Now that the summer has well and truly departed, and daylight-saving time is beginning to rear its gloomy head, thoughts are inevitably turning to winter breaks. Have you decided where you’ll be getting away from it all this winter?
Maybe skiing is your thing? Adventure? Socialising?
It is? Good. Read on!
Back in 1996, 2 entrepreneurs who didn’t know they would become entrepreneurs, but sure loved skiing and partying on the slopes, John McFetridge and Finlay Kerr, established the Winter Adventure company, organising ski-breaks for the more discerning, independent traveller.
The company has since pivoted into Alpine Independents, a one-stop-shop online ski portal that curates the best independent ski chalet and ski holiday operators into one site, saving you time and energy.
Being incorrigible ski-buffs themselves, it’s more than safe to assume that John and Finlay are expert vetters of “indie” operators. This is a good thing, because now that we live in a post-Airbnb world, no self-respecting traveller will be seen dead taking a package holiday.
For one thing, package holidays are just not exciting or personalised enough for today’s travellers, who use hipster disrupted tech booking platforms and Ryanair to do their own thing, and for another, packages were never terribly satisfactory anyway. Formulaic, fake, and impersonal, we loved the convenience, hated the lack of choice.
We like being able to source our own deals, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we don’t want guidance, or someone on hand to make sure we are getting a fair deal, that we will definitely have this balcony or that hot tub, or that we won’t end up 40 miles from the nearest decent slope, having to chop our own wood, scavenge for wild fruit, and hunt the local wild boar.
Hence the rise in popularity of sites like Alpine Independents. Cheaper deals, more personalised, more freedom, less package holiday claustrophobia. Alpine Independents describe it thus: “curating the best independent operators for the discerning independent traveller.”
Co-founder Finlay told Haggerston Times that “we’re taking the best chalet operators in The Alps as a starting point”, and “aim to be a one-stop shop for alpine holidays”, with “services such as transfers, ski-hire and instruction being developed to augment the great selection of accommodation.”
So far so good, and even better is John and Finlay’s shared desire to “Develop a community of like-minded mountain lovers – those who deliver the great services and those who use them.”
The two founders argue that “Alpine Independents is unique in building this whole experience around a portal, sharing real time information from seasonal workers through their ambassador network.”
“Alpine Independents offers much more than the services offered, such as accommodation: it’s the opportunity to connect with others that love spending time in the alps, for fun, work, or both!” opines Finlay.
Music to the average slope-lover’s ears, no doubt; John and Finlay have certainly had some fun times in the 20-odd years or so they have been living the on and off-piste entrepreneurial dream.
Skiing, fun, parties, and insider knowledge – sounds like a startup formula that works.
When the two first began, back in the Winter Adventure Company days, the idea was to offer restaurant level cuisine in ski chalets around the French Alps. Better food, a bigger wine selection – this was France after all – more than your average chalet operators, would sum it up.
They began in a lesser known region; the villages of La Plagne in Champagny en Vanoise, where they quickly built a loyal following who “enjoyed the relaxed and fun atmosphere of the chalets” says Finlay. It probably helped that their hosts were enjoying it too – Finlay and John are never averse to joining in with a parties’ fun, although they are equally happy to keep a respectable distance, too.
“The options of ski-safari skiing in multiple resorts each week, bolting on bob-sleigh runs, parapenting flights and other activities was key”, Finlay remembers, and the whole operation was buoyed by the rise of budget airlines which made the alps accessible every day of every week for any class of skier.
The Winter Adventure Company branched out into offering weekend or short breaks, and eventually evolved into Alpine Independents as John and Finlay decided that they…
“wanted to change the way we worked, and we saw an opportunity to share our extensive knowledge of the Alps and the network of great independent providers of accommodation, ski teaching, transfers and all the other elements that make a great Alpine holiday.”
Both founders have spent time working for major ski operators too, and it was the realisation that they could “offer something equally as good, and almost certainly better” that drove them to go independent.
In that respect, they were ahead of their time, and now they are reaping the benefits, as not only are they operating on the “bleeding edge” of the travel-tech industry, the one that millennials have replaced the package holiday with, but they know “the community of operators and passionate individuals who spend most of their time in the mountains” better than anyone.
Our guess is this tale has got you thinking about your next break – don’t let us get in your way.
Alpine Independents – the one-line pitch
Alpine Indies curate the best of independent operators into one site saving users time and energy, and they also benefit from being part of the Alpine Independent community for the latest news and special offers.
You’ll love it because?
It’s simple yet it goes the extra mile, making your ski break memorable, and it’s run by people who love the Alps, the slopes, and the socialising as much as you do!