Notre Dame High School Ski Trip to Chateau d'Oex
The following blog was written by a teacher from Notre Dame High School about their Ski Adaptable school ski trip to Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland in February 2015.
Days One and Two
We left school on the evening of Friday February 13th at 5pm and headed straight to Dover. After one 45 minute stop (in a service station containing a McDonald’s to the students’ delight!), we arrived at the ferry port in plenty of time for our 2.20am ferry. The ferry left on time and all members of the party took the 90 minute crossing as an opportunity to have a quick wash and brush their teeth….well, most did anyway!
After a smooth ferry journey across the Chanel, we soon arrived in France. The journey to Chateau d’Oex went smoothly with far less traffic than we had experienced on our previous trips to Austria- a big plus! Once we had entered Switzerland the view of the Alps made the final couple of hours of the journey a privilege. On arrival in the resort, we were met by our rep, Andre, and went immediately to get our ski fitting. This process was extremely well organised as all of our boots, skis and helmets were pre-prepared for each member of the party…we simply had to check that they fitted! Andre then took us to our sole occupancy accommodation for the week, le Vieux Chalet, which he also owns. The pupils then unpacked and got some well-earned rest.
We got up at 7.45am, had breakfast (which contained cereal, fruit, toast and yoghurt) and packed up our lunch for the day (a selection of breads, cheese, meat, chocolate and fruit) and headed just down the road where we collected our ski equipment. Shortly after 10am we were on the slopes waiting for our Ski school instructors! The pistes were in excellent condition with 70cm of snow falling just 10 days prior to our arrival! Prior to the trip, we had arranged for all students to have ski lessons and this definitely helped them progress faster and get them off the beginner slopes quicker. We were able to get the advanced and intermediate groups straight up the mountain, leaving the beginners to be assessed by the highly competent ski school.
In the evening, we all sat down for our first meal at Le Vieux Chalet which, after a long day, we were all ready for! The food throughout the week was excellent, and we started with chicken thighs…very nice! Once we had finished eating, we walked to the local bowling alley (just 10 minutes away) accompanied by our rep Andre where we participated in two games.
On Monday, we woke up to bright blue skies with the temperature at around -2 degrees celcius. The weather was to remain like this for the rest of our holiday which made the skiing even more enjoyable! During the day, all groups progressed well and the more able group went to a different sector of the ski area (thanks to Andre again for organising this) which ensured that the children of all abilities were constantly challenged. At the end of our second full day of skiing, all groups were deemed able to go to the more challenging slopes which was a huge success. After our evening meal, we went swimming in Gstaad which was a short bus journey away. The pool was very clean and contained a diving board for extra entertainment. On arrival back at the chalet, the children were in bed by 10.30pm and the staff took advantage of the hot tub located underneath the moon lit skies within the gardens, a perfect end to an excellent day!
Skiing on Tuesday was particularly exciting as all groups hopped on the bus and went to the largest ski sector due to the excellent progress made. One member of staff (Me!) took the opportunity to go up to Glacier 3000 which was quite difficult to get to but the views were well worth it! If any pupils got injured, I planned to bring them here just for the views…but we did not have any injuries (out of 54 students) all week! The pistes at the top of the glacier were shallow blues and one black run- not much of a range and this is why Andre used his local knowledge and recommended that the pupils skied in sector one (over 120km of pistes) for the week which was exactly the right advice. For our evening entertainment we headed out again, into the local town of Gstaad. We were made aware that Prince Harry was on holiday at the same time in this town but, despite our best efforts, we were unable to hunt him down! The town was beautiful with a range of designer shops including Cristian Dior which contained a coat for £5000…slightly out of our range! We returned to the chalet for 9.30pm where the children had the option of using the games room…most went to bed exhausted!
Yet again the sun was out and the snow was glistening…but not icey due to the excellent piste conditions. All groups were now able to go to the top of the mountain and ski the blue run all the way down to base resort level…this took longer for some groups but we all made it and it provided the group with some excellent photo opportunities! The highlight of the day was having lunch at the top of the mountain…the views were exceptional. But we wouldn’t advise on doing this every day- a plate of chips costs around £10!! After another excellent days skiing, we went into Chateau D’Oex at 8pm to go ice skating and visit the local co-op where food was far more sensibly priced! The ice skating rink was very well maintained and was overlooked by a Chinese restaurant- this went down very well with the staff and the children who were claiming fatigue and didn’t want to skate! Once the most dangerous activity of the week was completed (Ice skating!) without incident, we returned to our chalet. A huge plus with this resort was that everything was conveniently located- everything we wanted was within a 30 minute journey (swimming and Gstaad village) with most activities (ten pin bowling, ice skating, Chateau D’oex village and ski area) just a 10 minute walk away.
Day Seven and Eight
This was our final day on the slopes and, yet again, we were greeted by bright blue skies and warm sunshine. With it being our last day, the bus drivers were unable to take us to the slopes (due to their driving hours) so we had to get a train instead (What a shame!) which was included in the cost of the lift pass. After both a morning and afternoon of skiing we said our final goodbyes and thank you’s to the ski school instructors and Andre. Having a rep who not only owns the chalet, knows all of the local contacts and can organise the ski school was priceless, we will never have another rep like him…until we return! We returned our rented ski gear to Andre’s shop, ate our last meal, and got back on the bus for the journey back! We left our chalet at 7pm and arrived back in Sheffield for 1pm the following day- a very good journey back. I highly recommend catching a ferry back on the Friday morning to avoid the hideous queues at Calais which develop on the Saturday morning of every February half-term.
This was an extremely successful ski trip which was exceptionally well organised from start to finish. Thank you Ski Adaptable!
If you are interested in taking a school ski trip to Chateau d'Oex in Switzerland please contact Ski Adaptable today to start organising your school ski trip to Switzerland