Since AliKats Mountain Holidays was founded nearly 10 years ago, the company now has 13 beautiful catered and self-catered chalets in the characterful village of Morzine, in the expansive Portes du Soleil.
This season (2019/20) three brand-new chalets have been added to AliKats’ impressive portfolio, an electric Renault Kangoo is now used for travelling around the resort and Hector, an excitable and handsome Australian Shepherd dog, has joined the team.
Regardless of the business expanding, the founders, Al and Kat Judge, are determined to retain the friendly-family atmosphere, keep on cooking and serving delicious cuisine and forever find new ways to help the environment so guests can enjoy the mountains for years to come.
Plus, AliKats Mountain Holidays would not be complete without its wonderful staff; from hosts and chefs returning to Morzine for a second, or third, season to newbies discovering what it takes to work for a small but mighty company.
Here, Rosie Barcroft talks to some of those involved to discover what makes AliKats Mountain Holidays so special. And even if they can’t decide which hot tub has the best view, they do agree Al and Kat make them feel very valued, stop at nothing to help them reach their potential and will continually evolve to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Rosie Barcroft: What made AliKats Mountain Holidays stand out (compared to other companies) and what made you apply for a job?
Tiffany & Rod, chalet hosts: AliKats immediately stood out to us because their posting focused on the applicants as people rather than their previous experience in similar roles.
Rachelle & Joe, chalet hosts: Al and Kat were very friendly and keen to create a family atmosphere within the team. We wanted to work for people who would value us as human beings as well as employees, and vice versa.
Ashley, operations manager: I could just tell, from the tone of the advert, and before we had even spoken a word to each other, that they were good, friendly people.
RB: How does AliKats Mountain Holidays make you feel part of a team?
Tiffany & Rod: From the moment we arrived we were taken by Al, Kat and the entire team and were overwhelmed by the kindness shown by every individual we met. Al and Kat take great care when choosing their team and it really shines through.
Rachelle & Joe: Al and Kat strive to include everyone, organise regular team nights out and promote team bonding. We’ve all contributed to an AliKats’ manifesto and have agreed to a list of promises and pledges for a fun, fair and respectful working environment.
Ashley: Al and Kat put a lot of time, effort and money into training their team. Over the three-to-four weeks we ended up doing a number of different activities, including building towers out of paper, playing blind man’s bluff and being taken on an adventure ski up the mountain. You start the training as a group of strangers and finish it as a group of friends.
RB: What skills do you hope to gain from working with AliKats Mountain Holidays? And how do Al and Kat support your progression during the season?
Tiffany & Rod: We’re very keen to learn what it takes to run a professional kitchen; we’ve been set up in a fully-equipped kitchen and Kat has put a delicious menu together which she’s entrusted us to cook. She has walked us through every step but also listens to any ideas we have and encourages creativity and expression.
Rachelle & Joe: Rachelle has learned a huge amount about cooking whilst working at AliKats Mountain Holidays and when an opening in the central preparation kitchen came up, Al and Kat supported her in applying for the role, which she successfully achieved. They also offer French lessons, plus my (Joe’s) snowboarding has improved dramatically.
Ashley: Al and Kat stop at nothing in helping us achieve our potential, from guiding us through any problems and developing our skills. Through them, I have learned how to work with customers, how to manage a team and how to run a chalet.
RB: What made you come back and work for AliKats Mountain Holidays?
Rachelle & Joe: We came back because Al and Kat care. A lot. Their ethics towards us (as staff), fairness, sustainability and equality are second to none.
Ashley: I’ve worked in several different countries doing seasonal work and have never returned to the same place, that all changed with AliKats. Not only are Al and Kat my bosses, but they have also become my friends. In life, you rarely come across people who care so much about you. They also lead by example and work harder than anybody I know. All this combined made it an easy choice to come back for a second season with them.
RB: What stands out from AliKats’ new Eco Package?
Tiffany & Rod: The food! Oh, my goodness, the food. The vegetarian alternatives are incredible, especially the chestnut bourguignon. And the meat-free Tarka Dahl menu has converted some hardcore meat-eaters in our chalet.
Rachelle & Joe: The Eco Package is less of a package and more a fundamental element to the way Al and Kat run their business. Staff clothing is made with eco-friendly materials, all chalets compost food waste and use biodegradable toilet paper plus we now have an electric vehicle to use in resort. Guests will also be given bamboo toothbrushes, a refillable water bottle and can try Kat’s delicious homemade yoghurt!
Ashley: The Eco Package is ever evolving and progressing, with Al and Kat coming up with new ways to introduce environmentally sustainable products and initiatives. It’s incredibly inspiring, not only for the staff, but for the guests and the community as a whole.
RB: What new dishes have you learnt from Kat and the team, and what has been popular with the guests?
Tiffany & Rod: All things dough. We admit, we despised baking (with a passion) before beginning with AliKats but now bake a cake every day plus a homemade naan bread once a week. We make strudels, lemon drizzles, redberry muffins with a milk chocolate glaze… The fact our guests have devoured every sweet treat we’ve made is very flattering.
Rachelle & Joe: Developing our cooking skills has been the best element of working for AliKats. Kat’s innovative recipes and love of cooking with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, makes for a menu that is a pleasure to cook and a culinary exploration to eat. The opportunity to work with highly-skilled head chefs has also contributed to an extremely rich learning experience.
RB: How are brand-new Chalet Melodie and Harmonie being received?
Ashley: So far, we’ve had really positive feedback from our brand-new chalets. The location, in the centre of Morzine, is a huge bonus for many people. And the design, layout and spaciousness has been a big plus for guests staying there.
RB: And finally, which hot tub has the best view?
Tiffany & Rod: Oof, tough questions! If we had to choose, though, Ferme à Jules or Riverwood Lodge.
Rachelle & Joe: Debussy, without a doubt!
Ashley: It’s got to be the hot tub at The View – it’s all in the name!
lift pass, for Morzine-Les Gets, costs from €206 per adult when bought through
A six-day lift pass, for the Portes du Soleil, costs from €273 per adult when bought through AliKats
For more information and to book, visit www.alikats.eu or call +44 (0)203 514 6012 / +33 (0)783 496 703.