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September 01, 2006

Guided Skiing in the Alps

So if you read the blog at all, you know I am cheap. Plus I live in the Rockies and have a monster SUV set up to chase snowstorms and powder days. Sure, I have to put gas in it, but I actually have taken sleeping bags with me and slept in the back of the thing when I was poor and wanted to get in a powder day. This is more for you East Coasters that are debating between a trip to the Rockies or the possibility of heading to Europe, which is a more reasonable distance for you than for me. And again, for purposes of full disclosure, I still have not been to Europe. Tons of trips to Latin America, and am currently working with several folks from Rome on various projects at my day job, but never went to Europe.

Couple things--even as an expert, you can still use a lesson from someone better than you. Someone that can pick out flaws in your technique. Second, paying $500 to a resort for a private guide/instructor (plus tip) actually puts about $10 per hour into the guy's pocket which illustrates that you should always tip and that most resorts love taking money from out-of-towners and private lessons are way too costly through the resort.

Got a note from Mike at Ski Pros Megeve to check out what he does in the Alps. I know that there are folks that do this at other US resorts and when you find them, they usually can put together rates and packages that are far superior to anything a travel agent can do. They know all the deals and most of the folks that work at the resort, take turns with the folks running the places since locals ski with other locals, and get the bargain basement prices for everything. They are not getting rich off of this, mind you, but they make considerably more than the $10 an hour that resorts pay their instructors and usually are the guys that have 30 years of skiing experience and still want to spend every day on the mountain, but not get paid like a 20 year old kid.

I don't want to get into a bash the ski industry contest here, but as long as I am on the topic, if you work at a resort, you don't do it for the money. You do it for the free pass, the ability to work on the snow, and usually for room and board. They pay next to nothing, so make sure you tip. Hence why you see so many college age kids working there. I will dedicate a longer post to this later.

This came from a customer of his:

"I use to fly into Geneva International Airport, from the East Coast and it took me 6hrs. flight time + in a rental car to get to Megeve.... and much less time than going to Vail or Aspen in Colorado, from the East Coast. The food is great and not too expensive if you know where to go.

Despite the disadvantage of the $ to € exchange rate, the air fare is less and paid in dollars, there are many flights into Geneva and lots of competition! An Internet search will help find the cheapest flight.

I now live in Geneva and one of the best things about living in Geneva is its proximity to the French Alps and skiing. This winter I discovered Megeve, some 80 minutes from Geneva. It is a most charming town, with wonderful Hotels, restaurants and shops catering for every budget. The ski area is also super, with excellent facilities, a variety of slopes (complete with trees) to suit every level and modern high speed lifts.

I decided to take lessons for the first time in 10 years and was delighted to find "Megeve Mike, a native English speaking instructor" on the internet, who responded to my initial e-mail, with a phone call, within 5 minutes of receiving it. Mike Beaudet is from Colorado and is an independent certified American/French ski instructor who also speaks fluent French. He knows Megeve like the back of his hand, and apart from teaching skiing lessons, he helped us book our accommodation, organised the hire of top quality ski equipment (which we got at 20% less than booking it on-line), and came to pick us from the Hotel on the day of our first lesson.

Definitely work checking out and considering for tours, etc., if you are heading to Europe. Lessons are always worth considering too.

Posted by Justin at September 1, 2006 10:46 AM