Guerlain Chicherit is a founding partner of Les Etincelles, the French word for “spark”, a brand-new hotel group renovating and operating hotels, chalets and residences in the French Alps. Guerlain grew up in Tignes and was a four-time world champion (between 1999 and 2007) in freeride skiing; he is also a successful rally driver, having won the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup in 2009. Les Etincelles represents the third phase of his professional career and reflects his desire to give back to his home region.
ITS> How did Carte Blanche/VoulezVous come about?
GC> Carte Blanche started 10 years ago, with the idea of offering a unique experience, customer service and design in the mountains. With VoulezVous, we wanted to create something different, a place of surprises where guests can enjoy a tailor-made service of course, but also exceptional après-ski with music and live concerts; in short, an invitation to party! We wanted a chic French name for the hotel that would be understood by our international clients: VoulezVous to dance? VoulezVous to go to the spa? VoulezVous have fun…?
ITS> What are the main ways that you are different in this competitive market?
GC> We want to offer our guests an exceptional experience. We want their ski holidays to be stress-free: for example, we offer ultra-comfortable ski lounges, and we deliver their equipment and ski passes to them on arrival. When you stay in one of our hotels in Tignes and book half-board, dinner can be enjoyed in the restaurants of the group’s other hotels so guests have a wide choice of restaurants with different atmospheres and menus. Hotel guests also enjoy access to our partner venue Le Strike, which used to be the old bowling alley in Tignes but which we have redesigned as a club with different theme nights and a programme of world-famous artistes.
ITS> Is there anything you are particularly proud of with the company?
GC> The team, definitely. We have been growing very fast during a difficult time with Covid, but the team is always ready for the next challenge and they make me very proud.
ITS> And anything you feel is especially unique about your properties?
GC> What is unique about our properties is the design; we created innovative concepts in the Carte Blanche chalets that we now also want to apply to our hotels. We want to create a “wow” factor for all our guests, whether adults or children, when they enter our properties. We want them to have an exceptional experience with tailor-made services, so that they can enjoy a real holiday!
ITS> Are there any similarities between freeriding and running a hospitality business or do you keep them separate things in your life?
GC> In my 10 years of freeriding, I learned that perseverance, hard work, resilience and risk-taking pay off as I was world champion several times, so I try to apply the same qualities to the business. Resilience has certainly been an important value with what we have experienced during Covid!
ITS> What are your main ambitions for the company?
Our ambition is to offer our guests amazing ski holidays in high altitude resorts where snow is guaranteed. We want them to have a unique mountain experience by offering them tailor-made services whether they spend their holidays in one of our hotels, residences or chalets. And we want to be able to cater for all styles of holidaymaker whether they like contemporary or traditional design, a tranquil location or a party atmosphere, as well as all levels of skiers, with resorts such as La Plagne or Alpe d’Huez being perfect for families and Tignes and Val Thorens being better for more sporty, fun-loving folk.