Tignes – Dragon Lodge 20th Anniversary

STORY BY Emmanuelle Châtel

2018 marks a milestone in the Dragon lodge adventure. The lodge, owned and run by snowboarders, celebrates its 20th season. Located in Tignes, guests have the advantage of being in one of the highest resorts in France which has to offer (particularly this year!) some of the best snow conditions in the Alps. We caught up with John “Dragon” to find out about how it all started.

The Dragon Lodge started during winter 1997/98 and is the story of the Basset brothers – John and Owain – from South Wales, passionate about snowboarding, spending their Winter in the French Alps and dreaming of making something in the snowboard industry.

After a few winter seasons involved in chalet management they had enough experience to start their own “lodge” for snowboarders. A chalet with a more relaxed feel, they wanted it to be a place in which they and their friends would like to stay.

“We went back to Wales, went to the bank, said how do we borrow some money to start a business. Luckily the bank manager had a son who said ‘I’ve heard about this new snowboarding thing it’s gonna be the next cool thing’. This is 1997.”

 

The lodge’s name refers to their origins – the Welsh are very proud of their dragon. “We thought that Dragon Lodge sounded good and I am weirdly within the snowboard industry known as John Dragon”

After five years John’s brother left for more travelling before settling as a snowboard guide in Japan. Shortly after, John met Will, a sponsored rider at the time and now John’s partner at the Lodge. This was about 12 years ago. Will now lives full time at the Lodge and looks after the guests. With countless seasons under his belt he’s the man to let you know where to ride.

Will Hughes riding – Credit: James McPhail

Settled in a typical French chalet, the Bassett brothers created something different to the norm, providing great value and tailor-made snowboard holidays for their guests. Dragon Lodge has become an institution; over the years they have managed to maintain a chilled out atmosphere and a home feeling. Warm vibes, happy times attract like minded people and make them come back again and again.

The magic happens in the evening, after a day spent on the mountains, when the guests, from all sorts of background gather around the big common table. From here you can see the chef cooking a gourmet-standard dinner, while sharing stories and a love for the mountains.

 

Collab Dragon Eyewear

Initially, the Dragon Lodge had nothing to do with Dragon the eyewear brand. It happened to come around 18 years ago when the distributor at the time contacted John to question him about the name of the Lodge: “Why are you using our name?” “After explaining where the origins of the name they asked if we would be interested in some form of sponsorship and even since then they provided us products for the staff to wear every year”.

They now work closely together: “About 12 years ago we got more involved with them as the structure of the company changed and now every year we host a Dragon week where whether they come with pro riders, media or the shops. To have the experience to stay with us and go riding with us, or maybe with the other Dragon affiliated people in Tignes because there are shops, bars, and local instructors guide who are affiliated or sponsored by Dragon – it’s like a big family, its a little bit of a hub in Tignes for Dragon.”

When we visited in March Dragon was making the most of the terrific snow conditions in Tignes this year to shoot next season’s goggles.

More info about Dragon Lodge: http://dragonlodge.com/

Image credit – Sam Ingles

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