Val d’Isere: The Top France Winter Destination
I CALL IT “WINTER ON demand”. As a desert-dweller with a serious distaste for temperatures below 21 °C but a just-as-serious passion for winter sports, I enjoy brief flings in cooler climes – at my discretion. Jetting into the cold for a week each year works well, but with such a narrow time frame to enjoy the snow, the importance of selecting a destination where the most can be made of winter is paramount. As I exited Geneva’s airport, all cosy in my transport heading for the hills as fat snowflakes swirled down to earth, I had a good feeling about Val d’lsere.
A scenic three-hour drive through the mountains later, the car pulled up beside a quirky hang ten statue in the driveway of Chalet Husky – my not-so-humble abode for this excursion. Located a short walk from the buzzy centre of town in the quiet Le Petit Alaska hamlet, from the outside the Jean-Charles Covarel-designed chalet seems typical of the Alps’ many luxury stays. But step inside and the off-the-wall style is immediately apparent with a ceiling covered in intricately painted.
Arabesque floral patterns and a glass walkway under-lit with vibrant disco colours. Husky’s mix of traditional and eclectic, rustic touches alongside modish decor, continues throughout: retro pop art hangs on walls next to hand-carved chests and wardrobes; fringed lampshades bundled into playful chandeliers cast a glow on the rough wooden flooring; a sofa made from dozens of denim pillow’s sits tinder a glass roof with classic Alpine views. Somehow; it all mingles harmoniously in the large open-plan space.
The seven bedrooms – three of which are accessed from an indoor garden atrium – have en-suite bathrooms and are hooked up with Apple TV and iPad controls; quirky elements, like a sofa printed with The Beatles or a mirror framed with coloured pencils, give each its own personality. The master bedroom includes direct access to the spa, and all guests can take advantage of the hammam, steam room, Jacuzzi, gym, technicolour infinity pool with a waterfall, indoor archery and rifle shooting, and a climbing wall fashioned from the stone that naturally forms one of the chalet’s walls. A full roster of staff run the show; including chef Leo, who tailors meals to guests’ preferences and whims (with a sudden desire for greens one morning, I requested a rather vague “breakfast salad”, which he created off the cuff: crisp radicchio, sauteed asparagus, carrots, potato and mushrooms topped with a perfectly poached egg, which ended up being precisely what I wanted even though I hadn’t known it when I asked).