Linda Marsh is involved in the day-to-day running of Cophall Parking, one of Gatwick’s oldest off-airport parking and valet services, which is over 30 years old. The 24-hour business that started with just a couple of family members and a single minibus now has 50 staff and a fleet of vehicles.
During the winter months skiers make up a large proportion of our business. They leave their cars with us for weekends or weeks at a time and we’ve got a few celebrities who are regulars. But, apart from booking in their car, which doesn’t normally involve any special demands, we have come across a few strange requests people make when booking their ski holiday.
From our survey of a cross-section of tour operators it seems that some skiers can be extremely demanding, including one person who wanted a rope for her top-floor bedroom window…because she was afraid of walking downstairs in the case of fire.
The Alpine Club
St Martin de Belleville specialist with 3 luxury chalets.
A small girl who was staying with The Alpine Club was obsessed with Peppa Pig. It was her birthday and she wanted a themed birthday cake, but the chalet’s chef had never heard of Peppa Pig so it was a joyous journey of discovery for him. Still on the foodie theme, another guest wanted to propose to his fiancee on holiday and moelleux au chocolat was her favourite dessert. The staff put the ring in the pud and, when she dipped her spoon into it, the ring was revealed inside the still runny chocolate. Luckily she didn’t swallow it…or say no.
20 chalets in La Tania, Peisey, Les Menuires and La Plagne.
“We don’t want our room cleaned” was the request from one couple with Ski Amis, who did not leave their room from the time they arrived (Monday afternoon) until the time they left (Friday afternoon) other than to eat their evening meal. “I need you to teach me to ski before Monday,” said the beginner organiser of a Korean corporate group who arrived a few days ahead of his boss. He had never been skiing but had been told he had to escort the women of the party around the piste all week…which meant that he had to learn before they arrived. Finally, a group from Israel wallowed naked in the hot-tub then walked naked through the chalet to the sauna – in the middle of dinner. They then sat down naked to eat the next course. Pictured: Chalet Titania’s hot tub.
Chalets in 9 resorts in France and Austria.
VIP has had varied requests for the care of exotic pets, but the most surprising wish involved a forthcoming marriage proposal. The potential bridegroom wanted a full-on fireworks display, banquet and cake – with his girlfriend kept in total ignorance. Thankfully all went off well and she said ‘yes’. Exotic animals: best left in their natural habitat. Photo: © Snowjapan.
62 chalets in Austria, Italy and France.
Sometimes guests bring an entire week’s worth of food for their child. They needn’t have bothered though: Crystal Ski is very well equipped. Last winter, their chalet hosts served 81,192 eggs for breakfast, 5,580 cakes and biscuits were baked for tea, including 930 lemon drizzle cakes.
13 luxury chalets in Courchevel, Meribel, Morzine, Les Gets and Val d’Isere.
Consensio’s more unusual requests include buying Bresse chicken and fillet steaks for a guest’s dogs, who didn’t eat any other type of chicken or steak. A dog nanny was required, not only to walk the dog, but also to keep it company in the chalet.
On another occasion, entire new ski outfits were ordered ready for the arrival for a UK celebrity, identical to an existing order which hadn’t arrived in time to bring along. Photo: © Bourg en Bresse Tourisme.
Megeve specialist with 4 chalets and chalet-hotels.
Stanford Ski was only supposed to be organising the accommodation for a wedding group but, because the guests didn’t speak French, the MD ended up visiting the priest with them, organising the flowers and sorting the venue for the reception.
Zermatt specialist with 6 chalets.
Some Chinese guests of Matterhorn Chalets wanted a wok and a rice maker, a party of Omanis asked for halal meat (which in Switzerland is difficult to find), some Russians asked for a bed for their Yorkshire terrier, and there was a group of Americans who wanted to visit the Jungfraujoch in Wengen by helicopter from Zermatt. Photo: Little Nutmeg Creations.
30 chalets in Val d’Isere, Courchevel and La Tania
Le Ski was approached by a group of Tango dancers (Argentinian Tango specifically) looking for a chalet with a polished wooden floor area large enough to practice on. They came home early from skiing every day, had early dinners, cleared the furniture away and then got into their dancing. The group came for many years, but stopped when the chalet owner wanted to carpet the floor.
Ski Verbier Exclusive
Verbier specialist with 17 chalets.
Ski Verbier Exclusive‘s most challenging request was for an ice sculpture of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, but it was very specific as they wanted Kermit playing the guitar and Miss Piggy to be singing. The sculptures had to be the same height as the guests’ five-year old daughter, and to be waiting on the chalet terrace as a surprise when they got back from skiing.
The chalet staff bought green lights to fit inside Kermit and pink lights for Miss Piggy, so they were the right colour at night.
126 chalets in France, Austria, Switzerland and USA.
Skiworld has had a request for all the sheets in one of the Signature chalets to be Egyptian cotton 600 thread count. On another occasion, a chalet host was asked not to come into the chalet for two days. Suspecting something was amiss, she went to the chalet and found that nearly every mattress had been moved into the lounge/dining room and all the existing furniture had been piled up in the hallway. The guests said it was for ‘worship’, but would not expand on that. A while ago, a group of guests were staying in a chalet to celebrate their friend’s birthday. He was a huge fan of George Michael, so the chalet team was asked to wear George Michael masks at all times. Photo: © Hallowood.
Chalets in 7 French resorts
Ski Beat guests really do want a home-from-home on their ski holiday, with requests for favourites like Marmite, Cornflakes and Baked Beans. The chalets serve all three, as well as a full English Breakfast and Earl Grey tea. Photo: © Shutterstock.
11 chalets in St Anton and Courchevel.
Kaluma has has lots of unusual requests – including one to arrange (at very short notice) a fleet of helicopters to pick up 26 guests from La Bouitte in St Marcel to fly back to Courchevel in formation. The company has also been asked to tint the windows in one of their chalets, as the guests were worried about photos being taken.
A group asked for a full fruit bowl with three fresh pineapples every day. They checked that each pineapple was fresh, each and every day, but never ate them. On another occasion, all the staff in a chalet were asked to wear white, and white only, for the whole week. They also wanted white cloths put over all TVs and all mirrors. It turned out that white was simply their favourite colour. Another request was to produce soft boiled quails eggs for a baby’s breakfast each morning.
Val d’Isere specialist with 20 chalets.
Someone booking YSE’s Chalet Gnellets, which used to have a chamois head over the fireplace that was visible in the brochure, asked for it to be removed or covered with a blanket because otherwise it would frighten their child. Another guest requested a special diet for her daughter: “Breakfast: avocado and crackers that are gluten-, dairy-, and sugar-free. Nuts (only cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios). Dinner: soups without onion, no red vegetables, no spices, no soy sauce, no salad, no weird ingredients. Can eat green veg: kale, cabbage, spinach, courgettes, mangetouts, peas, broccoli, leeks, aubergines, asparagus, parsnips, chick peas, green and black lentils and garlic – but all must be cooked. Olives and sun-dried tomatoes (cold, not heated up). Blueberries and bananas are the only fruit”.
Powder N Shine
Reberty-les-Menuires specialist with 4 chalets.
A client informed Powder N Shine before his arrival of his Turophobia – a fear of cheese. The staff made sure he could leave the room before serving the cheese board after the meal, and obviously none of the food they served contained cheese. Photo: © int3ger.
Bramble Ski and Haute Montagne
80 Bramble Ski chalets and 12 with Haute Montagne.
An Haute Montagne chalet had to been completely run – from housekeeping to serving meals and drinks – without the guests seeing any member of staff. This involved a complicated combination of using outside staircases and making lots of phone calls.
Bramble Ski once had to set up a school room in a chalet so that children could continue with their academic work whilst on holiday. A governess was hired, along with school desks and a blackboard. On another occasion, a guest wanted to surprise his wife with a path of rose petals from her bedroom door to breakfast, and bouquets of flowers along the way. Breakfast was set up in the gallery/dining room which overlooked the swimming-pool where roses adorned a swing and water lilies floated in the water, paper pompoms hung everywhere. More mundanely, a pet psychologist was once employed to help a guest’s dog cope in the mountains during its stay. Photo: © Shutterstock.
15 chalets in Les Gets, La Plagne and Les Menuires.
Ski Famille has been asked to recommend a ski resort where the guests could get around solely by drag-lift. When a family were booking their two children into a triple room, they asked whether they would be putting a third, unrelated person (possibly an adult male) in the third bed in the room. Pictured: the world’s first T-bar, in Davos.
Le Chardon Mountain Lodges
5 luxury chalets in Val d’Isere
A Chinese family of four once booked the whole of Le Chardon chalet for 20 (the other rooms were occupied by security staff). Their request was for the chalet to work on Chinese time, so as not to interrupt the family’s body clocks. So breakfast was at 2am, lunch served at European breakfast time and then the family would go out skiing at 8.45am. The evening meal was eaten at European lunch time in a mountain restaurant and then the guests would be tucked up in bed by mid-afternoon.
On one occasion, a chalet was booked for a family of 11 and their dog. The dog’s dinners had to be plated up, portioned and served in the same way as the rest of the family – accompanied by Evian. Another dog needed a mid-week transfer to the heliport at La Daille, so that he could be flown to Geneva for a haircut.
Another time a frequent guest used to travel with a particularly impressive wine collection. The wine had its own bedroom, was put to bed at night (duvet to cover it) and the curtains drawn. It would then be ‘woken up’ in the morning when the curtains were pulled back for the day.
11 chalet-hotels in France, Italy and Austria.
When booking online last year, in the additional requests and comments box (usually used for noting dietary requirements) a Mark Warner guest requested a picture of a squirrel dressed as Sherlock Holmes to be placed in their room.
Family Ski Company
19 chalets in Ardent, Les Coches and Reberty-les-Menuires
Someone called Family Ski Company to ask for lighter fluid for her hand/glove warmers. Another women wouldn’t book a chalet that did not have heated boot warmers, claiming she couldn’t possibly put her feet into cold boots in the morning. But has she ever thought about buying personal warmers that are wired inside her ski boots?
What Have You Asked For?
We’d love to hear your stories about important and not so important items you’ve requested before going on a ski holiday. Please feel free to share it with us in the comments box below.