Q&A: Oliver Corkhill, co-founder of Alpine Guru

 Alpine Guru offers a range of exquisite chalets, boutique alpine hotels and mountain experiences alongside a personal and tailored service that aims to see clients get the most out of their ski holidays. Luxury Travel Beat talks to Oliver Corkhill, one of the company’s two founders.

Fresh tracks: Skiing is a great way to get rid of unwanted pounds. Photo courtesy of Alpineguru.com

LTB: It’s that time of the year when ski holidays are calling, what is the number one thing to keep in mind when choosing where to go?

Oliver Corkhill: Well all aspects of a holiday have an impact on where you should go. Especially who you’re going with, the ages of the group, whether you’re looking for nightlife or serenity – it all makes a big difference of course. That’s why it can be good to seek advice from an unbiased insider who knows several resorts well and can make an informed decision to help you based on your criteria, needs and desires.

LTB: Which skiing destinations are best-suited for new-beginners like myself?

OC: If we’re just talking about terrain that’s suited to beginners then the slopes of Aspen or Courchevel 1650 are ideal because the progression from nursery slopes through to the longer runs is subtle and makes for a smooth transition. In lots of resorts we find people will spend a few days on the nursery slopes mastering the basics and then have their confidence thrown when they have steep pitches mixed in with the green and blue runs up the mountain. Another good spot is Grimentz because it’s much quieter than the popular resorts so if you’re a slightly nervous skier it can be great to practice in the tranquil surroundings.

 LTB: So I’ve made my decision about where I’m going. What do I need to pack?

OC: If you’re just starting out then it’s best to be prepared as you don’t know how you’ll feel. Especially when tired and in varying weather conditions. I suggest you also account for the fact you might be spending a lot of time on your bum. I’d recommend that the first thing to look after is your feet. Good quality ski socks go a long way and while people always think they need thick socks to keep warm, these often cause discomfort and aren’t best for performance. I ski in the Falke Pro Race ski socks, and 3 pairs is usually enough for a weeks’ trip. The next most important items are hats, gloves and goggles. Lots of people ski in sunglasses but again if you’re starting out, it’s best to have some goggles with an adaptable lense, which will work well in both the sun and snow.

For the ski outfit go with something you feel comfortable in. There are so many models and levels of technical specifics – it all comes down to budget versus brand. 

LTB: It’s January, and some trousers are really feeling the pinch of holiday over-indulgence. Is skiing a great way to get rid of some unwanted pounds?

OC: For some reason people from non-mountainous nations assume that skiing isn’t an intense workout, but it’s up there with the most rigorous of sports. If you haven’t been skiing before and you head to the slopes your body will certainly be in for a shock, with some aches and pains along the way. There are some great ski fit exercises that you can practice before heading out to the mountains and it’s advisable that you do so. Skiing is about agility, strength, endurance and flexibility. You have to have a strong foundation from your core, and you’ll be working the entire body through with a complete range of movement from head to toe.  Some good exercises are of course cycling, one legged squats, swiss ball work and yoga, these will get you nimble and ready for the slopes.

LTB: Any tips on how to avoid coming back home black and blue from injuries?

OC: If you follow the advice above for getting ski fit then you’ll most likely prevent the worst of the bruises. Best advice is to relax when you’re skiing, if you take a tense tumble then it’ll be twice as bad.

LTB: What are the best luxury skiing options out there?

OC: There are a whole range of luxury options from chalets to hotels and eco retreats. The resorts that have always been up there for luxury chalet holidays are Courchevel 1850, Verbier, Val d’Isere and Zermatt.

If we’re talking about ‘Uber-luxury’ then there are a number of super exclusive options like Chalet Spa in Verbier, Marco Polo in Val d’Isere, Les Anges in Zermatt or Hidden Dragon in Veysonnaz. Or if you want a hotel then the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St Moritz or the Omnia in Zermatt are pretty special too.

All of these are worth a look whether you can afford them or not, the designs are superb. Plenty of hidden gems too that not too many people know about, like the renovated barns in the sleepy hamlet of Commeire.

Alpine Guru: http://www.alpineguru.com/

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