Chamonix All Year: 2003 – 2013… and onwards!
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and a big thanks to everyone involved!!
2002, the Conception
On Jo’s first ski trip to Chamonix, unable to ski or speak French, but with an eye for an opportunity, she began browsing the estate agents’ shop windows. She took the plunge and bought an apartment in Les Praz and over the next 6 months she organised the renovation of the apartment so it would be suitable for holiday rentals.
2003, the Birth
Having made the apartment ready, Jo wanted to create a website to market it, and Chamonix All Year was born. With her background in marketing, this basic website quickly went straight to the top of the Google rankings and she took over 20 weeks of bookings in the apartment in her first year!
Chamonix All Year Limited was set up – with a strong track record already and the website topping Google, Jo was contacted by some other property owners who wanted to rent their apartments, and the website was adapted to feature these new properties too. So to our first owner clients, thanks very much for coming on board.
By 2006, still working full time for a marketing agency in Soho, London, Jo was burning the midnight oil driving her business forward, and Chamonix All Year was really taking shape, with about 15 properties being advertised and rented on a regular basis throughout the summer and winter. That same year Jo and Nick met in London and Nick (with his media background) started to get involved on the business, introducing some corporate trips and building on some key partnerships in Chamonix. We also set up the French Chamonix All Year arm to the business.
We bought our second apartment in Chamonix and spent time here renovating it ready for rental. We still rent this apartment today, although it is nolonger owned by us and has a new owner: Flegere et Golf.
Having worked full time doing two jobs until now, we finally gave up the London advertising jobs to focus 100% on the Chamonix business, and moved to Chamonix with no regrets!
We spent the first winter in a small 2 bedroom apartment, using the 2nd shoebox bedroom as our office and then in the spring we moved ourselves and our business in Chamonix to the ‘Old Sweet Shop’:
2009 saw the relaunch of our website: new logo, new company branding, and complete redesign of the website with the very important implementation of a real-time, online availability and booking system to manage 30 properties. We were welcoming about 100 guests into Chamonix each week during the winter.
Oh, and Jo and Nick also got married in 2009 in Chamonix – quite a busy year!
We started working with our first team member Jody and launched the Chamonix All Year Resort Team, focused on looking after our guests in resort, with the objective of being a one-stop shop for our guests coming to Chamonix.
We produced our first dedicated winter and summer brochures, with the focus on giving our guests access to discounted bike and ski hire, loads of activities, airport transfers and lift passes.
We also found an old chalet just down the road from our office that was for sale and in need of renovation, with the potential to build on 1500m2 of land. We loved it and found a great, forward thinking architect, Stefan Haag, to help us realise its potential.
We bought the old chalet, and sent the applications to the Mairie (town hall) with renovation plans and also new build / extension plans. The renovation was approved and we started work on demolishing the interior of the old chalet in July. We had to finish before the winter ski season, be in and new office set up. The new chalet would wait until after this. We moved in on 26th December, phew! Meanwhile we waited for news from the Mairie for approval to build the extension of the new chalet.
Another busy year. We launched our very own Airport Transfer business. Nick’s brother Marcus came on board as Transport Director at the end of the summer to get this important part of our business ready for the upcoming winter.
It was also a great year as it marks our first French / British alliance as we started working with Flore in May 2011! And with her help the business and our team have gone from strength to strength.
Carole came to help set up the Property Management team and between us (and at a later stage with Amanda) we put some important processes in place to ensure as we grew we maintained a hgh standard of cleaning and service across all our properties.
At this stage, we had around 50 chalets and apartments that we let and managed, and around 250-300 guests coming to stay with us during the winter weeks. We enlisted the help of Kerry and Chris to work with Flore in the resort team and they have kept the engine running at full steam. And not forgetting Fergal who bravely took on the financial admin!
In March that year we got the thumbs up from the Mairie on the new plans and we started work in June.
We also soft launched our Resort Shop, an online shop where customers coming to Chamonix for their holiday could find and book everything they needed for their stay, from transfers, to lift passes, ski lessons, white water rafting and climbing in the summer, right down to grocery deliveries ready for their arrival and Nespresso coffee capsules (not available in shops!). No-one else had done this in Chamonix and it proved very successful with great feedback from our customers.
And here we are now. The winter has passed, the summer is approaching, and we are 10 years older! It’s been a busy and highly rewarding 10 years, and we are very proud of the team we now have in place to look after our guests – and we welcome Amanda on board, our new property manager. To celebrate our 10 years we are taking the team off camping and kayaking down the Gorge D’Ardeche, a 30km stretch of river navigated over 2 days with a camping stop in the nature reserve on the first night.
A big thanks again to everyone who has played a part in the business. Watch this space for more news…