23 Dec, 2014 @ 15:48
1 min read

Brits on the pistes

WHEN Jonathan Buzzard walked into Sierra Nevada’s seminal Crescendo bar in the early 1990s, Giles Birch knew he had found his man.

With a long flasher’s mac, ‘big hair’ and a friendly, outgoing persona, he knew he would make the perfect transport rep.

In his first season working as a coordinator for the big travel companies, including First Choice and Thompsons, Birch needed someone with a bit of knowledge and experience to help him out.

“I had no idea what was going on but had been told that Crescendo was the place to find the Brits and the reps-in-the-know,” he recalls.

“Next thing in walks Jonathan with just the right attitude and he was soon helping me deal with the three to four flights we regularly dealt with on a Sunday.”

The pair are still working together some two decades later, collectively running the extremely successful British Ski Center from their base near the resort.

Great mates, they both now teach, as well as sort out holidays with the help of two staff, Kristel and Alastair, for hundreds of clients each year.

“Of course things are completely different to what they were back then,” explains Buzzard, who lived in Marbella in the golden years before it was ruined by corrupt leader Jesus Gil.

“We used to bring in thousands of foreigners every week, but after a couple of dry years in the 1980s the resort’s reputation suffered badly and things all began to change.

“Luckily the snow came back, but these days it is all independent travellers and the agencies have all but disappeared.”

Of course there have been some bad years such as 1995 when Buzzard recalls cycling up Borreguiles run on a mountain bike in shorts on Christmas Day.

“But generally it is as good as most other international resorts and the range of skiing and schools is hard to beat,” explains Birch, who particularly likes the length of the season.

“We start in late November and stay open until early May while other resorts don’t open until mid December and end their season in March.”

This is partly due to the resort’s altitude and the quality of the snow which is constantly worked on during the night.

“That’s why you’ll never see slush even in the latter part of the season,” he adds.

Visit www.britishskicenter.co.uk for more info

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