WINTER DIARY

Carl Renvall’s winter diary: Each month, pro-skier Carl Renvall writes about his winter season, meeting fellow freeriders along the way…

The winter is on its way. In most places, people don’t ever want to see the end of summer. Here in Verbier, you can only feel excitement filling the air when knocking on the doors of the winter. We are about to step into a new, lively and eventful season. If you haven’t already, it’s time to pray to the snow gods, wishing for a deep and stable snowpack. Until then, like the squirrel living in my neighbouring tree, I’m focusing all my energy on getting ready for the long, cold winter. Only, I’m not stuffing my house with nuts. I am training hard, gaining strength, agility, balance, coordination and stamina. These are only a few of the components I will need for a successful season. Last year, I had the opportunity to compete on the Freeride World Tour. The overall experience was great, but unfortunately the strict 50/50 cut bumped me back down to the qualifier for this upcoming winter. Against all odds, we were a group of four friends who managed to qualify for the Freeride World Tour in the same year. Charlotte Percle saw the potential story and decided to set out on a mission to document it. If you haven’t seen it already, get a glimpse from the inside of what it’s like to compete on the professional freeriding circuit. Make sure to check-out the movie `ROOKIES’ by Charlotte Percle, which you will find for free online, vimeo.com/233106608. (The film will be shown at Verbier Cinema December 2)

[su_vimeo url="http://www.vimeo.com/233106608"]

Carl: Knowing you did it all by yourself and on your own budget, what inspired and motivated you to do this?

Charlotte: My main motivation was to learn. I took photos for many years before this project, but have never really filmed. I was tired of being a waitress and I wanted to change my career path. The only way to really learn is by just doing it.

Carl: Where did your expectations differ from the end result?

Charlotte: I expected more face shots and slightly less mistakes from myself. But, I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out in the end.

Carl: Why do you film skiing?

Charlotte: I want to spend my days on the mountain with skis on, so filming skiing was an obvious choice. It’s also because I get to meet awesome individuals and discover new zones that I would have never known were in my back garden.

Carl: What was your overall impression of the freeride competition scene?

Charlotte: My overall impression goes a bit deep. I used to think it was a closed door club for locals only. I never got into any of the FWQ’s in Europe and had wild cards taken away, I just thought that the whole thing was designed to stop people getting in. The reason I got so angry about the whole thing is because I desperately wanted to take part. This is because the scene surrounding competitive Freeride is in fact amazing, it makes the world feel small. You meet the same people at competitions all over the planet and you could be in Japan or South America - you’d still bump into someone you know if you were at a competition. This season has deepened that view even more. The Freeride World Tour is just a little community of amazing people trying to do what they enjoy most.

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LADIES OF THE LODGE

You never know who might be coming to stay at Sir Richard Branson’s Alpine home. One of nine destinations in the Virgin Limited Edition, the property offers an indoor pool, two jacuzzis, fully-equipped spa treatment room and four chefs – the perfect mountain retreat. The team working at The Lodge need to be prepared for anyone and everything…

“My job is varied. One week you might have a quiet family of four, the next could be a busy corporate group of 42. Generally I start the day doing breakfast service, then help the guests get prepared for the mountain, before organising everything for the rest of the day. My favourite part of the job is hosting the corporate party groups. After a day up on the mountain, the first place they head to is après-ski, where they are ready to do some serious partying. We normally head to the front by the stage, then our job is to make sure they have all the drinks they need – often it’s jugs of beer which get liberally shared around. The group will then come back for dinner, before heading back out. Sometimes they’ll be dancing until the early morning at Etoile Rouge, then coming back to The Lodge to continue the party – they certainly have the stamina! The last hangers-on might go to bed at 6am, then I might be making Bloody Marys at 7am. The contrast is when we have a family group coming to stay; then you might have a live band coming to play with an audience of dancing kids. I love every second of this job…” Abigail Climpson-Stewart, Guest Services Manager“I was meant to go to New York, but I couldn’t get a visa, so one of my friends called me and said he had work for me in Verbier. I didn’t even know where it was. I then heard about the job at The Lodge when I was rock climbing in the summer with Hugh, one of the chalet’s chefs. A normal day for me is starting at 7am on a breakfast shift, prepping the buffet and sending out hot breakfast orders that the guests place with our front of house team as they come down for breakfast. then prep for the rest of the day, for example, making bread and afternoon tea. On today’s menu we have beetroot salad, roast chicken and lemon tart. The menu varies hugely as we use local, seasonal produce. The next chef will come in and take over at 2pm and continue prepping for dinner service. Last week we cooked for 42 people from Thailand – they came into the kitchen to cook for themselves as well a lot of the time, which was a lot of fun.” Linda Söderlund, Chef

“I used to work on Necker Island for Virgin Limited Edition but decided to swap my flip flops for ski boots and began working at The Lodge as the Front of House Manager six years ago. I took over as General Manager in October 2015 and have loved every minute of it. Most days I arrive around 7:30am and do a quick walk around the property and brief the team on the guest activities for the day before spending a few minutes at my desk. During this time I work on pre-arrival guest correspondence, ensuring that guest requests are looked after and that each stay is truly unique to each group. I’ll then run around helping with breakfast, which is a great part of my job as I’m not just sat at a desk all day. I get involved with the guests’ experience from start to finish. I manage a team of 15 so that is an interesting challenge and one where no day is the same! One of my favourite experiences and enjoyments working at The Lodge is organising weddings. We had three during my first summer in Verbier and have another two coming up this summer. It’s great to add all the finishing touches that make it extra special for the guests. Another perk working at The Lodge is that we are open during both winter and summer seasons which is a rare find in Verbier. I love the contrast of the seasons here. We have the skiing in the winter, which is equally as amazing as summer when you can bike, hike or paraglide – it’s a really active and fantastic place to live and work.”  Ashley Crook, General Manager

My job here is a bit like being Mary Poppins, I have quite a diverse role. I’ll start off the day working alongside the front of house team where I might help empty the dishwasher, then I might make coffee and tea, and then run around stocking up firewood before the guests return in the afternoon. Then I go down to the spa around midday and get everything ready for my afternoon treatments. I then do some admin, emails and boring things like that before submerging myself in lavender around 3.30pm where I normally do up to four hours of treatments. Then I become Mary Poppins again and prepare the bedrooms for the evening by carrying out our turndown service – I adore this part of the day because I love being meticulous making sure the room is perfect for the guest. Adjusting the lighting, putting a chocolate on the pillow, and ensuring the room is nice and tidy – everything has to be perfect! I like to make sure people feel special and that people are being looked after really well. After turndown, I sometimes help the front of house team a bit more before heading home for the day. Some of our guests have stayed at The Lodge up to 9 times, so I work hard to ensure their experience is a good as their last one! All of the guests I have met so far have been amazing and I remind myself often of just how lucky I am to be here.” Georgie Nicholls, Spa Therapist



Three Bean Chili Soup

This recipe is delicious and a fabulous meal on its own, especially when garnished and accompanied by an ice-cold Corona – perfect for a cold winter day, or when the sun is shining. Feel free to switch up the beans to any kind you prefer, as well as throw in any extra vegetables that might be left in your fridge. This soup can easily be adapted.

Three Bean Chili Soup
Serves 8

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 onions, chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh green chili, chopped (you can add more if you want it really spicy!)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
2dl hard cider
8dl vegetable broth (homemade or store-bought)
1 big can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
425g cooked black beans (home-cooked or canned from one 19 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
425g cooked pinto beans (home-cooked or canned from one 19 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
425g cooked dark red kidney beans (home-cooked or canned from one 19 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

To garnish (optional): diced red onion, diced avocado, grated cheese, diced tomato, chopped pickled jalapeños, sour cream, lime wedges, chopped coriander, plain salted tortilla chips

Add two tbsp of oil and the celery, onion and garlic to a large stock pot. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the fresh chili, chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, thyme, coriander, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
Pour in the cider, turn the heat up high, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits, for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the canned tomatoes and the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.
Turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes then add all the whole beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30-45 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, thin it with a little water.
Stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with the garnishes.

Enjoy!


Glögg, Vin Chaud, Gluhwein, Mulled Wine, Hot Wine, Gløgg

Winter is finally here and the temperatures have dropped below zero so I thought a warming brew would be an appropriate topic for this month.

Hot or mulled wine is brewed in all European countries and therefore comes under many names and forms. Some make it red, some make it white, some with cinnamon and some with rum, some with schnapps and some with orange but they all make a hot alcoholic brew that rhymes with after-ski for me.

There’s nothing better than sitting around a table swapping stories of powder turns and black runs. My favorite recipe has been around for years and is with red wine, has orange and cinnamon and is not too alcoholic so my Scandinavian friends will probably be disappointed as every Glögg recipe I found has an incredible amount of alcohol added to the mix.

Start with a bottle of red wine, not too cheap, but no point in anything too expensive either as the mix of spices will cover up any complexities an expensive wine might have. Warm the wine in a pot, add about 60 grams of sugar and stir. Don’t let the wine boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add half a cup of orange or lemon juice, sliced orange and a few cloves, two cinnamon sticks and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. That’s it, so no excuses for not giving it a go!

Now, if you’re entertaining Scandinavian friends or feel like adding a bit of fun to the night, or both, you can add 200ml of white alcohol, rum or fruit schnapps. If you’re here in Verbier, Pear Williams would be appropriate, Danes like Akvavit, Swedes will have it with white rum and they may expect a few raisins thrown in for good luck.

If you’re feeling lazy or out on the hill, hot wine is served all over the resort, every mountain restaurant has their own brew.

So here is the list of ingredients for one bottle. If you need two, just double the quantities etc. The key is to not rush, don’t boil and taste as you go.

1 Bottle of red wine 75cl

60 grams of white or brown sugar (3/4 cup)

½ cup of orange juice

Sliced orange

2 cinnamon sticks

4 Cloves


A look Inside Some of Verbier’s Most Beautiful Chalets

(2010) Curiosity on what lies behind closed shutters is a trait of human nature. Bramble Ski invites Verbier Life to take a look inside some of Verbier’s most beautiful chalets.

Since the company began in 2005, Bramble Ski has been busy building a reputation as Verbier’s best-kept secrets.   From the beautiful wood and furs used in Nyumba to the exquisite art lined walls of The Dairy, their collection of chalets and apartments are some of the best Verbier has to offer.  Natasha Robertson of Bramble Ski explains, “We have always known that Verbier has some of the most beautiful homes in the Alps and now we are able to allow our guests access to these stunning chalets.”

[quote_center] “We have always known that Verbier has some of the most beautiful homes in the Alps and now we are able to allow our guests access to these stunning chalets.”[/quote_center]

As Verbier has become a destination resort for the worlds wealthiest individuals Bramble Ski has an increasingly international list of owners. This is reflected in the diversity of the chalet interiors across the portfolio. From the beautiful textiles used in the middle-eastern influenced Valentine apartments to the Italian green marble used to line the pool and spa at Nyumba.

How do they get their hands on these stunning properties?  “We are fortunate that our business has seen substantial growth, we now have over 20 properties in Verbier. In the last 5 years we have learnt that we must both have flexibility in our contracting process with owners and in tailored services we provide our clients. The aim of the team is to work in partnership with our owners to deliver maximum returns, while giving them the peace of mind that their homes will be cared for throughout the season.”

No detail is too small when it comes to the interior design of their Chalets with the use of natural stone and reclaimed wood.  “We are often asked to get involved at an early stage with the planning of these properties and work along side the architect and interior designers to come up with beautiful yet workable solutions for our owners.”

Natasha is keen to point out that there is something special about all of the Bramble Ski chalets but takes us through some of her favourite features.  “I love the stunning pool in the Victoria and Valentine complex where we have four apartments, there is a fantastic gym and it looks onto the most gorgeous grey slate pool, which is huge and so inviting. The craftsmanship in the carpentry of our flagship chalet, Maria Schnee in St Anton, blew me away. The whole place has the feel of a country manor but with a lightness of touch that you don’t expect in Alpine chalets.”

With their collection of stylish and elegant chalets and apartments we are sure Bramble Ski won’t be a secret for much longer.