THE VILLAGE OF COURCHEVEL 1850 HIGH UP IN THE FRENCH ALPES IS A PICTURE POSTCARD OF THE LIKES SEEN ON CHRISTMAS CARDS. FACT’S DAVID TAPLEY DISCOVERS THE LES GRANDES ALPES PRIVATE HOTEL AND TELLS YOU WHY THIS ICONIC SKIING LOCATION NEEDS TO BE ON YOUR SEASONAL BUCKET LIST.

A festive charm engulfs this small mountain enclave with its narrow winding streets piled high with
freshly fallen snow, fir trees strung with twinkling fairy lights and the vast peaks and pistes of the Alpes all around, with Mont Blanc the highest peak in Europe front and centre on the horizon.

Named after the elevation at which it sits, Courchevel 1850 forms part of the world’s largest ski resort, encompassing three valleys, 600km of ski runs and over 160 ski lifts. A haven for winter sports enthusiasts and luxury jet setters, the focus of this quaint mountain retreat is the Les Grandes Alpes Private Hotel; a property which over the years has taken on many roles, beginning as a post office, before transitioning into a bank and ski school, and then opening as the very first hotel in Courchevel back in 1948, the same year as the resort’s first ever ski lift.

 

 

Located in the very heart of upmarket Courchevel 1850, the Les Grandes Alpes is an upscale mountain property benefitting from a prime position on the piste and making for one of the only ski in/ski out hotels in town. Sitting alongside the likes of luxury brands such as Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, the stone facade of the building makes for the stereotypical representation of a luxury alpine retreat, complete with wooden balconies and rooftops heaving under the weight of freshly fallen snow. As if stuck in a state of eternal Christmas, Les Grand Alpes is the perfect marriage of chalet and luxury hotel that leans heavily into the high-end market. A whimsical winter wonderland awaits guests from the moment they arrive at the property, with a festive staircase aligned with foliage and wicker creations.

 

 

SUITE LIFE

The property, which was remodeled in 2012 comprises of nine apartments and a total of 30 bedrooms and suites, with the unique layout of Les Grandes Alpes allowing for complete customisation when it comes to room configuration. The four-bedroom Emerald Suite occupies the entire fourth floor of the property and clocks in at an impressive 300m2, offering remarkable views over the tree-lined slopes and numerous ski lifts. South facing dining and living rooms represent the ultimate in comfort, with a circular glass fireplace representing the heart of this particular penthouse. Curled up on the sofas with a mug of hot chocolate and fur blankets while watching the falling snow makes for a truly memorable evening and one of the (many) highlights of a stay at Les Grand Alpes.

 

 

These spacious suites have more to offer than the view. A professional kitchen, where private chefs can create culinary marvels is just the tip of the iceberg. Similarly, the children’s play room is not necessarily what you might expect, but offers the perfect solution/excuse for adults to venture into the suite’s very own miniature spa, complete with massage and steam rooms that complement the luxury values of a property where it would appear nothing is too much trouble!

 

 

Les Grand Alpes offers an undeniably luxury experience wrapped up in a contemporary and quirky charm thanks to French interior designer Jean-Marc Mouchet, where Arctic and Antarctic animals are utilised in both artworks and decorative touches throughout – from bold polar bear prints to the plastic penguins that line the lobby. Much like the property and its facilities, service is premium, taking the notion of fivestar luxury and raising the bar that bit further. Each suite comes with a personal butler (ask for Gael), who is on hand to ensure a personalised guest experience at all times, one where no request is too much or too little, resulting in Les Grand Alpes feeling like a genuine home away from home (with lots of snow!).

 

 

The bedrooms are particularly impressive, with their wooden cladding helping to create a feeling of alpine adventure. Insanely comfortable beds are laden with pillows and fur blankets and skylights cleverly positioned above, ensure guests can marvel at a star-filled sky through a funnel of snow as they drift off to sleep. Luxury touches are noted and appreciated from the fur-lined slippers and bathrobes through to the heated toilet seats and Hermes toiletries.

 

 

LUXURY DINING

Catering to the elite clientele of Couchevel 1850, the dining destinations at Les Grandes Alpes are expectedly high-end. For the après-ski experience, many guests will flock to Bellini’s, a lounge bar situated adjacent to the hotel’s reception area. As the namesake suggests, the peach Bellini reigns supreme at this late night establishment and comes served in ornate crystal glassware using freshly imported peaches representative of French decadence at its finest. There’s also Le Bizan a small sushi restaurant situated at the rear of the bar, with minimal seating. A sushi spot is perhaps the last thing diners might expect high in the Alpes but the new style cuisine which fuses together both Japanese and Mediterranean elements, astounds in both flavour and presentation, headed up by the Executive Chef of Zuma in Rome.

 

 

SKI AND SPA

When it comes to recreation, guests have the opportunity to ski or spa. Zooming down the mountainside certainly offers a thrill and even beginners are catered for via the in-house team of friendly and encouraging ski instructors. Getting kitted up while sat upon Hermes leather upholstery and slotting our feet into pre-heated ski boots has got to be the ultimate way to start an alpine adventure and we fear that there is no going back now we know just how opulent a ski experience can be.

 

 

By comparison, the Bellefontaine Spa offers a more subdued experience via a variety of bespoke treatments undertaken by expert therapists, utilising ingredients from the Alps including glacial water. While our suite had a mini spa, it doesn’t quite compare to what the Bellefontaine offers guests at Les Grand Alpes. An indoor heated swimming pool takes on the appearance of a luxury boathouse offering views of the ski lifts and snow-capped peaks from the comfort of regal chaise longues, while solace from the cold can be found in the sauna and steam bath.

 

 

Though the resort is a 2.5 hour drive from Geneva along precarious mountain roads hugging close to the limestone mountainside, the demand for luxury prevails. With this specific clientele in mind and a
money-is-no-object attitude, private helicopter charters can transport guests over the Alpes to Switzerland and Lake Geneva in less than half an hour. A breathtaking experience on its own!

 

 

Winter sports enthusiasts flock to Courchevel for the skiing, mountains and mesmerising natural beauty. With the crisp mountain air providing a brisk revitalisation, it’s the cold that is most noticeable and at minus 18 degrees it feels as though your heart is being grasped by jack frost, or perhaps it’s just the magnificent views that leave us in a state of perpetual awe. But the beauty is that you don’t have to ski or snowboard, for the wealth of activities available in this compact mountain village is quite remarkable. From spa days to dog sledging and even the high-speed toboggan run which hurtles the brave down a 3km trail through alpine forests and snow drifts – there’s snow boredom here (see what we did there). ✤