With fresh snow promised, wouldn't you?
With a chill in the air and the chance of fresh snow, I found myself pining for the mountains. But where to go and where to stay? Images of a cosy chalet with wooden beams, a roaring fire and beaming chalet staff kept flashing through my mind.
Back in the early 80’s, I was a chalet girl in Meribel where my friend and I hosted 21 guests, - we did all the budgeting, shopping, cleaning and cooking, and sat with guests through dinner, offering counselling or banter as the mood dictated. Rooms were fairly simple; cosy with gingham curtains and woolly alpine blankets but there were no hot tubs, bathrobes, slippers or spa treatments. Food was hearty, but basic, and the wine was low-end supermarket. Nobody minded because there wasn’t much choice back then but a recent ski trip showed me that the chalet scene is much more luxurious nowadays, and a lot more relaxing.
Today’s chalet companies have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. In Morzine alone there are 100 chalet companies so competition for clients is fierce. I was attracted to Morgan Jupe by their promise of the ‘best food and wine in the Alps’ and also that the owners live in the town and oversee their ski operation personally. Established in 2012 by Joshua Morgan and Jess Hitchen, Morgan Jupe has 3 chalets and one apartment in Morzine and has totted up some impressive accolades from the World Snow Awards which celebrates the best companies across the industry.
Josh explains their success,
“We started Morgan Jupe in 2012 feeling confident that our wealth of experience in hospitality and a lifetime connection to the Alps would ensure that our guests had a great holiday, and would return again. Our passion for fine food and great wines defines our product and it is our desire to offer guests a chalet holiday unlike any they have experienced before that sets us apart from other companies.”
Guests are met at Geneva airport by Morgan Jupe’s partner, Alp Nav, and sped up to Morzine via minibus in just over an hour. My son and I stayed at Chalet des Amis, a hearty ten minute walk from the town centre but in a beautiful location. We were greeted by smiley chalet staff and as we learned over the course of our stay, nothing was too much trouble for Alice, Laura, Katie and our driver James.
The chalet, and its staff, exude warmth, and it was somewhat comforting to find that gingham is still a pre-requisite in chalet bedrooms although Morgan Jupe rooms are also blessed with modern touches such as fabulous showers, comfortable beds, crisp white linens and hurrah - bath robes, free toiletries and white slippers!
After a quick freshen up we sat down to the first of many fabulous meals cooked with panache and care by our chef ‘Katie’. Dishes such as Pan Seared King Scallop with crushed peas and boudin noir or 53º beef fillet with triple cooked chips, celeriac purée and chantenay carrots. Our favourite desert was white chocolate and coconut mousse. And all this washed down with some amazing wines.
Food and wine is very much the focus of a Morgan Jupe holiday and each year Josh and Jess travel around Europe to seek out the best, undiscovered wines on offer. Josh says,
“We work directly with small, independent wine-makers who dedicate their lives to producing the most delicious wines they possibly can. Over the years we have built a list which is fundamentally French but ventures into some of our favourite regions in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Austria. This gives us a fantastic range of flavours to pair with our menus and allows us to take our guests on a real journey through the week.”
At each meal Laura explained the chosen wines and we were treated to some surprising and delightful choices. I loved the wonderful Portuguese red ‘Douro, Esporão “Assobio” 2011’ and Bourgogne Chitry, Morgan Jupe’s most popular white wine with its rich, golden colour and a deliciously smooth taste which comes from a small town next to Chablis.
Remembering we were actually in Morzine to ski we set about sorting our equipment. During over 30 years of skiing I have grown used to crowded ski shops, balancing on one leg, tugging at tight boots, getting clonked on the head by a falling pair of skis and wondering if I should have gone hiking instead. But at Morgan Jupe the pain is relieved as All Alpine Rental come to the chalet, fit you out with the necessary kit and deliver it back in time for your first expedition to the slopes.
On our first morning James, the Morgan Jupe driver and handyman, drove us to the new cable car that whisks skiers up to Avoriaz in just 4 minutes. The new Prodains lift boasts 12 ‘cars’, each with 35 seats and is capable of carrying nearly 2500 passengers an hour - a truly fantastic development for the resort.
Morzine is at the heart of the Portes du Soleil, a vast ski area with 650km of groomed runs that sweep through the largest linked ski area in the world – taking in 12 traditional towns and villages across both France and Switzerland. Pistes vary from high altitude powder bowls to beautiful tree-lined runs down into the villages; not to mention the limitless off-piste and there’s something for every ability. We didn’t cover all the runs in our short stay, but we worked hard at it! At the end of the day when we returned to the comfort of the chalet, I was non-plussed, but delighted, to find chalet girl Alice waiting to help pull my boots off! (which, by the way, are then kept in a heated cupboard overnight - absolute luxury.) Chalet holidays now offer so much more than a place to lay your head at night, and a good, professional company such as Morgan Jupe makes every aspect of the holiday a joyful experience.
As they enter their 5th winter season, Jess says, ”It's always such a pleasure to see returning guests and to know that we can still exceed their expectations even after 8 holidays with us! Being able to rely on our amazing team to consistently provide an outstanding level of service means that we look forward to also meeting new guests each week, knowing that they are going to have a truly unforgettable holiday."
Alp Nav - http://www.alpnavtransfers.com
Ski hire - http://www.allmountainrental.com