Purple Ski People

Our people are at the core of the Purple Ski philosophy and for the consistent delivery of the high level of service for which we have become known. They are our greatest asset.

We know that our staff are crucial to being successful; as one guest emailed after their stay:

“The staff’s attitude and friendliness was what made the holiday special. Nothing was too much trouble. Your staff always speak very highly of you and the way they are looked after – they are clearly very happy working for you and that transmits to the guests.”

We take pride not only in making sure that our guests have the best possible skiing holiday, but also on being a great company to work for. We hire people based on their skills, experience and attitude and expect the highest standards of work from them, but in return, we make sure that they are well rewarded and get to spend the most time possible enjoying themselves.

“Your staff had the perfect combination of professionalism and friendliness that I have never seen before. They were the “perfect hosts” as it were, as if we were staying in a close friend’s house with all the luxury of a five star hotel.”

We are now recruiting for the 2017-2018 season; descriptions and photos of the 2016-2017 team can be found below; we are hopeful that c. 50% of them will return!

Head Office

Michael Broom Smith, Owner and Founder - Age 56

Michael Broom Smith I first skied in Méribel in April 1987 and remember learning on the Altiport. From that week on I was in love with skiing, the mountains and the way of life in the valley. In 1991 I was lucky enough to join David Williams in partnership at Chalet Le Crêtet in Mottaret, having holidayed in the chalet in the intervening years. In 1993, after 13 seasons in various ski resorts, David decided that he had had enough and I continued to run Le Crêtet (and “Ski Crêtet”) with the aid of various chefs and chalet people. The 2016-17 season will be my 26th and the 31st year on skis!!!

In 1997 (and coincidentally, at the same time as meeting Karen) I took on my second chalet, Crêt de la Neige in La Gittaz. Since then we have grown further, gradually acquiring more lovely chalets that suit the excellent service we provide (and occasionally dropping those that don’t..). We have always wanted Purple Ski to stay “small and special” – as some of our guests have described us – and so remain at just 5 chalets, 58 beds and a small and focussed team – and we are, as ever, very confident that we can deliver a very personal and high quality service, and also have some time to enjoy the mountains too! Yes, even after 25 seasons I still love the life here and find the skiing exciting…

Karen Broom Smith, Operations Director - Age 52

Karen Broom Smith Karen joined Michael full time in 2001 from the Dell Computer Corporation, where she was the Director of Audit for Dell Europe. Before that, she worked at Heinz and Mars in various general management, manufacturing/people management and engineering roles. She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bristol University and is a Certified Management Accountant.

Her first association with Purple Ski was in March 1997, when she was a guest in Chalet Le Crêtet. She has now completed 15 seasons. Karen focuses mainly on operations, primarily recruiting, training and working with the superb team of staff.

Hannah Buck, Customer Services Manager - Age 27

Hannah Buck We are delighted that Hannah is back with us for her fourth season as Customer Services Manager. She has extensive experience in customer service and takes pride in a job well done. She likes problem solving, has great attention to detail and strives to make a difference. She is also very organised, hardworking, thorough, but also friendly and simply charming.

She also has a passion for languages having graduated from the University of Warwick with First Class honours in French Studies with Italian. Hannah is fluent in both French and Italian and has basic Portuguese skills; she loves having the chance to use her language skills which goes hand in hand with her desire to travel. She has used her knowledge and experience in various countries (including teaching, working for a travel company, and as office manager for a summer camp). She also loves people and socializing and her hobbies are very diverse, including skiing, hiking, cheerleading, Via Ferrata, playing the cello, and diving. It's a pleasure to have her back.

Toby Crane, Supplies Manager - Age 27

Toby Crane Toby is now our second longest-serving member of staff, returning for a fifth winter this season. Originally from Stratford upon Avon, Toby graduated from Bristol University with a MSci in Physics and Maths in 2012. Post-degree, he decided he needed a bit more adventure in his life and spent a year travelling in Southern Africa before working in America at a summer camp where he returned for three summers between his seasons with Purple Ski.

As well as his 4 seasons with us, Toby has a great deal of experience in the customer service industry having worked for a large hotel group and a security company, working at major international events (he has a special interest in motor racing). Toby polished his snowboarding skills in his early seasons but has now been permanently converted to skiing (thanks to his now-fiancée Hannah!).

Toby is responsible for making sure all the chalets have whatever food, drinks, and other provisions that are needed. Though mainly working "behind the scenes" you may meet/see him during the season - probably on changeover day as he will often be helping with luggage and transfers.

Ben Leaney, Admin Assistant/Driver - Age 23

Ben Leaney Before joining us last season Ben hadn’t been on the slopes since the age of 12 - thankfully he developed a real love for skiing and we are delighted that he has decided to return for his second consecutive season.

A Biology graduate from Devon, Ben spent a year working as a development manager for a structural glass company before joining us at Purple Ski. He developed a passion for rowing during his university career and competed around the UK with Dart-Totnes ARC alongside captaining his university club. More recently he has enjoyed a summer of backpacking through Central America, visiting family in the Turks and Caicos Islands, learning to sail and much more. He loves meeting new people and really can’t wait for the season to begin.

Ben is responsible for lift passes and general office admin as well as filling in for drivers and going on transfers throughout the week. Like all our support staff he has a variety of hospitality experience but is more "behind the scenes" than your chalet staff, helping things run smoothly.

Lorraine Dunbar, Accountant - Age 41

Lorraine Dunbar Lorraine is originally from Edinburgh and now based in London, where she looks after all things accounting for us. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2000 with Deloittes and then moved to Sydney where she continued to to work in finance, progressing to a senior role in a large engineering company.

Lorraine left the beautiful beaches of Sydney behind her when she returned to the UK in 2005, and worked for Barclays Bank and Tate & Lyle in treasury and finance positions, prior to starting a family.

Lorraine now has 4 children, aged 8, 7 and 4 and 2, and is happiest spending time outdoors with them all, but somehow also manages to work pretty much full time during the winter for us too. She is one of the only members of Purple Ski who can not actually ski. But maybe one day!

Max Broom Smith, Purple Son & Heir! - Age 11

Max Broom Smith The youngest and definitely the least productive member of the Purple Ski team - Max is a sweetie (a bit of editorial bias creeping in?!).

Very good-natured and also very chatty (he takes after his father), he loves skiing and, having been lucky enough to be schooled in Meribel during the winters for all of his life so far and participating in the Meribel Ski Club, he easily beat everyone (including his father) in the staff slalom competition at the end of last season! He also loves rugby, cricket, table tennis, reading, Harry Potter and Pokemon - and is currently obsessed with conquering the Rubiks cube.

While he loves skiing and has some great friends in Meribel, splitting his schooling between France and the UK wasn't a good long term option and so very sadly for Karen and Michael but much to his delight, he is now at a boarding school in the UK in the winters, only coming out during the long Christmas and Easter holidays and for 1 week at February half term. Nevertheless, we hope some of you will meet him during the course of the season!

Oh - and odds are still on for him to win the slalom competition at the end of this season!


Beck McInnes, Relief Chef and Chalet Staff Manager - Age 30

Beck McInnes Beck is currently our longest serving member of Purple Ski and is returning for her sixth season with us, in the dynamic role of Relief Chef ensuring that guests are looked after on the days off of the chefs, also managing the chalet staff and ensuring that standards are maintained in all chalets.

Beck is from Lake Cargelligo, NSW, Australia (about 360 miles west of Sydney) has a teaching degree, and loves working with children. She has worked in many different roles and sectors, some of which include managing a summer camp, working with children in care, teaching English as a second Language, being a villa host at a prestigious villa in St Tropez, teaching cookery to would-be chalet staff at the Orchards Cookery school and, this summer, as chef/hostess on a super-yacht based in the Mediterranean.

Beck has loved each of her seasons and we are delighted that she obviously can't resist the temptation to return each year. (Long may it continue!) She is extremely hardworking, a passionate and driven person who strives for the best in everything she does. She is also a very happy and fun loving, and thoroughly enjoys peoples company. Her hobbies include, water skiing, tennis, squash, netball and eating!!

Peter Lomas, General Assistant - Maintenance - Age 35

Peter Lomas Originally from London, Pete is no stranger to the French Alps having worked 5 winter seasons as a resort representative and ski technician, then in a senior "head ski technician" position which he held for 2 seasons, in which he managed 8 ski rental facilities and a team of ski technicians, respresentatives and shop managers, and finally last winter when he worked for us in CHalet Zybeline as Chalet Assistant/Driver.

He also has much hospitality experience having managed a busy licenced pool bar venue in the heart of London for 5 seasons (during the inter-season) and summer hotel management work in France. His early work experience also includes working as teaching assistant with adults and children with learning difficulties and as crew and safety assistant at the Royal Albert Hall, helping wit the technical side of shows.

Pete has spent the past few years away from the mountains, working in media most recently as Television Media Manager at the BBC, responsible for managing collections of footage for various areas of the BBC's vast content, assets constantly in high demand by internal and external clients.

Pete met his now-fiancee Alice Brickell in the Alps back in 2006-2007; they had always wanted to do a season again, both always enjoying the mountains so worked with us last year and couldn't resist the lure of another winter with us! Pete's job this year is a hybrid one - he will be supporting all the chalets both front of house as a chalet assistant and driver but also behind the scenes is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the chalets and staff apartments. He is hard working, dedicated, has excellent people skills - both as a leader and team member. He has a positive, "can do" attitude, is laid back / calm and always smiley - as one of his his referees said, we are "lucky to have him".

Chalet Les Bartavelles

Luciano Bonci, Chef - Age 39

Luciano Bonci Born and raised near Newcastle, UK, but with Italian heritage, Luciano was immersed in the restaurant world from a very young age when he began by helping out in his family’s restaurants. After completing a degree in Culinary & Patisserie Arts at Leeds Beckett University, he went on to hold positions in several Michelin starred restaurants (the Connaught Hotel, the Fat Duck and Seaham Hall), as well as working as an executive chef for Royal Caribbean and Viking River cruises. More recently he has been working as Head Chef on a private 78m yacht for an American family – an impressive feat for someone so new to the industry (he first joined the yachting world in 2015).

Luciano intends to return to the yachts next summer and has been considering chalet work for a while, as an ideal way to fill his winters in between his summers at sea. He has skied a couple of times and enjoyed it – he is not sure how he will get on with it this winter but we are sure he will be great given his sporty background (previously he has practised rugby, martial arts and boxing!). When it comes to his food, Luciano’s approach is creative and eclectic, with influences from Asia, South America and even the US – but with a focus on clean, organic food. He is meticulous, straight-talking, and very friendly. We are delighted to have him on the team!

Alice Bragg, Chalet Manager - Age 24

Alice Bragg Alice is back for her third season with us.

A graduate from the University of Chester with a BA Honours in French and Tourism (where she honed her French language skills and found a love for hospitality), she has a wealth of great hospitality experience, both in the UK and abroad.

In the UK, Alice has worked at the 2 Michelin starred restaurants of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford and the five star Chester Grosvenor Hotel and Spa in Chester and has spent this summer at the lovely Old Parsonage Hotel in Oxford. Abroad, she has worked at the 5 star Villa Marie Hotel in Ramatuelle, France as well as working in Lyon, France at the 5* "Cour des Loges Hotel" and the 4* Radisson Blu Hotel, at a private villa and a small hotel in Nice on the Cote d'Azur, France. She has become fluent in French and further established her love of language. (She has also started learning Italian!)

Away from work, Alice enjoys skiing having skied throughout France and Austria on family holidays, as well as cycling and travelling in France and the United States. She is kind and gentle, also determined, sociable, caring and generous, ambitious and hardworking. She has a lovely nature, strong work ethic and very high standards and is a wonderful Chalet Manager, we are thrilled that she is back with us this winter.

Thomas Prolze, Chalet Assistant/Driver - Age 28

Thomas Prolze Tom is returning to us for his third season but his fourth in the Three Valleys (before his first season with us he worked for an airport transfer company based in the Courchevel and Meribel Valleys).

His other work experience includes 2 years working around Australia making use of his trade of landscape gardner and also working as a volunteer in organic farming, 2 summers working working in Pennsylvania, USA at a summer camp as a mountain bike instructor and as a self employed landscaping servicing contractor in the UK. He has spent the last two summers working in France for an outdoor activities company. He loves being outdoors, a hard days work and takes huge pride in his work, aiming to do everything to the highest standard.

He loves skiing, is also quietly sociable and loves the mountain lifestyle. He is also kind, caring and a real pleasure to have on the team.

Chalet Foinsbois

Yin-Chen Chang, Chef - Age 31

Yin-Chen Chang Yin-Chen was born in Taiwan and moved to New Zealand when she was 9 years old, before emigrating to the US when she was 15. Her interest in cooking began at a young age, but her career as a chef really took off after she had completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management, followed by an intense Culinary Arts Certificate Programme.

Since then, Yin-Chen completed an internship at the Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio in Napa, California (1 Michelin star), before progressing to Chef de Partie at the Bazaar Restaurant by Jose Andres in Beverley Hills, Chef de Partie at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos (2 Michelin stars – now 3 stars), Pastry Sous-chef at the Restaurant La Grenouillère in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France (1 Michelin Star), and her most recent position as Demi Chef de Partie at the Restaurant Flocons de sel in Mègeve (3 Michelin stars).

Having completed a season in Aspen back in 2013/14, which she loved, Yin-Chen is enjoying being back in the mountains after several positions based by the sea. She enjoys snowboarding and has numerous other hobbies, including hiking and yoga. She is quite a reserved person but very smiley, focused, and strong-willed, and she also has an adventurous / spontaneous side which we look forward to seeing more of this season! We are very excited to have Yin-Chen on the team and are sure she will delight all her guests in Chalet Foinsbois.

Suzie Hodges, Chalet Assistant - Age 20

Suzie Hodges Susie joins the team this year from Devon. She has worked in the hospitality industry for the past 4 years in roles from a KP through to bar duties and more recently managing a venue. Susie worked at Burnicombe Farm Weddings, The Great Barn (an exclusive wedding venue) and the NoBody Inn (an AA Rosette Awarded restaurant).

After school Susie spent 2 years working through a Diploma in Art & Design (Lens Media) with great results.

Susie has been skiing from the age of 4 on annual family holidays, a lot of which were in the 3 valleys. Susie is also quite musical, having played the flute and cello in an orchestra. Susie is hard working, highly motivated, efficient, a great team player... and just lovely; a pleasure to have on the team!

Chalet Lapin Blanc

Ross Dunk, Chef - Age 26

Ross Dunk Drawn to cooking from a young age, Ross has worked in London for the last 6 years. During his career so far he has worked alongside a number of brilliant and influential chefs who have helped him to refine his culinary skills, particularly within fine dining. He started as commis chef at the 5* deluxe Claridges Hotel, before moving on to the Michelin starred Bonds Restaurant where he was Chef de Partie under Chef Barry Tonks, Club Gascon (1*) where he was Senior Chef de Partie working under the inspirational Head chef Pascal Aussagniac, Tom's Kitchen - Junior Sous chef and most recently, Hix Oyster & Chop House where he was Senior Sous chef.

Passionate about cooking, Ross is highly ambitious, energetic and determined and has, over the years, acquired an aptitude for providing high quality guest experience for a clientele who demand and expect the very best. Generous and supportive, he is also a great team player and has enjoyed his leadership responsibilities and teaching others. (In his last position, he led a team of 10 in the well-established flagship restaurant of renowned chef Mark Hix.)

As well as having a deep love of food, he is passionate about the outdoors, sports, and skiing and sees working a winter season in the mountains as an excellent opportunity to combine these pursuits. He joins us with his girlfriend, Hannah Oldham, guests in Chalet Lapin Blanc are going to be in excellent hands!

Alice Brickell, Chalet Manager - Age 29

Alice Brickell Alice, who is back for her season season is taking a break from the fast paced London life. Prior to joining us last winter, Alice spent the previous 6 years managing "Coda", the fine dining restaurant at the Royal Albert Hall and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the servicing and catering industry.

She has a Bachelor Honors degree in Media Studies from Chichester University and has worked as a sales assistant at the Riverside Art Gallery and a head waitress for Leiths at Glyndebourne Opera House. Out of the ‘office’, Alice is a Pilates enthusiast and is currently studying to teach level three Mat Pilates.

Alice clearly enjoys life in the mountains as this will be her third ski season, 9 years after her first working for SkiBound. Alice is laid-back, hard working, organised, bubbly and fun loving and we are delighted to have her back with us this season. (She and her fiance Pete have spent the inter-season travelling.)

Hannah Oldham, Chalet Assistant - Age 26

Hannah Oldham Hannah graduated from the University of Exeter with BA (Hons) in Classical Studies and English before moving to London working as a nanny for a year, a position in which she had sole, full-time responsibility for two children under 10, and which she loved.

Since then, Hannah has spent the past few years working in leading Booksellers Hatchard’s Piccadilly & St Pancras in London and Waterstones Deansgate of Manchester, establishing herself as the duty manager and overseeing the children’s section. She has loved it - especially the busy and fast-paced environment in Piccadiliy and being part of a large team. In the hospitality sector, Hannah has waitressed at several venues including the Gelsmoor Inn gastro pub and done some events work, waitressing at private functions.

Hannah is an experienced skier and also has some French language skills which we are sure she can put to good use this season! Her other hobbies include climbing, running and obviously with her love of books; reading. Hugely customer service oriented, Hannah is friendly and outgoing, inteligent and curious, kind and empathetic - we look forward to her being a part of the Purple Ski family this season.

Chalet La Petite Pia

Jodie Granger-Brown, Chalet Manager - Age 21

Jodie Granger-Brown Jodie is back with us for a second season, having worked as Chalet Assistant in Lapin Blanc during the 2015-2016 season.

She has spent most of her working life in hospitality; when just 14 she worked at a local gallery/creative arts centre as waitress and general assistant during weekends then during school and for 2 years afterwards, at a high quality catering company initially as silver service waitress at weddings, conferences, dinner partes and other formal events and then as a full time events manager. After completing her last season with us she went to the USA to work a season there, afterwards spending the summer travelling 28 States together with her partner Euan, who is also joining this winter.

On returning from America Jodie decided to take on something a little different so has been working as a private nanny for a small family in Cambridgeshire, looking after a 2 year old boy - while also working as silver service waitress and bar staff during the weekends for an exclusive wedding venue in Suffolk.

Jodie came to Meribel for her first season as a beginner skier, having only been on dry slopes before. However since then has been skiing in Bulgaria and the French Alps and can't wait to explore more of the Three Valleys this winter. She is bubbly, hard working and extremely competent - she enjoys staying active both at work and in her free time. We are so pleased to have her back on the Purple Ski team.

Bobby Riddle, Chalet Assistant/Driver - Age 25

Bobby Riddle Bobby is returning to us for his second season, but his third in the Three Valleys; last year he was Chalet Manager in La Petite Pia, this year he is in the same chalet, but with a slightly different job - and he's looking forward to the change! Before joining us last year, he had worked (2015-2016) at a hotel in La Tania.

He joins us this year, as he did last year, from a 170 cover beachside restaurant in Sennen Cove, Cornwall, where he was assistant manager, working under chef/owner Ben Tunnicliffe, who has held a Michelin star for 8 years and who has given him a wealth of knowledge in fine food. His other hospitality experience includes a year as front of house manager of a gastropub, also several months at a brasserie in Glasgow, a bus bar and Jockey Club Catering, providing silver service and private box waitering to high profile clients at some of the top racing events.

Bobby enjoys snowboarding, surfing and travelling; learning about different cultures and lifestyles. He is passionate about what he does, but also very laid back, friendly, caring and confident and we are very pleased to have him back this year - he's going to be a great chaletassistant/driver!

Chalet Zybeline

Dan King, Chef - Age 25

Dan King Dan started cooking at 16 years old and his career has seen him progress through five fine dining restaurants, starting at Woolley Grange, a 4 star, 2 rosette awarded “Luxury Family Hotel” on the edge of the Cotswolds – where, after 18 months, he finished as chef de partie, and then 4 more high end country house hotels (Summer Lodge in Dorset (3 rosettes) - demi chef de partie, Cliveden House (3 rosettes) working under Michelin starred chef Andre Garrett – demi-chef de partie, Ston Easton Park Hotel in Somerset – where he started as chef de partie but was quickly promoted to sous chef and finally Gravetye Manor in Sussex (3 rosettes, 1 Michelin star) – chef de partie).

Always looking for the next challenge, he is now keen to try private chef work, hence this season in the Alps and he is considering working on the superyachts in the summer.

Dan is relatively new to skiing (he says he has graduated from falling a lot on greens to falling a lot on blues!) but likes it. Not usually very sporty (he says he’s always too busy working), nevertheless he likes being active and is very sociable. Confident (outwardly at least), hardworking, reasonably laid back, he struggles to talk about himself (at least, he wasn’t used to Karen's line of questioning!) but is honest, straightforward and very likeable. We are very pleased to have him on our team.


Holly Farmer, Chalet Assistant/Masseuse - Age 25

Holly Farmer Holly is a very caring person and her desire to improve the lives of others motivated her to pursue a career in physiotherapy. She graduated with a First Class degree in Physiotherapy from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014, having obtained a solid foundation in a range of areas including musculoskeletal rehabilitation, acute stroke rehabilitation, hydrotherapy and rebound therapy, and elderly rehabilitation. During her training she also delivered therapeutic massage as part of a weekly massage clinic. She joins us from a major trauma centre in the north of the UK where she held a senior role as a Band 6 Musculoskeletal and Neurological Physiotherapist. Alongside her current role, she has been a trust representative for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for two years and has supported student physiotherapists through undergraduate placements. She loves to teach and pass on her knowledge and experience, which stemmed from the 6+ years she spent working as a karate instructor for children aged 4 – 12.

In addition to karate (she reached the grade of 2nd dan and has competed internationally), Holly’s other hobbies include travelling, keeping fit, and teaching. She first tried skiing earlier this year when visiting Sara (who worked for us as a masseuse last season), and immediately fell in love with Méribel and wanted to follow in Sara’s footsteps at Purple Ski! Holly is positive, friendly, welcoming, as well as very sporty and hard-working – we are thrilled to have her on the team.

Jess Lester, Chalet Assistant/Masseuse - Age 23

Jess Lester Jess completed her Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation in Sport and Exercise earlier this year and has since started her own business offering treatments, in particular deep-tissue massage services. She also supports a local netball team offering treatment and pitch-side cover and has been working as a sports therapist at Ironman Triathlon Wales, offering both pre- and post-event massage. During her degree, Jess assisted in a public clinic providing massage and other treatment techniques (such as stretching, mobilisations and ultrasound). Alongside this she had a placement at an NHS-referred back pain clinic, which progressed into further experience with a cancer group, prescribing exercise to sufferers as a form of therapy to maintain and increase their fitness, as well as providing a social support network.

Jess also has extensive customer service experience and is currently working part-time as a Guest Services Assistant in an award-winning hotel, where she helps run the reception and leads a small team preparing and serving breakfast. Previously, she spent a summer season working for PGL France as Housekeeping and Maintenance Assistant. It was here that she first fell in love with France, and after attending her university ski trip last year, she decided a ski season in France was a must-do for her! She is very active and has various sporting interests such as basketball, squash, and participating in triathlons. She also enjoys travelling, which she did during her gap year in Mexico whilst volunteering as an English teacher. Jess is thoughtful, fun-loving, and loves to be part of a team – it will be a pleasure to welcome her to the Purple Ski family this season.