Dreaming of a post-lockdown ski safari in the Swiss and French Alps? Here’s where to find us this winter season. (Fingers crossed)
Need to Know: Ski resorts are establishing details of how things will work: Basic Covid rules obviously apply, such as wearing masks in lift queues, enclosed lifts, communal accommodation areas and indoor public spaces, plus social distancing of 1 to 1.5 metres. Many resorts will ask visitors to download a regional app, to make reservations and order food in restaurants. Some may limit the number of lift passes sold or make advance booking necessary. Be sure to check out this comprehensive guide of ski resorts opening around the world during the pandemic, before heading to the mountains!
Grand Hotel du Soleil d’Or, Megève
On the third floor of this handsome hotel (circa 1901), Flora Mikula and Mélanie Martin helm the restaurant, worth a visit for their fabulous regional cuisine such as chunky authentic terrine, 14-month matured hams and platters of ripe mountain cheeses. And did I mention the wellness spa, sunbathing on the rooftop, and homemade hot chocolate at Le Chocolaterie by Jean-Paul Hevin? Megève’s a super chic ski resort, with a charming village and fabulous boutiques; think St. Tropez with snow instead of sea. Set in outstanding scenery with Mont Blanc as the backdrop, the central main square– with a fairytale, 13th-century church– is the perfect spot to unwind after a day on the slopes. Designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and narrow, winding cobbled streets, all make for a resort full of atmosphere and ambience. Towards the end of January, the Megève Polo Masters is played on the ice (maybe not this January, but check). It’s a thrilling spectacle.
Experimental Chalet, Verbier
Famous for introducing a contemporary style of Cocktail Club to Paris, Europe and the world, the iconic Experimental Group is comprised of three friends: Olivier Bon, Pierre Charles Cros and Romée de Goriainoff. Recently they presented their swish Swiss Alpine mountain bolthole with a cutting-edge bistro headed by our favorite Frenchie, Gregory Marchand. Baked vacherin Mont d’Or, saucisson brioche, followed by Baked Alaska, washed down with a signature cocktail, anyone? There’s a Biologique Rechereche Spa, signature Cocktail Bar, and the famous Farm Club night club. The 39 rooms and two suites overlook the mountains – it’s art deco on ice, ice baby.
“Sweet Madness” was born in Val-d’Isère in the ’70s when Luc Reversade launched La Folie Douce – a tiny “greasy spoon” for stylish skiers at the top of La Daille cable car. “It was a pretty basic affair– my mother cooked and I was the waiter,” he recalls. However, the location was excellent and by 1994 Reversade added a chic brasserie called La Fruitière.
Then, inspired by the Ibiza clubs where he spent his summers, he added the large outdoor terrace/ dance floor, DJs, snow-proof speakers, a troupe of cabaret performers and put on fashion shows. The champagne flows… The food’s fantastic and the atmosphere’s electric.
“I said to myself, if tourists dance when they go on seaside summer holidays, they should be able to do the same when they come to the mountains in winter, n’est ce pas?”
Today La Folie Douce is the hippest, happening brand in après-ski, with outposts in six French ski resorts, including Méribel, Val Thorens, Alpe-d’Huez and a hotel in Chamonix (the former Club Med), not forgetting the in-house magazine and boutique (for edgy leisure wear – soon available online) and La Folie Grocery in Les Arcs.
Reversade reflects, “La Folie Douce never stops questioning itself – this is the secret. We work hard, season after season, to amaze our guests and make the ‘Folie Douce’ experience memorable. Unique shows, unique dishes, unique events,” he says.
“Even more unique is the landscape in which we operate on a daily basis, increasingly fragile, this ecosystem must be protected. Faced with environmental issues and aware of our role and status, we decided to take a series of strong measures limiting our impact on the environment. Concrete actions which will be partly implemented from the beginning of the 2021 season, with the objective of achieving 100 percent environmental protection of these commitments by 2025,” promises Reversade.
With the mission statement “the show must go on” for the 2020/2021 season, La Folie Douce, Val d’Isère launches another exciting restaurant in a surrealist mountain setting. The décor’s inspired by artist’s studios of the Italian Renaissance – with nods and winks to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. The focal point is the solid wood table d’hôte, sharing table, perfect for making new best friends. The Sardinian chef Francesco Ibba, who oversees an all-Italian) says, “It’s a very exciting adventure for us – cooking beautifully at an altitude of 2,400 meters is the ultimate challenge!”
Every Day from 12.30-3.30pm. Tel: +33 (0)4 79 06 07 17
Access by Telecabine de la Daille
This may be the best hotel you’ve never heard of! The recently renovated, 52-room retreat is located in the foothills of the Jura Mountains, 15 minutes from Geneva Airport with indoor/outdoor heated pools, plus a spa and wellness centre with Carita treatments. The junior suites have private outdoor hot tubs, the deluxe rooms, terraces or balconies with views of the Jura Massif. Chill in the bar and the panoramic indoor/outdoor restaurants Le Jardin and Le Jiva (meaning “life” in Sanskrit) where chef Jean-Francois Vasseur creates excellent French cuisine, showing off the bounty of Lac Leman. Post lunch admire the modern art collection or head off to the haute mountains from the hotel heliport. Relais&Chateaux, Route d’Harée, Crozet.
Le Monêtier, Serre Chevalier
Situated near the slopes, this rustic-chic, chalet-style hotel has 21 rooms with picture postcard views and a panoramic restaurant called Le Stabitio. There’s something here for all the family. Les Grands Bains de Monêtier are the village’s thermal baths, perfect after a hard day’s ski – or a hard day’s night.