With the winter ski season now in full flow, this is the busiest time for businesses in Verbier. Located just an easy walk from the centre of Verbier is The Lodge, a 5-star luxury chalet catering for your every need. As one of the properties within Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Collection luxury collection of retreats, The Lodge is a 9 bedroom chalet, complete with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, spa and Michelin-star trained chefs.
To keep this alpine-retreat seamlessly running is no mean feat, and it is largely due to the excellent leadership of our General Manager, Ashley Crook. In amongst her hectic schedule, we found some time to sit down and chat with Ashley about the day-to-day running of The Lodge and answer some of those intriguing questions.
Please introduce yourself, telling us a bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Ashley and I was born and grew up in the British Virgin Islands. My family lived there until I was 14 before moving to the states so that my brother, sister, and I would have more opportunities educationally as we got older. I lived in Wisconsin for eight years finishing school and attending The University of Wisconsin, Madison where I obtained a degree in Interior Design and Business. I was fortunate enough to work on Necker Island during my summers at University and then following graduation in 2006 I was employed there as the Events Manager. I loved the busy and exciting lifestyle that Necker offered and it is where the early stages of my career with Virgin Limited Edition really began.
After a couple years of fun in the sun, I decided to swap my flip flops for my ski boots and moved to Verbier in January 2012. I have loved being here every moment since!
How long have you lived and worked in Verbier?
This will be my 6th winter, so five full years now. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I began at The Lodge as the Front of House Manager and took over as Deputy in 2013. Last October I was given the opportunity to take over as General Manager and enjoy the challenge and the fast-paced nature of the job each day! I won’t lie, it does come with its challenges but our lovely guests who return year after year and our energetic and hardworking team make each day worth it.
What makes The Lodge different from other chalets in the region?
The Lodge is different because each person’s stay is tailor-made to their requests and needs. We don’t have a ‘set way’ of doing things, we really do make each week an individual experience. We are also lucky enough to have a big team of 15 staff that work hard to look after our guests and provide the best service they possibly can to make each stay an unforgettable one.
Describe The Lodge in three words.
Fabulous. Fun. Unforgettable.
What do you love most about your job? And the worst bits?
I love how each day is different. I also love how much we get to interact with our guests before, during and after their stay. They keep in touch, want to know what’s new in our lives since their last visit and write the nicest notes following their departure. One of my other favourite parts of the job and The Lodge is our team. Everyone works so well together, supporting one another and create amazing experiences for our guests all whilst having fun in the process!
The worst bit… hmmmm… having to say goodbye to team members who become friends throughout a season and move on to new jobs.
What do you think it is about The Lodge that makes guests return again and again?
The team and the food! We have so many repeat guests, 90% of our exclusive use bookings this year are repeat guests, so we must be doing something right!
Dining at The Lodge is one of the most celebrated aspects of any stay. Do you have a favourite dish or a naughty treat?
There are so many good ones to choose from! I love the sweetcorn velouté that the chefs make for a canape, and there is a pork belly main dish that is to die for. My ‘go to’ favourite dessert by far is the Valrhona Milk Chocolate Mousse, Poached Pears, Pear Sorbet & Salted Caramel Macaron.
The Lodge is described as a ‘luxury ski chalet’. What does the word ‘luxury’ mean to you?
Luxury has so many different meanings but to me it means customised, flawless delivery and something that little bit unique.
What is your favourite piste or off-piste area to go skiing?
I love skiing on the Bruson side of the mountain when there is fresh snow because it’s nice and quiet (and not too steep!) My favourite day out though is to ski the four valleys nice and early in the morning to Hérémence, eat lunch at our ex-Head Chef’s (Darren) new restaurant ‘Le Bois Sauvage,’ have a catch up with Darren and his fiancé Ashley and then ski home before the lifts shut for the day!
Are there any top tips you can give to new or returning guests to prepare them before their stay?
Top tip – train your stomach to eat and drink a lot before you come in preparation!
The Lodge is not only open in the winter, but also is available to stay over the summer. What in your opinion makes Verbier a great summer destination? What is there is to get up to?
Verbier is AWESOME in the summer. Sometimes, I would almost say that I prefer it. There is phenomenal hiking, road biking, mountain biking, paragliding and sight-seeing to name but a few! The months when the wild flowers are in bloom (mid July – early August) are the most spectacular on the mountain. It is stunning, relaxing and a great place to visit for a few days away from ‘the real world. Come try it, it’s great!
A big thanks to Ashley for taking the time out of a very busy winter season to answer our questions.
For more information on The Lodge and the rest of the Virgin Limited Edition collection, visit the website.
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