Courchevel takes centre stage in the third part of our series on European ski getaways. A family favourite, will it appeal to our reviewer?
Courchevel has a certain reputation. The resort is a byword for winter luxury, frequented by royals and celebrities from the Windsors to the Beckhams. “Like St Tropez on snow, but with pistes instead of plages,” said the Guardian.
Driving into Courchevel 1850 – the highest and most exclusive of the resorts – with snow falling on pine lodges, Range Rovers and fur coats, it seemed the world’s wealthiest had conspired to make sure new arrivals know exactly what the resort is about. This is a place where chalet swimming pools sink into the floor and Chanel sponsors ski lifts.
Peel away the excess, however, and there are plenty of reasons Courchevel should be top of the list for your next family ski break. Most important, the snow. Courchevel is part of Les Trois Vallées, the world’s largest ski area with over 300 pistes totalling 600km. Wide, sweeping runs which carve through white-dusted fir trees give Courchevel some of the most scenic routes in the region.
There are lots of nursery slopes and well-groomed green, blue and red runs to cater for everyone. One of the most efficient lift systems in the world means more time skiing, and less time queuing. In three days on the slope (admittedly in off-peak late March), I never once had to wait for a ride back up. The runs were quiet, allowing for a leisurely meander down the mountain and time to take as many photos as a smartphone can hold.
A day’s worth of skiing can easily be packed into four or five hours, leaving extra time to explore the après ski. This is where Courchevel comes into its own, with seven Michelin-starred restaurants, countless Alpine bars and designer boutiques littering the side of winding Alpine roads.
For accommodation, Courchevel is the home of the chalet. The resort’s horseshoe shape means every home is close to the piste with a great range of ski-in ski-out properties. If money is no object, Chalet Edelweiss is the pick of the bunch – 3,000 square metres, seven floors, eight bedrooms, two private chefs and a personal ski instructor. A week there will set you back a cool €80,000 (£58,000) in off-peak.
While Courchevel 1850 has the prestige, the most exciting developments are happening further down the mountain. Courchevel Moriond is about to open a new aquatic centre, Aquamotion, with spas, gyms, swimming and water sports. South-facing, warm and with just green and blue runs finishing in the resort, it is a great place for families with young children.
Courchevel Village, at 1,550 metres, is the area locals are most excited about. It connects to 1850 by a fast chairlift and is set for development in the next few years. The stunning Chalet Blossom Hill in Courchevel Le Praz, which boasts the aforesaid ‘sinking’ pool, sleeps up to 14 and is available for €16,200 this winter. It comes, like all chalets booked through the Oxford Ski Company, with dedicated concierge and driver services.
Courchevel’s reputation for luxury is not unearned. But there is a lot more to the region than just boutique labels. With excellent ski schools, splendid slopes and a diverse après-ski scene, a chalet stay in Courchevel will not disappoint.
Getting to Courchevel
BA flies to Geneva from Heathrow and London City several times a day with return fares starting from £115
Or book through iod.com/travel
Chalet Eden sleeps 10 people and is available from €25,000 (£18,265) a week. Prices include concierge service from The Oxford Ski Company, champagne reception, daily breakfast, daily housekeeping and fresh flowers.
01993 899 420