Host with the most
Newly-weds Danielle and Paul Mason exchanged office jobs in Berkshire for a chalet-hosting business in the Alps and they couldn’t be happier with their new life, as Emma Rawle discovers
Five years ago Danielle and Paul Mason were both working 9-5 in office jobs in Berkshire, saving to buy a house together while dreaming of a great adventure. When the time came to settle down they found that they couldn’t quite bring themselves to do it, so instead of investing in bricks and mortar in the UK they bought a 40-year-old camper van which they named ‘Nancy’ and set off to explore Europe. Little did they know their adventure would end up with them opening their own chalet-hosting business in the French Alps.
Danielle and Paul bought Nancy from a specialist in Holland, restored her and in August 2010 they took the ferry across the Channel to Dunkirk ready to begin their great adventure.
“We didn’t really have an itinerary in mind,” explains Paul. “We just had a big road map and each day we’d put our finger on the map somewhere we fancied going and that’s where we would head.”
Their impulsive method of travel saw the couple head east through Belgium, eastern France, Geneva and into northern Italy, but after six weeks of touring their thoughts began to turn to the winter and what they were going to do.
“I had been looking at winter work,” says Paul. “Doing some jobs over the winter that would then enable us to continue travelling into the next year, but Danielle was absolutely dead set against working. However, I managed to sell it to her by saying she got to make a cake every single day! I’ve always wanted to learn to snowboard and both Danielle and I love cooking so the chance to combine cooking and learning to ski by chalet hosting really appealed to us.”
“At that point we changed our original plan, which was to head south through Italy to the Amalfi coast and instead we went back through the Mont Blanc tunnel and stayed in Chamonix for 10 days in the hope of finding some sort of chalet work for the winter.”
As luck would have it, they parked Nancy in a car park in Chamonix next to an Englishman with eight years of