Skiing can be an exhilarating and exciting pursuit. The clean mountain air can be a welcome reviver from the smog filled oxygen generally breathed in a typical cityscape. More and more it isn’t only the destination that can make your trip enjoyable but also the type of accommodation that you decide to reside in for the duration. In an attempt to take the skiing experience to a new and dynamic level, Sofia de Meyer will be opening her revolutionary ‘Whitepod’ resort this winter.
Whitepod offers a new highly exclusive Alpine experience. A hi-tech eco camp for just ten guests situated over 1700m high in the Swiss Alps, it offers the ultimate in luxury and adventure. Access is by ski or snowshoes only. There are no cars. No buses. No hotels. Nothing at all in fact, apart from the majesty of the Alps, the breathtaking beauty of the scenery.
Whitepod provides hi-tech sleeping pods which are the result of extensive engineering research. Modelled on the traditional igloo shape, they take tents to new levels of luxury and comfort. Ben Kilbey gets to grips with Sofia, and her vision for a new skiing experience, in this exclusive interview.How did the concept of whitepod come to be? Was it the realisation of a long felt dream or more a spontaneous response to a new idea?
Whitepod is more the realisation of a long felt dream, fueled by a desire to explore a beautiful environment, in a comfortable yet ecological way.
It took over 2 years of research to find the right location and establish a concept which achieved this balance between comfort and ecology.
Is the tie-in with iPod due to sponsorship - would that suggest the name Whitepod? Or did you simply realise that with your modern forward thinking approach the iPod would be the perfect partner?
Whitepod has no formal links with Apple at the moment. iPods are used because their design suits our pods well and add a touch of comfort for our guests.
It must be a real adventure approaching the resort via snowshoes - has this proved a hit with the guests?
Whitepod is new for this winter so guests have not as yet had the chance to experience it. I myself have snowshoed to the chalet many times over the years and love it every single time!
What inspired the design of Whitepod? How long did the base take to construct?
My main concern in developing Whitepod was finding a method of construction which would be both comfortable and yet mobile enough so that it could be removed easily, without leaving any impact on the surrounding environments.
Before I set my mind on the pods, I explored many other possibilities, including soft tents, yurts and tippies. Although all were more or less minimal impact products, none showed the same level of heat retention, space and views.
The base for our domes were built locally over a couple of weeks. They were transported to the site and secured to the ground in one day.
It must be a fabulous feeling to ski out of the ‘pods’ in the morning and then back to them after a great day on the slopes?
Yes, it is. Being able to do this brings in the real feeling of being in nature. Skiing becomes a more fulfilling experience, a means to explore mountains rather than just going up and down slopes.
Do you feel that there is anything that even comes marginally close to what you have devised here - either in the Swiss Alps or across the globe?
No, not at the moment.
What is is that sets the skiing apart where you are from the rest of the world?
This is a difficult question! Skiing, I think, is as good as anywhere else. Some people love it here, others don’t. But skiing at Whitepod is unique. Our philosophy is centered on the sharing of local expertise so our guests get to explore places few people know and they do this in the best snow conditions.
It is good that there are options available for those who perhaps do not want to ski and instead wish to hike - do you find you have had many customers that opt for this? Is it more for partners who wish to travel together yet one partner wishes not to ski?
The majority of our bookings have requested at least one day for snowshoeing or “skinning” during their stay. This is not necessarily from guests who don’t ski at all. Some do, but feel they want to take this opportunity to try something else. For example, one of our most popular expedition is the sunrise or the sunset hike to the nearest summit in which both skiers and non-skiers participate.
What can we expect to see on the menu - tell us a little about your chef?
Camille, our chef, has always been fascinated by authentic cuisine to which she can add a touch of originality.
A Whitepod speciality on our menus is the champagne fondue. You will also find lighter dishes, featuring fish from our lakes (trout, perch fillets and “omble chevalier”) with seasonal vegetables. And other more “wintery” courses such as “the pot-au-feu de ma grand-mere” using local game meat.
Do you find that some clients come solely for the peace and quite and perhaps the massage therapist? The spa market is becoming increasingly strong across the globe is this something you will later break into with perhaps your own small spa at Whitepod?
The unique setting, peace and tranquility is definitely a strong attraction and massages go hand in hand with it. Yes, we are working towards the addition of a spa alongside our outdoor activities.
Just how ecologically sensitive is this project?
Very. Whitepod, and the unique setting in which it is located, could not have been possible without the application of strict ecological principles (limited transfers, snowshoe access, recycling program etc).
I also strongly believe that a return to nature can really only be a positive experience for all if it can be done in a sustainable way.
For further information visit www.whitepod.com