Good morning everyone, welcome to Grenoble/Lyon/Chambery/Geneva (or in the event of spectacularly bad weather quite possibly Nice or Nantes, but I really really hope not). I hope you had a good flight, although I fully appreciate that spending the weekend at Liverpool airport waiting for that cloud of volcanic ash to clear did not figure prominently in your original holiday plans.
At the moment we’re waiting for our Manchester flight to arrive in about an hour and a half. No, I know waiting here didn’t figure in your plans either, and I understand that it means you won’t be able to get in the cheeky extra half day’s skiing you were banking on when you persuaded the rest of your party that it would be a good idea to get out of bed at three in the morning to get the earlier flight. I also know that our sales staff didn’t tell you about the wait, but let’s be honest, had they done so you wouldn’t have booked, would you? And they’re not the ones getting screamed at in the middle of an airport carpark, so they did not, do not now and nor will they ever give a rat’s ass. So you might as well ditch the tantrum – entertaining though it is to see a grown man throw all his toys out of the pram in a public place – and get yourself one of those overpriced ham sandwiches with no salad in it while you wait. And pray that the Manchester flight has managed to get itself out of the ash cloud as well.
Your transfer to resort will take about two hours, assuming the massive storm which was already overdue when I left at four this morning hasn’t hit and blocked all the roads, in which case you’re looking at a minimum of seven and quite possibly that plus dinner in McDonald’s and a night on the floor of the municipal sports hall. Why did you imagine I stashed pyjamas, shower kit, sleeping bag and full-on picnic supper with litre of vodka under the front seat? But you’re here to ski – admit it, you’d be the first to complain if it didn’t snow.
Your driver today is Jean-Pierre. From time to time you may notice him driving with one hand (or occasionally no hands) whilst gesticulating at his mother-in-law on the other end of the phone. You are free to complain to me about this, and I will be happy to pass your comments on to him, but be aware that if I do so with any significant force he will turn the heating either a) off or b) up to maximum. You might be best advised just to close your eyes – after all you can’t have got much sleep on those plastic chairs they have in the terminal at Birmingham.
The first part of the trip will be on the motorway, but we will not be stopping for refreshments or because your children need a wee, so make sure they go now. Regardless of whether or not they need to – come on, don’t you remember what it was like being a child on a long journey? Your mother was forever dragging you into strange toilets and pulling your pants down for no reason – man up and take on your duties as a parent.
There are toilets on the coach (well spotted, that small child – now, shut it if you know what’s good for you) but these will not be operational during the period of your transfer to resort because the company pays extra for it and given that this is the middle of January and you’ve all paid less than break-even for the package you’re lucky they let you breathe the air without paying a supplement. Go before you get on the coach, is my advice.
The final part of the journey will be up an apparently precipitous mountain road consisting of 21 (and you will count every one, I promise you, especially if your child is car-sick) hairpin bends. This is the route the Tour De France riders follow in the summer – don’t worry about remembering that because I will wake you up half an hour before you arrive specifically in order to tell you again. Don’t blame me – for some reason our overseas management thinks this adds to the ‘excellent customer service experience’. No, I don’t know either. Believe me, I too would much rather be asleep.
Finally, just as soon as we are under way and you have all settled down for a snooze, I will be making my way down the coach at risk to life and limb in order to sell lift passes and equipment hire to those of you who were not foolish enough to book in advance at the company’s official exchange rate. (If this is winter 2008/09, congratulations to those of you who pre-booked before the pound tanked in the middle of the season, thereby rinsing your tour op for at least £30 per pass and possibly more. I salute you and wish you a stupendous holiday.) If you don’t wish to be disturbed, I recommend you nominate seven of your number to buy ski packs on the coach, as this is all the sales I need to stop the resort manager (who is currently still in bed) nipping my heid all week and threatening me with a ‘development interview’ at some point in the middle of a bluebird powder day.
Thank you for listening and I wish you a very pleasant trip to resort.