Feature

The High Life

Issue 9 - 2018
By Kate Green · Images 4CORNERS

Exquisite hotels, super-luxe chalets and an abundance of world-class cuisine – there’s so much more to Courchevel than just outstanding skiing

Issue 9 - 2018
By Kate Green · Images 4CORNERS

Exquisite hotels, super-luxe chalets and an abundance of world-class cuisine – there’s so much more to Courchevel than just outstanding skiing

Courchevel first enchanted me nearly 30 years ago, when I spent a blissful season working in 1850 (the resort is divided into four towns, named for their respective altitudes) as a chalet girl. Despite the huge developments that have taken place since then, it still feels like coming home.

 

When I think of Courchevel, it’s the big skies, wide valleys, and mellow evening sunsets that come to mind. I spent the eve of the millennium in Courchevel 1550, rushing out onto the piste at midnight to watch the new century heralded by fireworks erupting in tiny villages all around the valley.

 

There’s also the fantastic feeling of space. Away from the wide nursery slopes which enable the novice and leg-weary to get safely home in the most efficient fashion, Courchevel has some wonderful wild fringes. Take the Chanrossa chairlift out of the Creux valley and into 1650 (Moriond) and you will find a brave new world of silent slopes. The Chappelet red run, in the far west valley of the resort, feels like a proper adventure. Where the resort excels is in its brilliant lift system and painstaking piste preparation. Look up the mountain at night, and you will see a host of comforting lights as the piste- bashers prepare the slopes for your delight next morning. Being one of the higher resorts in the French Alps, Courchevel has some of the best snow in Europe.

 

Continual development has also made it one of the best-linked resorts in Europe; the ingenious lift system means you can get from a morning swooping down the tree- lined slopes of La Tania to a sunny lunch at friendly La Casserole in Moriond within minutes – and with minimal queuing.

 

Some pistes, like the reds adjacent to the Plantrey chairlift in 1850 and the satisfyingly steep Suisse black, are so glorious you’ll want to ski them again and again. But the well- planned system also means that skiing the Trois Vallées circuit in one day, which makes for an exhilarating adventure, is nowadays well within the reach of an intermediate skier (the return from Val Thorens into the Mottaret valley used to be unpisted).

 

Courchevel was always the most French and sophisticated of the Trois Vallées villages, and the upper end of the accommodation on offer is now among the most luxurious in the world. There are traditional chalets and gorgeous hotels as well as what is, for many, the perfect compromise – the luxury apartment. This combines the comfort of a hotel with the friendliness of a chalet and provides blissful independence to boot – no pressure to get dressed for breakfast or done up for dinner.

 

The new Six Senses Residences in the heart of Courchevel 1850 are a bastion of such comfort. You only have to float past the reception area for a friendly member of staff to pop out and offer a lift somewhere. And the ski hut at the foot of slopes, where Chris or Amandine will help you escape your boots as you collapse on a furry seat, is sheer bliss.

 

The apartments are beautifully appointed. We loved the iPad music system on which we found a wonderful 1970s channel, and there were thoughtfully provided provisions and a daily bread and croissant delivery. There’s also a supermarket underneath the building as well as a Club Lounge for breakfast, evening drinks and light suppers.

 

If your children are too tiny for the slopes – or need a break – you can book childcare for mornings, afternoons or whole days at the Scott Dunn Explorers kids’ club, while the Stargazers club offers an evening childcare service. And if you fancy a break from skiing yourself, you can head for the glorious spa – with its magnificent swimming pool, Kneipp foot-bath therapy and juice bar – which offers a wonderfully soothing retreat from a white-out.

 

 

A snowshoe hike leading to the beautiful Lake Rosière

 

the hot tub at Portetta’s wonderfully cosy Petite Marmotte lodge

 

The hot tub at Portetta’s wonderfully cosy Petite Marmotte lodge

 

chalet chic at the Six Senses Residences Courchevel

 

Chalet chic at the Six Senses Residences Courchevel

 

SCOTT DUNN SUGGESTS

The skiing in the Trois Vallées is justly famous, but there are plenty of activities and experiences that can be enjoyed away from the slopes – as well, that is, as the superb après-ski. Scott Dunn will take you snowshoeing with an expert guide into the beautiful, eerily quiet backcountry around Courchevel. You can ride in a piste-basher – or learn to drive one, while anyone who has ever tried hot-air-ballooning above the Alps will confirm that it’s an awe- inspiring experience. Skydiving is also on offer, though not perhaps for the faint-hearted. Luging from 1850 to 1550 will thrill speed-freaks of all ages – perhaps with a hot chocolate at the other end by way of reward. Or you can get into your swimmies to ride the flume at Aquamotion. And after any of the above, or a day’s skiing, a spot of luxury is called for – in one of Scott Dunn’s chalets, perhaps, the Six Senses Residences in 1850, with its superb spa, or Portetta in 1650, both of which have Explorers kids’ clubs.  

There’s more to Courchevel than just great skiing. For more information call 020 8682 5050 to start planning your tailor-made ski holiday.

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