Build­ing a chalet from scratch where they now run lux­ury catered ski hol­i­days has given Steve and Lind­say Butcher their dream life in the Alps. finds out how they made it work

Stephanie Sheldrake

Living France - - LIFESTYLE -

Some peo­ple seem to have the golden touch when it comes to turn­ing their busi­ness idea into a suc­cess, and Steve and Lind­say Butcher are def­i­nitely one such cou­ple. They run Chalet Amuse Bouche in Mon­triond in the pop­u­lar Portes du Soleil area of the Alps, of­fer­ing high-end catered ski hol­i­days. But the cou­ple haven’t al­ways worked in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. They orig­i­nally met when they both worked in man­u­fac­tur­ing, but hav­ing de­cided they needed a ca­reer change, they bought an old an­tique shop in a small vil­lage in Kent, which they de­cided to turn into a restau­rant. Steve worked as a chef and Lind­say ran the front of house, but it was the re­lent­less hard work with lit­tle time off that made them turn their thoughts to the next pro­ject.

“With a restau­rant, there’s re­ally no life,” ex­plains Lind­say, who says they de­cided to look at other ways of us­ing the skills they had learnt in the restau­rant busi­ness. Run­ning a ski chalet busi­ness seemed the ob­vi­ous choice: “We en­joyed ski­ing and we’d been on catered ski hol­i­days so we thought that would be a good use of our skills. Also it would en­able us to have some time off in be­tween the sum­mer and the win­ter sea­son,” adds Lind­say.

The cou­ple’s first at­tempt at buy­ing a prop­erty in the Alps in 2007 fell through at the last minute, and they de­cided to spend a few months ex­plor­ing the dif­fer­ent re­gions of France. It was an old farm­house in Char­ente in need of ren­o­va­tion that cap­tured their imag­i­na­tion. Steve ren­o­vated the house and its barns, trans­form­ing it into a suc­cess­ful gîte busi­ness. “We ran the gîte busi­ness for four years un­til some guests came along and made us an of­fer we couldn’t refuse,” re­mem­bers Lind­say.

Once again, the cou­ple started con­tem­plat­ing their next pro­ject. “We asked our­selves whether we should go back to the UK, open a bistro or try the ski chalet again. It’s funny be­cause so many times we’d said the ski chalet op­tion was too ex­pen­sive and then we’d find our­selves se­cretly look­ing on the in­ter­net to see what was avail­able,” says Lind­say. “We said: ‘This is silly, we’re still think­ing about it, so

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