A 5 Star Holiday in Val d'Isere

Mention early season skiing and a few resorts always spring to mind. For the best early season snow record, some of the best chalets and service in the Alps and a generally superb time, Val d'Isere is close to unbeatable. Nick and I had the pleasure of staying a few nights last week in Chalet Chablis, one of the Bellevarde Lodges in Val d'Isere.

It wasn't your typical ski break, as we only actually spent two nights in our sumptuous surroundings. Sadly, trips out to view chalets are fun but all too often short-lived. We won't dwell on that though, instead I'd like to focus on the superb surroundings and brilliant organisation which meant that we came back feeling as though we'd been away for a whole week<--break- />.

The superb Chalet Chablis, part of the Bellevarde Lodges in Val d'Isere

Let's start with our base, Chalet Chablis. It's difficult to conceive of a better location in Val d'Isere; the Bellevarde Lodges are just above the main lift station with a piste running right behind all 5 chalets. It's simply a case of about 5 steps up from the heated boot room to the Santons piste and a 2 minute glide down to whichever one of the main lifts you wish to get on.

The Solaise, Bellevarde and Olympique lifts are all handy, giving quick access to the entire ski area. It takes perhaps 10 minutes to stroll into the town centre but this is an easy walk and no bad thing, as chalets in central Val d'Isere do occasionally suffer from noisy revellers spilling out of town centre bars late at night. Chablis is furnished to a very high standard, with en-suite facilities in every bedroom and a lovely double height lounge with open fire and fantastically comfortable sofas.

The hot-tub on the balcony from the lounge adds that little bit of extra luxury to a superbly finished property. Day one began for me with a quick blast up the mountain on my own having arrived on Sunday morning on the sleeper train from Paris. The rest of the party arrived at around 2 pm and we all got together for a quick resort orientation before a couple of beers in the Petit Danois followed by Champagne, canapés and supper back at the chalet.

The Gourgeous Petit Choucas' Living Room
The Gourgeous Petit Choucas' Living Room

Day two was an early start and straight up the Solaise for a full morning on the slopes. Temperatures in the shade were dipping below minus 10 with wind-chill making it feel more like minus 20. The pistes were in superb condition though and being so early in the season they were almost deserted. We found our way to Le Fornet, before tackling the notorious Face de Bellevarde right before lunch. I was actually rather glad to have an excuse to stay off the mountain during the afternoon.

Any break from the cold was fine by me, so chalet viewings were a welcome respite. We went up to Le Cret, just outside the town to look at a cluster of fourlovely chalets; Chalet Davos, Chalet Klosters, Chalet Arosa and Chalet Madrisah. All four are recently built to a really high standard. There's so little to choose between them but if I had to, it would be the master suite in the Davos with its four-poster bed, fireplace and free-standing bath tub! All four benefit from a driver service as they are a little way out of the main town centre.

The third and final day went down a lot like the first, an early start and some brutally cold skiing around Tignes followed by the excruciatingly touristy event that was our lunch. Nine adults seated around a restaurant table, nine Tartiflettes ordered and all nine subsequently demolished in record time. We popped in to a few more chalets after that, this time the highlights were the Farmhouse which is a striking converted 200 year-old farm building in the heart of the old part of the village and the Chalets Grand and Petit Choucas.

The contrast between the two couldn't be more marked. The Chalet Farmhouse manages to combine modern comfort with true charm and character, something that so many chalets try their hardest to achieve whilst falling well short of this benchmark. The Choucas' apartments were the antithesis of the Farmhouse but they were just as well received by the whole group. They are spacious, sleek, modern and despite being just metres from the main road they are peacefully set back from the hustle and bustle. My favourite chalets of the entire weekend were these two little beauties. Our final visit was to the Aspen Lodges.

This complex is right on the main street and benefits from the sort of service you'd find in a 5 star hotel (concierge desk, communal lounge area with pool table and a small coffee bar) whilst being split into individual chalet apartments sleeping between 6 (the Oak Suite for example) and 10 (the Penthouse Suite). All are modern, really well fitted out and have south-facing balconies off the comfortable lounges. Almost as soon as it began, we had to pack up and leave. Just time to thank our guide, James who looked after us every step of the way, taking care of everything that we could throw his way and quite a bit more besides.

Don't forget our chalet hosts Jack and Tim, who were equally attentive and made us feel right at home even though a bunch of rowdy travel agents was the last thing they probably needed as they prepared themselves for their first lot of paying guests. Val d'Isere will always be one of the best early and late season destinations and any one of the chalets we visited would provide an ideal home for the week. Thanks very much to James at VIP for the organisation and hospitality. If you're interested in any of the chalets featured above or if you'd like some more information on Val d'Isere then please give our sales team a call or visit our Val d'Isere Chalets website.

All of the chalets above are also featured on our Luxury Ski Chalets website. For more photos of your trip please take a look at Nick's photo album on facebook.

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