Tailor make a skiing holiday and you can pack a whole load of action into a week. Our 16-strong group fell into a fantastic holiday in Vallandry last year thanks to an old friend, Jon Neal of Bar Mont Blanc and repeated the experience this year, albeit with a slightly different line-up.


With youngsters ranging from six years old to 15, a 20-year old first time snowboarder and a 40-something beginner included in the group it looked like a testing time could be ahead. But, as we found last year, by adding private transfers, a spacious ski in ski out four star chalet and 'Chloe's Cuisine'a great holiday could be had. In fact we didn't stop laughing until one of the group thought he had lost his flight ticket on the way home.

Of course 2008 is being helped along by brilliant snow conditions. Plenty was falling on the Saturday as we arrived and it snowed every night bar the last with sunshine every day - perfect for the beginners and a treat for the more expert skiers who revelled in the off piste..

A text from Jon Neal ('Tracker') as we neared resort telling us to make tracks to Ski Republic for our ski hire saved us our spending money for the week. This new company has sprung up in the Alps and is offering two for one ski hire, free kit insurance and free helmets - a massive saving for a family of four. The equipment is all brand new at the start of the season - my Dynastar Freeride skis were the best I have ever skied in - Toby and Tom in Vallandry were ultra helpful and in fact I even hired some new boots midweek.

Vallandry, nestling at the heart of the Paradiski area of Les Arcs and La Plagne has lost some trade this year due to the late notification of the closure of the Vanoise Express cable car link with La Plagne - the link being the reason we rebooked the resort. But we skied hard and long and still had fresh runs to spare on the last day and I doubt we would have had time to visit La Plagne anyway, so good was the snow on our side of the mountain.

With the children and some of the adults booked into ski school each morning, the rest of us were off like Enid Blyton's Famous Five exploring, meeting up with the rest at the chalet for lunch at noon. By 1.30pm we were suited and booted and off on a mass group ski, the best of which was led by the older children via the Combe red, and off piste to Nancroix.

It was a truly great afternoon with lovely scenery, some spectacular wipe outs and we were only slightly hindered by losing our way at the clapped out 2CV. The resultant detour had some interesting terrain (think water troughs, drainage ditches and fences) but as we all skied the deep powder across the field to the village everyone was in high spirits.

The group of extreme skiers at the bus stop looked a bit disgruntled to see Sam, 6, rock up with a motley group of followers!

The highlight for the 'famous five' last year had been an off piste lesson with Philippe Simon (or Simon Philippe we weren't sure which) from ESF which left us lung-burstingly cream crackered and we were delighted to him available again this time, especially as he told us we had all improved enormously. We didn't feel that great attacking the moguls marked for very good skiers only, but we were delighted with our jump turns down the side of the Grand Col. Skiing is a great appetite builder and self catering is no holiday if you go the wrong way about it.

Again recommended by Tracker we experienced and totally enjoyed Chloe's Cuisine last year. Chloe Wreford-Brown, originally from Dartmouth, has the perfect solution - we sort breakfast and lunch and she does afternoon cakes and either a two or three course evening meal. This year Chloe has set up a restaurant, Le Vache, in Peisey with her sister, and her long time friend Ronky is the chalet 'star' of the business. Be warned though. However hard you ski you won't lose any weight!

If it's a hectic night life you are after then Vallandry may not be for you unless you make the most of one of the best aprËs ski bars in the alps - the Bar Mont Blanc. At the bottom of the Grizzly lift, Bar Mont Blanc Serves all day food, has free Wi Fi, great drinks promos, bands, music, pool the list goes on. If you don't visit you haven't lived. It's right up there with the Frog and Rosbif in Val Thorens, Smithys in Les Deux Alps and The Mooserwirt in St Anton, Austria. 

 Contact Rob at www.thecoolbus.co.uk for airport transfers, www.barmontblanc.co.uk for legendary nights out, chloewrefordbrown@hotmail.com for great food and www.ski-republic.com for two for one ski hire.