Being passionate about the mountains is what brings most of us together, and Helen & Ash from SnowDrone are no exception.
They've been coming to Val d'Isere for over 15 years now and are embarking on their second season with a bigger fleet of vehicles and team, and a lot of love for their winter base in Val d'Isere!
Tell us a little bit about your business, how it started out and where you're based…
SnowDrone Transfers is an independent, ski transfer company with a focus on service and doing things a little different when it comes to the client experience. Our ethos is to provide luxury yet affordable airport transfers through a friendly, reliable and enjoyable service. Our passion for the mountains led us to a desire to build a business by combining the experience gained from our previous professions. Here in the Tarentaise, being based in Val d’Isere and the Courchevel valley gives us the perfect setting in which to operate SnowDrone Transfers and transport people to a brilliant part of the world.
How long have you been in your current role and how long have you been with the company?
Being a relatively new company, not very long! 2015/16 is our second season operating, now with a heavily expanded fleet of vehicles.
What makes this resort a special place to be for someone in your profession?
Having some of the most scenic views from our office and enjoying the friendly community that is Val d’Isere.
What are the best bits about your job?
Happy clients, of course!
And the worst bits?
The early starts and working on a bluebird powder day!
What is in store for the future with your business, any exciting projects in the pipelines that you can share with us?
After a very busy first season, we are more than doubling our fleet of vehicles. Like last season, these will be brand new VW Caravelles which will now also have leather seats. Like last season, each vehicle will have WiFi and will now have two mounted iPads with entertainment for all the family, plus lots of other extras that our described on our website. We’ve also got some great drivers on board for this coming season. Our website has been revamped with a fully automated booking and payment system but we are still keen to deliver the personal touch so each client has direct contact with the office prior to travel. Also, we are very excited to be a finalist for World’s Best Ski Transfer Operator at the World Ski Awards for 2015 [Vote here!].
What are you personal and professional goals for the future?
Our aim is to provide a great service for our clients and grow the business with the right drivers who share our vision of the service which we want to deliver.
What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing?
Val has so much to offer, it is difficult to narrow it down but, if we had to choose, the area of Le Vallon de la Sache is fantastic. You’ll have to get to know us better before we disclose our best off piste secrets though! Top tip – respect the mountains and beware of its unpredictability!
Where would send someone who was after that something 'something special' in resort, to stay, eat or drink?
With so many bars and restaurants in resort, there are plenty to choose from but if you’re looking for that special meal we would recommend La Peau de Vache for a lunch on the slopes or dinner at Le Barillon in La Daille for traditional French cuisine. There’s also a quaint traditional mountain refuge towards the end of the Cugnai valley but, if you’re planning to head in that direction, take a guide as it has some unpredictable off piste areas. Whatever you do for that something special, be sure to make a visit to Le Coin des Amis and have a drink with Jules. He will welcome you with open arms and give you that VIP treatment!
Your favourite place for lunch or dinner?
During the day would have to be La Cascade at the foot of the Pissaillas Glacier in Le Fornet. The goulash is a personal favourite! But be sure to go on a sunny day as the weather up there can be brutal. In the evening, it would have to be Le Barillon again – lovely atmostphere and great food at reasonable prices.
Where will we find the best coffee or hot chocolate?
Salon des Fous does a great hot chocolate in town. We are also big fans of up-and-coming Rize Café. Their complimentary biscuits that come with the coffee make the already delicious coffee an absolute treat!
What has been your best ever day in this resort?
There are too many to count! Any powder day with friends and a couple of beers at the end of it pretty much nails it for us.
Do you remember your first trip to this resort?
Oh yes, it was over 15 years ago and we have been coming back ever since!
What's your favourite thing to do in resort when not skiing or snowboarding?
If it’s a whiteout, there is nothing better than chilling out on the sofa watching a boxset and seeing the snowflakes fall steadily outside….but, if we can motivate ourselves, we head to the Centre Aquasportif for a swim and some R&R!
What do you do in the summer?
We recover and live between Val d'Isere and London whilst planning for the next season. We also operate transfers throughout the summer (and inter-season) and you will see us operating in the coastal regions of France in the future so watch this space!
Which is your favourite shop in resort?
Planks is great for casual and ski wear. There’s also the market on Mondays which has heaps of local food products and great rotisserie chickens! Snowberry and Pure Ski are fantastic ski hire shops and good for us when we want to try a different ski or discipline or demo a new model.
Where are we most likely to find you for après-ski?!
Again, Val has plenty to offer in the après-ski department but we would most likely be in Le Coin des Amis or Blue Note. La Rosee Blanche in La Daille is another favourite, particularly on sunny days.
Skiing or snowboarding? What's your preference & why?
I'm a skier [Helen] and Ash is a boarder. Why? Because we're creatures of habit! Now, we have both started ski-touring and split boarding respectively which offers a whole new challenge and is great for fitness.
If someone was coming here for the first time, what would you suggest they absolutely must do or see in resort?
There are so many amazing things to do and see in Val d’Isere but heading up to the Grande Motte on a sunny day is a definite must do. The views are extraordinary, and on clear days, Mont Blanc and even the Matterhorn can be seen. If you’re into off piste, we would also recommend hiring a guide for a day as the off piste is limitless. If there’s a couple of you, it isn’t too expensive and is definitely worth it. At the end of the day, if you ski, eat and drink all day (in moderation of course!), we can guarantee you’ll have an amazing time and Val d’Isere will leave you wanting to come back for more. It truly is a wonderful place that we are happy to be able to call home.
Contact SnowDrone Transfers here.