Meet the team


Debbie White

Position: Director

Background: An Isle of Wight girl, I worked in London in various marketing agencies as an account handler before deciding to do a ski season in ’93. I didn’t work that season, just saved my money to ski every day. The seasons have never been the same since! This lead to the launch of Mountain Rooms & Chalets several years later having met Paul (see opposite) and wanting to stay in Val. Slowly but surely I built up the business with the moral support from Paul and here we are today. Through a journey of blood, sweat & tears, MR&C continues to grow and we work hard to deliver our promise to every single client. I have the privilege of working with some amazing people and meeting unforgettable clients along the way. One thing I am grateful for - the high altitude of Val d'Isere. 

Your favourite ski run in Val: OK, La Daille (too many years skiing with Paul!)

Favourite MR&C property: 107 Aquila.  A rare gem of 4 bedrooms/bathrooms right by the piste.

What you will be skiing on this coming winter:  My new K2 touring skis. 

When not working, I am skiing, mountain biking or road biking, sailing & racing, playing tennis, doing yoga and perfecting my boules technique.

Favourite drink: A good old gin & tonic and Gordons is the best. 

Ultimate goal:  To ski, swim & skate ski more and leave my desk for an hour or so to do this.  

What you don't know about me: I work on a treadmill work station so all the time at my desk is utilitised more effectively!  

Melanie Appleby

Position:   Reservations

Background:  Having studied law at Aberdeen University, I went to Val d'Isere to be a chalet girl for one season and stayed for 8! When I finally prised myself away and came back to London, I became Reservations Manager for Mountain Rooms and Chalets. I left for a couple of years to pursue a career in the art world but couldn't help myself and before I knew it, I was back working for Mountain Rooms and Chalets.

After an extended maternity leave, here I am again - there is clearly something addictive about working for Mountain Rooms!

Your favourite ski run in Val:  in the old days I would have agreed with Debbie and Paul and gone for the OK but now, I would probably say any of the runs at the top of the glacier in Le Fornet or the Genepy from the Grande Motte to Val Claret - nice and easy!

Favourite MR&C property:  Aquila or Choucas properties.  

What you will be skiing on this coming winter:  I am addicted to Core skis too!

When I'm not working,  I love being with my daughter, Lottie, walking our dog, Hobbs, playing tennis.

Favourite drink: like Mhairi, I do love a glass of champagne - preferably at the Blizzard!

Ultimate goal: ​for Lottie to ski  ​well - and better than me!

What you don't know about me:   I am a good old Irish girl. 

Paul Niwano

Paul Niwano - General dog's body/French speaker/translator

Position: General dog's body/French speaker/translator 

Background: Following my first winter season in Courchevel in 1982 where I was employed as a 'ceramic technician' (dishwasher)!, snow shoveller and oyster opener, I acquired a passion for skiing and the mountains, learnt French and developed a refined taste for good quality shellfish! Following further seasons in Meribel and the yachting industry I finally settled in Val d'Isere in the winters. Employed by Snowfun ski shops and ski school, I was made responsible for developing the International clientelle and building a strong retail and rental team. In 12 years, Snowfun grew from 2 to 7 shops and from 10 to 65 ski instructors. Skiing began to reach a much broader market and Val d'Isere grew from 10,000 to 30,000 beds.

During the later years at Snowfun I founded 'VIP' a catered and self-catered accommodation business, which was subsequently sold on to my partners. Debbie and I met in Val d'Isere in ‘93 and she founded Mountain Rooms and Chalets a few years later. Here we are all these years on, still passionate about our business, living proof of a 'lifestyle' industry. Winters in Val, summers in stunning Lake Tahoe and the inter- seasons spent nr. St Tropez. We are still passionate about our skiing too and using our years of experience to ensure that all our guests, clients and owners receive exemplary service. 

Your favourite ski run in Val: Silly question! Ask anyone who knows me where to find me........I have probably skied the OK more than anyone else in the entire resort. I could definitely ski it with my eyes closed. Love sneaking onto it immediately after it has been race prepared. 

Favourite MR&C property:  21 Choucas.  I sold it through our estate agency 4 Property, we manage it through our company Val Service and now we rent it. All part of the service! 

What you will be skiing on this coming winter: My fabulous 'Core Muscle Cars.' Not cheap, but worth every penny!! 

When I'm not working, I am: skiing, playing tennis, Classic Yacht Racing (other people's yachts!), going to flea markets and finding cool stuff. 

Favourite drink: Hot: ....half English, half Japanese, it has to be tea....Builder's, Earl Grey, Mint and even some of those herbal varieties! Cold: Can't beat an ice cold ginger beer. 

Ultimate goal: Too many to name but here are a few: Hit my forehand like Roger (this is still possible) type faster than Debs (forget it) successfully create and edit a spread sheet like Phill (highly unlikely) .....Sail the world (in comfort and on calm seas and without being violently sea-sick, none of that mad Southern Ocean stuff!).

Phill Robinson

Phill Robinson - Accountant

Position: Accountant

Background: I studied computer software applications and computer systems for 2 years before getting a job in an accounts office. I was promoted to assistant to the Accountant after a year and a half at which point I started studying accountancy at night school. After 3 years of study the company had grown to the point of needing an in-house IT department and I was promoted to oversee all aspects of the company IT systems. One year later and after 2 very enjoyable ski holidays, I was hooked and when two of my friends decided to go to Val d'Isere for a season, I decided I was going with them. In my first season one of my friends worked for Debbie when her computer had a breakdown! I was called round and fixed her computer at which point I was offered a job with Mountain Rooms & Chalets. Several winters later of working for MR&C in various positions and spending my summer's in Lake Tahoe, California, Debbie needed help with the accounts, so I reminded her that part of my studies included an accounts qualification. I got the job! In July 2003 I started working for Mountain Rooms on a full time basis although I'm still lucky enough to be able to spend my summers in Lake Tahoe apart from the fact that I'm now in the office and not at the beach!

Your favourite ski run in Val: Not sure I really have an outright favourite although I do really enjoy the long run down from the top of the Grande Motte to Val Claret.

Favourite MR&C property: I'm not allowed out of the office enough to see the properties!

What you will be skiing on this coming winter: A pair of Blizzards from Snowberry.  Thank you!  

When I'm not working, I am: spending time with my 2 sons, Tom & Ben, the latter recently born (end of September 2019).  

Favourite drink: Just a plain old pint of lager for me although I do like a good glass of red wine.

Ultimate goal: To beat Paul down the OK (before he’s 60!).

What you don't know about me:  That I both ski and snowboard.  

Tom Farren

Background: Back in 2004, at what now feels like the incredibly young age of 18 I decided to embark on a ski season with Mountain Rooms & Chalets. What a wakeup call to real life that was! I couldn’t even cook!

I had the privilege of working with some incredibly kind people who helped me along, helped me grow up and most importantly taught me to cook (who knew it’s normal to heat up sweetcorn from the can???!!!). Whilst there I decided I loved music too much not to study it and I still play in touring bands to this day.

I now deal with reservations, far from the linen room where I started with the company.

Your favourite ski run in Val: Technically in Tignes not Val but I could ski the Grand Motte run all day! Your ski pass for Val covers Tignes as well.

When not working, I am playing music, listening to music, touring in bands, cooking and eating waffles with my daughter Mabel.

Favourite Drink: Easy! An Old Fashioned every time.

Ultimate Goal: To bring my family out to Val and get my daughters (one as yet unborn) to meet the mountains for the first time.

What you don’t know about me: I once ate oysters with Grace Jones