I have just had the utter joy of being a Mountain Beds client. They sent me on a cheeky early ski holiday at an astonishingly low price.
The chalet was in Courcheval Le Praz, a couple of minutes’ walk and a gondola ride from Courcheval 1850. Although newly built, its atmosphere was more redolent of the 1980s – big open space ground floor with four double bedrooms above and two more and a ski room below. Not that retro though, bedrooms had en-suite showers and the chalet boasted a hot tub, spa and sauna. Plus the lovely Sarah, Ella and Elly doing the cooking and cleaning. The food was copious and excellent – and dinner came with a well-judged and generous supply of wine. Cooked breakfasts were also excellent. The bakery delivered baguettes to the door to make sandwiches for lunch – contents available from the nearby Huit-a-Huit (actually open 7 to 7 – French alpine humour I assume).
Courcheval has access to the entire three valleys region (the other two valleys being Meribel and Val Thorens). Although it had not snowed for a week before our arrival and we had glorious sunshine throughout our stay a combination of nifty work by the pisteurs and high altitude (much of the skiing is above 2,000m) meant that almost all the pistes and lifts were open. There was little opportunity for off-piste and the most challenging black runs were shut, but the net result was an enjoyable and fun week. And here’s the thing – there was almost no-one there. No queues on any of the lifts, no competing for lines through mogul fields. Just run after run of empty piste.
The lifts themselves are mainly bubbles or chairs, although there is one ultra-retro button lift which you need to get back to Le Praz. Can we really have ever considered buttons state of the art? The gondolas vary from brand new to some wonderfully quaint 4 and 6 person ones. But they move people along and the lift companies are very conscious of the need to update.
As chauffeur to one of the Mountain Beds partners (I’m also her husband) I had a happy day driving up the Val Thorens valley while Camilla visited various apartments and chalets en route; Mountain Beds actually visits the accommodation that they offer and checks definitions of claims like “easy access to the pistes.” We viewed some architecturally stunning chalets and one literally on the piste in the villages on the way up to lunch with the Val Thorens tourism office (run by the lift company). Val Thorens is a purpose built ski in, ski out resort, with a central square that is part of the piste link across the bowl (it lies at the head of the valley some 2,000m above sea level, with peaks over 3,200m.
Camilla spent the afternoon inspecting more hotels and apartments, while I watched the locals moving a sound stage 50 metres across the central square. (This must be some alpine employment scheme as when I skied through the next day they were moving it back).
The girls had one day off. The local SkiBar (3 minutes’ walk) also ran a takeaway service so, under the influence of teenage children, we opted for a DVD night in the chalet with beer and pizzas. Perfect. Courcheval Le Praz is deliberately old style with narrow streets and three storey wood and stone buildings. It has everything you could need, plus a couple of bars.
All too soon we were heading back on the 90 minute drive to Grenobles, where we caught our EasyJet. Geneva is not much further. A brilliant holiday which over-delivered on everything that we needed at a very sharp price. Mountain Beds’ expertise is available for everyone, not just their spouses. To find out more click here.