THE CREATION & JOURNEY OF BAMBAM CHALET
Everyone loves a before and after picture, that's what all the blood, sweat and tears is about. So here are a few to enjoy...
Existing in its previous life as Chalet Lou Rider, we found it! At the top of a mountain, a 30 second walk from two ski lifts, next-door to a restaurant and opposite a hire shop and FOR SALE.....based on a multitude of reasons and a lot of luck, we decided to throw caution to the wind and buy a project....in the snow....in another country...with a one year old in tow. It felt and still does sound, quite ridiculous - we weren't French speakers either...
My husband was the initial driving force and it took almost a year to find the perfect place, signing up to dozens of estate agents’ mailing lists in the process. It turns out that the Pyrenees are an undiscovered version of the Alps, with many good surprises. The snow fall is equivalent, people are very friendly, there is room on the slopes for everyone, you can afford more than one beer in the mountain restaurants and you even get to trade the hellfire that is travelling through Geneva airport, for a lovely, newly done haven, that is Toulouse airport.
Chalet Lou Rider (rest her soul) was being run as a Gite and a public restaurant during the day and was in desperate need of being brought into the 21st Century. So after enjoying it ‘rough luxe’ style for the first year or so with our family and friends, we went ahead and mobilised a team to help transform her into what she is today. Our friends told us we were brave, but there is not a day that passed where I wasn't very daunted by the whole thing (big nod to my husband, who remained a positive legend throughout). It was a massive undertaking, when you don't speak French or even live there. That said, I have no regrets whatsoever it was an incredible journey.
We have so many crazy memories from that first year, a lot that you could not make up, but we made it through and live to tell the tale! The best surprise was learning about how incredible Saint Lary is; l can’t believe how lucky we have been with that; we knew nothing of the town before we came to see the Chalet - what a gem! It’s beautiful; for somewhere so quaint, they have everything, and I mean everything - there is something for any pastime that you may enjoy. On top of that they are pouring investment into the ski infrastructure which is why they host so many international competitions and why everything looks so new. Quite unbelievably, this place is so vibrant in summer as well. There is so much to do and I had no idea when parting with all of our savings, that it had the capability to deliver all year round. It is even hosting a stage of the Tour de France next year (2021) which we are situated meters from; it is simply incredible!
The people we met along the way have made this journey for us; loveliest of all, Pierre. As a friend of the previous owner and an unlimited source of local knowledge, I’m confident when I say that without his help and support since the purchase we would not be where we are today, he is a wonderful person and has been an invaluable help to us. Having one of our parents as a retired Architect was very lucky and with their collective (and that of Google translate) help we found a great team of local artisans and businesses that have got us to where we are today; and we are so, so proud of the result.
Work started in May 2016 and came to a close at the end of 2017. I can’t quite believe how smoothly it went on reflection. We enjoyed Christmas chez BamBam that year and already had several bookings before this website was even live, so it was onwards and upwards for BamBam. We love to board and having been on many ski holidays, we knew the vision of what we wanted our guests to experience; a home from home, an incredibly luxurious one, but one where its residents will feel like they don’t want to leave, they are excited to come back to after a day on the slopes and one that they wish to return to year on year. As testament to our endeavours, we have been awarded the Label Qualite of 5 diamonds of luxury; there is nothing higher and we are fortunate to have St Lary’s Tourist Board’s vested interest in BamBam Chalet and support in promoting the property. The experience has been an incredible journey in many ways and I am glad that we took the leap of faith to do it. RIP Chalet Lou Rider, we hope we have done you proud; and I’m sorry……but the new you, has a hot tub!