From the moment we arrived in resort (one member of staff down, but we will come back to that one later) I had no idea where the supposedly chic image of Crans Montana had come from. Yes, great views from up the mountain, no Zermatt, but agreed they are pretty amazing, but not a lot else to make it stand apart from the crowd. Something that turned out to be both an advantage and a disadvantage was the absence of British people. Nobody could speak much English, meaning that I had to break out the terrible school French that has not improved despite some effort and 2 full seasons in Verbier. My trick this time was to add ‘pour les clients’ onto everything so it didn’t look like it was me making ridiculous requests, that I was merely the put-upon messenger. Overall though, if you want to ski somewhere at half term and want to avoid the crazy prices and lift queues, Crans could be your man.
So, to staffing. The Friday before I was due to fly out to resort, I was called by the UK Ops team to ask whether I would maybe be able to find myself a ski guide by Monday. Not really my job you understand, but given that I had just lost a third of my team, I was pretty motivated to sort it out, in order to avoid 50% more work in resort. I came up with a couple of possibilities, but they were not quite right for one reason or another, so we ended up with the logistically challenging team of two, one of whom had never run a kids club before. Nobody is going to feel any sympathy for me when I say we only had 12 clients between the 2 of us, but when you are running a high-end operation, working 14 hours straight is pretty normal.
After spending 14 hours smiling and being nice to people, winding down involved consuming large quantities of wine fairly quickly in order to meet the ‘no alcohol 8 hours before dealing with kids or vehicles’ rule. However, due to being positioned so far from the town, and due to our behaviour (well not mine, but I was complicit) on the first night, in what appeared to be the only decent bar in town, we did not venture into Crans in the evening. Resort towns tend to be small, and running into clients in a drunken state is not necessarily a good thing, even if they are similarly intoxicated. Not that our clients could have gone anywhere without one of the two of us babysitting for them, somewhat of a catch-22.
So enough about our wild social life. Half term was, as ever, hectic. Small resorts bring their own problems, but overall it sounds like we had an easier ride than some of the bigger teams, where there is always a greater chance of personality clashes. Roll on Easter.