Today (Monday 8 March), many people will be celebrating International Women’s Day, designed to recognise achievements, fight against bias and take further action for equality.
This year, the theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. With this in mind, we’ve asked our clients to nominate women that are creating incredible waves in their different fields.
Please find some more details about these astonishing women below.
Laura Schmidhauser, Isère, France
This remarkable young lady lives in the small mountain hamlet of Theys in the Isère, just next to the ski resort of 7 Laux. Laura’s story of being an inspirational, strong and determined woman comes from her roots of several generations of farmers. Suffering from a serious genetic disease (late diagnosis of hip dysplasia, she has already been operated on four times) she has had to show a strong mental attitude to go against the advice of professionals to live for her passion. At 20 she became a goat herder and set up her own goat farm plus a travelling farm to introduce her animals to nurseries, retirement homes, cancer patients and schools. Winner of Miss France for agriculture in 2016, she is not the run-of-the-mill twenty-year-old. She currently has 70 goats, Lolita the pony, Wendy the sheep, four dogs, a dwarf cow and a pigeon. The young girl has a special gift; she can train any animal and is seen as an animal whisper. At the farm, you can find a goat-cheese processing workshop and a shop open to the public that she built with ‘from farm to table’ as her motto. She produces Tomme de Savoie and fresh cheeses. In addition, she is also committed to the fight against breast cancer and often organises events with her animals to raise money. Peak Retreats features the four-star Les Granges des 7 Laux apartments in Les 7 Laux. These ski-in, ski-out apartments are conveniently located in Prapoutel right on the slopes and 200 metres from the local shops. Facilities include wellness centre with indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and hammam. A week’s self-catered stay costs from £302 pp for four people sharing a two-bedroom apartment, including a return Eurotunnel crossing with a free upgrade to FlexiPlus on most dates. Holidays are fully ABTA bonded.
Peak Retreats (023 9283 9310, www.peakretreats.co.uk)
Géraldine Fasnacht, Verbier, Switzerland
Living in Verbier, Switzerland, Géraldine Fasnacht is a world-known freeride snowboarder, base jumper and wingsuit pilot. She travels the world in search of new lines, different mountains and people – especially women – to enthuse. After skiing and snowboarding from a young age, she won the X-Treme competition – known as the world’s toughest freeride competition – at 21, and has since obtained 11 international victories and 23 further podiums around the globe. She fell in love with wing suiting soon after, and in 2009 she organised an expedition, along with three other adventurers, to complete the first wingsuit flight over the Earth’s southernmost continent. And then in 2014, she became the first person to jump from the Matterhorn in a wingsuit. These escapades led to her nickname, ‘bird woman’. She loves challenging her comfort zone and encouraging others to do the same. Today, she divides her time between being a mother and wife, coaching activities, fostering budding athletes and keynote speaking work, which takes her to some astonishing destinations. As well as inspiring those women to follow their dreams, she also jumped off the top of the sacred mountain of Bisotun wearing her wingsuit. In addition, she helped launch, and runs the Mountain Line Foundation, which aims to introduce children to nature and mountain sports. Verbier is home to some of the best skiing, luxurious accommodation, and gastronomy in the Alps. However, people also flock to this traditional Swiss resort because of its heart and soul. The new four-star superior Hôtel de Verbier is a mix of old and modern. Twenty-nine rooms and three studio apartments make up the accommodation. The body of the building has undergone a clever re-design thanks to a collaboration with local architect Patrice Coupy. Mountain views and space are maximised in the building that combines stone and wood, balancing contemporary style with traditional materials. A gym, hammam, jacuzzi, sauna and massage rooms are also available. A three-night staying in a double room is priced from £454 pp based on two sharing and includes breakfast.
Isabelle Vigliengo, Megève, France
The beautiful village of Megève in the French Alps has one of the best gastronomy scenes in the region, with 75 eateries to choose from including four Michelin-starred restaurants with an unprecedented seven stars between them. There are also a number of food artisans, that display their sweet and savoury treats at shops throughout the village, and at the excellent twice weekly farmers’ market. One of the best known is Isabelle Vigliengo, who runs the delightful Glaçons de Megève chocolate shop on Edmond de Rothschild street. She is the granddaughter of Barthélémy Vigliengo, who in 1909 created the “Glaçon de Megève”, a delicious hazelnut and chocolate praline wrapped in a delicate white meringue. The recipe has remained a guarded family secret for three generations, with locals and holidaymakers alike returning year after year. The delicacy, which is only available in Megève, is as popular today as it was in the early Twentieth Century, with Isabelle producing 15kg of her delicious sweets each week. A seven-night self-catered stay at Pierre & Vacances’ Residence Le Mont d’Arbois in Megève in a standard apartment that sleeps up to four people, arriving 16 July 2021, is priced from £449 per apartment. Flights and transfers extra.
Pierre & Vacances (0870 0267 145, www.pierreetvacances.co.uk)
Tess Ledeux, La Plagne, France
Based in La Plagne, France, Tess Ledeux became the youngest ever freestyle ski world champion at just 15. Now in her late teens, she is known as one of the best big air skiers in the world and came second at the big air world cup in Aspen in December 2020. With halfpipe legend Kevin Rolland as her cousin, she was always expected to become a good skier, but not many people realised how far she would go. Tess was on skis from the age of two, and a member of the local freestyle club in La Plagne by the time she was nine. Her incredible rotations and technical rail work earned her silver at the X Games in both Aspen and Hafjell, and slopestyle gold in Sierra Nevada. In 2018, she achieved wins at the X Games in Aspen, the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Switzerland and the French Championships. In 2019, she won first place at the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Aspen and another gold medal at the X Games. And last year, she achieved a slopestyle win at the Font-Romeu World Cup in France, and gold medals at the X Games and the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Austria. When she’s not skiing, Tess can often be found with her family, helping out, or relaxing, at the restaurant they own in La Plagne. A week’s stay, at Ski France’s Chalet Vega in Plagne 1800, from 15 January 2022, costs from £5,999 total for 12 people sharing on a Contactless Catered Chalet basis.
Ski France (0203 475 4756, www.skifrance.co.uk)
La Plagne: https://en.la-plagne.com
Barbara De Moubray, Morzine, France
Morzine is an attractive and authentic French Alpine village in the heart of the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area, popular with visitors in both the winter and summer. The Morzine based organisation Montagne Verte is a not-for-profit, working to reduce the environmental impact caused by residents, visitors and businesses in the resort. Their goal is to encourage everyone to get involved, by providing all the information needed to help people be greener and to make environmentally friendly options more accessible. This includes collaborating with local businesses in a drive to use ecologically aware suppliers and engaging with the community through regular events and workshops. Montagne Verte is the brainchild of Barbara De Moubray, a local artist who had the idea after canoeing the length of the Thames and making an impressive mermaid sculpture constructed from plastic bottles she found in the water. The purpose of the artwork was to highlight the problem of water pollution, and to inspire everyone to live in a more sustainable manner. A prominent figure in the village, Barbara wants to preserve Morzine’s natural beauty so that future generations can continue to make the most of the mountains., A seven-night stay, at the three-star Hotel Le Crêt in Morzine, on a half board basis, arriving 26 June 2021, is priced from £789 pp based on two sharing a standard room. Includes return flights from London Gatwick to Geneva and transfers.
Inghams (01483 698099, www.inghams.co.uk)