here's nothing quite like a ski holiday. The thrill of tackling a tricky red run, the snow-covered mountaintop bars, the brisk crispness of Alpine air (the only thing guaranteed to cure the inevitable fuzzy head after too much apres-ski) and, of course, the luxury of sinking into a warm bath in a luxury chalet at the end of a long day on the slopes. After last year's ski season was largely called off due to the pandemic, hotels and resorts across the Alps are hoping for a stellar winter – and, accordingly, there are a host of new destinations to discover. So grab your boots and your favourite ski jacket, these are the best new Alpine hotels and chalets for the 2021/22 ski season.
Ultima Courchevel Belvédère, Courchevel 1750, France
If Courchevel is the glamorous poster girl of French ski resorts, the Belvédère is the defining pout that has made her career. Situated just above Courchevel proper on the edge of the La Rosière forest and in the famous Vallée Ensoleillée (which snags the most hours of sunlight per day in the area), this hamlet offers the ultimate skiing luxury: the ability to ‘ski in, ski out’ of your hotel. Ultima Courchevel is the most luxurious of its many glossy addresses. Made up of 13 chalets, it offers guests the chance to combine the exclusivity of a private rental with the facilities of a hotel. In practice, this means two spas offering personalised treatments, a hammam, outdoor jacuzzi and an enormous team – including ski instructors and butlers – on hand to anticipate your every whim.
As one would expect from an Ultima Collection resort, no expense has been spared in crisp, contemporary interiors: Italian nubuck leather, bronze mantlepieces and Chesterfield leather headboards combine to create a sense of timeless sophistication. Soaking in a sunken tub amid oceans of black marble while the sun catches the powdery mountain peaks is reason enough to visit. And then there’s the small matter of Courchevel’s 600 kilometres of lift-linked pistes to explore.
Chalet La Fenice, Cervinia, Italy
The romance of early climbing pioneers with their heavy boots and tweed outfits attempting the Italian side of the Matterhorn may now be a distant memory in Cervinia, but a modern resort has risen like a phoenix from those early beginnings. Perched just above the town, Chalet La Fenice (meaning ‘the phoenix’, see what we did there) has also undergone a reinvention thanks to its new British owners. Its 1936-built stone exterior, married with traditional alpine wood interiors, provides a pleasingly traditional feel. Add a new level of luxurious finish, with Italian touches in seven suites, elegant living areas, a spa and a private cinema, and you have one of the Alps’ most spectacular new retreats.
Located at the end of the Aosta valley, Cervinia lies at high altitude and therefore offers a reliably long snow season. Particularly suited to the intermediate skier, thanks to its wide, sunny slopes, more expert skiers can easily connect with nearby Zermatt. If gourmet food cooked by a dedicated chef and an extensive wine cellar don’t do too much damage, the call of the Matterhorn is still there for daring climbers.
Kempinski Palace, Engelberg, Switzerland
If the film Midnight in Paris – where Owen Wilson time travels to the most romantic eras – were reimagined as a hotel, it would look something like this. Housed in an elaborate Belle Époque pile with a bar that channels the Roaring Twenties through Art Deco-inspired fittings and lashings of champagne, this luxurious hotel is a visual feast. Its historic atmosphere is authentic: the grande dame of the Alpine village of Engelberg, it originally opened its doors in 1904 as the Grandhotel Winterhaus and was reportedly the first building in Switzerland to boast central heating.
After five years of work, it reopened this summer with a sympathetic extension and top-floor spa, where you can do laps of an infinity pool while soaking in mountain-backed panoramas. The Titlis Glacier’s 82 km of slopes are within easy reach and the season lasts from October to May, making it the longest in the country. The Titlis to Engelberg run is the longest downhill option, covering a thrilling 12km from an altitude of 2,000m.
Le K2 Chogori, Val d’Isère, France
With comfortable but unfussy accommodation and a mind-boggling selection of slopes easily accessible from the village, ‘Val’ as it’s known to its friends has always been a no-nonsense resort for serious skiers. However, this recent opening from the sophisticated Le K2 Collection on the site of what was once the sticky-floored Moris Pub is ushering in a new era of Courchevel-style luxury. Its 21 bedrooms seduce with luxurious gold headboards and views over the 17th-century Saint-Bernard-de-Menthon church, while burnt red fabrics and Tibetan objets d’art lend a modern cosiness to communal areas. The hotel’s trump card is destination Peruvian restaurant, L’Altiplano 2.0, which serves a sunshiney menu of meats seared on a Japanese grill, aromatic ceviche and well-spiced wok dishes.
For all its glossiness, this hotel is a true family affair, which only adds to the warm atmosphere. Husband and wife founders Philippe and Suzanne are often present, their son, Thomas, designed the interiors and their daughter, Emily, is a vivacious maître d’. Elsewhere in the resort, a new ski touring trail starting from near the Vonnette lift gives energetic types the opportunity to walk up the mountain carrying their skis before skiing back down, while the snowpark on the far side of Bellevarde remains one of the best in the Alps, with more than 40 obstacles.
Bergwelt Grindelwald, Switzerland
When a ruddy-cheeked Winston Churchill scrambled to the top of Wetterhorn Mountain in 1894, he must have looked down at the Alpine village of Grindelwald and thought longingly of the Romeo y Julieta cigar he would smoke that night. After a satisfying day’s skiing in Grindelwald, you can do the same in Bergwelt Grindelwald’s The Other Club cigar bar, where you can take your pick from more than 500 fine smokes to enjoy by a flickering fire. Smoking not your thing? The outdoor pool or indoor spa may soothe at the end of a long day on the slopes.
The Grindelwald has all one can expect from a top resort: a traditional Swiss chalet on the outside, inside it’s a comforting combination of sleek Swiss wood combined with velvet-clad furniture and touches of tartan. The Eiger (at over 13,000 ft) boasts the biggest north face in the Alps and is the backdrop to each room’s balcony view. Marcus G. Lindner’s grill fires up a satisfying choice of Alpine sharing plates, while the bar mixes a mean Negroni. It’s the perfect recipe for a ski base.