It’s time to join the Russian oligarchs and ladies-who-lunch (on €250 truffle risotto) in the French Alps’ most-exclusive resort, Courchevel. This is a long weekend skiing done right – hundreds of kilometres of piste, ski-in-ski-out hotel accommodation and beyond-5-star luxury in the snow-clad epicentre of 5-star luxury.
The stay: Perched at the top of Courchevel 1850 (itself the highest of the namesake villages) our unapologetically posh digs at L’Apogée Courchevel offer unrivalled convenience. Simply land your private jet at the resort’s dedicated (if dangerous) airport and in minutes you’re greeted by L’Apogee staff. Once kitted up in the basement ski shop, it’s just two steps outside onto a groomed slope where a puffer-vested staffer has your skis and poles ready for you to clip in and zoom away. No buses, cable car queues or dreaded ski boot walking. Bliss. If only all my ski-trips were this simple.
The Alpine abode: The hotels 53 rooms fit in with the terrain and history of the French Alps, but without the pine décor overload. Instead, Lebanese-Parisian designer India Mahdavi has used bold reds, golds and steely greens along with plush faux-fur throws, inch-thick carpets and velvet upholstery to create a cocoon worthy of exaggerating your thigh pain to create a “rest day”.
The food: What Courchevel lacks in après-ski party vibes, it more than makes up for in Michelin stars and silver service. I wasn’t joking about the truffle risotto. Mid-mountain lunch is at maritime navigator themed La Mille Sabords, which offered our table Italian fare with a truffle depth of at least 5mm shaved upon our perfectly cooked beef and artichokes. Back at home base, Le Comptoir de L'Apogee serves up chic yet comforting French cuisine without a fondue fork in sight.
Ask about: Nothing. The mantra of L’Apogee’s service standard is guests barely have to request anything – it is all done for you. Your swimwear needs wringing? Done. Your feet shattered after a few too many ski-runs? Staff swarm on you to relieve you of your boots, then air them out for the next morning’s tracks. The staff-to-guest ratio is generous since the expectations of the uber-elites who carve around these parts means a dedication to over-the-top service is a must. At first you feel babied, but it is strangely addictive.
How do the jet-set remedy their legs after too many black runs? As a Courchevel mainstay, L’Apogee boasts the necessary pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. But why have a run-of-the-mill Finnish style sauna when you can try out its Himalayan salt sauna, where its wall of flamingo-pink bricks promise to relax your aching muscles even more? Does it work? I have no idea, but it was a blissful sanctuary for the sake of research.
High-flyer fact: Well-to-do snow bunnies often share the same problem: Where to book if you want both an indoor hot-tub and a roof-top jacuzzi? Thankfully, L’Apogee’s penthouse is the (€10,000 per night) answer. For that you get a plush four bedroom suite with your own kitchen and butler to fetch another flute of Krug while you soak under the stars.