Rock the Pistes festival

Spring is a time of the year we absolutely love. Snow is still abundant on the slopes, with typical late-season snow dumps, and when the sun comes out you can even attempt to ski in your t-shirt! It’s not just about the weather, though: March and April also mark the start of festival season in the mountains. This week in the Alps, it’s all about Rock the Pistes festival.

Rock the Pistes is a pop/rock festival in the French-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski resort. For a whole week, spectators can enjoy live concerts by international artists right on the ski slopes, in the middle of the mountain.

This year the festival runs from 12th to 18th March. The program is quite impressive:

12/03 Morzine-Les Gets – Martin Solveig
13/03 Morzine-Les Gets – Suzane
14/03 Châtel – MØME
15/03 Montriond-Les Lindarets-Domaine skiable Avoriaz – Klingande
17/03 Châtel – Eagle Eye Cherry
18/03 Morgins – La P’tite Fumée
18/03 Morgins – Étienne De Crécy

Concerts happen during the day on ephemeral stages all over the ski area and are only accessible by skiing. There are also after-ski concerts in the afternoon, for a total of 35 live concerts during the week.

This unique festival is accessible with a Ski Concert Pass (Portes du Soleil ski pass), which is available at all the ski lifts of the 12 Portes du Soleil resorts.

In short, Rock the Piste festival is: 5 major artists in concerts on the slopes at 1:30 pm (warm-up DJ sets at 12:45 pm) + 30 après-ski concerts in the heart of the resorts with emerging artists from the international scene. A truly sensational event not to be missed!

The Vallée Blanche

Even though our winter events include mainly on-piste skiing, it isn’t unusual for clients to ask for adrenaline-fuelled activities off piste. The Alps, especially Chamonix, are a beautiful terrain for all sorts of adventures. With the help of an experienced guide, you can spend a truly memorable day out there! Our top recommendation for expert skiers in the Chamonix Valley is, without a doubt, The Vallée Blanche.

As explained in this article by Chamonix All Year, skiing the Vallée Blanche is an incredible, high-altitude off-piste experience. This route descends from the top of the Aiguille du Midi, at 3,842m altitude, down to Chamonix, 2,800m below. It is most famous for its spectacular glaciated terrain. As such, you need a minimum of knowledge of alpinism and the local environment, and you must be well-equipped.

Access for Skiing Vallée Blanche

Historically, the best conditions to take on this route are from January to May depending on the snow cover. To access the starting point at 3,842m you must take two cable cars from the centre of Chamonix to the top of the Aiguille Du Midi.

The cable cars are included on your Chamonix ski pass if you have the full area Mont Blanc Unlimited pass. In high season you can also reserve a cable car in advance at a time to suit your itinerary – usually one of the first few for a full day and fresh lines!

Initiation: the Arête

The ridge that connects the Aiguille du Midi to the Vallée Blanche is a test of nerve ahead of meeting the departure point for your day’s adventures. Consider it your initiation for an adrenaline-packed day!

Not for those with a fear of heights, there is a 150m hike across a ridge line that takes you to a wide platform, which opens directly to the Vallée Blanche.

You can put your vertigo at ease as, once the snow base builds up, you will be faced with a rope to hold onto and a groomed / maintained path about 1m wide (not necessarily level). Crampons are therefore often recommended by your guide, to whom you may be attached as an added security.

Once you reach the natural platform simply strap on your snowboard, or step into your skis. Don’t forget the time for a quick photo! You are surrounded by the breathtaking peaks of the Chaine du Mont Blanc, now closer than ever.

In good company: your guide

The Vallée Blanche is an off-piste, unmarked route which takes place on a glaciated high-mountain terrain. Supervision by a qualified high mountain guide is the safest way to fully enjoy the snow and views. From experience, your guide will choose the best route for your level and share their knowledge and history of the surrounding mountains.

Public groups are limited to a maximum of eight people, allowing the guide to provide personalised advice and ensure optimal progression. You will also be grouped together, either with other skiers or snowboarders, so that you can take the optimum route for each style.

Alternatively, you can hire a private guide. This is ideal if you want to try an alternate route, mix skiers and snowboarders, or create a special itinerary to make your ski dreams come true!

Skiing & snowboarding: your level

Skiing the Vallée Blanche should not be your first foray into off-piste skiing, but you don’t have to be an expert either. There is something for all to enjoy as long as you can turn accurately and stop at will in unpredictable off-piste conditions.

You will also need a decent level of both cardio fitness and ski fitness. Not only is there roughly 25km of variable skiing conditions, there’s either lengthy stairs or a hefty hike out towards the end.

It is said that the technical difficulty of the Vallée Blanche (Classique) is similar to that of a red piste. Much like any popular piste in good conditions, there is the potential for moguls to develop. Moguls may slow the rhythm of snowboarders in particular, however skiers should also know how to navigate them with ease.

Snowboarders must also be wary of long flat traverses that may require poles. Meanwhile, skiers must know how to control their speed, side-slip confidently, and make parallel turns.

The way down: skiing Vallée Blanche routes

  1. The Classique. This is the easiest route technically and the most “tracked” or travelled line. It follows the slower route in the heart of the great labyrinth of glaciers: the glacier du Géant, the Tacul glacier and the Mer de Glace. Making your way across the arête, and the sometimes delicate passage of seracs before joining the Mer de Glace, constitute the main technical difficulties.
  2. The “True / Vrai Vallée Blanche”. This historic route is located between the Vallée Blanche Classique and Envers and offers a course in the heart of ice formations. This is a beautiful route famous for spectacular turquoise ice structures and small seracs. It requires a good level of skiing due to its constant proximity to crevasses.
  3. The Petit Envers. A nice alternative to the classic Vallée Blanche, penetrating between the “True Vallée Blanche” and the Envers du Plan glacier. This itinerary is a wonderful option for skiers who want to graduate from the True Vallée Blanche, without being too technical.
  4. The Grand Envers. Want to ski steep slopes reserved for very good skiers? This is the route for you. With slopes at 45° and the reputation for being the most beautiful (and difficult) route of the valley. Take off directly from the arête onto the Envers du Plan glacier. This route is technically demanding with a mix of slopes and passages between large seracs.

The final stretch: Montenvers train vs Buvette des Mottets

When the Vallée Blanche is coming to an end your guide will decide between two finishes, based on conditions.

  1. Either hike out of the Vallée Blanche to join the ski piste that will take you back to Chamonix,
  2. Or climb the steps to join the Montenvers train which will take back to Chamonix town centre.

If in late spring, you can’t ski back down to Chamonix due to snow conditions and you will have to take the train. You might also choose the Montenvers train for its history and views. But remember you’ll still need to take on roughly 400+ steps to reach the cable car, which will link you to the train station.

Alternatively, should there be plenty of snow, after fifteen minutes of steep tiresome hiking you will reach the Buvette des Mottets at 1,638m. Formerly on the edge of the glacier, it is now over a hundred metres away. The hike joining the two skiing sections is increasing each year, as the Mer de Glace retreats.

Once you reach the top you can stop for a drink or picnic with breathtaking views on the west side of the Aiguille des Drus. Then, head down a fun (boardercross-like) forest trail descent back to Chamonix!

Courmayeur

After our habitual quiet time in February, we are getting ready for the busiest time of the season. March will be a pretty exciting month, with several events happening all over the Alps! Our first destination is Courmayeur, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. Courmayeur could be considered the antithesis of Chamonix – glamorous, fashionable and chic as opposed to sporty, casual Cham.

There are many reasons why we love Courmayeur (the pizza, for example!). But the main one is, this resort has much to offer to both skiers and non-skiers.

On this article on. Svadore.com we found a list of activities to do in Courmayeur, whether you are a pro skier or just a very passionate shopper & eater!

1. Cafes

How can you be in Italy and not try the very italian espresso + cornetto breakfast? Caffè della posta, Caffè Centro and Bar la Briciola are all great spots to experience a well-made traditional Italian breakfast in Courmayuer.

2. Aperitivo

Same goes for the traditional Italian aperitivo! We have personally tried Café Roma, where the EXTREMELY copious buffet will be enough to cover your aperitivo, dinner and midnight snack. For a more fancy vibe and an outdoor lounge, you want to try the Grand Hotel Royal and Golf right in the pedestrian center of Courmayeur. Other pretty cool spots are La Bouche and Le Dahu.

3. Skyway Monte Bianco

Skyway Monte Bianco is what some call the eighth wonder of the world. A sight like this of Mont Blanc and its neighbouring alps cannot be described or captured in pictures. Above it all, it feels like you are walking on an entirely separate planet. Skyway Monte Bianco opened in 2015 is the world’s most expensive cable car linking Courmayeur to Pointe Helbronner. But it’s not just any ordinary ski lift…there are plenty of cool stops along the way you’ll want to experience. You can visit the highest library in Europe, stop by any of the 3 Skyway Monte Bianco Stations for a luxurious Alpine meal, wander through the Saussurea Alpine Botanical Gardens, toast to your experience with a glass of wine at the Cave Mont Blanc, and more.

4. Ski

And then, of course, the skiing! In Courmayeur you can ski leisurely on some easier slopes, take on some harder less frequented slopes, or find a perfect balance of on-piste and off-piste activities. This is just perfect for our corporate groups, where ski levels typically vary. And if you want to take a break and have a fancy glass of Prosecco, Super G on the slopes is where you want to head to!

5. Shop

Hit the slopes, then hit the shops on the main street, Via Roma. Courmayeur is ritzy with its ’70s style buildings lining the main street, but ritzy is not always a bad thing. It also means the town is extremely well maintained. Shopping here is definitely at the top of many people’s lists. There’s no shortage of Mont Blanc, The North Face, Gucci, Hermès, Balenciaga, Aspesi, Rolex, Moncler etc. Of course, for a different type of shopping, you can also visit Enoteca Gioio: you will find plenty of grappa ai mirtilli here!

6. Dinner on the mountain

One of the best and most unique things about Courmayeur is that you can enjoy dinner on the slopes till midnight. Some restaurants offer transportation in different and fun forms, whether it’s by dog sled, snowmobile, or other means. Some even offer the added experience of skiing back down the mountain with an instructor at night. Our n.1 recommended spot for this experience is Maison Vieille, where we have been taking our clients for years. On the menu: a 4-course dinner followed by grappa and lots of dancing!

7. QC Terme Pré Saint Didier

After a few days skiing, you’ll be in need of a thermal bath to help your muscles relax. The hot waters are said to stimulate blood circulation and improve muscle movement. QC Terme Pré Saint Didier, just a 10-minute drive from Courmayeur, is a stunning spot for relaxing after a day on the slopes. Who doesn’t want to sink in a hot thermal bath surrounded by snow capped mountains anyway?

Best Carnivals

It’s that strange time of the year when winter is still lingering and spring has not started yet. You are starting to wonder how to pass the time until the warmer days come. And then you realise: it’s Carnival! This celebration exists in more than 50 countries all over the world and some cities have really taken it to the next level, making their Carnival worth a trip. In this article on carnivaland.net we found the best 10 best Carnivals in Europe, so you know exactly where to head to next time you find yourself a bit bored during February days.

1. Viareggio Carnival, Italy

One of the most renowned carnival celebrations in Europe is the Viareggio Carnival. This carnival takes place in Viareggio, an Italian coastal town in Tuscany, and attracts around a million visitors every year. It first started back in 1873 when the city’s rich residents protested the high tax rates.

Viareggio Carnival is famous for the most amazing floats, which are the biggest and the best in the world. The floats are giant 20-meter-high papier-mache floats that will usually represent that years’ current carnival theme. The floats can range from mythical creatures to politicians like Donald Trump. There is also a famous Carnival Museum in town where you can see the floats or do a papier-mache workshop.

2. Nice Carnival, France

Many speculate that Nice Carnival may be the oldest carnival celebration in the world. There are documented records of it dating as far back as the 13th century. It runs for two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday and attracts a million people.

Nice Carnival hosts several street parades, but the one that it is most famous for is the Flower Parade. The Flower Parade sees participants riding impressive decorated floral floats and throwing flowers to the audience. It is estimated that around 100,000 flowers are thrown during this parade. Another popular parade is the Night Time Parade.

The celebrations end with the Grande Parade followed by an impressive firework show and bonfire. There are numerous street parties that occur during carnival and it is a time that sees revellers over-indulge in food and drink.

3. Venice Carnival, Italy

Venice Carnival is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the entire world, it dates back centuries and is famous for its venetian carnival masks. Millions come from all over the world to marvel at the beautiful period costumes and masks that look majestic against the beautiful backdrop of Venice. 

Venice Carnival is also famous for throwing extravagant, luxurious and glamorous private masquerade balls and parties in grand Venetian Palaces. St Marks Square is the epicentre for all the action, and sees parades, costume competitions, acrobatic shows, theatre performances, live music and more. Shrove Tuesday is the main day of celebrations.

Wearing masks is an ancient carnival tradition that allows people to hide their social class and anonymously get up to some debauchery. It means that a housewife could indulge in some hanky panky or a noble man could mix with the common people. The Venetian Carnival masks are famous all around the world and are usually white with some intricate design on the edges.

4. Binche Carnival, Belgium

Binche Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in all of Europe. UNESCO recognises it for its Intangible significance. Binche is a small town located south of Brussels and is only a short car ride away.

This carnival is famous for its main character the Gillies. The Gillies are mythical creatures that date back centuries to its pagan roots. They perform traditional dances and make scary noises to chase away the evil winter spirits and usher in the spring. The Gillies are performed by thousands of local boys and men who wear traditional carnival costumes and masks.

Binche Carnival attracts about 100,000 visitors every year and its main festivities occur in the three days prior to Ash Wednesday; Shrove Sunday, Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday. During these days there are street parades, a confetti battle, firework shows, a champagne and oyster breakfast and lots more.

5. Ivrea, Italy

Ivrea Carnival is another ancient carnival that occurs in the small medieval town of Ivrea in Italy. It dates to medieval times and it hosts Italy’s biggest food fight, known as The Battle of the Oranges.

The Battle of the Oranges uses 400 tons of oranges in their food fight and re-enacts an ancient battle from when the town of Ivrea was freed from an evil tyrant that ruled the city. You can opt out of the fight by wearing a red hat but what’s the fun in that!

6. Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival, Spain

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival, held in Spain’s Canary Islands, claims to be the second best carnival celebration in the world after Brazil. While this is a debatable statement it certainly is a popular and wild carnival celebration.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival in kicks off the celebrations with electing a carnival queen in a competition that sees candidates wear elaborate costumes that can weigh up to around 200 kilos. For the entire week prior to the carnival there are 24/7 wild street parties and live music concerts that feature lots of Latin tunes. Celebrations end with burning of a giant sardine.

7. Notting Hill Carnival, UK

This carnival is a summer carnival taking place in the month of August. Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s largest street party with about two million people taking to the streets of London. It occurs on the Sunday and Monday of August Bank Holiday in the UK. Notting Hill Carnival was created to celebrate and embrace London’s Caribbean communities.

There is lots of drinking, dancing and socialising. The rum flows freely and people dance the day away to all the Caribbean music that pumps out from the 40 sound systems set up all over West London’s streets. You can also taste some of the delicious Caribbean cuisine like jerk chicken or goat curry.

8. Cologne Carnival, Germany

Carnival in Cologne is considered to be the ‘fifth season’. It officially begins on the 11/11 every year at 11:11am. Cologne Carnival is full of street parties, pub parties and parties that occur throughout the Cologne’s public squares, where the beer doesn’t stop flowing from morning until night.

The biggest day of carnival is Rose Monday which is when the three main carnival protagonists; a virgin, prince and a farmer, are marched through the streets of Cologne in a huge procession that features thousands of participants. Cologne Carnival is also known for the locals wearing extravagant costumes which are on par with what you would expect from Comicon.

Basel Fasnacht, Switzerland

Fasnacht is the name for carnival in many areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. There are numerous Fasnacht celebrations that occur all over that area of Europe but the biggest and most popular Fasnacht celebration is Basel Fasnacht.

What is unusual about Basel Fasnacht is that it starts one week after carnival. Basel Fasnacht features lots of parades and street parties. But the unique thing about it is the insane amounts of confetti. After the parade you may find yourself knee deep in confetti and that is because this town actually invented confetti!

Cádiz Carnival, Spain

Heading back to Spain, the Cadiz Carnival is one of the most renowned carnival celebrations in all of Europe. This carnival is a ten-day celebration of music and humour and was the only carnival in Spain that Franco couldn’t ban.

Cadiz Carnival features numerous street processions, live music concerts, comedy shows, theatre shows, puppet theatres and fireworks. It is known for everyone dressing up in the most amazing costumes that are more satirical then sexy in nature.

One of the main features of this carnival is the “Chirigotas”, satirical singing groups that make fun of current events and politicians. The groups spend most the year planning for carnival.

Après

With the ski season well under way, we have already taken our groups to ski resorts across Austria, Switzerland, and France. Our clients do love skiing, but we can confidently say the best part of every ski trip is the après-ski! The combination of post-ski adrenaline, excitement to be in the mountains, good music and Prosecco is just magical.

Today, we have decided to check the best après ski spots in Europe according to Condé Nast travel. We are happy to say we’ve got most of them covered, even this winter season!

Verbier

For: a high low mix of international glamour and beer-soaked live gigs.

Everyone knows the après is on par with the first-class skiing in Verbier. The Swiss resort has a ski-hard play-hard mentality that sees early risers maximise slope time before piling into a long lunch, which invariably rolls onto a rosé-fuelled afternoon at Bar Le Rouge. If pounding tables in ski boots to live music is on the cards, head to Le Mouton Noir, Le Farinet for its live music and retractable, fair weather roof, and seasonaire hotspot pub Montfort. Where you choose to après, it’s Verbier tradition to visit a hole-in-the-wall bakery en route home, soaking up the rosé with a pain au chocolat.

Chamonix

For: a metropolitan take on the mountains

This French resort’s après scene is as vast and varied as its terrain. Except for La Folie Douce on the lower green Brevent piste, après mostly takes place back in town or at the foot of the lifts. Skiers energised after a full day on the slopes spill onto Marmottons’ terrace for panachés and Indie performers. At the north end of town, Chambre Neuf is the classic, where cool beer, bro-beanies and live music coalesce in sticky, sweaty rapture. Just opposite, ski guides and real-deal mountaineers debrief the day’s adventures at Elevation 1904, which swiftly loosens up into bar mode.

St Anton

For: A boot-stomping belter of a party

With over 305 km of varied piste to carve and conquer, St Anton is a hard-and-fast snowglobe of fun for skiers. Krazy Kangaruh is St Anton’s après original where Schnitzels, beer and table dancing convene for a party that kicks off around 11am. Fellow mountain party cabin, MooseWirt, pumps out the Euro tunes for ski boots pounding the tables under a giant disco ball. Basecamp collects those unwilling to go home and get changed. Bodo’s is the spot for a clipped cow-bell spin on karaoke and cocktail-fuelled dancing.

Val Thorens

For: mountain cabaret and subterranean clubbing

As the highest resort in les Trois Vallées, Val Thorens’ snow cover is as sensational as its après. La Folie Douce enjoys a near-sacred status in this resort, despite its spin on the Val d’Isere original, where performers lift the terrace onto tables from their chalet balcony stage. The Brits descend on the Frog and Roastbeef for happy hour and pub grub, or join the locals at Rhum Box for an unbuttoned après. For full-throttle clubbing, Malaysia is the Alps’ biggest club, with world-famous DJs oiling the crowds until the early hours.

Livigno

For: city-grade nightlife without the VIP nonsense

High-altitude Livigno offers some of Europe’s best skiing. From a sleepy, Lombardy village in the 1950s, the resort now offers a cornucopia of post-ski frolicking. Yes, there’s the salopetted-and-booted après at Alegra with its crowd-pleasing tunes, or the circus-themed Statlet, both at the bottom of the black Carosello run. But Italians do things a little differently. Rather than a beer-soaked après, they break up a day’s skiing with a long lunch or a red wine and chicchetti pit stop, then a shower, snooze and suddenly it’s aperitivo hour. At precisely this time, Milky’s Aperitivo Bar switches on the charm with Bombardinos or Aperol spritz, while Tagliede après ski is more about the relaxed pizza and Peroni.

Val d’Isere

For: the original, hardcore après

Val d’Isere’s après scene remains predominantly British and invariably wild. By 2pm, ski helmets are typically tucked over chairs at the original La Folie Douce, at the top of La Daille gondola, where a saxophonist loosens the crowd and cabaret dancers lure in diners from La Fruitiere and la Cucina. Just above the Olympic gondola, Cocorico’s heated terraces host a more home-spun style of show, with the tabletop dancing to live music and a short slide home that can barely be categorised as skiing. The party typically moves from the slopes to the foot of the runs around 4pm.

St Moritz

For: how the other half après

St Moritz is essentially one chic century-long party laced in curious traditions and star-studded lore. Most tales emerging from years of refined revelry lead back to Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz’s fairytale turreted hotel, which recently opened its own mountain club, Paradiso. Here, a mix of serious skiers and gondola-riding designer creatures sip Champagne to Euro hits. Sternbar Marguns has been around a little longer, with its sun trap terrace and famously louche bar 2,838 metres high. Schneebar Pirates on the Rocks is another less ritzy spot at Corviglia’s top station, whose live music and laid-back allure feel out of step with everything St Moritz stands for. Finaly, the Roo Bar at Hauser is a St Moritz classic, whose cellar dance floor mops up the après crowds who’ve made it home to change.

Kloster

For: the fireside drinks that just occasionally get spicy

Kloster’s après takes its cue from the resort’s clientele – discreet royals and old money eager to pelt down its 320km tangle of pistes for a Swiss hot chocolate or lunch at Wolf’s Den. Most après take place in the cosy, amber-lit Pellegrini Bar and the traditional chalet-style Alpina Bar by the station. A curious blend of traditional chalet and school disco, Casa Antica absorbs the revellers, with its pocket-sized dance floor and cosy booths.

What’s new in Val d’Isère

The ski season has just begun and we are currently delivering our first event in Val d’Isère, one of the most well-known ski resorts in France. But what’s new in val d’Isère this year? Well, a lot of has to do with sustainability! We were happy to discover that Val recently won the CIMES DURABLES (Sustainable Peaks) prize for its investment in sustainable development.

In this article on seevaldisere.com we found a few other interesting news about what’s coming to Val this winter.

On the slopes

Eco piste groomers
Val d’Isere are championing a more sustainable approach, so their 39 piste groomers will be powered by HVO fuel this winter. This fuel is 100% renewable using vegetable oil (no palm oil) and reduces their carbon emissions by 90%.  

In the resort

Speed-riding
Evolution 2 has invested in new specially designed tandem wings to offer tandem speed-riding half days. They also offer ice floating on Ouillette lake at an altitude of 2513 metres for a unique relaxing wellness boost.  

Treetop adventures
Val adventure has opened 4 different tree-top adventure courses for a great après-ski activity in the Rogoney forest. This course includes rope bridges, zip wires, nets, beams and walkways.

Hotels

First Club Med Exclusive Collection in the Alps! 
The Club Med in Val d’Isere is the first of the exclusive collections resorts to be located in the mountains. This completely redesigned resort is the epitome of luxury with 215 deluxe rooms and suites. The new decor reflects the village style using natural wood, stone and wool to provide authenticity.

Chalets

Hip Hideouts Chalets have 2 new chalets this winter. Situated in the village both chalets sleep 10. Chalet Cala, slopeside and Chalet Loup in Le Fornet. You can expect the same high quality modern hospitality concept in these chalets that Hip Hideout offer in their other serviced accommodation in the resort. 

Travel

Electric shuttle buses
Two new electric shuttle buses join the fleet of ValBuses this winter. The rest of the fleet of buses will this year change over to HVO biofuel. These changes represent a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. By 2025, 15 electric buses will run between the village and its hamlets.  

Restaurants

The Edelweiss, an established restaurant on the slopes, celebrates its 20th Anniversary this winter and is opening a second restaurant on the Mangard slope in Le Fornet, called Rene. This new adjoining restaurant pays tribute to a family member and is offering a completely different dining experience with an open kitchen, charcoal oven and a fully glazed dining room giving an incredible panoramic view across the valley.

New hotels of 2023

After 2 and a half years of closed borders, we are not surprised to see a bunch of new hotels opening around the world. 2023 will be the inaugurating year of some pretty spectacular properties. Needless to say, newly-opened hotels are one of our favorite topics! So, let’s take a look at Europe’s most-anticipated new hotels of 2023, according to this article by Vogue.

Le Grand Mazarin, Paris

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

Soon to arrive in the heart of the Marais is Le Grand Mazarin, a Martin Brudnizki-designed hotel that features 17th-century-inspired decor.

Rosewood, Munich 

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

The 132-room Rosewood Munich is set across two historic buildings: the first, the former State Bank of Bavaria. The second, the Palais Neuhaus-Preysing.

Hotel Vermelho, Melides, Portugal

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

Christan Louboutin has long considered Melides as his creative respite. So now, he wants others to consider it theirs, too. This spring, he will finally open up a 13-room boutique hotel in partnership with Marugal.

Son Bunyola Hotel, Mallorca

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

This summer, Richard Branson will open a new hotel in Mallorca, set upon an 810-acre estate in the Serra de Tramontana. That’s amazing news for us, as Mallorca is one of our top destinations for summer events.

Bulgari, Rome

Courtesy of Bulgari

It’s a homecoming for Bulgari with the opening of the Bulgari Rome, which will be the brand’s first hospitality project in the very city they were founded in.

The OWO, London 

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

The “Old War Office” in London, which acted as Churchill’s headquarters during World War II, gets a second life this year as Raffles’s first hotel in the United Kingdom. That’s pretty impressive stuff!

100 Princes Street, Edinburgh

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

100 Princes Street, whose name is a nod to their illustrious address on one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets, will have interiors inspired by Alexander McQueen.

La Fantaisie, Paris

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

La Fantaisie will open this spring in the heart of Paris’s 9th arrondissement. Its interiors are to be inspired by nature. That’s why ornate walls and ceilings are adorned with floral wallpaper, whereas guest rooms are swathed in soft greens and yellows.

Six Senses, Rome

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

For their new Rome hotel, Six Senses restored parts of a Roman 15th-century compound. Sounds like a property really worth a visit.

The Edition, Rome

The 26 MostAnticipated New Hotels of 2023

A short walk to the Trevi Fountain is the Rome Edition, which will be the first Italian property of Ian Schrager’s luxury hotel brand.

Team building activities

One of the most fun moments during events are without a doubt team building activities. We always try and arrange the most fun, creative activities we can think of – depending on our clients’ wishes, of course! Some team building activities we have organised in the past include rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, painting, and bouncy football.

This week, we have had a look around the most extreme and unusual team building activities out there. We must say, some of them are so wild we would have never come up with the idea!

We have compiled our top-10 list from this article on teambuilding.com. Would you dare try any of these?

1. Skydiving

Among the most unexpected team building exercises for a group. First-time participants need to take an orientation class to familiarise themselves with the basics, for example how to control breathing in high altitudes and opening the parachute for landing. Exciting activities to do as a team in the air include making formations, doing the free fall, and gliding.

2. Zorbing

Zorbing is a fun recreational team building activity for all seasons. Folks challenge themselves to roll down the hill or on water. During winter, team members can zorb on frozen lakes or ski on snow inside the inflatable ball. This activity is simple but engaging.

3. Bungee Jumping

One of the most unconventional team building ideas. To enjoy this challenge, participants must prepare themselves mentally for the leap. One plus is that the activity requires little to no physical preparation. Members can meditate while suspended to help calm anxiety and make the fall more bearable.

4. Sky Walking

A skywalk tour is one of the most thrilling adventures for groups. Team members can view fascinating sceneries from a very high-altitude area. Skywalk paths usually connect two natural high points like hills or cliffs. However, most cities have skywalk facilities extending from very tall buildings.

5. Camping

Camping is one of the unique team building activities that expose participants to learn some survival tactics. The event takes the team members out of their comfort zone to unfamiliar surroundings, and participants apply their skills and wisdom to thrive. For instance, finding food, shelter, and creating warmth. Camping helps participants to learn the art of solving problems through simple actions like recycling and improvising.

6. Scuba Diving

For a team that loves swimming or diving, scuba diving is among the best unusual team building ideas. For added fun, teams can include games like underwater scavenger hunts. Participants can have a list of prompts, including sea animals, plants, and features. Players can use underwater cameras to capture images of objects.

7. Blindfolded Cook-off

The blindfolded cook-off is among the original team building ideas to take cooking contests a notch higher. In this activity, the host instructs participants to prepare a meal on a given recipe. Participants first familiarise themselves with procedures and then put on the blindfolds. The host then sets the ingredients on the table, and the cooking begins. Participants should use all other senses to identify the ingredients and have a good memory of the recipe. In the end, participants taste the food and assess the best cook on blindfolds.

8. Dune Surfing

The desert’s rich attractions like oases, sand dunes, and plains make a fantastic option for a group outing. Teams can plan for a private corporate dune surfing event or book a slot with tour companies that sell desert experiences. Participants need to have sand boards to slide down the slope.

9. Sumo Wrestling

Sumo wrestling is among the most amusing, unusual team building ideas. This fun activity is probably the only chance for team members to outshine colleagues with their wrestling prowess without getting in trouble with HR.

10. Car Racing

Car races are fun activities for teams. Participants can enjoy speeding beyond traffic limits for a prize or title by heading to a controlled course. Participants unable or unwilling to drive at high speeds can opt to watch the races. If the team members are inexperienced car racing drivers, then the group can first take coaching classes at a nearby car racing academy or with the venue’s instructors.

Patagonia

As an event business based in the Alps, we are well aware of the impact our choices might have on the environment. That’s why we work closely with local businesses, encourage coach transfers, and run a paper-free office, among other things. One of the environmentally-driven decisions we are most proud of is our choice of clothing for uniforms and gadgets. We use Patagonia – a brand internationally recognised for its sustainability.

Patagonia’s decisions as a company never cease to amaze us. In recent months, the founder Yvon Chouinard gave up ownership of the company and used the profits to fight climate change. Over the past few days, Patagonia has closed all stores in the U.S. and Canada to give employees some deserved rest over the holidays.

Patagonia CEO’s words

CEO Ryan Gellert recently made an announcement on Linkedin. “In 2021, we closed our stores […] for the last week of the year and gave employees paid time off. The purpose was to provide […] a much-needed break, and our customers were overwhelmingly gracious about it. 
 
We’re doing it again this year. Our North America stores […] will be closed from December 25 through January 1 because we believe in providing quality of life for our people. I want to thank Patagonia’s incredible employees for an amazing year of working to save our home planet […].”

Our experience

We couldn’t be happier with our Patagonia products. They are fun, extremely colourful, and use great quality materials. Most importantly, they are good for the planet! We purchased our Patagonia-branded Ten80 uniforms at our local store in Chamonix. It’s very easy to take them in for repairs, and we could even give them back once used in exchange for credit. Not that we intend to return those amazing uniforms anytime soon!

We would highly recommend Patagonia to anyone, whether in search of trusted technical material, or looking for a stylish everyday look. We will be happy to point you to our Patagonia local store next time you are in town!

A guide to Chamonix

Having been based in Chamonix for almost 20 years, we are obviously very fond of this town and all it has to offer. It’s always exciting to show our clients around this incredible destination! We work constantly to build local connections and discover new gems for our future events here.

That’s why we were quite curious when discovering an article recently published by The Guardian, where a local shares his tips for a stay in Chamonix. It puts together a guide to Chamonix that’s both very accurate and personal, and we definitely agree with its suggestions.

Here are some highlights from the article.

Food

Cool Cats in the Rue de Moulins is best in the summer when you can sit outside. But as it does artisan hot dogs and street food such as nachos, it can also be good when you’re coming off the mountain in winter.

Le‑Cap‑Horn, in the same street, is a good option for sushi but a bit more expensive. Being able to get good sushi makes Chamonix a bit special for a mountain town.

Inspiration

The mountains here are unique but I think what makes Chamonix special is that they are so accessible from the valley. And because this is the birthplace of alpinism, when you’re in the mountains you’re either on a historic route or you can see one. I enjoy just being in the mountains with good friends and family, but in town, the Maison des Artistes, an artist’s residence dedicated to musical creativity, has a concert programme that changes all the time and can be quite unusual.

Neighbourhood

Chamonix is incredibly international: people from all over the world are brought together by the mountains. This part of the Arve valley is divided into three main towns: Argentière, Chamonix and Les Houches. I live in a hamlet called Les Bois, between Chamonix and Argentière. Closest to me is another hamlet called Les Praz, which has a nice bar, Le Petit Social, for coffee or après ski.

On the other side is Le Lavancher and a 30-minute walk from that hamlet is la Buvette du Chapeau. This is a mountain cafe with traditional food (cheese, charcuterie, chanterelle omelettes) and desserts such as fruit tarts and faisselle (local fromage blanc) with blueberry jam.

Nightlife

Chamonix is a busy mountain town with lots of tourists so the nightlife is good. But my preferred way of spending an evening is getting the cable car to Plan de l’Aiguille and watching the sunset from the Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille, which is a 15-minute walk from the cable car.

You can have dinner and stay the night there, too, but in summer I like to take a picnic and camp up there. It is my favourite refuge in the whole Mont Blanc range and the mountains are pretty steep from there on, so if I stay the night, I know I can soon be up and doing something interesting the next morning!

Stay

Pointe Isabelle, in the centre of town, is a hotel, bar and bistro with 72 rooms. It sits on a corner, so it’s a good place for apéro and people watching.

Christmas markets

Christmas is approaching and one of our favorite activities this time of year (aside from skiing!) is Christmas markets shopping.

We are lucky to be located a stone’s throw away from Italy and Switzerland, as well as Geneva airport – a gateway to most European destinations. This means we can easily organise trips to the best Christmas markets around Europe!

You might be wondering which markets are worth a visit this year – so we have found this list by The Times, compounding the best 24 Christmas markets in Europe for 2022. Here are the top 10 on the list.

1. Cologne, Germany

Cologne has several Christmas markets, the largest of which is in the city centre, beneath the cathedral. Markt der Engel provides some of the most magical moments, with hundreds of twinkling lights suspended overhead like stars, and angels flitting between elaborately decorated gables.

2. Salzburg, Austria

The pretty hometown of Mozart comes into its own at Christmas, with snow-sprinkled renditions of Silent Night (the carol was written and first performed nearby) and market stalls that look much as they did when they were first set up way back in the 15th century.

3. Berlin, Germany

For a more modern take on tradition, arty Berlin has it covered. The city centre is festooned with around 80 Christmas markets (there’s even one specifically for dogs), so don’t try to cover them all.

4. Budapest, Hungary

Igniting the Christmas atmosphere in mid-November, Budapest brings two Christmas market contenders to the table: Vorosmarty Square and Basilica. Vorosmarty Square is Budapest’s oldest Christmas market. Here, you’ll find plenty of food stalls, handicraft shops and free concerts. Basilica has all of the above, but with the slight edge: Christmas laser projections on the Basilica and an ice-skating rink that circles around a grand Christmas tree.

5. Prague, Czech Republic

Postcard-pretty Prague is perfect for the festive season. Make like a local and swap your mug of mulled wine for a glass of grog — rum, water, lemon and sugar.

6. Strasbourg, France

France’s “Capital of Christmas” looks like a real-life nativity scene at this time of year. You’ll find 300 traditional market stalls crowding the city’s central squares, doing a strong line in hand-painted wooden Christmas decorations.

7. Gothenburg, Sweden

Liseberg, Sweden’s most popular amusement park, morphs into one of the world’s classiest Christmas open-air markets — no creaky Ferris wheels, plastic Christmas trees or drunk elves here.

8. Bratislava, Slovakia

Christmas in the Slovakian capital is a time of childlike wonder. Fairy lights are draped around Christmas trees, while market stalls sell traditional wooden toys and handsome Christmas decorations.

9. Bohemia, Czech Republic

In search of Christmas decorations and Christmas lights beyond Prague? Head for the southern Bohemian cities of Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov and you’ll find two of the most atmospheric markets in Europe.

10. Vienna, Austria

Come Christmas and Vienna sparkles with fairy lights. Snowy streets glow as light spills out from vast palaces; icicles dangle off grandiose Habsburg buildings. Add in steaming drinks in made-to-linger coffee houses and you’ve got a city full of festive atmosphere that doesn’t feel twee.

Amsterdam

There’s a moment every event planner loves: receiving that confirmation e-mail where the client finally gives the go ahead for their next event. We have recently experienced this thrill in the office when one of our large corporate groups confirmed an event in Amsterdam for next summer.

Amsterdam is perhaps not your usual summer destination as clients tend to choose the mountains or seaside, especially for incentives. However, the city is perfect for an urban escape and extremely corporate-friendly.

Reasons to host an event in Amsterdam

In this article on Iamsterdam.com we found 7 reasons why Amsterdam is just the perfect event destination.

  1. Amsterdam is easily accessible by international train and plane (the airport is only 20 minutes away from the city centre by public transport). On top of that, it is a very compact city with short travel times between hotels, venues and restaurants. 
  2. It has great digital connectivity: Amsterdam is a tech hub with one of the strongest internet backbones in the world and a leader in innovation and applying new technology.
  3. There are more than 500 beautiful venues.
  4. There are more than 40,000 hotel rooms, all located close to the venues.
  5. It is an iconic international destination with 750 years of history to discover and countless things to see and do.
  6. It has an extensive knowledge and business network coupled with world-class universities and research centres.
  7. Amsterdam is known for its commitment to collaboration and social connectivity. Parties involved in your event are well-connected and accustomed to working together.

…And some rankings

On top of these very valid reasons to organise your event in Amsterdam, here are some top rankings involving the city:

#5 among world’s best cities for smart mobility

#6 city for international association meetings 2021 in Europe

#1 safest city in Europe and #6 worldwide

#1 sustainable European city

#3 best airport in Western Europe

#1 for direct connectivity and hub connectivity 

Needless to say, we are thrilled to explore this destination thoroughly and polish our local connections in preparation for our upcoming event!