The epicentre of European skiing, the Alps have long been the destination of choice for us Brits. Yes, they may be close to home, but sheer proximity wouldn’t keep us going back year after year – nor would the fondue (much as we love it). These majestic mountains offer an endless variety of slopes for all levels – ski buffs, seasonaires, novices and children alike can all find runs to suit.
The Alps also boast the largest skiing area in the world solely connected by lifts and slopes – Les Trois Vallées in France. The snowfall and quality of slopes are undoubtedly important, but the allure doesn’t end there – the entire range is famed for lively après-ski, world-class restaurants and top-notch spas, not forgetting beautiful scenery all year around, so it’s no surprise that great hotels are part of the equation here.
The region’s popularity is now greater than ever and, as if to prove the point, three design-minded hotels have appeared – L’Apogée Courchevel in the aforementioned Trois Vallées and W Verbier and The Chedi Andermatt, both in Switzerland. Each has its own character, unique selling point and area of expertise, be it partying, spa treatments or slope access. There’s no business like snow business...
Courchevel 1850, France
The lowdown Contemporary chalet chic meets understated luxury.
Best forSki-in, ski-out access to the slopes with the hotel’s private ski lift.
Located at the highest point of Courchevel’s four villages (Courchevel 1850), L’Apogée Courchevel is the work of French designer-architects India Mahdavi and Joseph Dirand. The duo sum up the concept as ‘authentic, but not nostalgic’, so instead of ditsy gingham checks and antlers, there’s oversized plaid carpet mixed with fine leather and touches of fur. Jewel accents such as malachite green and garnet red complement sleek wood in the bedrooms, while the bathrooms are lined in Fior de Bosco marble with underfloor heating.
For drinking and dining, there’s a Champagne bar, styled like a private members’ club, with cocooning, vintage-style tub chairs and marble fireplaces, and restaurant Le Comptoir L’Apogée, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the slopes. Do check out the dedicated ham-ageing cellar and fresh fish counter – seriously impressive at 1,850 metres.
The lowdown A cutting-edge newcomer that’s seriously shaking things up.
Best for Being at the centre of the hottest nightlife in town.
Known for fantastic off-piste and cross-country skiing as well as summer sports (William and Harry are regular visitors), it’s telling that Verbier was the location chosen for the W group’s debut ski hotel. Striking and contemporary, the interior is a cool contrast of Alpine and modern – think Perspex bubble chairs hung along timber balconies.
The vibe is fun and sociable, particularly since the W has become the hub of the après-ski and nightlife scene in peak season – you can literally snowplough your way to the open-air Off Piste bar fresh from the slopes, then head down later to the hotel’s subterranean club Care.
A sushi bar and dining options from Spain’s rock’n’roll Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola break the Alpine mould, with Spanish flavours and the best tapas you’re likely to taste outside Madrid. Ask W Verbier’s resident ‘insider’ (or concierge), to arrange anything from
paragliding to mountain-side yoga if you’re feeling adventurous.
The Chedi ANderMATT
The lowdown A fine-tuned balance of Asian flavours and Alpine opulence.
Best for Pampering and relaxation at a world-class spa.
Borrowing design influences from its sister properties across Southeast Asia and the Middle East, The Chedi Andermatt brings Zen to the heart of the Swiss Alps. Walk into the lobby and you’re greeted with open fires and low lounge seating, exuding the sort of cosy ambience that skiing holidays were made for.
An Asian-inspired concept the hotel has used to great effect is the seamless blend between interior and exterior spaces – most spectacularly in the pool area, with its glass walls and ceiling – that let the Alpine surroundings flood in. Touches such as wood floorboards and poolside sofas keep you feeling toasty even in a bathing suit.
But the hotel’s speciality is undoubtedly its spa – 2,400 sq m of hot and cold baths, bio Finnish saunas, a scented-salt steam bath and a hammam. The holistic treatments use natural products from Omorovicza and Tata Harper to ease away any post-skiing aching muscles.