This is the place where we stayed, in St Christoph. It’s a chalet hotel, so it’s not a chalet, and it’s not a hotel. But to me it was more like a hotel than a chalet.
There were about 150 Brits staying there, and a couple of Americans. Most folk were in their fifties or sixties. Fat Mac reckons that it’s mainly Hooray Henries who go skiing, but as usual he’s thinking about what it was like in the sivinties. Nowadays, it’s mostly either young ravers or oldies. The ravers stay in places like St Anton, get rat-arsed in the evenings at places like the Krazy Kanguruh and BaseCamp, sleep it off the next day and get on the piste by the pm. The oldies, on the other hand, get up early and have fresh pistes often to themselves. Oldies enjoy places such as the Sporthotel because you can ski in/ski out, and it’s a lot quieter, though having said that, the free wine on offer did raise the noise level somewhat in the evenings.
Most of the people staying at the Sporthotel were professionals of one kind or another, and many had retired. Amongst others, we met three retired doctors, an NHS manager, and a retired teacher. In most cases, the couples both had, or had had, professional level jobs. They were nearly all very good skiers, much better than us, and seemed to go on at least one skiing holiday each year. They were all physically fit – none were obese – in fact, skiing keeps you very fit, and you also have to be fit to ski well. I read the other day that by 2020, 40% of Scottish people will be obese, so I don’t think many of those folk will ski much.
Virtually all of the staff in the chalet hotel were from Britain. It seems that in the UK there are numerous Polish, Portuguese and other foreign nationals who work in the hotels, whilst the Brits go abroad for employment in such services. No doubt they enjoy the skiing on their days off.
Some thought had gone into the dining arrangements. There were various groups who sat at their own tables for most of the week. Then there were a few couples who wanted to sit by themselves. The rest of us were invited to sit in rows of tables seating 10 people. At the entrance to the dining room, you were directed to a specific table, which sometimes varied. Lindsey and I spent our meals either on tables 5 or 6. This meant that our neighbours varied a bit, but that somewhere on each table, each evening, were some people we’d sat beside on previous evenings. This was a good arrangement.
The tables filled up depending on who arrived in the dining room after the aperitif in the large bar area. So, if you were first to your table, you had your choice of seat. If you were last, you sat in the vacant slots. Not every couple was male/female.
The setup worked well. Imagine if the seating arrangements were fixed, and you had to sit at the same seat, every evening, for example at the end of a row of five double tables, and you’d pulled the short straw and every evening the only neighbour you could talk to was Fat Mac. Well – by the second evening you’d want to go home. Imagine having to listen to talk, every night for two hours, about how the UK needs a Stalin figure who would make sure that hard-working people like yourself, who had maybe been in employment for thirty to thirty-five years or more, should be lined up and shot, and their assets given to the bone-idle! And imagine looking over to your only neighbour during the third course, and, what with the free wine and all, what you’d see would be Fat Mac drooling into his creme brûlée! Imagine the horrors. Thank goodness Fat Mac doesn’t ski!
That sort of thing couldn’t happen at the Sporthotel because, as I said, the seating arrangements varied. If you sat in the middle of the table one evening, you could talk to couples on either side of you. But, in fact, your neighbours on either side would spend much of their time talking to the people at the table ends, otherwise those people would only have themselves to talk to. Everyone was in a great mood each evening, as they’d all had a fantastic day on the snow – apart from the woman who was taken out by a boarder on the first day, and suffered a broken leg.
There was only one ski snob – a chap who “didn’t do ski buses”. Mind you, the ski buses, unlike the post buses, were extremely crowded, so maybe he had a point.
The only Hooray Henries we saw were actually Henriettas. They had a table at the Hospiz Alm, the top place at St Christoph. They were drinking expensive wine, and had a row of empties beside their table. We checked out the prices, and figured out that they’d run up an afternoon tab of £500. Nixon, Kennedy, and various royals had eaten at the Hospiz Alm. We could tell this from the photos near the entrance.
The Hospiz Alm has a great way (a slide) of getting to the toilets downstairs when you have boots on.