An entrepreneurial couple from Glasgow quit their jobs as a surveyor and geography teacher to pursue their dream of travelling the world. Now, four years later, they have set up their own company Hunter Chalets & Apartments.
Finlay and Wendy Hunter’s wanderlust took them around Europe and Africa, working first as chalet hosts in Morzine, France before switching the snow for the sunshine of Zambia. There they opened and managed Chinzombo, Zambia’s newest and most luxurious safari lodge for the season; a total of six villas and 24 staff.
“We have had the idea for Hunter Chalets for several years now and we are confident we’ve created something really special by drawing from our experience managing some of the top lodges in Africa and Europe,” Finlay said. “We’ve picked the best resort: Morzine in the French Alpes, and we’re bringing together what we have learned from around the world to create the ultimate luxury experience.”
“We had had such a fantastic year we just didn’t want it to end,” Finlay explained. “Our friends were all settling down, buying houses and having children, but we wanted to continue our adventures first.”
They decided to do another ski season, this time in Verbier, Switzerland. After the experience of working in one of the region’s most luxurious chalets, they decided to commit to the industry and took a year-long post in Rwanda. There they managed Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge – the number one base for trekkers wishing to see the mountain gorillas.
“We were having the time of our lives and knew that lodge management would be our career going forward,” Wendy explained. “We were managing a team of 60 staff and overseeing the whole resort of eight cottages. The feedback from the guests was wonderful – some came to stay after meeting us during their ski holiday, saying they knew they were guaranteed the best hospitality. It’s a nice compliment to be paid and realised we worked exceptionally well as a husband and wife team.”
Following their year in Rwanda the couple were approached by Legendary Expeditions to manage their flagship lodge. Mwiba Lodge is consistently voted one of the best destinations in Africa for safaris. Here they managed 64 staff across 10 suites and six tents.
“We loved it and we are hugely passionate about Africa in general, but we knew that ultimately we wanted to start our own venture, Our love of the Alpes and skiing meant we could start our own business in the hospitality industry,” Wendy said.
When an acquaintance of Finlay’s contacted them to discuss an opportunity in Morzine it seemed like fate. With the concept of Hunter Chalets well-established in their minds, the next step was to put everything in place for the business and secure the properties they are offering this winter.
Hunter Chalets comprises three locations: Chalet 46°, Copper Lodge, Apartment 6°, all of which offer the highest standards of luxury. The fully catered Chalet 46’ comes with a professional chef, hosts and 24hr drivers. No luxury has been spared, from facilities like hot tubs and saunas to technology like MacBooks and GoPro cameras.
“Our aim is to always exceed expectations – which we know is a tall order!” Finlay said. “We’ve spent the last four years looking after guests from around the world, we’ve fine-tuned our systems and processes to ensure every base is covered.”
Wendy and Finlay have already filled one lodge for December and are delighted with the level of interest.
“Many of our guests from over the years are hugely supportive of our business and are planning to come and stay with us,” Wendy said. “That’s the highest praise – repeat business – so we feel like we’re on the right path. With Morzine changing as a resort, the demand for exceptional service combined with truly luxurious properties is higher than ever. We are confident we can deliver an unforgettable holiday for our clients.”