Snow Safari is a small specialist tour operator specialising in the Alps.
Snow Safari was founded in 1989 by Oliver and Elaine Ensor to market and run the "Chalet Savoy," Over the years Oliver and Elaine have masterminded some impressive Chamonix / Mont Blanc region holidays including the Mont Blanc Highlights, snowshoe programmes, winter multi activity and cross-country skiing.
Oliver and Elaine Ensor based themselves in Chamonix- Les Houches in order to take advantage of the great hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and and also the 20 or so fabulous ski areas all within an hour of Chamonix.
Oliver passed the highest ski instructor exam available to foreigners in Austria while he was working there in the 70's. He is also British qualified and holds the top American ski instructor's qualification. Oliver is also a British qualified Nordic Ski instructor (cross-country and telemark). He has passed the Austrian Mountain Leader exams and has also obtained the "International Mountain leader." qualification. Following the newest walking trend Oliver has recently passed the French "Nordic Walking" diploma. Before founding Snow Safari, Oliver worked as a travel guide in Europe and Asia and he is certified as a Tour Manager. He speaks French, Italian, Spanish and German.
Elaine, like Oliver, also worked as a tour guide looking after Spanish speaking , and Brazilian guests throughout Europe before they founded Snow Safari together and opened the Chalet Savoy. Elaine has qualified as a reflexologist and her international cooking skills are much appreciated by Chalet guests. Elaine has also worked as a bilingual secretary and speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and is currently learning German and Catalan.
Both Oliver and Elaine hold Tour Manager Certificates issued by Breda University in Holland.
Sally Brook, The Sun
13 May 2010
A fantastic, eight-day walking trip – the Mont Blanc Highlights. ....Your base is the cosy Chalet Savoy. The chalet’s outdoor hot tub and sauna room are very welcome after a full day. The thought of a beer while wallowing in the pretty garden at Chalet Savoy, surrounded by snow peaks, has kept many a trekker going during a tough day.
Each morning started with a hearty breakfast and transfer to the start of the walk.
One of the main benefits of this holiday is that, instead of having to pack up every day and move to a new hotel, you are based at the same chalet. Other main selling points – apart from the actual walking – are the owners of Chalet Savoy, Oliver and Elaine Ensor. Oliver acts as the group’s enthusiastic guide and entertainer – he has a never-ending stock of bad jokes. And his love of the mountains, wildlife, flora and fauna is infectious.
Elaine provides generous and delicious meals day-in, day-out.At the beginning of the week the portions seem overwhelming but after an all-day tramp up and down the mountain, her three-course evening meals are more than welcome.Over the five days, your group visits France, Switzerland and Italy for a variety of stunning views. The Mont Blanc Highlights is a truly exhilarating holiday.
Peter Tromans, Prestige Magazine
Chamonix, a great high resort (meaning good snow all season) with access to some of the best runs in the Alps. My particular favourite Les Houches the regular venue for Chamonix's world cup downhill and slalom races. At Les Houches there are 70 kilometres of runs of all standards with Mont Blanc in the background. I've skied it with other experienced skiers and with absolute beginners and there really is something for everyone and an added bonus is you can usually ski right back to the chalet. Staying at Chalet Savoy is 'as good as having Mont Blanc in your back garden' they boast and, having stayed there I have to agree. Great views, great cooking, great company with the opportunity of visiting a different ski area every day.
There are mountain views from all the nine comfortable bedrooms, wood paneled lounge opening onto balconies and all the comforts of home including satellite TV for those who can't miss the English 'soaps' or the footie. But Oliver and Elaine are not just tour operators and chalet maids, both are avid skiers which is why they set up the operation - Oliver holds Austrian, British and US ski instructors qualifications. There are numerous bars and good restaurants within a short distance of Chalet Savoy including one at the entrance to the nearest ski lift.
Sarah Whitfield King, Sunday Mirror
November 13th 1998
"Our most enjoyable stay was at picturesque Chalet Savoy, run by colourful Englishman, Oliver Ensor and his wife Elaine. It boasts spectacular views." To take advantage of the best snow, they will even drive you to other ski areas including Les Contamines, Megeve and through the Mont Blanc tunnel to pretty Courmayeur in Italy." "But the slopes of Les Houches were perfect."
David Allsop, The Times
November 28th 1992
"This charming old village is at one end of the Chamonix valley which offers some of the most reliable snow conditions in the Alps. Oliver Ensor is also a qualified instructor and his wife is a former ski guide with Thomsons."
Mathew Peters, The Sunday Observer
"By the end of the week, we had skied in six different areas spread over three countries." "We negotiated the Vallee Blanche, the longest most spectacular ski run in the world and had even managed to do something to correct the faults that many weeks of instructor less piste-bashing had allowed to develop." "Having our own minibus meant that if we encountered poor conditions at one resort, we could go somewhere else with better prospects. Besides deciding each day's destination and programme, Oliver skied with a camcorder so he could video us."
The Ski Survey
Snow Safari is a single chalet operation based in Les Houches. The accent is on service with good food, transport in a minibus to different ski areas and comfortable accommodation.
Jane Slade, The Sunday Express
7th December 1996
"Snow Safari, based in the village of Les Houches in the Chamonix Valley, is a one-chalet company run by a friendly British couple, Oliver and Elaine. Because the Chalet Savoy is their home as well as their business, they offer a unique brand of hospitality and boast 70 per cent repeat bookings."
David Allsop, The Express
January 11th 1997
"Of the many single-chalet operators, some offer a more original brand of hospitality. A good example is the 22-bed Chalet Savoy run by ski instructor Oliver Ensor and his wife Elaine. Not remotely offended to hear his establishment occasionally described as the Faulty Towers of the Alps, Oliver shrewdly manages to combine a sound grasp of British eccentricity with a careful eye for personal service."
Tracey Savage, The Metropolitan
22nd May 1995
Chalet Savoy was to be found nestling amongst pine trees in the heart of the Chamonix Valley. The tranquillity of this rustic and most welcoming chalet with its open fires and beautiful views. Though an excellent instructor, Oliver really should have been a comedian, he made us laugh so much."
American Best Selling Novelist
August 26th 1997
The best host and hostess in the Alps. Be it winter or summer, this is a marvellous place! Best hiking and biking I've ever had. You run a wonder guest house.
Patricia Hitchcock, BBC Radio Scotland
March 4th 2000
Another impressive bargain is a week in the Chamonix region offered by Chalet Savoy.
This is a 7 night stay in a luxury alpine chalet in Chamonix, mountain views guaranteed. You get a buffet breakfast every morning and dinner on six nights. Also thrown in is the use of the sauna so you can banish those golfing aches and pains. There are 13 golf courses within an easy drive of the chalet. The region is totally gorgeous and the good thing about this holiday is that the sample itinerary caters for the golfers and non golfers among us so there need be no golfing widows left twiddling their thumbs. For example on day one while the golfers try out the championship course at Chamonix, the non golfers can experience a ride on the world's highest cable car. I think that would be enough to make me take up golf anyway.
Arthur Sandles, Financial Times
1st March 1980
"A rosy faced joker called Oliver was one of the pleasantest ski companions south of the Artic."