Choosing the ideal resort for the winter holidays depends on what you’re hunting for: silence and discretion, meeting new people and partying, discover undiscovered places? Or perchance skiing and letting the mountains take you in, or simply relaxing with your friends?
The examples that we are about to provide in this article tick off almost all of these aspirations, and the extra details will help the undecided decide. The quest for authenticity will somehow give you a great boost in taking into consideration a glamorous Chamonix scenario, the magical atmosphere of Courchevel during Christmas times, or, why not, the high-class Saint Moritz resort town from Switzerland. Look high and low, and leave no stone unturned.
All of these mythical settings are part of a dream that, in our opinion, should happen more than just once. Take a break in a soft chaise lounge and fantasise about exploring legendary hideaways located in France and abroad.
- The most luxurious French resorts
- - Courchevel, a myth and luxe symphony
- - Mégève, the Rothschild baby
- - Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc
- The most popular resorts from around the world
- - Gstaad or The Beverly Hills of the Swiss Alps
- - Saint Moritz, Davos and Zermatt (Switzerland)
- - Aspen and Vail (US)
- - Whistler (Canada)
The most luxurious French resorts
Courchevel, a myth and luxe symphony
Situated in the Les Trois Vallées ski area, which includes Meribel, les Ménuires and Val Thorens – Courchevel is formed out of 5 villages. The name dates back to 1850, being one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with almost 493 km of slopes translated into:
- 119 tracks;
- 174 lifts;
- an altiport that flies daily to Paris.
This is where you can practice the winter sports everybody likes: ski jumping (mainly) and downhill skiing. During the entire year, there are many events to keep a close watch on. We should definitely mention the BMW Polo Masters or the Olympics (held in 1992).
To stay in Courchevel, you have various options:
- Rent an apartment or a cottage for a week (usually, several thousands of dollars will be needed for this; actually more than €10 000, to be precise). Some organizations, let’s say Courchevel Prestige Chalets, provide exceptional benefits that include: suites, pools, spa, gym, airport transfers by car or helicopter, hairdressing and concierge services, nightclub, party planner and valet parking.
- Stay in a palace or a 5-star hotel. The two castles located within the village are Cheval Blanc and The Airelles (be ready to spend between €2 000 and €10 000 for a private apartment). As for the other seventeen 5-star hotels, you should go on the official website of Courchevel and choose one from a list dedicated to those who want to book ahead.
Note: Be aware that, despite its name, the Palace des Neiges has no palace labelling. The appellation applies only to a limited number of luxury hotels in Frances.
Oh, and as for building your own cottage, have at least €20 million forehand. Putting together a construction site will require some hard work, but pay attention that it is prohibited to build anything on a protected area. Your only solution might be to buy a vintage venue for several millions, then build your dream.
Shopping and what not
Courchevel is a real charm for personalities like Gerard Depardieu, Mohamed VI, the Beckhams and many billionaires from Russia, but for huge brands as well:
- Valentino, Hermès, Dior, Fendi, Eric Bompard, Prada;
- Watches and jewelry: Rolex, Chopard, Doux, Piaget, Boucheron, Jaeger-LeCoultre;
- Pop-up stores: Chanel, Louis Vuitton and others noteworthy bag brands;
- Spa Guerlain at the Cheval Blanc, spa Valmont at the Les Grandes Alpes hotel.
Most of them are located on Rue du Rocher, the equivalent of Montaigne Avenue in Paris.
Just after skiing and shopping, you can relax while indulging yourself in other kind of activities:
- golf (9 alternatives);
- the lively spirit from the nightclubs;
- aviation, helicopters, hot-air balloons, hang gliding;
- off-road races etc.
Mégève, the Rothschild baby
Between 1910 – 1920, the Baroness Noémie de Rothschild decided to build up a resort that would compete with Saint Moritz, sheltering wealthy individuals. Today, people like Nadine, Michel Sardou and Hubert de Givenchy are flirting with the beauties within this holiday resort. Belonging to the Evasion Mont Blanc region, which includes 162 ski tracks, this area distinguishes itself by offering visitors an unimaginable landscape over the roof of Europe. Here, in Mégève, besides skiing, you can find other sports such as aviation, golf (18 tracks), tennis, mountain biking, off-road races. It also hosts two notable sporting events:
- the Mégève Polo Masters Competition, a polo event part of an international circuit (played on snow);
- the Snow Golf Cup, one of the rarest rare golf tournaments in the world.
Although it is more discreet than Courchevel, Mégève still has 5-star hotels in its huge garden. We mention the Alpaca and The Mégève Fer à Cheval amongst the most whimsical ones. To spend at least a full week here, you can start counting from €2 000, and go up a level for a more luxurious setting as the Mont d’Arbois, par exemple, at a €10 000 or even €30 000 price.
Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc
This resort is the one you’re searching for when you think about “the best”: it has five 5-star hotels, including the famous Hameau Albert 1er, where you’ll spend between €200 and €1 500 per night, at best. Flirting with Mont Blanc’s intimacy is easily possible thanks to the comfort and warmth the visitors will encounter, whilst leaving all the worries apart and:
- relaxing at spas;
- tasting local and international specialities at delicious restaurants;
- engaging in fitness activities, ski, horse riding, tennis, swimming;
- trying out their luck at the Barrière casino.
This is the place where you want to hide if you have a big family like the Peugeot, Mulliez, Taittinger, Stern or many other, or if you are a politician looking for quietness such as Balladaur or Worth. Here, the mass media are not intruding as much as they do in the Courchevel: despite its luxurious essence, discretion has the leading role. A phrase that can sum up the mood of Chamonix says that “we drink the same exceptional Bordeaux you can find in Courchevel, but here the gates are closed.” It is a world dedicated to mountains and everything in-between. The memory of Rousseau, the Empress Eugénie, Victor Hugo watches over this well-hidden hideaway.
Actually, the ultimate sport one can practice here is to admire. To walk in the dark for a couple of hours until the sun opens its eyes and wings over Europe, with Monte Bianco’s permission.
The most popular resorts from around the world
Gstaad or The Beverly Hills of the Swiss Alps
Oh, how interminable is the list of celebrities who feel like home in the ski resort of Gstaad: Roger Moore, Liz Taylor, the late Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, Roman Polanski, Johnny Halliday.
This extravagant village houses several 5-star hotels: the Alpina Gstaad and the Hotel Park are the most notorious ones. Spas, exclusive suites, fine cigar cellars and haute cuisine places are all accomplices for a unique rendezvous everyone must have. Just like in Courchevel, paramount brands have set tent a few meters away from the main boulevard: Louis Vuitton, Hublot, Chopard, Audemars Piquet.
As you may have heard, numerous events bring the spotlights upon this Swiss resort:
- The Hublot Gold Polo cup;
- the Gstaad Classic (a collectors’ car event);
- the Gstaad Country Night and so on.
Did you make up your mind already? We are happy to inform you that the prices can go higher than €150 000 per week, and very few of them can be rented out for under €10 000. Check out this website to find your ideal holiday citadel.
Saint Moritz, Davos and Zermatt (Switzerland)
Looking for sunshine? If so, Saint Moritz is the only right answer. Being the oldest among the famous ones known for their splashes of daylight, the resort hosted Nietzsche, Proust and Karajan. Its 350 km of tracks are everything that’s needed to organize events such as The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (the next one will take place in 2017). Except skiing, Saint Moritz also attracts:
- a huge number of people searching for thermal water (3 000 years of thermal history);
- polo enthusiasts that can practice on frozen lakes (especially during the St. Moritz World Cup on Snow, sponsored by Cartier).
Once you’ve arrived, you can take a hot bath in one of your soon-to-be-favourite hotel:
- The Kulm Hotel: a vintage realm where visitors can escape since 1878, when the first electric lights were lit up from this tiny Swiss place. Spa, gourmet restaurants, golf clubs, tennis and winter sports activities await you. Run away from work and take off as many days you can in order to enjoy the sights for prices starting from €300 per night, and going higher and higher.
- The Badrutt’s Palace Hotel: traditionally, this hotel welcomed many artistic personalities (Richard Strauss, Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock). Today, politicians and businessmen invaded the resort and absorbed its authenticity.
- The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains: for those interested in thermal therapy, details can be found here.
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Cartier and another great deal of international brands display their merchandise for shopping-lovers.
Due to the annual World Economic Forum, conferences and seminars, Davos is home to many visitors with political backgrounds. That’s why, it is the safest resort in the world. Besides the 260 skiing tracks spread over 5 zones, Davos welcomes also ice hockey and skating fans.
One night won’t be enough for you to breathe in all that The Intercontinental Hotel has to offer. Nicknamed “The golden egg” because of its architecture, the hotel opened its doors in January 2014. The hotel refused to disclose us the price of the rooms, therefore you can be sure that it’s a noteworthy must-see 5-star hotel. The four restaurants within the building attract gourmets from around the world. They will also be astonished by the landscapes seen from Studio Grigio from the top floor.
Also called Praborgne sometimes, Zermatt is known since the 15th century for its pastures and many glaciers, and its proximity to the highest peaks of Switzerland (38 over 4 000-meter high). The village is well maintained thanks to strict management and the authorities’ fight for preserving its authenticity. Take your time and enjoy peace, discretion and privacy.
A jet and helicopter from the local airline, Air Zermatt, go daily to Saint Moritz or Milan for shopping. Visitors are greeted in 5-star hotels like Mont Cervin Palace, the Cervo hotel (which was opened only in 2009, but its contemporary and genuine design boosted quickly its reputation) or the Firefly.
Aspen and Vail (US)
Situated in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Aspen remains by far the city’ favourite ski resort amongst wealthy individuals residing in North America: Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and many more.
Briefly said, this is not a resort. It’s an entire city that encompasses four different other resorts. Paradoxically, it remains modest in size, but it still opens its arms for Prada, Dior, Luis Vuitton, Moncler, Loro Piana-lovers.
To make the most of your time, book a room at:
- The Hyatt Grand Aspen Hotel turns on the volume for a very traditional American spirit (from only $650 a night, for a 5-night package);
- The Ritz-Carlton Club is truly appreciated for its spa and restaurant (from $300 per night, with a minimum of 3 nights stay);
- The St. Regis Residence Club can be really proud of its spa and airport transfer services (they require a 5-night minimum stay, starting $800/night).
This rising resort from Colorado is often regarded as the direct competitor of Aspen. Its fame continues to grow worldwide because of The Alpine Skiing World Championship held in 2015. The real estate prices are escalating quickly enough, so this would be a great moment to invest. It’s up to you.
Just as Aspen, Vail was known only by explorers and gold miners before becoming this Mecca of winter sports. In 1966, everything related to skiing was redesigned from scratch, in an architectural style similar to the Austrian pattern. Like any high-class resort, 5-star hotels, spas, nightclubs and outstanding stores (American brands, mostly) are part of your holiday kit.
British Columbia, the wild legendary Canadian state, is the living room of Whistler Blackcomb, which has hosted the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter. Passionate skiers affirm that this resort has the best ski tracks in North America, and perhaps, in the whole world, due to the large amount of snow (here, it is possible to ski even during summer time).
These features, or better said, these strengths, help the village attract many celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Halle Berry, Chevy Chase. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is thought to be the most luxurious hotel on the East Coast of Canada, very popular for its comfort, gourmet, spa, pool or golf activities.
And now tell us, which one of these prestigious resorts appeal to you most?