THE FRENCH ALPSIs this the most family-friendly resort in the Alps?

We talk to local experts on what makes Les Gets stand out.

THE FRENCH ALPS

Is this the most family-friendly resort in the Alps?

We talk to local experts on what makes Les Gets stand out.

Located just over an hour from Geneva and on the doorstep of Portes du Soleil, one of the world’s largest ski domains, Les Gets holds a strong hand for being one of the best located resorts in the Alps. Yet in terms of column inches, it often loses out to flashier resorts such as Val D’Isere or Courchevel, or even neighbouring villages like Morzine. But delve a little deeper and you’ll find the most charming of alpine villages, with a vibrant year-round community supported by a very active tourist board. Behind-the-scenes, Les Gets has been progressively sculpting itself into a First-class family resort, developing a range of services and experiences for beginners and mixed experience groups.  We talk to two local experts about why Les Gets should be high on your list when it comes to family holidays and investing.

The Ski Instructor

Becci Malthouse: Former professional snowboarder Becci Malthouse runs British ski-school BASS in Morzine and Les Gets, where she has lived for almost 20 years.

How did you discover Les Gets?

“I first came to the area when I was competing as a full-time snowboarder and I landed here for a race. I met Hugh Monney, who wanted to expand BASS ski-school into Morzine and he offered me the opportunity to set it up. That was in 1999. I eventually took over running BASS in both Les Gets and Morzine.

What makes skiing in Les Gets special?

Because of its layout, Les Gets is really family-friendly.  While it’s a joy to teach all levels, it’s particularly good for beginners and mixed level groups.  We work with a lot of parents who are experienced skiers and now want to introduce their kids to skiing while still having fun on their own. The ski-school is located halfway up the mountain via a fast chair lift on Les Chavannes, so it’s easy for Mum and Dad to drop the kids off. Then there is the slope itself, which is an awesome playground for beginners.  Across the wide open face you have lots of interactive experiences, from an Indian village with totem poles to a farm.  So it gives kids the chance to have fun and play while they learn. Instead of telling them to turn right, we can guide them to go and say hi to the sheep, or to stop off in the Indian tipi for a snack.   It enables us to build strong stories around learning which makes it infinitely more fun and engaging. Although there is a lot of space, it is well contained, which means that even 3-year olds learning to ski can have a sense of independence.  There are mini-slides and jumps so kids can already develop their skills here.  At the same time, you have very fast access to much more challenging ski areas, including a free-ride zone, a patrolled off-piste section of the resort. You are also on the doorstep of Portes du Soleil, so you can ski right through Châtel, Morzine and into Switzerland.  One of its treasures is that it really has something for everyone.

And the town itself?

Both Les Gets and Morzine have kept their essence really well and Les Gets feels like an authentic, charming French town.  Despite extensive development, there are no big high-rise apartments, and all new developments are limited to 3-4 storeys so everything is very pretty.  It’s a fully functioning town in its own right, with a heart and community of its own, rather than being solely ski focused, such as Tignes.

How have you seen it change in the last 20 years?

From a skiing perspective, the municipality have continued to evolve the lift system, which makes the mountain more usable. Then they have put in a lot of attractions, so rather than just skiing the mountain by coloured runs, it becomes about the experiences, and a lot more fun as a result.

How does Bass work?

We are 10 instructors and work with a limited capacity of 6 students per group. Although we have a lot more demand, it was a conscious decision to be able to offer the best teaching.  We are already almost booked up for ski-school over February half-term.  A lot of families come on holiday and then will book in again for the next year as soon as they get home.  Almost all of our students are English-speaking. There’s a big difference between the English and French teaching system, and our approach is to make it more engaging and personalised rather than the old stereotype of ‘a droit’, ‘a gauche’ and ‘bend zee kneeeeess!’

What’s to know?

This summer, the resort is upgrading one of the main 8 person high speed chair lifts, which will give much faster access to experienced skiers.

Where to Eat?

Le Chalet Chanterelle at the back of Mont-Chéry. It was just taken over by British owners and specialises in slow-food. They do a style of artisan barbecue, with lots of local, fresh ingredients. It’s some of the most creative cooking on the mountain.

Secret spot to Ski?

Skiing in Les Gets is divided into two sides of town, which you can access via the resort’s petit train. The lesser known side is called Mont-Chéry and is a stand-alone area with a lot of red runs that gets very under-used.  Even when the rest of the mountain is at its busiest, it’s quiet here. It’s where ski-instructors go on their days off.

Favourite Run?

It’s the Chamossière, a high-speed chairlift which opens onto two run options and is a great one for experienced skiers. There is a steep red or a free-ride un-pisted slope to choose from.

The Chalet Expert

Claire Garber:British-born is Communications Director at high-end chalet rental company, the Boutique Chalet Company.

How did you discover Les Gets?

I run communications for the Boutique Chalet Company, which provided the first high-level ski-chalet service in the area. I have been spending a lot of time in Les Gets recently, and had never appreciated how amazing it is. It’s family orientated but there is still a lot to do in the evening. It has an incredibly active tourist office with events and music concerts all year around.

What makes Les Gets special?

In a similar way to Morzine and Megève, you get these picture-perfect chalets dotted up the mountain, but it feels smaller, more personal and more authentic. At same time, you have access to the world’s greatest ski area, it’s literally impossible to run out of things to do, see and ski. From an investment perspective, clients have access to an extensive, world-class ski area and can even ski over into Switzerland, so it’s the best of both worlds! You have these spectacular vistas of rolling mountains at the same time as a great infrastructure, which keeps things vibrant in the summer. I am discovering a lot of new local experiences, from pottery courses to chocolate making classes. There are some great local markets and traditional fromageries, so you can tap into the best of alpine culture, which I really like. Finally, there are some awesome restaurants on the mountain and great après ski.

What are your favourites?

Alt 1490 Exclusif. It’s located at 1490 off the back of Mont-Chéry and totally isolated with the most amazing views and food to match.  It’s completely disconnected but still wonderfully successful as a restaurant. You can either hike there or they come and get you in a skidoo.  Then there is La Paika, which is equally great in summer and winter. They do a huge hog roast on an open fire and the most delicious cake I’ve ever seen. Their views are fabulous too, which makes it almost impossible to get a table, so you need to book in advance.

How have you experienced Les Gets’ evolution?

When Boutique Chalet Company opened in 2012, Morzine and Les Gets were beautiful ski areas but lacked the high-end luxury ski experience of really fine dining and excellent service levels. We wanted to bring that into the area, and now other companies have come in on our heels, which is a compliment as it has created a new niche in the market and a service level more in line with Verbier and Courchevel.