An Unbelievable Year With Ski Safari

Jack Scotford-Smith

My journey with Ski Safari all started with one email, before a job vacancy was even advertised… “Dear Ski Safari, I love skiing. Please hire me”.

Having worked two seasons in Tignes in the French Alps, I knew that I desperately wanted to work in the ski industry when I returned home. I have always been local to Brighton and when I came across Ski Safari it seemed that the dream company and job did exist.

The Company Weekend

I joined the team as a sales consultant one week after I returned from my second ski season and as luck would have it the annual company weekend happened to fall on the following weekend.

We took to the Kentish countryside in a huge converted barn, where it was a great opportunity to get to know my new colleagues and learn more about the business. I knew that this was going to be a great company to be a part of, but little did I know of the trips that I would be going on in the next 12 months.

UK Company Weekend Fancy Dress
Company weekend in Kent - fancy dress evening - I'm in the sumo costume, far right

Trip One - Summer - Geilo, Flåm and Myrkdalen

My first trip was to Norway, where we would be checking out the family friendly resorts of Geilo and Myrkdalen, with the added bonus of visiting the stunning fjord village of Flåm. Having never been to Norway, I was excited to see the resorts and experience the Norwegian culture.

Aurlandsfjord Norway Summer 2018
Aurlandsfjord Norway Summer 2018

I was amazed by the beauty of the country, especially when visiting Flåm, which is nestled in the Aurlandsfjord. I was lucky enough to be able to go on a rib boat tour with FjordSafari and learn about the history of the area which was fantastic. It really is great being able to meet suppliers in person and get first‐hand experience of the products that we offer to our customers.

The Second Trip - Stöten and Trysil

Back to Scandinavia for this trip. Although we flew into Oslo in Norway, our first stop was Stöten in Sweden, around three hours from the airport and 45 minutes from Trysil, one of our most popular resorts. Although we didn’t get to experience the skiing, we were lucky enough to be able to do lots of other activities, including mountain biking, ziplining and climbing. It was great to be able to try these and get a real feel for how the resort works. I love how friendly and welcoming the Scandinavians are.

Whistler is one of our top sellers, so it makes sense to send new starters to this incredible resort as soon as possible. We departed for Vancouver on 1 December and embarked on a journey of discovery, making time to see our fantastic properties and suppliers. It was right at the start of the season with the resort just opening up.

Whistler Early December 2018
Beautiful Early-Season Whistler

The skiing that was available was very good indeed and we had a great time exploring the mountain and seeing the village in all its Christmassy glory. We spent six jam‐packed nights in Whistler doing lots of activities including quad biking, zip lining, vodka tasting and much more. We then headed to Vancouver for the last night of the trip, where we were treated to one of the best meals I have ever had, at Forage Restaurant on Robson Street. If you’re ever in Vancouver be sure to visit this restaurant (I advise you make a booking!).

Scallops and Mushrooms at Forage Restaurant Vancouver
Scallops and Mushrooms at Forage Restaurant Vancouver

An Unexpected Trip - Two New Resorts in Norway - Kvitfjell & Hafjell

In February, we added two new ski resorts, Hafjell and Kvitfjell, to our Scandinavian programme. Host venues for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994, I was delighted to be part of a group sent to check them out.

First stop was Kvitfjell, where we were treated to blissfully quiet slopes and untouched powder. Though the resorts might look small on the piste maps, my top tip would be to look past this and take advice from people who have visited, as the skiing is much more extensive and varied - you will not be disappointed!

Jack Off-Piste in Kvitfjell
Checking out the off-piste in Kvitfjell

Next stop was Hafjell, where the sun was shining and it was great to get in some fast laps down the FIS approved world cup runs. There are some real gems such as Kvitfjell and Hafjell in Scandinavia and perhaps it’s time to try something new and give them a go.

The USA Adventure - Aspen Snowmass, Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Copper Mountain

For my next trip, I wanted to take a personal holiday with my girlfriend to explore some of the world-class ski areas in the USA that we offer at Ski Safari. With extremely cheap flights into Aspen Airport in March, just £420 per person return, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

We embarked on a 10-day road trip exploring some of Colorado’s finest ski resorts including Aspen SnowmassVailBreckenridgeBeaver Creek and Copper Mountain. The start was a little shaky, with flights disrupted due to record-breaking snowfall in Colorado, but once we arrived in resort, those issues were completely forgotten as conditions were sensational and worth the wait!! I cannot recommend US skiing enough, it is completely different to anything you'll find in Europe and definitely worth considering for your next ski trip. Plus it doesn't have to break the bank if you plan and book early.

One Last Trip - Back to Myrkdalen and Flåm for Another Company Weekend

For the final trip of the season, the whole Ski Safari and Freedom Treks team were treated to a magical weekend away to Myrkdalen and Flåm at the end of April. Very unusual for Myrkdalen but it happened to be the worst end of season they have seen for over 30 years so the resort had officially closed, but our hosts at Myrkdalen really pulled out all the stops and opened up some of the slopes and lifts for us to enjoy an afternoon of skiing.

Jack Backflip in Myrkdalen, Norway
Getting to see Myrkdalen from another angle

Some of us wanted to end the season with a bang so on our last morning in resort we decided to embark on a 6am hike from the Myrkdalen Hotel to the top of the mountain to enjoy one last run of the season. The hike took nearly three hours to get up and only 10 minutes to get down but was completely worth it and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

6am Hike in Myrkdalen
Andy Evans (left) and Jack (right) closing in on the top after a three hour hike

To Finish Off - A Big Thank You to Ski Safari

Having previously only skied a couple of resorts in France, over the last year I have visited over 15 resorts across the world including Scandinavia, Canada and America and I now can’t imagine a year without skiing somewhere. I am lucky enough to work in a great office with loads of likeminded people whose passions are ski and travel and I really can’t thank Ski Safari enough for all the great trips this season. They’ll pay dividends I’m sure when I can talk to customers about my first-hand experience of the resorts they’re considering for their own holiday. Fingers crossed next season will be just as eventful for the all-important Album Two. Watch this space...

Experience it yourself

For a selection of the best early booking offers across all of our destinations, visit our offers page, request a quotation online or call our friendly team on 01273 224060.

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