There is something about the mountains – I absolutely adore them. I love being at the top of the world – and I love the peace and quiet. I am a decent skier, but a ski trip for me means more than just that – for some reason, it always gives me the opportunity to clear my thoughts, catch up on my sleep and have a little bit of “me” time.
Thanks to VIP SKI, Mr. O and myself were invited to open the 2012-2013 ski season in the lovely resort of Val d’Isere. Mr. O knows the French Alps like he knows me, and was very keen to go back. We never ski in December, so were looking forward to compare and contrast.
We flew to Geneva, and had enjoyed a private transfer to Val d’Isere, which is a little bit under 3 hours away. On the way, we drove past the beautiful city of Annecy – a place I would definitely go back to and spend some time there. We have never really stopped and heard great things. And the lake.. wow!
Val d’Isere, often referred to as ‘skiing’s peak of perfection’, is one of the greatest ski resorts in the world, with practically limitless skiing and breath-taking surroundings. L’Espace Killy which comprises Val d’Isere and neighbouring Tignes is the highest extended ski area in the world, with a well-founded reputation for excellent snowfall. Val d’Isere’s 300km of pistes include everything from green and reds to the legendary Face de Bellevarde black run and some of the most exhilarating off-piste worldwide. The 2012-2013 season started with excellent snow – if anything a bit too much, as we only saw the sun on the very last day.
As we arrived, we were greeted by our Chalet hosts, who were to look after us for the next 4 days. When we arrived at the Aspen Lodge, our address in this part of the world, we needn’t have worried – the accommodation was fantastic.
We stayed at the Birch suite, also known as the Penthouse Suite, which sleeps 10 guests, in 5 en-suite twin bedrooms. You can certainly tell by the images how lovely it was. Our package included breakfast, afternoon tea and a 3-course dinner – and I can’t tell you how much we ate!
After the first dinner, where we were treated to champagne and a log fire, it was time for a proper sleep – I am no early riser (even when skiing), and the thought of being up before 8am on a holiday always makes me a bit nervous. But I didn’t need to worry, as the rooms were indeed lovely.
For 2 days, we were split into groups and assigned a guide – not a “ski instructor”. I loved this concept, which is very different from normal “ski school”. Colin, who owns the business looked after us – boy, was he patient! TDC Ski is all about helping people really improve their skiing in an enjoyable, relaxed environment. Rather than pre-planned lessons and drills, their approach is based around coaching clients on their style as an individual, allowing one to really make a breakthrough in confidence and ability. Having enjoyed all the attention first hand, I can really vouch for the concept. I have never really been a fan of ski school, preferring more 1-to-1 attention.
On the first skiing day, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch with the Mayor of Val d’Isere, who kindly took some time to meet and welcome us to the lovely resort. Lunch took place at Le Signal, at over 2300 metres high. After 4 hours skiing and a hearty lunch, I needed a break. And a little sleep before my pre-booked inroom massage with Pamper off Piste, which was just what I needed, before dinner and a not so early night!
Day 2, and time for some more skiing – or staying in bed late, whichever we decided (I dare you to guess what I did). And obviously time for more food. This time, we headed for an incredible lunch at La Fruitière, which is located next door to La Folie Douce, right on the slopes. I loved this restaurant – the food was incredible (I will never forgive myself for not ordering the snail soup, but thankfully Mr. O shared a bit of his) and so was the wine. We were able to visit the wine and cheese cellar (yes, cheese cellar, why not?) and of course I found something I liked!
The highlight of the day? As Folie Douce was still closed (it opened on December 13th 2012), the fab Kelly treated us to an incredible live music performance over lunch. I understand that this is unlikely to happen again, so I must thank everyone again and again. It was really quite something!
As you can tell, we did have a bit of fun, but after this, it was time to go back to our chalet for the last night, where we were treated to a “pre-christmas” celebrated by our lovely chalet girls. Millie, Laura and Rachel were absolutely lovely and really looked after us. One thing I have to say – these ladies were very impressive. One thing I loved about this trip was how well “matched” they were to the type of guests that VIP usually has. Helen, the Chalet manager was also very nice and efficient and overall, the staff at VIP get 5 stars.
One thing I also really liked – the fact that our chalets had no keys. We all know how key cards seem to magically disappear on ski holidays, so having a 4-digit code seemed like the best idea ever. If one remembers it, of course, which can be slightly difficult after a drink or three at Dick’s Tea Bar, where we went for a final drink on our last night.
Good things come to an end, as they say – and I really enjoyed my time in Val d’Isere. I felt looked after, but also super comfortable – everything I need on a skiing holiday.
And with this, it was back to Geneva again – and no shopping this time! Which naturally means, I *simply* need to go back ?
Disclosure: I was a guest of VIP SKI on this trip, who covered my transportation, lift passes, food and beverage, beauty treatments, ski lessons and accommodation, amongst others. Opinions, are as always, my own. I believe the experience I had is very similar to what any paying guest would, and can, without a doubt, recommend this product.
VIP SKI has thirteen chalets to choose from in Val d’Isere. Aspen Lodge is situated at the centre of the resort and makes up four of the accommodation options in the resort. The Birch Penthouse Suite sleeps ten guests in five ensuite bedrooms and benefits from the large reception area on the ground floor along with its own concierge desk giving visitors the ultimate in location, style and comfort. With sliding glass doors that open from the high street onto a smart lounge area with open fire, giant cinema screen, high tech facilities, pool table, draft beer and coffee bar and lift access to the private accommodation suites above. The suite has its own living and dining area, featuring a south facing balcony, and a dedicated chalet host. VIP SKI prices for seven nights start from £859 per person based on 2 sharing. Included are return flights from London Gatwick, coach transfers, accommodation, catered chalet board of breakfast, afternoon tea, three course evening meal on six nights followed by cheese board and coffee and mints, wine, wake up drinks and canapés on the first and last evening. Complimentary ski and snowboard hosting service on three days, towels, mid-week bed linen change, toiletries and daily newspapers. For more information call VIP SKI on 0844 557 3119 or book online at www.vip-chalets.com
VIP SKI’s Platinum Service starts at £1,129 per person based on two sharing at the Aspen Lodge. This exclusive service includes all the usual VIP SKI features plus:
- Midweek linen and towel change
- Valet parking in the UK
- Private taxi to resort
- Private chef who phones prior to the holiday to arrange a menu for the week
- Cooked breakfast and housekeeping all 7 days
- Canapés on 6 evenings
- Personally selected upgrade wine
- Port and handmade chocolates
- Fresh flowers
- Unlimited complimentary mini bar
- Personal in resort chauffeur (8am – 8pm)
Ski pack items can be pre-booked: Lift passes for the Espace Killy area (Val d’Isere and Tignes) start from £206 with child and senior lift passes starting at £165. Ski hire starts at £134 for boots and skis or snowboard with children’s hire starting at £61 for skis and boots. Group ski lessons with TDC start at €220 for 9 hours of tuition spread over 3 mornings www.tdcski.com.
Check the tourist board’s website www.valdisere.com for the latest news and snow conditions.
Pamper Off Piste www.pamperoffpiste.com offer a range of massage and beauty treatments and a 30 minute massage starts at €52.
La Folie Douce represents the ultimate in Après Ski in Val d’Isère, Meribel and Val Thorens as well as a great mountain restaurant for a leisurely lunch www.lafoliedouce.com. Also check out Dicks Tea Bar at www.dicksteabar.com with a bar in Meribel as well as Val d’Isère.
Le Signal has been known to gain accolades such as Best Restaurant in the Alps and from its position at 2330m there are commanding views of the slopes and mountains. For more information visit www.lesignalvaldisere.com