Every year Winter roles around without any warning. One minute you’re sunning yourself on the deck of a boat in Corfu, the next you’re sat on your sofa like a slob watching whatever required the least swiping to access on Netflix. It’s depressing. To make things worse it’s also the time smug bastards start posting pictures of the wintry scenes unfolding just 600 miles away from where you are now. Swish chalets with bluebird views, powder days and pristine peaks, near enough that you could drive there if you could be bothered, all these facts turning your jealousy setting right up to 11.
Now, at this point you could do what most people do and sink back into your sofa, getting angry at the fate of Stephen Avery in Making a Murderer. Or you could do exactly what you’ve just told yourself you could do if you could bothered. Drive to the Alps.
So that’s what we did. The thing is, this is Lusso. Loading up my Honda Civic, brimming it with fuel and cruising to Switzerland with nothing but a tupperware of sandwiches and a flask of coffee wasn’t going to cut it. So they set me a task.
They gave me a Jaguar F-Type and said that I had to drive to a swish Swiss Chalet in Nendaz where I would spend the weekend snowboarding. Hardly difficult. Then they gave me chisel-faced Lusso veteran Charlie Speed and said teach him how to snowboard. The challenge was simple. Can you have a weekend in alps with nothing but a Supercar and a model for company? Challenge set, which is hardly a challenge in my opinion, we arranged a time to meet.
There is no better place to start an adventure than at 5am on a bleak January morning on a street in Wandsworth; it’s when you know the D:Ream prophecy has to be true: things can only get better. I was thinking this as I heard the roar from the Jaguar exhausts bellowing behind me. Charlie had arrived and what he had arrived in was glorious. If you have seen the F-Type you know what I mean. It’s a stunning car to look at and in my opinion one of the most beautiful cars Jaguar have produced in a long time.
While I was ogling it a man left his house, clearly disgruntled that he had to be awake and wearing a tie at such a stupid time in the morning. He clocked the Jag before hopping into a Toyota Prius with some green tomatoes plastered on it. His face creased up like a 1976 gurning competition winner, seething with hate for all of us. That was the moment, right there, that I realised I was about to be the smug bastard on Instagram.
It felt very good, but the feeling didn’t last long. For those of you who have been skiing or snowboarding before, you will know that it requires a fair bit of kit. Ski jackets, salopettes, gloves, helmets, goggles, thermals skis and boots if you have them. An Airbus A320, the type of plane that’s most likely to be used to whisk you off to Geneva or Innsbruck, has a luggage capacity of 37.4m3 or 37,400 litres. For 180 passengers that works out at 208 litres per passenger. That may sound like a lot but a typical estate car such as a Volvo V70 has a capacity of 575 litres. So how about our Jaguar? Well it’s 196.2 litres, or a pathetic 98 litres each. Not only that but it’s shaped perfectly for a set of golf clubs, not a snowboard, and was currently jammed to the rim with Charlie’s various ablutions and paraphernalia.
Not wanting to give in, we tried taking the roof down and I sat holding my board in between my legs in the passenger seat. This was a stupid idea. It became apparent immediately that attempting a ski weekend in a sports car was a non-starter, unless you have the luxury of your own chalet, fully laden with your own kit, which no doubt, some of you do. Luckily for us, to accompany our journey, we had a camera crew and the camera crew, had a Range Rover. Range Rover’s have lots of room, so we stuck all our stuff in there leaving them barely any room to breathe, and left before the arguments started.
One of the best parts of any road trip, is leaving the country. Trying not to smile while sat in the F-Type is like trying not to laugh when someone trips over. We shouldn’t have been smiling. It was 5:30am on a Friday on the M3 for goodness sake, to be smiling would be sadistic, or worse, impolite. But I couldn’t contain myself. It was too good and I knew that the minute we farted out of the Channel tunnel onto French soil it would be even better.
And I wasn’t wrong. The sun was out, the roads were clear and the coffee was better. We were chomping through the miles in our silver bullet faster than Usain Bolt’s pet cheetah, sunglasses on, feeling good. We were twats, but we didn’t care. It was time for another Instagram and before I could say raaaaa, the jealousy tainted likes came rolling in, and I was enjoying it.
Rather than reject what I was feeling, I embraced it. It was tough for me. I’m used to wearing fleeces, visiting the tip to do some recycling and reading the Guardian. The Jaguar F-Type wasn’t built for people like me, but that didn’t stop me loving it. I hopped behind the while, grinned like a tit, and floored it all the way to Nendaz.
On arrival we were met by the usual alpine scene. A town that pops out of nowhere all lit up with neon shop signs, fairy lights and other things that in any other setting would look cheaper than my petrol station sunglasses. Somehow it managed to ooze that warm feeling that only an alpine town can muster. We wound our way up the icy, snow-walled roads, our bums and legs tired from all the sitting, until we were met by two chaps and a Polaris ATV fitted with cat tracks. It was all very intriguing.
The primitive, but effective, transport to the chalet gave no hint as to what we were about to walk into. It was like arriving at the Palace of Versailles on a ride on lawnmower. We walked in and were greeted by a basket of food, some wine, a stunning wood fire and the solution to our weary and worn out bodies and minds, a Jacuzzi. The moon lit the mountains and we got a hint of what was in store for tomorrow. Thus far, we were winning the challenge.
What greeted us on that first morning was more than the chance to stretch our legs. The view from the Chalet was utterly sensational. A 180 degree panorama of snow topped mountains with a vista that reached all the way down to the valley below. I’ve stayed in chalets with views of the mountains that are hard to beat, but never have I been able to see right down to the valley floor. It was made all the more special as I was stood in my pants on a balcony. There is something quite liberating about doing that. The day was crying out to be enjoyed, so we downed some breakfast, supped some coffee, shoved on our gear and because we were right on the snow, shred our way down to the nearest lift before heading to the top.
It became apparent that the snow was sub par, but that didn’t matter one bit. The 4 valleys, part of the Verbier ski area, were not only spectacular to look at but well connected with great runs. Peaking at 3300m at Mont Fort, the area boasts 93 lifts that’ll tug you to the top of 412km of potential piste. It’s the largest ski area in the Swiss Alps, great for hiding nuclear bunkers under, but better for carving up between beer stops and lunch.
Or that’s what it would have been like, aside for one thing. Driving to the alps was only part of the challenge. I was also tasked with teaching Charlie how to snowboard. I’m not a man who shies away from a challenge but there were a couple of obvious obstacles standing in our way. The first was Charlie. He had never ridden a snowboard before. His understanding of snowboarding was that it involved a board and some snow. The second was me. I had never taught anyone to snowboard before. If you google “How to teach snowboarding” one of the first articles that pops up is “How to Teach Your Kids To Snowboard”. It’s a 13 point agenda aimed at getting your kids up on a board and shredding like the best of them, and step one is, start early. Charlie is in his mid 30’s so we had already completely arsed it up at the first hurdle. After an hour or two of falling on his face, arse, wrists, arms, hands and pelvis, a sweaty Charlie signalled that perhaps I wasn’t the best person to teach him. I hastily agreed and me and some of the crew leaped on the opportunity to go and ride.
All you can ask for when in the mountains is great weather and great snow. While the snow let us down a tad, the weather was impeccable and by the end of the day my legs felt like I had ridden the full 412km available to me. I ached. A lot.
Luckily, we had the chalet to fall back on. It was the perfect place to recoup following a day on the mountain. After being escorted to a bar that brewed its own beer on site, we were driven back to the chalet, red faced from the beer and cold, weary from the moguls and slopes. I wrestled my boots off revealing my steaming, tired feet. Taking your snowboard boots off is a pleasure that’s orgasmic in nature, one that I never get tired of. I headed upstairs to a table set and ready to play host to the food that was being concocted by our own chef in the kitchen.
I was starting to feel like I hadn’t done anything. I’d driven a stunning car to the mountains, failed to live up to my side of the bargain by teaching Charlie how to snowboard and was now sat in a gown with somebody else cooking my food while I sipped a glass of wine. I hadn’t lifted a finger and with that thought, I snapped another Instagram and hopped in the Jacuzzi.
I woke up the next day aching more than a student’s brain at a Stephen Hawking lecture. But I wasn’t about to let it ruin our last day in Nendaz before heading home. So at breakfast we made a plan. After a morning of riding and Charlie getting himself some proper lessons we were all going to head to the highest point, Mont Fort, a 3,300m peak with brilliant views. If I couldn’t teach Charlie how to snowboard I wanted to at least show him what it was all about. We agreed.
The morning went quickly. The last day in the hills always does so we headed to the top of Mont Fort. I was blown away. The views were sensational. A 360 site that is simply breathtaking, and not just because of the altitude. The experience meant that Charlie too could see the upsides to this snowboarding lark. His morning lesson had gone pretty well but the appeal of the nursery slope was wearing thin, this is just what he needed. If you persist long enough not to spend most of your day on your bum, this is what you can look forward to. It’s worth the effort.
When I was up there I got thinking. 48hrs ago or so we were standing outside on a street in Wandsworth. Without the pain of getting to an airport and struggling your way through the various mazes they set out for you from parking to boarding, we had got ourselves to a luxury chalet in a luxury car. Yeah, so we had cheated a bit, we had a Range Rover but the Jaguar still lived up to the task. Driving 12 hours for most people is a bore, that’s why we fly. But doing the drive in a Jaguar was an experience. It was part of the weekend, not the getting to the weekend. By driving to the Alps in a car like the F-Type, the weekend started the minute you sat in the car.
We had completed perhaps the easiest challenge set in the history of mankind. There was just one thing missing however. I whipped my phone out and snapped the view and the likes came tumbling in. #Smugbastard.
For more information on visiting Switzerland and Nendaz, visit www.MySwitzerland.com. Lusso stayed at Chalet Etoile courtesy of The Hideaways Club. The Hideaways Club provides exclusive membership and access to their diverse portfolio of luxury properties and holiday homes. For more information visit http://thehideawaysclub.com.