Over the last few years Courchevel has become synonymous with glamour, luxury and dubbed the most ‘bling’ resort in the Alps. Popular with wealthy Russians, some claim it’s become THE ski resort for those who appreciate the finer things, the epitomy of luxury and all things OTT.
Curious, when an invite to Le Strato, one of the village’s smaller family run hotels arrived on my (virtual) doorstep, I jumped at the chance for a few days of R’n’R in the snow. We weren’t disappointed – snow wise. From our very arrival to our departure the white stuff was tumbling down, making for the most picturesque of settings.
My mission? Investigate the village, what Courchevel has to offer and sample the delights of Le Strato hotel. Tough call, but someone has to do it, right?
So where do the jet-set stay? They hole up in Le Strato, bien-sur. Apartment-sized rooms come with no less than 3 flat screen TVs – including one above the bathtub so you won’t miss Come Dine while you take a bath – and heaps of lovely Sothy’s products to pamper yourself with. There’s separate shower, and a separate toilet – which has a warm seat (always handy after a day freezing your behind on the slopes!) – not to mention the all-singing, all-dancing, TOTO toilet too.
I couldn’t get enough of my king-size bed, complete with a giant padded headboard stretching across an entire wall of silver ‘mock-croc’. It’s funny how a hotel room can have you re-assessing your interior decorating tastes!
There’s a nice mix of warm fabrics, wooden tones, crisp white linens and the odd touch of zinging orange, in addition to the obligatory modern chrome. My “living room” area is utterly chalet cosy – faux fur throws mingle with felt armchairs, shaggy rugs and wooden contemporary furniture. The art is a mix of traditional paintings – birds and a friendly looking goat in my room – and modern backlit ski photography. The décor as throughout the hotel – designed by ‘Les Heritiers’ is basically contemporary cool – mixing chalet ‘hygge’ and cutting edge modernity. As you would.
My only irk with the room is that it’s over-heated. It’s often the case up in the mountains. Chalets seem to be perpetually stuck on tropical settings, somehow trying to make up for the outside freeze…
But, best of all, the room offered the lovelies views over the snow covered Alpine scenery. Something you just can’t get enough of. The panorama stretches out limitless – mountains covered in white and trees as far as the eye can see. It’s impressive and imposing, yet very liberating. The fresh air is cuttingly crisp, icy. And, there’s the delicious sound of silence – every sound hushed by the soft blanket of snow. It’s slightly surreal – in a very good way. Soothing to say the least.
For more soothing, you can also nip down to the Sothy’s spa or to the pool, which also affords great views, and its bubbling Jacuzzi. A sauna is also a must after a hard day on the pistes, though I don’t handle the change in temperatures very well, and don’t linger too long. After all, it’s soon time to be tempted back to the lounge for drinks and dinner.
In the bijou lounge where champagne is served (from giant magnums, so no fear of running out) we hear all about Le Strato’s history. Owned by the one-time Rossignol founders’ family – who invented the ‘strato’ skis – it’s got true ski heritage. Since the brand was sold to Quicksilver, the family chose to run a hotel, and not by halves.
As well as the 25 luxurious rooms, the family set up their gourmet restaurant, the Baumanière 1850, with 2 Michelin starred partner team from the famous Domaine de Baumaniere in Les Baux de Provence. Chef Andre Charial is thus in charge of all things foodie here and you can tell… Each meal is a veritable feast with multiple courses and ingenious recipes – from the smoothest scallops to the freshest raw salmon, poached chicken, slow cooked pork, wild mushrooms… Each plate is more enticing than the next. And for desert? The most amazing delicate versions of mille-feuilles, oozing chocolate fondants or tasty tarte tatins! Plenty of good reasons to go and burn off some energy on the slopes! And it’s so easy, because le Strato is ski-in, ski-out – a real luxury in itself.
There’s a ski room on the lower level with direct access to the pistes. Another bonus! No need to trek to the tele-cabins to get onto the slopes. The team here can kit you out with everything you need, and if you get thirsty while you wait, there’s a bar on hand – for coffee or champagne –or whatever you might need before your hit the snow.
With 150 kilometres of alpine ski runs and 58 lifts spread across a fun ‘ZEN’ area for beginners with 19 green and 35 blue runs and 34 red and 8 black runs for the pros. Not quite enough? Courchevel is directly connected to the ski zone known as the 3 Valleys. Famous as the biggest interconnected ski area in the world, it’s accessible too – with 50% “easy” runs. It’s a haven for skiers but also for snowboarders and art lovers, dotted with sculptures by Richard Orlinski! So, it’s ok if you’ve got more style than substance. The main thing is to look the part!
The kit at Le Strato is all the latest gear from Courchevel’s most respected ski store: Bernard Orcel. Fashionistas won’t fail to be impressed with the metallic, limited edition Fendi ski all in ones, and the Uggs encrusted with Swarovski diamonds – for the après-ski bling. Want a pair for your kiddo? A snip at 2100€! In the boutique in the village there’s also a rainbow of high end brands – and high tech gear for the more discreet, from cutting edge brands like Aspen based AztechMountain and lots of fur too – Basically, there’s something for everyone, from the sophisticated to the flashiest.