With the ski season encroaching, Director sampled four very different relaxing Alpine experiences, from family breaks to a retreat so lavish it’s likely to steam your snow goggles. This week, we review the luxurious Amazonia in Chamonix
Few words in the team-building lexicon inspire a spine-tingling shudder more than “corporate skiing trip”. For many, a winter-sports break would be the last activity they’d fancy spending with colleagues – conjuring up images of competitively racing the CFO down death-defying black runs or being billeted with staff in claustrophobic chalets mid-snowstorm. It’s a Big Brother-style reality show waiting to happen.
But Director saw a different reality when we visited Amazonia, three chalets nestled beneath Chamonix’s pearly-white peaks in the French Alps. From the moment we stepped inside the voluminous Amazon Creek chalet – with its five bedrooms (each en suite, with plasma TV), cinema and in-chalet spa (with sauna, outdoor hot tub, sunken Jacuzzi and massage room) – it was obvious there are plenty of spots to seek personal sanctuary when not working.
Amazonia is regularly used by blue-chip companies and it’s easy to see why. Built by British entrepreneur Tim Davis, they sleep 28 across 12 bedrooms, each house boasting extensive lounges for conferences (Amazon Creek’s had an open log fire and zebra-print seating), plus its own hostess, chef and driver. Visitors don’t need to worry about après-conference fun, either – the crew organises it all, from checking the skiiing conditions to ferrying you about in a seven-seater Toyota.
Settled in, we soon found ourselves snowboarding off-piste. If not for two guides with satnav-like knowledge, we’d have been wary of this. But we got carried away, trying to impress spectators with our ‘flip-switch backwards’, and nearly ending up with whiplash (it’s a good job we passed on heli-skiing). Risk-averse colleagues also have plenty to entertain them, from relaxed spa snowshoe experiences to tobogganing. Undeterred by our snowboard shortcomings, we found ourselves careering around a snow-covered golf course guided by four yapping canines on a husky-driven sledding experience. There’s even a James Bond night, where snowmobiles whisk guests up to the Ferme du Tornieux restaurant before a 6km torchlit sledge descent.
It was Brits who ‘discovered’ Chamonix in 1741, when explorers William Windham and Richard Pococke stumbled on the village. And Brits are still exploring it today, notably its restaurants and bars (see MOÖ Bar and its punning Moo-Tinis and Moojitos) swarming with British beards-and-beanies types.
But with Amazon Creek’s extensive wine cellar, boasting 13 house wines (included in the price), there was nothing better than soaking the stiffened joints in the outdoor hot tub with a glass of local chablis in hand, ahead of a meal prepared by our personal chef: braised beef cheeks in Barolo or chèvre cheesecake. Amazon Creek’s snug environs are enough to cure anybody of their corporate-break phobia. We even got some work done, too.
Swiss flies from London to Geneva, with all-inclusive economy prices starting from £119 (Heathrow) and £99 (Gatwick). Fares include free ski equipment transport, free baggage, in-flight catering, airport taxes and fees. To book, visit swiss.com
Accommodation at Amazonia, Chamonix
Weekly for up to 10, from £14,320 (Amazon Creek) or £11,650 (Chalet Baloo), including manager, concierge, housekeeping, hostess, private chef, chauffeuring, champagne and canapés reception on arrival, breakfast, afternoon tea and four-course dinners.
The Amazonia package (all three chalets together for 28 people) starts from £18,000 for a three-night stay. Amazon Creek’s five-day Women’s Ski Break starts this season.
Readers can receive 10 per cent off peak weeks and 15 per cent off all other remaining weeks at Amazon Creek when quoting ‘Director magazine’ upon booking. The offer is valid for the winter season 2015/2016 and summer 2016 holidays. The discount offer expires on 1 October 2016.
Next week: Chalet Renardeux, Mirabel