For discerning travellers, Christmas spent at a luxury ski chalet offers the chance to experience the ideal festive travelling experience. Envisage a picturesque chalet, nestled beneath powdery pistes; reindeer pulling a sleigh of excitable children along chocolate-box streets; giant evergreen trees, decorated top to bottom with ornamental lights and baubles. Europe’s luxury ski resorts evoke the Christmas spirit quite unlike any other destinations on earth. While there are many appealing destinations across the continent, few ski resorts are as opulent in their allure as those in Switzerland and France. But of the two, which is the best option for your white Christmas in 2017? Do you opt for the high altitude, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and vast resorts of fantastic France? Or would you prefer the traditions, heritage, and unique nature of spectacular Switzerland?
For fans of luxury, the high-brow resorts of France are a winning option. Helicopter transfers to the Alps bring French resorts within easy reach. Once there, expect chalets that resemble entire hotels, expansive networks of manicured ski pistes, and spa resorts that invigorate the senses. There’s a reason that resorts such as Courchevel, Val d’Isere, Meribel and Megeve have earned such sparkling reputations over the years: they are quite simply some of the best in the world in terms of the all-round experience on offer.
As one would expect of a luxury French ski resort, you’re never far from a Michelin-starred restaurant, no matter which destination you choose. Courchevel’s Restaurant Azimut is receiving rave reviews thanks to Chef Francois Moureaux’s seemingly superhero ability to give fresh local ingredients a daring twist. And one shouldn’t miss Le Sommet at the M de Megeve, which is regarded as being well on its way to gaining a star of its own.
Those looking for somewhere to relax and recuperate over the holiday should look no further than Val d’Isere’s Hotel Christiania; the popular local spa has an elegant pool where visitors can warm up after a day on the slopes as well as a fitness room, sauna and steam room – the perfect present to your body after a long day on the slopes.
The ski resorts of France merge high luxury with authentic French culture, encapsulating the ultimate alpine experience. Whether enjoying the world-class winter sports facilities or indulging in a little relaxation, you’re sure to find your idea of perfection in the French Alps.
That is, of course, unless you are introduced to Switzerland. While France will seem the obvious choice to many, Switzerland demands the attention of the international jet set with its sophisticated allure.
St Moritz, one of the country’s most famous resorts, boasts UNESCO world heritage status and was twice a host city for the Winter Olympics. Here, beneath the 3,057m high Piz Nairs, you are almost guaranteed snow from late November through to mid-April, which makes for a fine choice of lengthy, satisfying runs for those who ski at an intermediate level.
Switzerland also ticks all of the culinary boxes too, thanks to restaurants such as Ecco St Moritz, which has been awarded two Michelin stars. Serving up a range of creative, expertly crafted dishes and fine wines, Ecco is located in a former chapel – a very suitable location for Christmas fare.
To experience the finest alpine accommodation on offer, stay at Gstaad Palace – a vision amongst the mountains. Providing easy access to over 125 miles of slopes and just a short stroll from the village, the hotel is perfectly placed for skiers and non-skiers alike. The regal retreat has attracted discerning guests for decades, making the hotel an institution among experienced fans of winter sports.
The scenic mountains of Switzerland have set it apart as a picturesque skiing destination. Peaks like the Matterhorn encourage travellers to visit, thanks to their natural splendour and their awe-inspiring effect.
The Verdict: Switzerland or France?
If you’re a traditionalist, we recommend visiting one of Switzerland’s famed resorts. Gstaad and St Moritz set the bar with regards to luxurious ski breaks. For those in search of special treatment and modern fun, head to the French Alps and don your skis; Courchevel, Megeve, and Val d’Isere beckon.
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