:

Shortlist on Much Better Adventures

They can make a direct enquiry from the search results:

Enquiry filled in

They can also click into your product to read more information and make an enquiry from there.

Click ‘Preview’ on your Products page in Manager to see how they appear to customers.

Product example

On the product page, they can check your pricing and availability for all weeks of the year.

Click ‘Update Availability’ on your Products page in Manager to make sure your pricing and availability data are accurate.

Dates and pricing

Customers can read about you and your business in the product.

You can add and update your company description and owner bio from the Company tab in Manager.

Once the customer has submitted their enquiry, you will receive an email notification immediately, like this:

Direct Enquiry received

Click ‘Reply or Decline Now’ and you’ll be taken to the enquiry in your Inbox in Manager, where you can send the customer a bespoke quote and message.

Please do not ‘reply’ to this email, making an offer to customers can only be done via the site.

Quote page

If you can’t help a customer, please click ‘Decline…’ and leave a reason if you can.

Declining

Your reason for declining will be passed on to the customer. If a reason is not given a customer will receive an email like this:

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If you can help, click ‘Create Quote’ and confirm the product to offer the customer:
Quoting

Confirm the date and add the price breakdown.

You can add multiple lines to your quote to make it’s clear what’s included.

We do the sums for you automagically:
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You then add your personalised message and submit it to the customer:

Messaging

We notify the customer immediately with your quote and message with a link to view your product and company details on the site.

You can offer more than one product to a customer by clicking ‘Create another quote’ once you’ve submitted your first one. Add a second quote

Customers can then reply to you via the site or from within their email inbox:

The offer

Likewise, you can then respond to customers via the site or from your inbox:

Inbox replies
Customers can compare your offers with others they’ve received in one place:

Offers

When the customer wants to book with you, they can do this on the site by clicking ‘Book Offer’ on your thread:

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When a customer sends a booking request, you will get an email notification immediately with a link to ‘Accept or Decline’ on the site:

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When you ‘Accept or Decline’ the request you have the option to leave the customer a message regarding the next steps to confirm their booking:

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When you accept the offer, the customer is notified immediately:

booking accepted

You are sent the customers contact details to get in touch to take payment direct:

Accepting bookings

We will then issue a commission invoice. Payment will be due within 14 days of accepting the booking. Full details on these terms can be read here.


If you have any questions about anything please send them to support@muchbetteradventures.com.

Direct Enquiries generate 5x more bookings

Hopefully, you’ll have noticed more Direct Enquiries hitting your inbox recently.

We’ve just done some number-crunching and discovered that customers who make Direct Enquiries are 5x more likely to book versus those making General Enquiries. Good news.

What is a Direct Enquiry? 

A Direct Enquiry is sent to you from a customer that has filtered through the browsable part of our site and specifically picked out your product as a good match.

Direct enquiries on MBA

They are expecting a reply in the form of a quote or a decline within 24hrs.

What does this mean for General Enquiries?

Thanks to the positive start to life for Direct Enquiries, we’ll soon be running more experiments and driving more traffic towards our search results to generate more.

While we work on that, you should expect to receive fewer General Enquiries from us (and hopefully more Direct).

How can you get more Direct Enquiries?

We’re constantly honing our search algorithms to make sure our customers see the products they’re most likely to enquire against AND are most likely to respond to their enquiry up at the top.

As well as the usual attribute filters (location, price, availability, facilities and so on), we take into account business traits such as;

  • speed of response,
  • number of bookings,
  • number of previous enquiries,
  • freshness of availability data, and so on. 

This list is not exhaustive but gives a good idea how you might get your products higher up the results list. 

If there are any bookings not in the system be sure to email us about them so we can improve your score and product ranking.

Note: negative points are added when you don’t reply to Direct Enquiries, so if you can’t help a customer please always remember to click ‘Decline’ when you can’t help.

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Also, as they are in the shop window, please also make sure your Products are looking their very best with the latest HD photos, availability and special offers in place for this and next season.

As ever, if you have any questions or suggestions about any of this just email us at support@muchbetteradventures.com.