Courchevel 1850, France: Les Airelles
Les Airelles can definitively be described as a fairy tale jewel box – a very special place with an authentic Swiss Chalet flair. Unmatched as one of the top resorts in Courchevel, your entrance through the front doors of the enchanting estate marks your transformation into a regal dignitary. The entire staff is dressed in traditional Swiss Mountain attire (bellmen are distinguished by being in all white), which similarly to the service, is simply over the top. Les Airelles’ hospitality sets high standards by which immense pride is taken in caring for their guests.
The accommodations are truly top-notch and extravagantly beautiful. The suites located on the first floor are highlighted by personal access to the mountain where you can ski in/out at your leisure with your conveniently placed equipment awaiting your arrival just outside the door. Massive sized rooms are mirrored by the proportion of the beds that are not California Kings, but a size that far surpasses it.
A number of intriguing restaurants caught my attention, one of which, Cala di Volpe, features superb Italian cuisine matched by extraordinary service and table-side plating. The Coin Savoyard (of the Swiss Alps tradition) was expressly authentic serving fondue and numerous signature dishes. The service was distinguished as being very charming since the chef personally melts your cheese and has it delivered to your table with haste to preserve its freshness. Also featured on the property is a Michelin-starred creation aptly named, “Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles.” Epitomizing culinary delight, most dining experiences in Courchevel 1850 culminate in a decadent dessert spread brimming with an abundance of confectionery courses. With this setting style, it is easy to find a pleasing selection for virtually any palate.
The spa facilities have a fantastic menu of scintillating treatments and makes great use of its expansive pool, steam room, and intense sauna – all perfect for soothing your limbs after a long day of skiing. You are invited to be seated at the bar serving fresh juices and teas, lounge near the pool, take a leisurely swim or head to the outdoor heated Jacuzzi, which is a surprising treat to enjoy during the winter months when it is surrounded by a serene blanket of snow. Throughout this facility and the entire property, the spirit of anticipatory service distinguishes Les Airelles as being astonishingly precise and intuitive. The members of the staff take a deep interest in your personal preferences by proactively customizing your individual experience, which is finely tuned to each and every special requests you make during your stay. It is a refreshing feeling to have all of your needs met without having to ask. Across the board, the service is impeccable - and not just great service, but a step above.
Transportation is provided by means of the hotel’s on-demand shuttle (a fleet of Audi Q7's), that escort you anywhere you desire within the quaint town of Courchevel 1850. There exists a colorful spectrum of activities for those who enjoy more than the slopes, including a myriad of options for local dining and high-end shopping. Their remarkable cluster of boutiques showcase almost every possible designer brand imaginable.
Along with the other top resorts in Courchevel 1850, Les Airelles has its own ski shop and ski room, making preparation for the mountain a flawless experience. Upon your initial visit, measurements are taken to issue your boots and poles, which are stored here and warmed before use. With a simple request, your equipment is placed outside where you can immediately suit up and ski from their mid-slope location. The friendly instructors, beautiful weather, clear trails, excellent conditions and photographic postcard backdrop make for some of the best skiing in the world. With a multitude of paths to follow down the mountain and an assortment of gondolas to lift you to each one, you can ski continuously all day, only to be interrupted by a leisurely meal.
After a morning of skiing, your reward is lunch at Chalet Pierre, an indoor/outdoor lounge and restaurant with a live DJ. Located in the middle of the mountain, this oasis is also owned by the hotel. It’s like St. Tropez in Courchevel: sipping on mulled wine and swaying to upbeat tunes adds flavor to the already phenomenal Swiss midday meal. Afterwards, retiring to the resort after you no longer wish to ski is simplified with a hotel escort who comes to fetch you from your table-side. Dressed in the traditional white uniform, your distinguished chauffeur takes responsibility for all your equipment, leaving you without a care in the world. You are then driven to the front entrance of the hotel, greeted and seated on a cozy sofa where your boots are removed and replaced with soft slippers. This is genuinely an example of luxury at its peak.
Staying at Les Airelles was a magical experience and I recommended this destination for absolutely anyone. During my stay I personally witnessed a variety of gathering types where everyone was in sheer bliss - from large families (of 8 or more), singles, couples, to adventure-seekers looking to experience the thrill of the mountain and elite jet-setters searching for a glamorous mountainside hideaway.