Snowbizz – how we started – a Q+A

A lot of people ask us questions about how we got started and why we decided, as a family, to run our own ski company. So we have put this together to answer the questions we get asked so often. If you have more questions, just ask!

1. What made you set-up a ski company?

It happened without realising. Michel was working on mountain rescue in Puy St Vincent and I had been working for a UK ski operator. Our skiing friends were visiting us and telling more friends about the little gem that they had found. By the time we married in 1986 we had a group of friends visiting us pretty much every week of the ski season. Before long we were taking a small block of charter seats organised through my lovely old boss, Vic Fatah, at Ski Sunmed who helped us so much in the early days.

2. Didn’t you need huge amounts of money to set-up?

Technically yes because we needed an ATOL licence – but with the enthusiasm of youth, the day we decided to properly give it a go we were down to the last 20 franc note. Today that might sound ludicrous but it’s how it happened. The early days are worthy of a full comedy script, literally all our friends were pitching in to help in whatever way they could. Mum ran the office in the UK– I was rep again-Michel, when he wasn’t rescuing people was ski guide, with a weekly trip to Serre Chevalier on his day off. Everyone loved skiing with him and it was a very special era with a growing number of guests.

3. So who backed you?

Best friend Jo set up a meeting with her husband’s boss, none other than Eddie Jordan. How he kept a straight face as I launched into a Jedward style business plan of how we were everything to skiing. Michel watched in horror but couldn’t interrupt, as at the time he didn’t think his English wasn’t up to it. Thankfully Eddie didn’t back us – but he listened and on the back of his advice and with a lot more thought and planning we approached NatWest with a proper business plan and shock horror they said yes.

4. So what do you do in the summer?

This is the most commonly asked question of all but the answers might surprise you. Firstly, as expected, we take a couple of week’s catch-up time. We all love what we do but going the extra mile means a good re-charge is necessary -particularly for Michel as he has been the face of Snowbizz every morning ensuring that all the ski school children are happy. Then early May it’s back to work full-on for all of us.

5.But surely with wifi you could just run the Snowbizz office from a beach in Greece?

Great idea – but Spring is as busy as Autumn-many of our regular guests will have already booked their next year’s holiday with us. May then sees another splurge of bookings as everyone knows they can get exactly what they want-at the best prices. We charter our flights through Thomson and as with all airlines the prices go up closer to departure, so it just makes sense to book early. And our guests don’t just email anyway – they like to talk to get to know us on the phone, so much as I’d like to I can’t see us managing all this from the beach.

6. You’re known for your legendary staff – how do you find them and keep them?

We have literally hundreds of applicants, our job is to find the little gems who are like us and ready to go the extra mile and make every child’s holiday special. When you have a perfect team they just become like extended family we all get such a buzz from all the nice things our guests say about us that it just creates a snowball effect (sorry but it’s true) with everyone trying even harder. Sadly, they’re all young so we can’t keep them forever but they still come back to ski with us. We’re now seeing our old nannies’ children in our crèche and ski school. Our oldest serving team: Katie, Ian and Viv still help us and will shortly be doing a blog here aimed at youngsters wanting to know about doing a ski season in the Alps. So do look out for that one if you know anyone interested.

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  1. Marina

    You are absolutely 100% the best ski operator for families and you got it right from the start. Many years since we skied with you but I still recommend you to anyone who will listen. Can’t understand why anyone would go anywhere else if they have young children. : )

    • Wendy and Elodie

      Thank you Marina, you are so kind! Would we be able to quote you on that? Such lovely words!

      • Marina

        Absolutely, you can quote me, you are the best there is out there ladies!I’m so gutted that I had just booked Christmas this year with a group then Joanne and Alan booked to come to Puy with Henry! I’ve told her that when she re books for next year to book me as well! Have a great season x

  2. Maggie

    We’ve had many happy weeks in Puy, in small groups, large groups and latterly with family and friends. I still can’t think of anywhere better to learn to ski and love the fact that when I’ve had enough for the day I can sit outside one of the bars or restaurants with a drink and watch as those more energetic than me carry on skiing. Snowbizz are great, with excellent staff in Puy and the UK and I recommend them to all.

  3. Bernadette

    Lovely to hear how Snowbizz started – we really felt as though we were getting personal treatment from the point of booking on our two holidays to PSV.
    We’ve had super family holidays – the childcare is amazing and the kids get their confidence quickly on the snow – it means the grown ups can have a holiday too knowing that the little ones are being well cared for.

    • Wendy Lyotier

      Hi Bernadette, thank you so much for your kind comments. We’re glad to hear you’ve had great family holidays and hope to see you out in Puy again soon!

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