The struggle (to leave) is real: Inside the French ski chalet so snug and luxurious that heading out to hit the slopes takes genuine effort
- Ted Thornhill checks into Consensio Chalets’ five-bedroom Chalet Blackcomb in world-class Val d’Isere
- He writes: ‘The luxurious snugness of Chalet Blackcomb is like a tractor beam’
- Escape from the 3,659-sq-ft property is also hampered by a ‘stunning’ pool and ‘heavenly’ bedrooms
- Perrier-Jouet Champagne is ‘bottomless’ at Chalet Blackcomb and readily available
There should be a word for it.
That feeling you have in the mornings on a ski holiday when you’re desperate to hit the slopes, but are being held back by the cosiness of your accommodation (the Germans probably have it covered).
The luxurious snugness of Consensio Chalets’ five-bedroom Chalet Blackcomb in the world-class French resort of Val d’Isere is like a tractor beam.
My room is a heavenly cocoon, with a divine king-sized bed, beautifully soft pillows, mini banquette, en suite with a walk-in rain shower augmented by classy black fittings and views of dramatic peaks.
‘The luxurious snugness of Consensio Chalets’ Chalet Blackcomb (above) in the French resort of Val d’Isere is like a tractor beam,’ says Ted Thornhill
Above is Chalet Blackcomb’s open kitchen area, where guests can watch/chat with the hosts as they prepare meals
Escape this, and there’s the lure of the 3,659-sq-ft property’s breathtaking living areas to overcome.
Behold the ginormous open kitchen where guests can watch/chat with the hosts as they prepare meals either on stools at the kitchen island or from adjacent sofas.
Then feel your limbs become heavier and heavier as they struggle to transport you away from the main living room, with its epic horseshoe-shaped sofa, beautiful cushions, fireplace and fairy-tale corner ‘book nook’, which has an armchair, rug and pillows.
The spellbinding properties of the utterly gorgeous wooden panelling and vast beams, made from reclaimed old pine and spruce wood, generously smothered all over the chalet also play their part in slowing one’s exit, not to mention the stunning indoor pool.
Water treat: Pictured above is the stunning oxygenated pool and relaxation area
Perrier-Jouet Champagne is ‘bottomless’ at Chalet Blackcomb and readily available. Jump in the hot tub, and it’s delivered to you ‘as a matter of course’
But exit one absolutely must, because Val d’Isere, which sits at an altitude of 1,850m (6,069ft) and is linked to Tignes, is a ski station of eye-opening calibre, and during my two-night January stay the snow is in tip-top condition.
My very good Burton snowboard and boots are supplied by the Val d’Isere branch of the Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School, which comes to the (also cosy) Chalet Blackcomb boot room for the fitting.
We’re chauffeured by the chalet in a VW van to the main junction, around a five-minute drive away, and guided hither and thither by tremendous Oxygene ski guide Antoine Prieur, who’s fun, friendly and knows the slopes like the back of his hand.
And those slopes are testing. ‘If you can ski in Val d’Isere you can ski anywhere,’ says Antoine, who explains that even the greens have steepish sections – and the blues are ‘dark blue’.
There are five bedrooms at Chalet Blackcomb. Above is the ‘owner’s’ suite, which offers stunning views of Val d’Isere
This image shows Ted’s ‘heavenly’ bedroom
There’s even a thrilling chairlift – Leissieres – which goes up and over a ridgeline in spectacular stomach-churning style.
It’s a resort that gets the adrenalin pumping and for this reason Antoine loves it – and is keen to clock up some miles with our group over the two mornings he’s booked with us to show us what it has to offer.
We’re of varying abilities, from confident beginners to veteran, so we stick to the greens and blues, with a couple of the more experienced skiers and I tackling what Antoine describes as a ‘very challenging red’ down to the resort, called ‘Plan’.
We’re treated to magnificent views as we negotiate the cambered, twisty route. The ‘Leissieres’ chairlift isn’t far off for heart-thumping excitement, though.
On day two we’re out in a snowfall that hampers visibility on bare terrain, so we make our acquaintance with the eye-catching tree-lined runs around the Daille gondola a couple of kilometres from the main village. And stop off at a welcoming restaurant for a coffee that has little baskets on the walls for gloves and helmets. Cunning.
The 3,659-sq-ft property can accommodate 10 guests, and is hosted by professional chefs Henry Eldon and Mikkaila Mckeever-Willis
The write stuff: This image shows the fairy-tale ‘book nook’ in the main living room area
La Folie Douce Val d’Isère, located at the top of the Daille gondola, is an even more memorable pit-stop.
What started off as a small self-service restaurant is now practically a mini resort, with gourmet restaurants indoors and out, jaw-dropping acrobatic displays, and an outdoor bar where skiers and boarders dance on the tables to thumping dance music – and vocals from a man dressed in a silver cowboy outfit.
It’s a few degrees below zero during our al fresco Folie Douce lunch, but the restaurant keeps the shivering to a minimum by giving us a set of amazing garments to cocoon ourselves in that are like sleeping bags with arms.
Climbing inside them is a tad awkward, but warmth trumps dignity in this frigidity.
Even Chalet Blackcomb’s boot room is cosy. It’s here that Ted’s snowboard fitting takes place, courtesy of Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School
Chalet Blackcomb is available to book for catered ski holidays from mid-December to the end of April, and costs from €2,200 (£1,935) per person for seven days
Hosts Henry Eldon and Mikkaila Mckeever-Willis
Our other lunch stop is at La Grande Ourse restaurant by the main lift area where, unexpectedly, an impressive cover band wanders from table to table taking requests, their heavy French accents disappearing completely as they knock out songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Foodwise, the tartiflette I have is as wonderfully comforting as the olde-worlde dark-wood décor.
There are gourmet treats at the chalet, too, courtesy of charming hosts Henry Eldon and Mikkaila Mckeever-Willis, both professional chefs and both capable of elevated, inventive cooking.
Their charcuterie sausage rolls are divine, their rabbit with wild mushrooms is heavenly and their charred pineapple with rum caramel inspired.
This image shows some of the runs at Val d’Isere that lead to the main village, including the famous La Face black run on the right-hand side
‘If you can ski in Val d’Isere you can ski anywhere,’ says Antoine, Ted’s resort guide from the Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School
Val d’Isere is about a 40-minute drive from Bourg-Saint-Maurice railway station, where TGVs arrive from Paris
Chalet Blackcomb isn’t ski in/ski out, but guests can be chauffeured to the slopes, which are mere minutes away
Ted writes: ‘Feel your limbs become heavier and heavier as they struggle to transport you away from the main living room’
La Folie Douce Val d’Isère is a ‘memorable pit-stop’
We’re also offered smashed peas and concasse tomato on toast for breakfast, a refreshing creation that gets me out of my comfort zone as a pain au chocolat devotee in the mornings in France.
One’s taste buds are also treated to some delicious drinks – Henry makes a mean espresso martini, the wines are very decent and the house Perrier-Jouet Champagne is ‘bottomless’ and readily available. Jump in the hot tub, and it’s delivered to you ‘as a matter of course’.
Maybe there should be a word for it – that feeling you get when you’re out on the mountain and don’t want to leave, but can’t resist the pull of a luxury lair, great food and Champagne.
Val d’Isere has plenty of green runs, but the slopes are generally on the steep side
Ted is hosted by Consensio Chalets, a luxury travel operator that manages a portfolio of 16 luxury alpine properties in France and Switzerland on behalf of private owners.
Chalet Blackcomb is available to book for catered ski holidays for 10 guests from mid-December to the end of April, and costs from €2,200 (£1,935) per person for seven days. Consensio offers half-price lift passes for every full-price Chalet Blackcomb booking made during January. For more information visit: www.consensiochalets.co.uk/property/chalet-blackcomb.
Hosts Henry Eldon and Mikkaila Mckeever-Willis are supported by a housekeeper and a shared driver for an in-resort chalet-to-piste shuttle. Henry and Mikkaila ‘are passionate about sustainability’ and offer guests a plant-based day during their stay.
Chalet Blackcomb interior design by London-based FINDDA.
PROS: Exquisite decor, luxurious comfort, stunning pool, charming hosts, superb food, wonderful views.
CONS: Not ski in/ski out.
Rating out of five: *****
For more on Val d’Isere visit www.valdisere.com/en.
For more on La Folie Douce Val d’Isere visit www.lafoliedouce.com/en/val-isere.
For more on La Grande Ourse restaurant visit airelles.com/en/destination/val-d-isere-hotel/restaurants/la-grande-ourse-restaurant.
For great coffees and juices try Arctic Juice and Cafe. Visit www.arcticjuicecafe.com.
SKI AND SNOWBOARD GUIDING
A guide for four hours for up to three people from Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School costs from €359 (£315). Oxygene also rents skis from €189 (£165) for six days. Visit www.oxygene.ski. Ask about Chalet Blackcomb’s discounts for guests, which range from 10 to 30 per cent.
WHAT TO WEAR
Ecoski repairs, rents and sells high-quality new and preowned skiwear to reduce production and waste. Rental kit arrives two days before you travel and you simply return it in the prepaid bag before 12 noon the day after the final day of rental unwashed. Visit www.ecoski.co.uk.
Eurostar from London to Paris from £78 per person. Train travel is by far the most eco-friendly option. On average C02 emissions are 4kg per person for a journey to Paris compared to 57.8kg by air. That’s the equivalent of 14 Eurostar journeys to one flight.
Train from Paris to Bourg-Saint-Maurice takes six hours and costs £72 per person, each way. Book on www.thetrainline.com.
Large electric van transfer from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Chalet Blackcomb – which takes around 40 minutes – costs €306 (£270) for the return journey, carrying eight passengers. Visit snow-drone.com.
All information correct at time of going to press.
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