What do ski instructors do in summer?

What do ski instructors do in summer?
September 4, 2018 - SHARE:
Ski instructor in winter and manager of perched tree huts in summer, sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

We met two ski instructors, who talked to us about their summer. A father and his son, both mountain enthusiasts, who’ve organised their year to be able to make the most of the mountains in summer, just like in winter.

Patrice, a passionate nature lover, was Nicolas Hulot’s team mate for 12 years, an unforgettable experience! Following those years full of extraordinary adventures, he remains close to nature and has built his professional life around various projects. He established his own paragliding school, he also became a ski instructor in winter, then put together a project in a family chalet. He has passed on his passion for skiing to his two sons. Skiing and mountains are a part of this family’s genetic, both sons have become ski instructors, one at the ski club at La Clusaz and Hugo at the ESF.

Little by little, Patrice has accomplished his childhood dream, to build cabins in trees, and Hugo quickly became involved in the project. Today, Hugo is a ski instructor in winter, and in summer he welcomes numerous tourists in the perched huts or even in a tipi.

Hugo’s journey
Hugo Gênant comes from Villard sur Thônes. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the sports-study programme at La Clusaz. Intensive training began with several hours of sport every day. From his schooldays, many of his classmates are well-known today for their skiing exploits, including Candide Thovex. After several years filled with competitions, and despite a very high level, he decided to stop. The following year was hard, he’d left his coach, his classmates, he didn’t touch his skis for almost a year, until finally he once again took-up his passion and obtained his ski instructor qualification. At the same time, he joined the Compagnons de Charpente, a carpentry fellowship, at Meythet, in anticipation of his summer job, while following the Compagnon’s training course, he already gave a few skiing lessons.

Throughout the years of training, he multiplied jobs and experiences.
For a period, employed at the sports club, he was technical assistant and trainer. The club funded his studies to pass his instructor certificate, a not insignificant gesture. For two seasons he was ski instructor by day, from 9 am to 4 pm and barman by night, from 4.30 pm to 2.30 am.

During all those years the family project, that occupies him today, was under construction:

His father, Patrice Gênant, owner of a traditional chalet built in 1793 at the edge of the forest, was realising a childhood dream: to renovate the chalet then to build perched cabins in the trees to welcome travellers and mountain lovers.
Huts perched 9 metres up, that they built on family land which already harboured a beautiful chalet. His idea was to build the huts and then to install a tipi to welcome travellers. Little by little Hugo’s role became more and more important, and thanks to his training as a compagnon, he was able to get involved in the project and then to establish his own company to manage the site, his father stepping down to let him do so.

When I ask him which activity he prefers, he replies that it’s both activities which make-up his stability. He enjoys the relational aspect that he can develop with clients, even if it’s not the same relation. So he doesn’t have a preference, it allows him to change pace.

We visited the site, that you can only reach in a 4-wheel drive, which gives you an idea of the environment, lost in the middle of the mountains and the forest. I understood immediately his hesitation in relation to my question concerning his preference. Upon arrival you discover a chalet that’s 2 centuries old, yet completely redesigned and resolutely oriented towards modernity, with large bay windows. It’s on the ground floor, around a large wooden table or on the terrace, with a magnificent view that you can taste Savoyard specialities. Next, you’ll need to take 40 metres of walkways through the trees if you’re staying in one of the two perched cabins. A tipi is also available a few steps from the chalet.
Before going to lie down, like many others you’ll probably let yourself be tempted by the Scandinavian bath.

Whatever the season or the place, Hugo is surrounded by mountains in a spectacular landscape, so he obviously enjoys welcoming tourists, who he accompanies in their stay, in summer at the Ecotagnes, or in winter as a ski instructor at La Clusaz.

To reserve your stay at the Ecotagnes, all the details at

Discover the journey of 3 other instructors in the previous article.

Whilst reading this summer’s articles, some of them may have inspired you to become a ski instructor or to spend a season at a resort, so that will be our next topic!

Les Ecotagnes, Villars sur Thones, cabane dans les arbres et chambres d'hotes
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