Many of us are mourning the end of summer and the long, warm days and cool evenings that go with it. Luckily for us skiers though, this seemingly gloomy time of year has a welcome silver lining as it heralds the beginning of the ski season. It’s time to get ready for the slopes!
As I prepare for a winter of snow sports, I decided to catch up with our ski ambassador Chemmy Alcott for a chat about one of the best aspects of the ski season: the après ski. Nothing feels better after a day on the slopes then relaxing with a vin chaud in an altitude chalet, but as a professional athlete, Chemmy reminded me that there’s more to the life of a serious skier than hitting the cosy bars and enjoying the nightlife. “No kicking back with a nice Gluhwein for me,” she said, “it’s straight onto the treadmill! But if I don’t have to race the next day, I love a relaxing session in the sauna too.”
Fortunately, most of us aren’t training for ski championships, meaning we get to soak up all the fun après ski has to offer. In my experience, the best Gluhwein, along with some of the most warming and restorative food to be found anywhere in Europe’s snow covered hotspots can be found in the Austrian Alps. Flights to Innsbruck from Monarch will put you within easy reach of world famous bars such as the Crazy Kanguru at Saint Anton—a bar Chemmy highly recommends. Well-known for its parties, extensive menu and incredible views, it’s the ideal place to wind down after a day on the slopes. Just two hours drive from Saint Anton is the resort of Kitzbuhel, which is home to Pinkies, a much-loved celebrity hangout, and The Londoner which, ironically, specialises in mouth-watering Austrian cuisine.
In Switzerland, Chemmy told me that the place to head for fantastic après ski is St. Moritz. “People-watching is always part of the fun of St. Moritz,” she says. “”But, if, like me, you can’t hit the bars straight after skiing, there’s always lots of other stuff going on here to keep you occupied. You can even watch polo matches on the frozen lake.”
While the Austrian Alps are renowned for their wild après ski atmosphere, Chemmy is keen to point out that après ski is not all about wild parties. She told me that in Italian and French resorts there is a gentler ambience with more emphasis on good food. “I’ve had some of the most amazing meals in Cortina. The White Grouse Pub in Flaine has a very English feel with delicious food to restore you after your session on the slopes.” Travelling to Grenoble with Monarch puts you within easy reach of Flaine and some of Europe’s best ski resorts, where fondues and raclettes are the specialty speciality of the region. Chemmy admitted that if she didn’t have to watch her diet, she’d indulge in these delicious dishes a lot more regularly. “I love cheese and cured meats,” she says, “I actually prefer the Swiss fondue to the French, as the Swiss mix the types of cheeses they use which makes it ultra delicious.” .
When I asked Chemmy what she loved most about the Alps, she said, “I love the vastness; the fact that it’s possible to not ski down the same slope twice in a day.” Unlike slopes in the United States where it’s common to drive to the mountains, Alpine ski resorts are usually designed for people on foot, allowing the après ski atmosphere to really take off.
As we said goodbye, Chemmy left me with some sound words of advice. “Have fun, but try not to waste your precious ski days away recovering from hangovers!” I’ll do my best Chemmy!