The Snow Must Go On!
The Best Ski Destinations for Corporate Groups…
There is nothing like the fresh mountain air to breathe new life into your team and crystallise business relationships, both on and off the slopes.
Hosting an event in an alpine destination provides an exceptional environment to inspire and motivate your delegates and has proved hugely successful for many of our clients over the years.
Here we have outlined a few top suggestions based on key defining criteria to help you choose the destination most suited to your needs…
As with any event, you need to ensure that the flight connections work for your delegates to maximise attendance.
Geneva, Zurich, Milan and Munich are all major international hubs which serve many of the major alpine resorts in Europe. For UK delegates, Geneva tends to be the most widely served winter destination from regional airports which can also be a key factor in determining your ideal resort.
SHORT TRANSFER TIME
If travel time is a key factor then you will need to look at resorts that are closest to international airports – unless of course your budget extends to helicopter transfers (now that is how to arrive in style!)
The Portes du Soleil ski area and Chamonix are good options from Geneva with a transfer time of 75 -90 minutes; and if your flights work to Innsbruck and Salzburg you can access some great Austrian ski resorts such as Solden, Obergurgl and Kitzbuhel in just over an hour.
Flying into the airport of Chambery lessens the transfer time to the bigger resorts in the Espace Killy and the 3 Valleys in France. A word of warning here though – because of its location, Chambery airport tends to be affected by adverse weather and flights are then diverted to Geneva.
If you want to be guaranteed some decent skiing then you need altitude.
And if you want that luxury of being able to ski down to the resort at the end of the day without taking a lift then your resort also needs to be high. Obergurgl in Austria sits at 1,930m and Val d’Isere in France at 1,850m so these are solid options.
Hotels in many resorts tend to request a 5-7 night duration. There is the added challenge of single occupancy, particularly in hotels that demand half board (which can also be a pain!) However if you can be flexible on your dates and days of travel then this makes the sourcing of accommodation much more straight-forward.
There are a number of resorts that have superb infrastructure for meetings and conferences, with suitability defined by the size of your event.
For example Tignes has a state of the art conference centre with an auditorium for 384 delegates; and Davos Conference centre can accommodate up to 5000! Many hotels have function space on site for smaller events, too, which keeps the logistics simple.
Skiing has proved to be a real leveller in the corporate world and definitely gives delegates lots to chat about over dinner!
The dynamics and ski abilities of your group are important criteria to factor in when considering your options as some resorts are very beginner-friendly, whereas others are more geared towards the intermediate / advanced skier (or “headbangers” as we call them!)
We recommend that all ski groups, regardless of ability, are accompanied on the slopes by a guide or instructor who knows the area—the good lunch/coffee stops, for example—so it is definitely worth scoping out the ski schools for this. It also makes a lot of sense on a health and safety level and means that any challenges can be managed quickly and efficiently.
CONSIDER THE NON-SKIERS
It is very common for there to be a non-skiing contingent on a corporate group and if this is the case, you need to consider what there is to do at the hotel and in the resort, how these delegates can get around and how easy it is for them to come and meet you for lunch on the slopes. That way they aren’t isolated from the fun!
Depending on the country and the resort, the options for non-skiing activities are extensive.
At one end of the scale you have tobogganing, ice skating and snow shoeing; and for the more adrenalin-fuelled there is ice driving, snow mobiling and paragliding.
If something more sedate is required then a Spa treatment, a spot of curling or a horse-drawn carriage ride might fit the bill, and for a special treat or prize then a helicopter flightseeing experience or even the opportunity to drive a Sno-Cat are all in the offing in European destinations!
Whoever said there was not much to do in a ski resort…?
I am not going to sugar-coat this – skiing is not a “cheap” trip.
You’ll need to factor in equipment hire, lift passes, instructors and so on; not to mention all the clobber you need by way out outdoor clothing, thermal underwear, snow boots etc.
However, as with most things, there are lower cost and higher cost options out there to suit different budgets. Exchange rates can also be a key factor here – for example, Switzerland has become much more expensive in recent years due to the strength of the Swiss franc and Brexit has also pushed up the cost to other European destinations.
In terms of value for money, our experience shows that Austria offers the best bang for your buck in terms of quality when it comes to hotels, particularly where half board means a sumptuous 5 course dinner.
AND Of Course, THE APRES SKI!
This is often a crucial factor – for some because they love it and it is an integral part of their event, and for others who actively wish to avoid it!
The term translates as “after skiing” although it is fair to say that the action starts at lunchtime in some places. Austria is where the tradition began and they do it very well with beer, Jagertee and Jagermeister firmly on the menu with music and dancing (with or without ski boots!)
And for those that really love to party, there are four resorts in France where you can find the Folie Douce Bars – which are loosely defined as “Ibiza on ice”.
Depending on the size of resort and your group dynamics, you might want to look at late-night venues such as bars and clubs as some resorts are definitely livelier than others.
If you're thinking about organising an event and want to discuss how our services can help you, give us a call on 0116 230 2040.
We are here 9am - 5:30pm Monday to Friday.