Ski Sunday's Graham Bell chats off-piste skiing, travelling in Air Force One and James Bond
The former Olympic skier reveals his favourite places to eat, sleep and play...
Top snow destinations...
My favourite two big ski resorts are Val d’isere [in France] and St Anton [in Austria], they have great lift-accessed off-piste skiing, challenging pistes and great aprés ski. For the mountain restaurants I would go with Courmayeur in the Valley d’Aosta Italy, for pure off-piste La Grave in France and favourite North America resort is Aspen for the character of the town.
Best piece of travel advice...
Minimise stress by getting to airports with plenty of time, don’t be embarrassed to do some stretching when you’re waiting at the gate. I go as far as lying on the floor, and sometimes even carry a small roll mat with me for that very purpose!
What do you never leave home without when travelling?
When I was ski racing, I used to carry a massive amount of kit on tour, filling the Ski Team van with skis, wax boxes, work benches and even exercise bikes. Not much has changed; I still pack my Land Rover up at the start of the season with as much kit as possible, four pairs of skis, a snowboard and will even carry out some of the Ski Sunday editing equipment to save auntie Beeb some pounds in excess baggage.
If you could travel with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
I have always fancied a flight in Air Force One, so the President of the USA would be the answer. The question is which one? For pure style I would go with JFK, and to find out if the rumours about Marilyn Monroe were true.
What's the best hotel you've ever stayed in?
If I am travelling on my own in the mountains I will try and hook up with old friends or stay in a chalet hotel for some company. When I’m with my family I try to treat them to luxury hotels; I recently stayed in Club Med’s impressive new resort in Val Thorens, which keeps the whole family happy, even tricky teenagers. There are loads of activities so we were kept busy, plus it’s right on the slopes and ski-in ski-out, so it makes it easy to get everyone out quickly in the mornings.
Most memorable meal on holiday...
I was on holiday with my wife Sarah in Turkey, staying at a hotel run by a friend who we had met in the Alps. We had driven to a secluded cove for some snorkelling and I managed to net a live octopus. On the short drive back, the plastic bag I had put it in burst and the distressed mollusc shot black ink all over Sarah’s feet. The dye stain lasted for the rest of the trip, but our friend Jan was an excellent chef, and cooked it up for a very tasty starter.
I do not really go in for cities that much, I'm not into shopping, and always find it hard to find the right places to go out, ending up in many a dodgy bar over the years. If I had to choose, then Vancouver would be my city. I love the mountains and the sea, and they meet in Vancouver.
Luxury travel or backpacking?
I am running the Marathon des Sables as part of the Walking with the Wounded charity team in April 2015, it’s a 250km running race through the Sahara desert in Morocco, camping out in open-sided tents for 10 nights. It is about as extreme backpacking as you can get. By way of a reward I am planning a luxury summer Club Med holiday with my family to recuperate.
Best travelling/scenic film and why?
Nothing can beat James Bond for fantasy travel and scenic locations. The fact that 007 is an accomplished skier is great too. As a child I spent a lot of time messing about on skis re-enacting scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
I know I am biased, but you just cannot beat a ski holiday for quality family time. Even if you split up for the skiing, you generally all meet back up at lunch and share experiences. Then there is the aprés-ski, which can include anything from Iglu making and snowball fights to night sledging.
Watch Ski Sunday at 5:15pm, every Sunday on BBC2