If you’re passionate about skiing -- or simply adventure and travel -- you should know that The Ski Week offer anything but your average ski trip.
To find out more, we caught up with Leo Alsved, The Ski Week’s founder and CEO, following his talk at The Collective Old Oak:
First things first, what is The Ski Week?
The Ski Week is a series of week-long ski festivals that we stage around different mountainous nations in the world. We currently operate in 5 different countries across 4 continents.
It started with me inviting my friends to come skiing with me, but now we’re way bigger than that -- but I still see everyone that comes as friends. We basically invite people to the best places to ski around the world, and put on an amazing week. Depending on where we go, sometimes it’s more party-oriented, sometimes it’s more ski-oriented. Currently we’re in Japan, so there’s a lot about skiing on deep deep powder, but also exploring the local culture.
How did the Ski Week come to be?
I studied mechanical engineering at university, which isn’t really what you’d think from someone who ended up doing ski holidays! I got a normal management consultant job after graduating, but realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I’d been involved with The Yacht Week since 2008, doing all their skipper recruitment and skippering myself, and we got talking about The Ski Week as a cool parallel to explore. The founders of Yacht Week are more sailors, and I’m definitely more of a skier, so it was obvious when we got talking about it that I was the man for the job.
I rented a car for a month and drove down to the alps. I cruised around for 26 days and looked at 18 ski resorts to work out where we were going to hold events; and get a feel for how it works, what we could/couldn’t do, and how we needed to plan it. And everything’s grown from there!
Where does your passion for skiing come from?
I grew up skiing every year with my family. I found it really fun, and did a couple of seasons down in St Anton and Chamonix. Skiing is the best thing I know how to do -- I really really love being in the mountains. I want to show people that experience and give them a really good time, but not just the normal ski holiday, something extra.
There’s a lot of things you do when you’re a ski bum seasonaire that no one else really does -- I like to take people out and do those things that you don’t do on a normal trip because you don’t know how to arrange it, or don’t know it exists. I try to give people the inside story of what you can do at ski resorts.
What are some of those ‘extra’ experiences?
Something I’m a big fan of is the pond skim that we do in Obertraun and Aspen. We basically build a small little pond, get some speed, and try to ski across it and make it to the other side. I would say about half crash and get wet and cold -- which is awesome.
Another thing we do is dig out some snow loungers and snow sofas on the mountain. We take people in the evening with torches, play some music, and have hot chocolate with cognac. It’s a really cosy evening. We also have long table lunches in the mountain. In Aspen we had 500 people at a table at 3000 miles altitude -- it’s awesome to sit there and have a champagne lunch together.
How many people normally attend a Ski Week event?
It depends. The more ski-focused events like Chammonix and Japan are smaller -- so here in Japan now we have 150 people. At the bigger ones, like Aspen, we have up to 500 guests. The ones in Austria have around 200 people.
Is The Ski Week suitable for all abilities?
It certainly is, as long as you’re willing and able to learn. If you’ve never skied before we can help you find a ski instructor, and so long as you’re up for the learning curve you’ll be fine.
What is your favourite thing about The Ski Week?
Definitely all the people that you meet. Sometimes we’ve had 30 different nationalities in one week, so you meet people from all over the world and experience different cultures. Maybe you turn up with a few friends you’re travelling with, but by the end of the week you have hundreds of new best friends. After that, when you’re travelling the world, you always have a sofa to sleep on, or someone to show you around their local city. Everybody makes connections, and that’s the beauty of it -- because it’s such an intense week, you bond easily.
What would you say to someone considering attending a Ski Week event?
If you want THE best ski holiday, this is the place to go. There is no other place that makes it so easy. All you have to do is book with The Ski Week, and it’s taken care of: the whole schedule; the friends; where to go, drink, eat; what mountains to hike. It’s the easiest thing… and we guarantee you’ll have a ton of fun.
What’s next for The Ski Week?
Our newest destination is going to be Chile, starting in August. Because their seasons are reversed, it’s prime time for skiing then, so we’re launching a smaller event there this summer.
Any advice for people who are starting a business?
I would say test everything, and don’t assume you know anything. It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what your customers think -- so either you ask them, or what we do when we hold events is try different things to see what works and doesn’t work. A lot of the time you realise that something you don’t like is actually super popular and everyone wants to do it, or that something you would personally love to do isn’t interesting to other people. So you figure out what actually does work, and then you replicate.
Ready to ski? You can find out more about The Ski Week here:
Interview by Grace Waters