Bella Seel, founder of ALS Private, a company specializing in bespoke ski holidays, and avid Psycle-r, stopped by for a quick interview. Keep reading to find out more about ALS, the Alps and Bella’s skiing must haves.
Tell us a little about your background with skiing.
I have skied since I was four. I skied every year, I skied a lot. I started competing in my teens, racing. After I finished school I started getting into free ride and skiing off-piste over racing. I moved to Verbier and lived there for about eight years. There, I was teaching, coaching, off-piste skiing mostly.
Can you explain a little about what ALS Private does and your transition into that?
I moved back to London three years ago, purely for lifestyle. I miss skiing every day but it’s Peter Pan world; Neverland is the only way I know how to explain it. I set up ALS because the ski industry was all I knew. Over the years I gained a lot of contacts, connections, friends, clients, through teaching and living in the Alps. So, it kind of made perfect sense to create ALS. There were already a number of ski companies in the UK that are tour operators, so they book your holiday and your chalet, that kind of thing, but I thought there was a gap in the market for a kind of niche, high-end, bespoke ski concierge. I take all sorts of random requests from ‘It’s my daughter’s twenty-first birthday and I want to organize a crazy party, no budget’ or ‘I have a chalet in St Anton that I need help selling.’ I still do all the generic bookings for ski holidays and stuff but the main focus of ALS is that it is a private concierge service for the ski industry. Clients can come at me with any kind of request, ski or alpine-related, and I’ll do my best to fulfill it.
What do you think are the ingredients for a perfect ski holiday?
Location; this is super important. It needs to match the client. Each resort is known for something. Like, Verbier and St Anton are known for apres-ski, night life. Somewhere like Le Grave, you’ve got to be really into your touring. You don’t want snazzy accommodation but you want amazing off-piste skiing every day. The right instructor can be make or break, especially when you’re just learning how to ski. If you want to have fun, the instructor needs to make sure of this. It’s important to tailor this to the client. I handpick and select each instructor. I have friends who are still at Verbier and because I know them all personally, I can match them up with clients and a lot of them will even travel [to another resort] if need be. Snow is the final ingredient but, of course, you can’t predict that. This winter they’re saying it’s El Nino [a weather pattern that recurs every 3-6 years bringing heavy snowfall], so it’s meant to be epic.
What are your ski holiday must haves?
Armada skis, definitely. Falke cashmere ski socks, they’re like eighty pounds but they’re amazing and keep you super warm. Any lip balm with SPF. My hands always dry out skiing so hand cream is essential, I love the almond one from L’Occitane. A good pair of goggles with good quality lenses. I love Von Zipper and they also do really cool sunglasses. I am a big believer that you should never ski in sunglasses but they’re great when you’re having lunch or a drink outside. My favourite base layers are by Mons Royale. They have really funky colours and they’re really comfortable.
Do you find Psycle and skiing mesh well - has Psycle been good cross training?
Yeah, it’s great. It’s amazing. I love it. For me, my fitness is focused towards skiing so I do a lot of spinning and Psycle for just that. Obviously, for me, keeping my legs strong and toned is so important as is preventing injury. I had a bad injury in my knee but as long as I keep the muscles strong around it, it’s absolutely fine. And, of course, with Psycle it’s not just spinning. It’s the whole body, which is great.
Best destination for…
…off-piste: La Grave.
…families: Austria is really nice because all the resorts are really ski school and child friendly. St Anton is great but there are so many other little resorts like Alpbach and Pitztal that are undiscovered and amazing. I grew up skiing the Three Valleys which is great for kids as well because of the big open pistes.
…nightlife: Verbier. It’s awesome, I love Verbier. They’ve got a great balance between smart clubs, seasonaire clubs; the Lounge Bar is so fun, I love it! If you want a different kind of nightlife, St Moritz is cool as well. If you go there you’ve got to check out Drac’s [Dracula Club].