Matthew’s blog…

Matthew Draper first found F&P in 2007 and since then it has developed into a friendship for life. A professional musician by trade, Matthew moonlights with his coaching business helping corporate teams to get along. Along with being a very keen skier, Matthew can often be found leading Holly and Philippa astray with our usual steak and red wine – this week upgraded to oysters and champagne (!) in his home town of Brighton.  As the unofficial ‘Head of Staff Training’ – here is Matthew’s story…

Having been on lots and lots of chalet holidays and witnessed firsthand the horrors of bad chalet hosts over the years, I was interested to see if I could apply my newly learnt team coaching skills to working with the scandalously good new company shaking up the chalet world of Meribel Village. After chatting to Holly, I eventually persuaded a slightly reluctant Fish and Pips to let me loose on their team.

To be honest the harsh reality was that they didn’t really need me. The team were already properly trained, and there were no horrors in Meribel Village that season but faced with the comfy sitting room in chalet Le Christophe and the whole team around the table, we set to work on building the Fish and Pips ‘Village’ which has now become part of the pre season ritual.

Holly and Philippa know how important chalet hosts and chef’s are in the whole ski holiday experience, and this is demonstrated by the time and effort they put in to training and looking after their staff. Not only do the team learn how to clean to within an inch of their lives, how to drive you safely back from the Ronnie after you’ve mixed grape and grain, how to prepare and serve top end restaurant food, and how to host spectacular dinner parties six nights a week, they also learn how to function as a team, who they are as individuals and how they can help each other to stay focused on giving their guests the best possible mountain holiday experience. At Fish and Pips training is far more than canapés and cleaning.

Encouraging a unique mixture of work hard, ski hard, work harder, and then play even harder, Holly and Philippa lead strongly by example. Catching up with the gang through the winter is always one of the best parts of visiting Meribel. Seeing the team taking such pride in maintaining the high standards of service they set and watching them support each other though the ups and downs of the ski season is a great reward. (As was playing ‘snog marry throw off a cliff’ in the kitchen at Chalet du Guide, and catching up with all the ‘news’ in the adjoining cellars of the three linked chalets!) I toured the chalets before dinner as self appointed ‘head of team training’, and I met countless guests who were genuinely delighted at having found a company that feel like new friends who actually enjoy looking after the people they have staying.

Much as I’d like to take all the credit for the outstanding record Fish and Pips have with staff, (all staff complete the season and some return for a second and even third!), I agree that some credit has to go to Holly and Philippa but, the lion’s share of praise has to go to the incredible individuals themselves who make up the team, do all the hard work and give guests holidays they will never forget.

Without exception it’s a complete pleasure to work with everyone at Fish and Pips, I’m already thinking of some different team games to do next winter. I can’t wait to be round that roaring fire, building the 2009/10 season village and maybe we can have the odd glass of wine and another chef’s special Thai chicken curry please.