I am yet to go snowboarding this season, although to be fair the snow is only just starting to fall across most of Europe’s premium boarding spots. But, does the fact that I have not boarded yet mean that I cannot yet enjoy a little apres ski? Hmm, why not start the season as I plan to go on?
Earlier this month I was invited by the good people at Crystal Ski to come meet with them at Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington, London. Crystal have recently rebranded, and wanted to speak to a few customers, bloggers and complete ski/board novices about their rebrand, their plans for the upcoming season and beyond. They also wished to indulge in a little apres ski with us, but more on that bit later.
So it would be rude of me not to kick off with a little tip of the hat to our venue for the eve. Bodo’s Schloss is an Austrian Ski Lodge themed bar, where staf serve you all sorts of drinks, created by their expert mixologists, and traditional cuisine whilst at all times clad in traditional Ledehosen. It’s a lot of fun, and somewhere that’s really quite different and out there. The long wooden benches make for a sociable atmosphere, the decor makes you feel like you’re a million miles from London, and then there’s the DJ booth – which is a ski lift cable car. All in all, its a fairly unique place, and definitely somewhere I’d like to take a few of my friends.
Fun Fact: Bodo gets its name from the oldest tents at Munich’s Octoberfest called Bodo’s Cafezelt. Schloss is an Austrian word for Palace
Crystal Ski Presentation
With drink in hand and a few traditional Austrian nibbles going around, it was time to get down to business. A team of 6 staff from Crystal Ski presented their rebranded products to those of us in attendance, each staff member taking a different area of the new range and presenting to the group. Everything from new brochures to increased social media awareness and usage, pre trip Skype sessions with on location reps to mini online games (what type of skier are you?), and most impressively their new IOS (Android coming soon) app were all presented.
Essentially, it was a grand showcase on why we should pick them when booking our next ski holiday, and in all fairness they gave us all some pretty good reasons! The re trip Skype sessions and Iphone App stood out for me. Here are a few screen shots of the app, which is free to download.
The app contains a wide range of resort information. As a test I decided to work my way through their Bansko (Bulgaria) section, as its the resort I know best. After selecting Bansko as my chosen resort I was able to access a resort guide, information of snow conditions and lift access, and a list of suggested routes down the mountain.
Additional features also include tracking, whereby you can track for how long and far you have been skiing/boarding on any particular day, and there are also offline maps which can show you the nearest cafe/bar/restaurant/hotel to your location via GPS. Its a pretty solid looking app.
Maybe the most intriguing function of the app is its ability to show you the location of not only yourself, but also the location of your friends whilst in resort. Logging in via Facebook, and by each accepting into the same ‘group’, it is possible to track each others movements and successfully meet up for lunch or dinner, rather than playing the usual game of cat and mouse. Or at least thats the plan. As I’ve not been to resort yet, I haven’t had the chance to test this function just yet. Fingers crossed it works as it sounds great. The only issue may be that it doesn’t work offline, and so until the scandalous roaming charges and wiped out, it may be a tad costly. We’ll see.
Time for a few cocktails
With a hefty presentation out of the way, the Crystal staff deserved a drink, and we were all along for the ride too. Tutored by the Bodo’s Schloss mixologists, it was time to get behind the bar and create our own alpine themed cocktails.
We worked our way through 3 different cocktails, one virgin, one of acceptable alcohol levels, and lastly one that would see a very sore head come the next morning. I chose to partake in the cocktail with an acceptable level of booze, and even though my effort didn’t actually look so great, it did taste pretty good, so I must have done something right.
Cocktails made (and a sneaky beer had), we then had the chance to chat and network among ourselves and the Crystal staff. I retailed stories of snowboarding in Scotland, Sarajevo and Bansko. Others told me more more establish resorts in France and Austria. I think we all wet each others snow apetites, the others now more keen to try less established and off the beaten track resorts, whereas I became a bit more keen to try one or two of the larger and more sprawling resorts. I also learned a few top tips on how to deal with the morning after a particularly heavy bought of apres ski. Essential learning!
Post cocktails it was time for a bit of a more formal chat. It came in the form of an easy going Q&A, and whilst led by the Crystal guys, it was also an open floor if anyone had any questions or ideas.
As per below, I was in question asking mode, and quizzed the Crystal team on whether air miles could still be collected if customers booked a snow holiday through themselves. Now that Crystal offer BA as a flight operator, it would be a good chance for their customers to collect a few miles whilst also enjoying a fab ski holiday.
To my pleasing, the answer was that yes, air miles could now be collected, and that when booking through the Crystal website there would be an adequate field where an air miles account number could be added. Thumbs up!
Other questions and answers surrounded alternative activities on the mountains, travelling with children, lessons, transfers and equipment pick up. It was good that there was a range of people, with a range of different ski/board abilities present and asking questions. Whilst not an intense session, I think that between us all, we covered a fair few bases and made a few suggestions to the Crystal team, which appeared to be well received. It was a useful session for everyone present.
With the Q&A coming to a close around 10pm, it was at this point that I had to head for home. I’d had a great night and would very much have liked to stay a little longer, but owing to a few Underground Line closures I knew it would be a long journey home and needed to make a move if I was to make it home before midnight (bedtime). I left Bodo’s a little wiser in terms of snow holidays and cocktail making. I think we can call that a win.
A big thanks to the staff at Bodo’s Schloss and Crystal Ski for a great evening!
Credits: All photos by Sarah Lincoln