‘Piste’ de résistance

08 Mar 2018
7 min read
With the ski season in full swing, it’s time to start planning last minute getaways, or next year’s alpine retreat. With so many options to choose from, FOUR headed directly to Courchevel and Gstaad to show you the crème de la crème of snowy terrains.

Courchevel | France

Long hailed the king of ski resorts, Courchevel is part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world. It’a home to numerous luxury resorts and boutique hotels: one of our favourites has to be the Cheval Blanc Courchevel for its stellar service and impeccable hospitality. Since its creation, Cheval Blanc Courchevel has established itself as an exceptional retreat at the summit. Here, space, pleasure and comfort come together beyond the mountaintops.

At the beginning of the last season, Cheval Blanc Courchevel opened for its tenth year, and marked the occasion with a series of events and special collaborations. For its 10 years at the top of the mountains, where Cheval Blanc opened its first Maison on a sunny winter day in 2006, it has been creating unforgettable memories for guests in an undisturbed and utterly unique alpine utopia. Throughout this sparkling decade, Cheval Blanc has truly redefined the standards of a stay at altitude, surpassing expectations with boldness and innovation.

Considered the jewel of the French Alps, Courchevel 1850 is one of the most prized ski stations. The ideal location provides access to the largest ski domain in the world, Les Trois Vallées, which spans nearly 370 miles of slopes. A crossroad of altitudes, not far from Mont Blanc, Courchevel is rewarded with an exceptional quality of snow. Les Trois Vallées offers a multitude of peaks, paths and trails to delight skiers of every level.

A new collection of unique and exclusive experiences, organised down to the to the very last detail, also awaits guests looking for adventures with family and friends that will foster lifelong magical mountain memories. These include ‘Drinks Under the Stars’, wherein snowmobiles are prepared outside the Maison at 6pm, ready to whisk guests up to the very top of the snow-covered mountains, where they are met by the canvas of a starlit sky. The thrilling winter escapade, designed by the Majordomes, is a true alpine adventure for guests, suitably ending with a tasting of Dom Pérignon champagne and canapés created by chef Yannick Alléno. Wrapped in cashmere tartans, surrounded by the flickering light of candles, with heads in the skies, boots in the snow and a touch of the ambience of Le Bar, this is a truly unforgettable Cheval Blanc experience. The journey back to the Maison, weaving through pine forest, is a perfect end to a snow-white evening. A signature candle, given as a departing gift, will bring back memories of this adventure in the heart of Les Trois Vallées.

For ‘Safari Snow Shoot’, guests can set out like a true hunter in search of animal tracks that will lead to some precious stills caught on film. Follow the clues left on the powdered snow and discover birds, squirrels and woodchucks, and sometimes even goats and fawns! The Maison’s winter guide photographer can help guests capture their very own exceptional shots on this snowy treasure hunt. The guide leads budding photographers on the expedition, revealing the stories that lie within the mountains, describing the unique identities of every peak and summit, as well as all the habits of the alpine animals. The quest for the perfect picture is on.

‘Cheval Blanc Bootcamp’ at the Maison is undoubtedly a haven of rest and unparalleled bliss. It also a perfect rendezvous point for workout enthusiasts thanks to its dedicated fitness programme. Designed as an individual journey, guests will emerge transformed and revived. With the dedicated support of a fitness ‘Ambassadeur’, guests begin the journey with an indoor warm-up using TRX straps. This is followed by a stop at the Maison’s Ski Service, equipped with a training backpack, for an endurance-testing routine intertwining winding slaloms and rope-assisted climbing; it’s guaranteed to revitalise! This odyssey of the mind and body ends with gentle rejuvenation, specifically a moment of wellbeing and recovery in the sauna.

For ‘Altitude Attitude’, The Extreme Altitude experience has been designed to be unforgettable. It is an intensive yet relaxing way to explore the beauty of the nature surrounding the Maison. Guests are invited on a sporty expedition at the top of the mountains, at an altitude of 2,730 metres, for an adventure beginning at extreme height and ending in the welcoming Maison. Beginning with a booster shot of freshly pressed juice served at the peak of Sommet de la Saulire, the highest point in Courchevel, skis and poles are pointed straight down the slopes and wings of a glider are prepared to catch the wind as the explorer seamlessly flies in the sky. For 15 minutes, ski gliders soar through the alpine air, landing gently at the Maison in a fluffy bank of snow where Ambassadeurs have prepared signature 84%-cacao hot chocolates and gourmandise delicacies from Yannick Alléno.

Cheval Blanc Courchevel also caters for any serious epicurean who may find themselves 1,750 metres above sea level. The restaurants found throughout the ski resort celebrate diversity. Numerous après-ski activities and a nightlife illuminated by a festive ambiance give Courchevel 1850 its celebrated international appeal.

This year also saw its signature restaurant, Le 1947, gain its third Michelin Star. Since the inauguration of the award-winning venue, chef Yannick Alléno has been revolutionising gastronomic codes with unprecedented experiences. Le 1947 offers a resolutely contemporary cooking style, echoing the values of the LVMH Group: creativity, craftsmanship and entrepreneurial spirit in a constant quest for excellence.

Speaking about the coveted three-star award, Yannick has said: “I feel an immense joy, and I thank the Michelin Guide for the support it shows us with this new distinction. The restaurant is in a marvellous setting; it is truly up there where modern sauces are born. I am delighted for Monsieur Arnault, with whom our group shares his fundamental values of excellence and creativity. Thank you as well to the teams at LVMH Hotel Management, who have supported us since our first day in this crazy gamble to reinvent French cuisine. An enormous bravo to Gérard Barbin whose work ethic and consistency are exceptional. Bravo to all of you, and thank you.”

This third star recognises the work and bold creativity of Yannick Alléno and the team of Cheval Blanc Courchevel. Since Alléno’s 2008 arrival at Le 1947, he has executed a cuisine in which flavours and taste are at the heart of every dish. He takes further inspiration from the diversity of local Savoie ingredients to refine his menu. For example, a signature dish of the season featured bone marrow-roasted pike with black pepper and vin jaune, gathering the essence of the region’s lakes and winter markets. The pike is roasted on a marrowbone, garnished with a butter-veiled cabbage leaf and spinach purée, and accompanied by a mille-feuille of spinach, fleur de maviar and Arctic char gravlax.

Cheval Blanc Courchevel opens its doors every year from mid-December to early spring. Courchevel is accessible by car from Paris, Lyon and Geneva airports, as well as Chambéry and Moûtiers train stations. An airfield is also available for private charters, and acts as the ideal point of departure to discover Les Trois Vallées by air.




Gstaad | Switzerland

Opened in December 2016,The Ultima Gstaad is a new luxury boutique hotel that oozes style and sophistication and combines traditional and modern-day influences, located in the heart of the very prestigious village of Gstaad. Offering a luxury concept that provides an extraordinary level of refinement, relaxation and style, visiting The Ultima is a unique experience. It allows you to enjoy the peace and conviviality of a private chalet, but with all the comfort of a luxury hotel.

The Ultima Gstaad is currently one of the most sought-after addresses in the heart of the village of Gstaad, but this doesn’t mean that exclusivity is lost; this resort is the height of discretion. In fact, there is no reception here: each guest receives customised service, and is welcomed by a personal butler who will take care of their every need, 24 hours a day.

These discreet and efficient butlers offer the guarantee of complete peace of mind during your stay.

The Ultima Gstaad is a design lover’s dream come true. The hotel has been designed and created to be a work of art in which each object and decorative item has a place and contributes to the overall aesthetic appearance.

The resulting interior combines traditional and contemporary influences: ancestral craftsmanship is revisited with resolutely contemporary compositions. Even the foyer is a masterpiece, lit from ceiling to floor by a magnificent Baccarat crystal chandelier for guests to admire when they cross the threshold. On the left, a welcoming rounded bar houses a stunning grand piano made entirely of glass. It creates a unique yet perfectly harmonious and finely balanced impact on guests arriving at The Ultima.

Within the hotel there are 11 suites and six residences, as well as an Italian restaurant, a Spa by La Prairie for face and body treatments, and an Aesthetics Clinic and a team that are constantly attentive to your needs.

The 11 suites, named as Junior, Deluxe, Signature, Prestige and Presidential, combine generous spaces, perfect comfort, technology and absolute privacy to superb effect.

Alternatively, the six magnificent residences offer privacy, all the services of the suites and the conviviality of a shared living space. These spaces offer a very high level of comfort and sophistication where everything is incredibly beautiful – glass or crystal hanging lights above the dining-room table, leather or plush velvet-upholstered armchairs, marble kitchen, and more.

They are described as being ‘six worlds devoted to your wellbeing’ and include: two to four bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room for up to 10 guests, a huge lounge, bathrooms, and a walk-in wardrobe. They offer everything you would want in terms of comfort, refinement and modernity – and more! The Ultima is so intent on making everything as easy as possible for you that you can also benefit from the same services as those of the hotel. For example, you can ask a private chef to prepare a meal for you and your guests so that you can relax, or entertain just like you were at home, create a picturesque alpine setting for dinner, a romantic outing in a horse-drawn carriage, an adventurous outing with sled dogs, an amorous rendezvous, an important meeting, a day of shopping to plan, or even fondue in the heart of the mountains!

And let’s no forget that among all this interior decadence, the hotel is surrounded by the spectacular Bernese Alps. The Ultima Gstaad is located just outside the village in the direction of the Glacier 3000 cable cars and lifts, and offers ski-to-door access during the winter season.

It is part of a resort with 137 miles of slopes, rising to an altitude of 3,000m, and is yours to explore. The area offers a fantastic playground for alpine skiing and snowboarding, including various trails for snowshoe trekking and winter biking.

The scene is set; luxurious chalets, sloping roofs covered in glistening snow, a bright blue sky and, in the distance, the snow-capped Alps. It is a destination that will truly please any discerning skier.

When you return from a great day on the slopes, the welcoming warmth and comfort of the Ultima Gstaad awaits you for a moment of pure relaxation and cocooning. If you are feeling somewhat famished, then the hotel’s signature dining venue, The Duchessa, offers the very best of trans-alpine traditions with a contemporary twist.

The atmosphere is as refined as it is festive, with designer furniture – from the seats to the tables and the light fittings – fine dinnerware, perfect comfort, music and more, all inviting you to embark on a gourmet culinary voyage.

For a romantic dinner, you can choose one of the small tables near the large fireplace. For an evening with friends, you can opt for a large, beautiful table lit up with superb chandeliers.

The Duchessa promises all the aromas, colours and flavours of gourmet Italian gastronomy. Extremely fresh and high-quality ingredients are prepared according to delicious recipes, which create lively, authentic and refined cuisine.

In Gstaad there is a palpable excitement in the air: the slopes and trails call out to those who love skiing and the great outdoors. But it’s the Ultima Gstaad that adds that extra bit of magic, which makes the whole winter wonderland experience truly come alive.