As one of the few sports tour organisers who provide a dedicated tour representative who supports each group in destination and throughout their tour we thought we’d give you a bit more insight into what happens behind the scenes.
The role of our tour representatives is to ensure that each group’s tour runs as smoothly as possible from an operational perspective which allows you more time to focus on the wellbeing of the students in your care.
We asked one of our tour representatives,who recently accompanied a group on their ski tour in Bardonecchia, Italy, to share with us their day to day experiences.
Day 1 – Saturday
I’m meeting St. Joseph’s school tomorrow but I’m already on the road. I’ll be staying in a hotel next to the airport to ensure I will be on time and will be welcoming the group at the check in desks.
Day 2 – Sunday
It’s 6am and my alarm goes off. I take the shuttle bus to reach the airport and immediately head to Costa for a large Americano. Half an hour later the group arrives. They are all buzzing with excitement except for a couple of kids who, I assume, were too excited to fall asleep last night.
I introduce myself to everyone. It’s only been 15 minutes but one of the first challenges already presents itself. The party leader hasn’t reminded all of the children that their luggage restriction is 15kg…fingers crossed!
Luckily none of the passengers have over-packed so we head to security where our party is split into two groups by airport staff. Our group’s teacher is pulled over for a security search, so I wait with the children.
We grab breakfast once we are in the departure lounge and patiently wait for our gate to be announced.
The gate is announced late plus we had to wait for a couple of the group so we’re now running towards the gate. When we get there, one of the party realises they have lost their boarding pass. Luckily I have a copy of all passes and paper work for the trip, so we proceed to the plane and get set up in our seats.
We’ve arrived! Upon exiting the airport, however, I realise that our coach isn’t there yet. I assure the teachers it is all dealt with and find the contact number I have for the driver. In a mix of Italian and English he tells me he’s on his way so I pass that information onto the group.
Once we’re on the coach I arrange with the driver for him to stop at a suitable place for the children to have some lunch.
He picks a lovely spot that, despite being next to the motorway, is full of great food options.
The rest of the coach journey is smooth and we reach the hotel. The group is shown to a designated waiting area where they can relax while I sort out check in. There is a minor hiccup around ski passes but I’m happy to resolve it with the hotel reception staff as long as it makes the process easier and smoother for my group.
After a short time, we are shown to our rooms – I know that one of the group’s requests was that we are accommodated in a separate wing of the hotel. I have brought a copy of the email trail with the hotel where this was agreed (just in case) – thankfully no need for the email printouts as the request has been carried out perfectly.
I remind the party leader of the itinerary – we will be going to the ski rental shop to get our equipment sorted for the week, so everyone needs to put on their ski socks!
I leave my suitcase in my room and head to reception to find out who will be showing us to the ski rental shop and ski lockers. Once that is arranged I head back into the hotel to walk with the group.
Everyone gets their skis, boots, poles and helmets fitted and leave them in the lockers we have booked, conveniently located right by to the slopes. Everyone is happy they won’t have to carry their equipment to and from the hotel every day, even though it is only a five minute walk.
After an hour to ourselves in the hotel we head to the restaurant. One of the children has a severe dairy allergy. The hotel has been made aware of this in advance, so I accompany him just to make sure there is a plate prepared specifically for his dietary requirements. It all goes smoothly and he has a full plate full of freshly made food.
We are all exhausted at the end of this long day and we all head to our rooms after dinner for a well deserved sleep before the long day of skiing that awaits.
Day 3 – Monday
First day of skiing starts with a good breakfast, a walk to the ski lockers and a meet up with the ski school instructors. Upon meeting them we realise that one of the instructors doesn’t speak very much English so I call the manager of the ski school to arrange a different instructor.
The children go skiing and I take a couple of them to get their ski boots swapped as they have realised they aren’t as comfortable as they thought. Afterwards I make sure they join their groups and have a ski instructor and a teacher with them.
I’m off finding where the activity for tonight is located so that I know where to take the group once we head there together. It’s an authentic, Italia pizza restaurant so I also need to confirm they are prepared for the child who has allergies. When that is done I head out to hunt for the nearest supermarket. I’ll be buying some soya milk for the same child, as he shared with me he would prefer some cereal and I’m determined to make that happen!
I head back to the slopes to meet the group, ensure they leave their equipment in the lockers and walk with them to the hotel. We have lunch and get to relax a bit.
As soon as we gather our strength, we’re headed back to the mountain for two more hours of skiing.
At the end of the second lesson we have some free time in the hotel for everyone to get ready for dinner and then we’re out the door. There is a minor hiccup at the restaurant – the host isn’t convinced our meal has been paid for, despite the voucher I have brought which gives exact details to the contrary. I call our ground handling agent who explains the situation in Italian over the phone to our host. Everything is resolved and we place our pizza orders. At the end of dinner our host brings the teachers and I some limoncello shots as an apology for the confusion.
We head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Our second day of skiing starts in much the same way as the day before – breakfast then off to the slopes. When we arrive, we find out that the non-English speaking instructor has been changed, as per our request.
Over lunch I find out that the beginners group is really happy with their new instructor.
After two more hours of skiing, somehow the children still have loads of energy and are asking about an activity for later in the evening. I arrange with the hotel to book the games room for two hours and following dinner the group gets to spend some time together playing table football and other games.
Day 5 – Wednesday
The third day of skiing is a hugely successful one for both the beginners group and the advanced. The children are excited to see real progress in their skills. Some of them got to use a ski lift for the first time and for the majority of them it was the first time they venture down a blue slope.
After this day full of firsts it is time for yet another one. We have some free time to recover from the days excitement before we head back to the slopes for a snow safari. We all get aboard a snow cat, a machine best described as a big tractor that evens the snow out in preparation for the following day. We were taken to the top of the slopes where we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and some cake. The group have a great time playing in the snow and when we’re all done we get back in the snowcat.
We then have dinner in the hotel where we celebrated one of the groups’ birthday. I had arranged for the restaurant to prepare a cake and surprise the child during dinner. The hotel staff shut off the lights and sing happy birthday as they approach his table with the cake…a really nice touch!
Day 6 – Thursday
The day begins with a call from the inspiresport office in Cardiff to check how everything is going. During the call I’m made aware of an additional fee from the hotel, which wasn’t mentioned on the booking. After briefly discussing with the party leader, I call the inspiresport team back and it’s decided that I should cover this cost on behalf of the company.
Our fifth day in resort saw us following our ski routine with some ice skating fun! As a rep I had made sure I knew where the ice skating rink is located and that I have enough money in cash to pay for the tickets which was the preferred payment method of the service provider. This was a cost I knew of in advance, so everything went exactly to plan.
Following an hour of ice skating we head back to the hotel, where the teachers are given some free drinks in the lounge bar while the children get ready for dinner.
Day 7 – Friday
Our last day in resort initially has a free evening at leisure scheduled in the itinerary. However, I knew the group would still be buzzing with energy at the end of their second lesson.
I approach the owner of the ski rental shop to enquire about the bumboards they rent out. We discuss the different options and end up with a solution which is good for everyone…and even includes free hot chocolate as part of the deal!
To save time I take a bag to the lockers before the second ski lesson. I put all of the group’s shoes in it to take them to the ski rental shop. When they’re done with the lesson I’m waiting for them by the shop with all of their shoes nicely laid out and ready for them. That saved us lots of time and we are soon off to the slopes with our bumboards.
The children love their hot chocolate at the end of the session and have loads of fun going down the slopes on their boards.
After dinner everyone heads to their rooms to pack their suitcases ready for the journey home tomorrow.
Day 8 – Saturday
In the morning the children take their suitcases to the restaurant while the teachers and I complete a quick room inspection. Everything was looking good so we head to the restaurant for breakfast. I stop by reception to check everyone out and give back all the room cards and the ski passes.
After breakfast I give the coach driver a quick call to check everything is ok and running to time. He soon arrives and we’re off to the airport. I arrange with him a comfort break on the way back to the airport, a conversation which involves the help of Google Translate.
We get to the airport where I give the group their boarding passes which I had printed before we left. While most of the group are able to check in using the self service machines, I take two of the children to the desks where they have to be checked in manually.
We get on the plane and settle in for our flight back to London.
I get on the coach to Reading with the group and I’m soon saying my final goodbyes with the children as their parents come to pick them up.
I then proceed to the train station where I’ll be catching my train to Cardiff. As I’m on my way to the Welsh capital I reflect on the tour – a few challenges and lots of amazing moments. It was a successful trip, I think, that empowered the children and made them see how much they can develop their skills in a single week. It was really lovely to watch them bond as a group. I catch myself wondering if they’ll be saying hello to each other when they’re back in school, as a lot of them are in different years. Regardless, they’ll always have the memory of a truly wonderful week spent eating pasta, skiing and enjoying everything that Bardonecchia had to offer.