Many of you might not have heard of Villars (or Villars-sur-Ollon, to give it it’s full title). Yet this beautiful Swiss resort offers loads of variety for skiing from beginners right through to advanced, with views over the Rhone Valley all the way to Mont Blanc. There are amazing restaurants, sports facilities and even some pretty lively bars. The locals and loyal returning holiday-makers have kept it a secret for a long time, but we think it’s time to shout about this resort like it deserves.
The resort is suited to the needs of both holiday-makers and trainee instructors.
There are some great “easing in” runs around the Bretaye area and cruisey blues down to Villars with big open pitches at a gentle gradient. Many runs are serviced by drag lifts meaning you can cover ground quickly. For those looking for a bit more speed then Laouissalet and Col de Soud are great for quick, punchy skiing. If you fancy a bit of fun after a snow fall, try the itinerary run between Le Verneyre and La Plane. There’s even a chair at the bottom so you can lap it to your hearts content!
For trainees there are great pitches behind Col de Bretaye for long turns, and Gryon is a moguls and variables haven. You’ll work hard but it’ll be worth it! There is also a Stade piste above the town with access via chairlift, t-bar and poma for quick training laps.
There’s even a glacier on the other side of the mountain (open year round) for those who enjoy their eternal winters.
Off the slopes
The most famous bar in Villars is the Cookie bar. Found in the centre of town, it’s a hit with visitors and residents alike. Grab a snack or hot chocolate in the day, or stick around later for some apres! If you’re looking for an energetic evening hangout, try Murphy’s Bar, The atmosphere is amazing.
A favourite spot for our instructor team is the Hotel du Lac. It has a terrace which is in the sun most of the day, and is open even after the lifts close. You can tour up after-hours and be rewarded with a hot drink on arrival!
For the more traditional Swiss meals, try Vieux-Villars which does a mean fondue or tartare, or try L’etable (“the stable”), a cosy restaurant in Gryon on the slopes above the Sodoleuvre chairlift. It’s a renovated barn, and you can through a glass partition to the donkeys, goats and sheep living there still! It’s very popular so be sure to book in advance.
Ski Instructor Training in Villars
With all the incredible advantages listed above, you can see why we chose this resort for our BASI Level 3 ISIA Work and Train programme.
The training is open to all qualified BASI Level 2 instructors, who if successful become part of our team in Villars. Trainees receive the same training as our other Level 2’s in Courchevel and Meribel. The added benefit is they also work in resort, in their very own New Generation uniforms!
As the format is a work/train environment, there are various weeks set aside for work. These are usually the busiest periods like New Year, half-term or Easter. But there are always bookings during the low-season periods. For this reason the training team is split during this period, one group training and the other working, swapping each week. Work is allocated fairly, although requested lessons take priority.
The training is conducted by resort manager Alessandro Cambon (“Alley”, for the non-Italians!). Ale is a Maestro di Sci Italiano and holds a Carte Pro, a Swiss Patente and BASI trainer badge. Safe to say he knows what he is talking about – just read his latest blog on his training ethos in Villars in case you need convincing!
A day in the life of a Villars trainee
A typical day begins at the meeting point outside (or inside) Cookie Café at the Col de Bretaye at 9:20. Depending on conditions, the morning is spent working on the various strands (if it’s a powder day then don’t worry – Ale likes powder!). The afternoons are spent focusing on specific things from the morning session, or on teaching sessions delivered by the trainees. This is all in preparation for the BASI Level 3 ISIA examinations, which were taken at various points during the season.
To make sure you’re super fit and ready for exams, fitness sessions take place twice a week in the sports hall. This consists of one high-intensity session and one team sport session, including handball, badminton, indoor hockey, football, dodgeball, and hopefully a reprise of one particularly memorable Eric Prydz inspired aerobics session. Keep an eye out for Ale and Tom Waddington‘s fitness collaboration blog soon for more.