Val d’Isere in the French Alps – two words that make me smile immediately. Why? Because it brings back great memories from other ski breaks, and it is a resort, which in my opinion, has it all – postcard pretty, incredible ski, great food and do not get me started on the apres-ski.
On this trip, I was to try the newly renovated Chalet Lhotse. To say that Chalet Lhotse is unique, would be an understatement. Located in the heart of Val d’Isère, this chalet truly wowed me – which doesn’t happen every day. But it is not everyday that you get to spend 4 days in a place which looks like this – with its very own personality, it has an interesting decor style (very alpine, very furry but also very warm).
When you walk in, you have the chic ski room on your left, and then, on your right, your own private bar (which we tried and tested after dinner). And then… you have this. Without a doubt, the most beautiful private pool I have ever seen in the Alps. I have to say, I was excited!
But first things first, I had to inspect my own room – and I wasn’t disappointed with how spacious it was. I would have probably preferred white bed linen and a bit less fur, but other than that, it was faultless. I loved the tempurpedic mattresses and I slept like a baby, every night, throughout my stay. The woodwork was something else (throughout the whole chalet), and I really liked some of the very unique furniture pieces.
My bathroom also looked the part. I loved the HansGrohe walk-in shower, and I stayed there every day longer than usual – it was amazing! The only slight downside? That you need to get wet (and cold) to turn it on as the tap is not located before you walk-in. Every day, it was a bit of an adventure, but by day 4, I had totally mastered it! I have to say I loved the Elemis toiletries and the special ‘sleep well’ set, full of lavender goodness.
After unpacking, it was time to meet the others upstairs and get ready for some cheese and wine tasting – God, you have to love all that France has to offer.
The 2nd floor of the chalet is the social floor, where besides one of the 6 bedrooms, you will find the stunning lounge, dining area and kitchen. The chalet comes fully staffed with a chalet manager, 2 chalet staff and Bruce, the outstanding chef. All meals (breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner) and drinks are included throughout your stay – you need only make sure you ski enough to make room for the extra calories. Which I did, of course.
There is something about the mountain air, which makes me sleepy, especially on the first night. So after an early night, I was ready to face the mountains – and in Val d’Isere, they are so so so so amazing…
One thing I need to confess – I am a morning skier. I do enjoy skiing, but I don’t like skiing all day. So every time, I head for the slopes for 3h, with my private instructor. It may sound a bit silly, but I have done this on every ski holiday in the past 10 years. I am a decent skier, but I don’t like skiing with friends (how anti-social). Skiing is an individual sport (for me), and I don’t want to slow anyone down. I like doing things at my own pace, and during my stay in Val d’Isere, my mornings were spent with Ken, the founder of Progression Ski.
And every time I ski, I learn something new. I have to say Ken was incredibly patient with me – and he was also so funny. I love a bit of Scottish humour and don’t get me started on the accent. I had already skied this season, but I suffer from ski amnesia, which is why there is no other way round for me.
Remember when I said I was a bit anti-social? It is only during the mornings – because we always get together for lunch. Always. And there is nothing better than lunch with a view. On the first day, we went to La Solaise, where I adored the fish specialties and the Moroccan lamb couscous. I never made it to dessert, but I did enjoy a glass of Veuve.
Where did I spend the rest of the afternoon? At the chalet, of course. While my ski companions, well, ski.. I love taking those 2 precious hours before everyone is back to do something quite unusual: to take a nap. It is the only type of holiday where I make time for naps and they are usually glorious – and I cannot live without them.
After a nap, I went for a apres-ski massage. Do not think nice and relaxing – after a whole morning (or a whole day for most people), those muscles need a bit of TLC and the old ‘no pain, no gain’ applies here. Which is OK. The chalet has its own massage room, right by the pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and gym. These treatments are obviously not included in the cost of the chalet, but a 1-hour massage starts at €80, which is good value for the Alps (and anywhere else, really).
After a swim and a shower, I did have to try the afternoon tea – which is different every day, and very dangerous as you may not have enough room for dinner. I must say, every meal was incredible – I was also pleasantly surprised with how healthy the menus were. And delicious. And doesn’t the dining area look amazing?
The mountain air called me for an early night (what is up with that? Day 1 I understand, Day 2 and 3 not so much) – I couldn’t say no!
The next day, Ken and I ventured to other slopes – I would love to tell you where I went, but I have no idea. It is one of the things I like about having a private ski instructor – I don’t need to worry about a thing. The chalet team takes your skis and puts them in the car for you, and you are dropped off right by the slopes. There is no walking required – and there is always a helping hand with your equipment, which as a girl, I really appreciate.
The morning was cold, but the sun came out, which makes it so so lovely. I have to say, I love skiing at the end of January when there are no crowds, and you pretty much have the place to yourself (and a few other lucky people). If it is sunny, it is glorious – and we were lucky!
Despite my massage the day before, my legs still hurt – so we took a little cheeky break. I love the mountain cafes and the sun loungers – I had to try to get a bit of colour, just a teeny tiny bit.
And before we knew it, our 3.5h morning was gone. And I skied like a goddess at the end – I felt really really good! And happy, with that unmistakable sense of accomplishment.
I went back to the chalet to get rid of my ski boots and took the Gondola to the Folie Douce, where we were all meeting for lunch. A Val d’Isere classic, this place is epic. We had a fabulous meal, as always, at La Fruitiere, and then indulged in a bit of apres-ski fun at the bar, with everyone else.
This time around we were not just treated to a great show by the fab Kelly, but also by a hilarious ‘at your table’ magic show. It was so much fun, I cannot tell you. Priceless!
After a bit of fun, it was time for the last nap (of course). And the last dinner. And the last drinks, which always make me sad. Because I love the ‘mountain’ lifestyle and this break was fantastic.
Time for a little (and beautiful) gin and tonic, another stunning meal, and I have to say, an epic party in our bar.
But worry not, I will be back in Val d’Isere before I know it.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Consensio Holidays, who organised a perfect stay in Val d’Isere at Chalet Lhose. The recently renovated exclusive Chalet Lhotse is located in the heart of Val d’Isere, enjoying stunning views of the La Face piste. The chalet is complete with luxurious mountain décor, six ensuite bedrooms, spacious dining and living areas, and its own gym, bar and spa area. Prices start from £20,900 to £78,900, depending on the season, for a week’s exclusive use of the fully staffed, chalet. This includes 7 nights’ accommodation in the luxury chalet and use of its facilities, in resort private chauffeur service, daily breakfast and afternoon tea, children’s lunch and supper, champagne and canapés, an open bar, personalised evening meal menu (6 nights) and a 5 star service throughout the week. Consensio can also arrange transfers, hire cars and private flights.
Progression Ski school in Val d’Isere runs private lessons from 3 hours to a full day, and group lessons, or clinics (maximum 6 people) for Skiers and Snowboarders. Lessons are available for complete children as well as more advanced adults looking to improve skills. Prices start from £192 for a three hour private lesson, and £233 for 5 days of 3 hour group lessons.
La Folie Douce – The original lively après bar offers entertainment on the slopes throughout the winter season and features the exquisite restaurant, La Fruitière.