If you’re looking for a real mountain adventure, and if like us at WAA Chosen, you enjoy the type of environment where challenging your limits is the norm, then a little downhill action in Chamonix should be next on your list.
Last week saw our agency ascend the French Alps for our annual business conference. What we met, was a mecca for mountaineers, a playground for adventure athletes and the birthplace of extreme skiing. Aren’t we lucky?!
With an abundance of challenges and opportunities on offer – everything from adventure hikes to dog sledding, right through to sampling the town’s finest cheese, wines and patisseries – you can see why the trip captured the very essence of the agency.
After a relaxed flight and a short drive across the Autoroute Blanche, we arrived at our home for the next three days – La Folie Douce, a stylish ski-in, ski-out hotel based in downtown Chamonix. The hotel was nothing short of amazing, extremely instagrammable and bursting with après zeal and style.
After spending the run-up to the trip frantically checking the weather forecast, we were pleased to arrive to a metre of snow, freshly dumped on Chamonix. Buzzing with excitement about the shenanigans that lay ahead, a quick post-journey walk around the jaw-dropping valley floor was calling.
The stroll revealed Chamonix had winter wonderland down to a fine art. A trip around the chalet lined streets under the starry alpine sky was idyllic and set the mood for a great trip.
That evening, we ventured from our rooms to la petite cuisine for dinner and to enjoy our annual awards ceremony. Over some superb quiche Lorraine, we celebrated the achievements of the agency in true WAA Chosen style, recognising those who have delivered outstanding work over the past year.
A (few) drinks and some questionable dance moves later, we retired back to our rooms for some much-needed rest, ahead of day two.
Sometimes people (me included) utilise the skill of photography and presentation to make an event or moment look better than it really was. In this case, any filter or caption falls shamefully short. As I opened the window from my third-floor room, I can’t describe how blue the sky was and how close the snow-capped cliffs merged in every direction.
Smug Instagram story complete, we snowshoed it to the ski lift and met our instructors. By the end of my first lesson, I already feel I’m getting into the swing of things. My instructor, Remy, is a hardened Chamonix local, happy in the freezing air and giving the team pep talks on the chair lifts.
By lunchtime, we are at the point where we can get down a blue slope without falling over, and I’ve managed to learn the idiosyncrasies of getting on and off various types of chairlift without making a fool of myself.
Yet, with all these new experiences and learnings, it’s important to see the bigger picture. As an agency we see the value in opportunity, and witnessing the team zoom down Planpraz at Mach 10 with just a few hours experience was symbolic of this ethos – being alive to opportunity and heightening your senses.
Later, we were treated to a fondue lunch in the shadow of Mont Blanc, gleaming in all her glory. The food was spot on for anyone burning calories on the slopes all day: offering us skiers all the refueling carbs we needed.
After lunch, we headed away from the nursery slopes and straight to the fast-cruising pistes. The range was exceptional and versatile with some impressive runs, but it must be said, flying down the mountain full to the brim with cheese fondue and lemon meringue pie, provided a very different kind of adventure, albeit a picturesque one.
Eveningwear donned, the agency descended on Le Petite Cuisine once again, for the penultimate night of speeches, celebration and great food.
In one of life’s weird juxtapositions, we’re now all embracing a proud moment. Just a few hours earlier we were battling the elements of Mont Blanc region, facing extreme adrenaline rushes on the blue, red and black slopes. But now, we’re all together in the serene hotel restaurant for our annual conference.
Rejoicing all the incredible successes achieved over the past year including some significant award wins, we also learnt about the agency’s exciting plans for the future. Key media trends, new developments and opportunities in the media landscape were also shared with the team, thanks to an engaging presentation from John Keane, Media Strategy Director at media planning and buying agency BBJK.
And, perhaps the most salient part of the trip, was the collective recognition of some of the more notable achievements made by members of team.
With some much deserved, emotional tributes completed, we made our way to the dance floor, to dance the night away!
In short, the trip encapsulated everything WAA Chosen is about – bravery, opportunity and recognition. Clearly, having courage and seizing opportunity, really does take you to new heights!