Hello, my name is James Siegl and I am the founder of Independent Mountain. As a keen sportsman growing up in Somerset, I developed a love for the outdoors at a very early age roaming the local landscapes and using the Mendips as my playground. With a constant desire to discover, it was only a matter of time before heading further afield to Snowdonia and the Lake District which formed the basis of my passion to trek the great outdoors.
Up until the age of eighteen I studied Leisure and Tourism, followed by a period of running pubs and bars in London. It was then that I decided to change direction, leave the bustle and hectic lifestyle of the UK bar scene behind and head for the alps and my first ever ski season. Morzine, France was my destination of choice and is where I l still live to this day.
Having completed my first ski season in 1998, I was fortunate to discover the Alps in summer which opened my eyes to all that the mountains had to offer throughout the year. I knew from here on that mountains were going to be a huge part of my life, and that that I wanted to make my living within them. For my first few years I ran bars, but it was the lure of the mountains and trekking that made me take a look at what was important to me, and so my first company ‘Alpine Walks’ was born, a trekking company offering guided walks with stunning chalet accommodation. This was to be the pivotal moment for me in learning about true business, and the highs and lows of being self-employed. Being very seasonal, the summer was not enough to make a living on, so I formed a winter ski company to give me year round earnings – little did I know, that this would be the birth of what today is ‘Independent Mountain’.
After a few years of running a ski company, I quickly realised that there was only so far you could take it, and with rental rates becoming higher and margins getting smaller, I decided to take a risk and start an independent mountain company that promotes all of the small properties and companies just like the one I had been running myself.
Living in the mountains year round, you see how hard it is for people to make a living!! Running a small company in France is expensive, and companies come and go in their droves, so it was important for me to base the core ethic of the business around the property owners themselves. Understanding the property owners and what they have been through to make a lifestyle change in moving abroad, or how important it is for them to get a return on a property investment to pay for a mortgage, is what sets us aside from the rest. We live and breathe the industry, and provide solid honest advice to all owners that come on board with us on how best to promote their property and maximise their potential return. Many owners also like to use their properties themselves, so we are on board to help in tailor making the perfect scenario for each individual owner, and getting the fine balance correct in property enjoyment and financial return.
We aim to gain trust from the service we provide in both property occupancy, as well as help in all areas of being part of the mountain industry – basically, what is required to survive in this very competitive market!!
Independent Mountain now allows me to combine both my experience in the industry with my love of the mountains. I work hard with the company I have worked so hard to create, but also fulfill my sporting passions and get myself outdoors and up the mountain whenever I get a spare moment! I enjoy yearly trips away from France, but find myself on travels with one major thing in common – the mountains, and the passion I have for being lucky enough to enjoy them every day is what drives me to succeed in my company and lifestyle, and do whatever I can to help anyone that would like to either come on holiday, or become a property owner.
The mountains are a beautiful environment with so much to offer, and I think that everyone should get the chance to come and experience them for themselves – Independent Mountain is my way of being able to share all that I enjoy by providing access and information to the great outdoors.