Category Archives: Staff

A tribute to Stevie

Obituary for Stephen Graham.

Stevie the chef. You'll be missed.

Last week we received the terrible news that one of our chefs, Stephen Graham, had passed away after a tragic bicycle accident. His funeral is today at his home in Northumberland and the whole Bramble Ski and Haute Montagne team – many of whom were very good friends with him – will be there in spirit with his family and friends.

Stevie was one of those people, instantly and infectiously likeable. He came to us as an incredibly talented chef, and has left as an inspirational friend.

He was always smiling or laughing, he loved the mountains, his photography and was constantly planning his next travel adventure. At work Stevie was a man with a plan and had great drive. He carried his joie de vivre with  him always and it showed in the food he prepared and in the complete satisfaction of the guests that he looked after. Our business is built on the back of the exceptional people who provide the service in our properties and Stevie epitomised this.

He will be missed. but his influence and memory will live on. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

 

Ross Lemass and Stevie formed a chef/host partnership recently and Ross put together the following Youtube collection of images in memory of Stevie.

Stevie was planning to raise money for Unity Mission Trust, so if anyone feels like doing something in his memory, please feel free to contribute to this charity.

 

Staff training underway in St. Anton

Chefs, hosts, concierges and drivers in St. Anton

The Austrian team on day one of their training

Most of the Austrian team arrived in St. Anton this weekend amidst occasional snow flurries. They’re all bringing with them valuable experience from diverse sectors of the hospitality industry, and for the next two weeks they’ll be groomed on the ‘Bramble service‘ and how to use their experience to maximum effect.

Jane Urquhart kicks things off, leading the first two days of sessions. She  brings with her a treasure trove of experience in dealing with private household staff for royalty and the super-rich. She knows and understands the fine nuances that our clientele expect and are used to.

We’re looking for a sales and marketing manager

Bramble Ski is looking for a sales and marketing manager to be based in Verbier. This is an office-based 10-month-a-year position. During the summer and shoulder seasons this position will be five days a week. During the winter season the position will be for six days a week.

Job Responsibilities

Bramble Ski’s team is small and agile. The sales and marketing manager will be expected to show a keen willingness to assist colleagues and in other areas of the business when needed. Specific sales and marketing responsibilities will include:

  • Handling sales phonecalls and emails;
  • Communicating with agents and clients prior to guest arrival to confirm specifics of requirements during their stay with Bramble Ski;
  • Liaising with in-resort partners including the lift company, ski schools, ski hire companies and transfer companies to book client requirements;
  • Communicating with clients post-departure, including settling outstanding security deposits and collecting feedback, to build repeat business;
  • Run weekly sales and operational reports;
  • Assisting with the copywriting of marketing material including for the blog;
  • Developing and implementing ideas for the marketing and sales plan;
  • Utilising social networks to increase brand awareness;
  • Maintaining and developing relationships with a worldwide network of agents;
  • Checking properties listed with agent sites;
  • Maintain the agent and customer database and;
  • General sales office management.

Skills and Experience

Essential

  • Excellent customer service skills;
  • Articulate and good telephone manner;
  • Excellent written skills;
  • Creative;
  • Organised individual with a high level of computer proficiency and good Microsoft Office skills and;
  • Passion for the ski and snowboard industry.

Advantageous

  • French (and other language) proficiency;
  • Prior experience with using social networks in line with a marketing plan and brand awareness (Twitter/Instagram/Youtube/Facebook);
  • Experience in travel industry public relations.
  • Experience with implementing a sustainable business philosophy and practice.

Please send an application letter along with your CV to info@brambleski.com telling us why you are the ideal candidate to become the newest team member of one of the most exciting companies in the Alps.

www.brambleski.com

If Winter = Patrouille des Glaciers, then Summer = Grand Raid

One of Bramble Ski`s directors, Duncan Robertson, completed the torture-fest Grand Raid mountain bike marathon that was run this weekend (as if the challenge needed to be heightened, this happened to be the hottest weekend of the year). Spanning a distance of 125km and encompassing a total climb in altitude of 5025 meters, this is the 23rd running of the event and makes it one of the oldest single-stage mountain bike races in the world.

Grand Raid mountain bike race

Duncan and Graham completed the Grand Raid in 10 hours and 28 minutes. Pic: Catie Friend.

Originally conceived to recreate the famous Patrouille des Glaciers the full length Race runs in opposite direction, departing Verbier and passing through Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Mandelon, Evolene, an intense climb up the Pad de Lona and finally finishing in Grimentz.

Duncan and Graham, representing Team Exiles on the day, executed their race-plan to perfection and are already looking ahead to next year`s assualt, only this time they intend to ease the pain on the derriere by breaking the 10 hour mark! Go boys.

Below are a selection of images of the Grand Raid shot on the first descent from Croix de Couer above Verbier down to Nendaz.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

Jane Urquhart is back for staff training this year

Our staff training week in Verbier is now just under a month away – though you’d hardly believe so when you look out the window – and we’re really delighted to have Jane Urquhart back in town to whip our private household service skills into shape.

Jane is renowned in the world of private villas, yachts and jets for her exemplary standards of staff training. We were so pleased with Jane’s contribution last year that we have invited her back again to kickstart the season, spending time with Bramble Ski’s drivers, hosts and butlers guiding them in all the ways of private household discretion and excellence. Jane’s training covers the etiqeutte details of welcoming guests into chalets and where, and how to stand and serve, to the nitty-gritty of dealing with paparazzi, how to pack and un-pack suitcases and personal presentation.

Of course our staff are well-rounded individuals so we also allocate time during our training week to on-snow skills … we wouldn’t be Bramble Ski otherwise.

Eyes forward, shoulders back everyone. The 2011/12 ski season is almost upon us!

Gerwin Brand, Bramble Ski’s food debonair

executive chef
Executive chef Gerwin Brand

At Bramble Ski we continually strive to blow our guests away when they come on a catered ski holiday to the Alps. Every facet of the holiday from the smallest of details is given our full  attention and care, and, at the helm of all food that is prepared and served out of the chic chalet kitchens of Verbier and St Anton, is our executive chef Gerwin Brand.

Inspired like many passionate foodies by the influence of family get-togethers, he affectionately remembers Sunday lunch visits with his grandmother. This inspiration steered his drive and Gerwin left school knowing exactly what he wanted. He attended culinary school in his native Holland and simultaneously worked as an apprenticeship in various restaurant kitchens  forging the groundwork for his career as a chef.

After gaining experience in his first Michelin-starred restaurant in Holland, Gerwin moved across to Ireland working for a stint in the Allen family’s Ballymaloe House before crossing the channel to work in London at Clarke’s. He then went on to work for Michel Roux at The Waterside Inn in Berkshire, where as demi-chef de partie patissier he developed his reportoire and skill in pastry.

But it was under the tutelage of Raymond Blanc at the two Michelin-Star Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons that Gerwin obtained his largest chunk of experience. Here he further developed his style for clean fresh dishes and was heavily influenced by Le Blanc’s desire to use quality local produce and ingredients.

“Raymond Blanc’s vision, enthusiasm and drive is revolutionary. The passion that this man has is blowing most other top chefs out of the water. To have had him as my mentor is a fact that I will be forever proud of,” says Gerwin.

“What I took away most of all from working at Le Manoir is to always question things, and to keep checking for quality all the time. The dishes on the menu are scrutinized daily and as soon as there is an element that is not at its peak anymore it will be replaced with something that is in top condition. That drive for perfection is inspiring. And despite the huge success he has,  he has stayed a very down to earth man. Brilliant.”

Over the four years at the renowned Oxfordshire establishment, Gerwin was promoted from demi-chef de partie to sous-chef. When he left, Gerwin made a complete change and moved to the Alps to take up the first executive chef position at Richard Branson’s then brand new mountain retreat The Lodge. We were fortunate enough to have Gerwin join us at Bramble Ski last year to further raise the bar of our sumptuous catered offering.

Gerwin’s meticulously hard-working ethic is exemplified in yesterday’s performance at the New York City marathon, his first marathon attempt.  He completed the race in an incredibly fast time of 3.05 hours. We wanted to know a little more about the man behind the machine …

BC: What is your favourite herb?

GB: This is a really difficult question for me. I love herbs, there are so many of them and they all have their very own specific flavour. I would find it hard to have to choose a specific one, but there are a few that stand out.

Tarragon is one of them. With its beautiful anisy flavour it goes well with a lot of ingredients: cucumber, fish, lamb, chicken and even strawberries and rhubarb. Another is oregano. I just can’t get enough of this one. Its flavour is just so unique and for me it’s the one and only herb that makes a great pizza. A nice thin dough, just a plain tomato sauce, freshly chopped oregano and proper buffalo Mozzarella, like life should be, beautifully simple.

And the last one for me is woodruff. Sadly, this herb is not very well known at all. It is also known as bedstraw, as in the early days it would be used to stuff pillows and mattresses so that they would smell nice. Woodruff is very high in an essential oil called coumarin, which has a sweet smell, but actually tastes a bit bitter. The flavour is vanilla-like and therefore woodruff is mainly used in desserts and drinks.

BC: What piece of equipment can you not do without in your kitchen?

GB: Without a doubt my chef’s knife. I see it as an extension of my hand and I guess that’s saying enough about its importance.

BC: If you were on death row (we won’t ask any questions about how you ended up there), what would your final meal be?

GB: Boeuf Bourguignon with buttery mashed potatoes, pan fried cêpes, bacon lardons, caramelised baby onions and Romanesco broccoli. And for dessert warm sticky toffee pudding with a royal dollop of Champsec cream.

BC: What is your favourite comfort food?

GB: You can’t beat a proper fish ‘n chips with fresh crushed peas.

BC: What is your favourite hangover recipe?

GB: Yeasted blueberry pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and a big glass of fresh orange juice.

BC: What is your favourite local food product?

GB: The race d’Herens beef. It’s just so flavourful. It makes a great steak, or stew or tartare.

BC: What is important to you in your kitchen?

GB: Space to do the job. In one of my jobs I worked in what must have been the smallest kitchen ever. The floor space was two square metres, and the biggest part of that was a hatch down to the cellar where we had additional fridges and a freezer. A nightmare if you had to go down there mid-service . . . Still we managed to turn out some pretty decent food, but it was far from ideal and it limits you
in what you can do.

BC: Finally, and most importantly, where do you head to in Verbier on a powder day?

GB:  I moved to the mountains for a complete change a couple of years ago and now find it hard to see a life without them. I’m still a developing skier but one of my favourite places to head to after some decent snowfall is Stairway to Heaven. The terrain there is really fun and varied.

For more information on luxury catered ski holidays to Verbier and St Anton call our sales number on +44 (0) 207 060 0824, or email info@brambleski.com.

Early season turns in Verbier …

Below are a couple of shots taken this past Sunday (october 9th) when staff-member Sarah MacPherson skinned up from Verbier to get some early season turns following the storm that blew through from the north … Looks like winter!

Photographs by Sarah MacPherson.

Snow arrived this weekend

New snow Bruson

New snow and soft morning light.

Happy Monday. This weekend a low pressure system from the north hit the Alps of Switzerland and brought with it low temperatures and precipitation. Unconfirmed reports claim up to 40cm of snow fell in some places in the alpine. On Saturday it snowed quite consistently in Verbier and we woke up on Sunday to a clearing weather pattern that left us with a beautiful blue-bird day.

Always eager, a couple of Bramble Ski’s staff headed into the mountains to enjoy the bounty of snowfall. Check out our Facebook page for images of Sarah’s first day skiing of the season and Phil’s snowshoe hike.

The temperatures in the sun were actually very warm yesterday and the snowline quickly receded. Sunny conditions and marginally warmer temperatures are forecast for the rest of the week so I don’t expect the snow will last, however, it was great to get a taste of winter and to see the Bramble Ski crew taking early advantage.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

New properties and improved communications

The leaves are starting to fall here in the Swiss Alps as the countdown to winter begins. The first lifts are due to open in 6 weeks and the locals are all predicting a bumper snow season.

We have added three new properties for the coming season. Chalet Montana and the Penthouse Le Daray will be rented on a weekly basis and Chesa Luna on a seasonal rental basis.

Barry Cox has joined our central team as our Group Marketing and Communications Director. With 10 years of experience in photojournalism in Europe and Africa and 4 years of experience heading up our Canadian operation he will focus on electronic and traditional communications to the market.

In St. Anton our 5 luxury properties are selling fast while in Switzerlnd sales have hugely picked up over the past few weeks as the Swiss Franc has lost some
strength against the Euro, Pound and other key currencies.

Three New Properties Added in Verbier

Chalet Montana, Alpine Luxe – sleeps 11 (additional beds available), stunning 7 bedroom, 750m2 free standing chalet, ski-in, perfectly located close to Medran and the centre of the village, available for all weeks of the season. Prices between CHF48,000 and CHF75,000 a week on a catered basis.

Penthouse Le Daray, Alpine Classic – sleeps 9, beautiful 4 bedroom, 2,25m2 penthouse apartment, great location at the bottom of the Le Rouge piste with great access to all areas of the village. Priced between CHF13,500 and CHF25,000 a week on a catered basis.

Chesa Luna, Alpine Luxe – Sleeps 10, beautiful 5 bedroom, 2,75m2 chalet, located in the heights of Verbier, priced at CHF230,000 on a seasonal basis.

Seasonal / annual rentals

We have Chesa Luna available on a seasonal basis for CHF 230,000 and a new 3 bedroom property located 200m from Medran also available on a seasonal or annual basis (please enquire for details).

Please see our Seasonal Rentals page for further details.

Property finder service / Properties for sale

We have a great selection of luxury properties in Verbier for sale. For further details see our Real Estate page.

Bramble Ski web designer participates in one of Europe’s toughest cycle races

Philip Field, Bramble Ski’s web designer, recently participated solo in the Race Around Ireland – an ultra-marathon cycling race that circumnavigates the country - to raise money for Help for Heroes. The total race distance of 2,171km is demanding enough in itself but this year’s entrants faced the added challenge of battling headwinds from tropical hurricane Katia that at times exceeded 100km/h.

Phil, racing for Team Exiles, now lives in Verbier and did most of his training preparation in the Swiss Alps. With the hard yards done prior to the race, he and his back-up team had worked out a sustenance strategy of riding for four hours on energy gels and resting and refueling for one. After 37 hours of duelling with the wrath of Mother Nature however, Phil decided to withdraw. Read his fascinating account of the experience here. Only two of the 11 solo riders managed to complete the event. Phil managed to raise almost £3,000 for his chosen charity. Everyone at Bramble Ski is really proud of his efforts in and out of the saddle.

Philip Field owns and operates Zest Design and is responsible for illustrating and representing Bramble Ski’s unique brand and approach to luxury ski holidays on our website.