The Grandes Alpes has, since a radical reinvention in 2012, sought to do things a little differently. Its 50-plus original rooms have been converted into nine sumptuous, 24/7-butler-served, three- and four-bedroom apartments, some of which can be configured into single rooms or suites, of which our new digs, the Emerald apartment, is the star attraction.
The Grandes Alpes is also blessed with the best hotel location in town – it’s not only ski-in, ski-out, but walk-in, walk-out, unlike most of Courchevel’s ritziest addresses, which may have instant slope access, but are often a limo ride from the village centre’s designer-boutique-dripping streets. Brioni is literally next door and Chanel, Valentino, Prada and Graff a snowball’s toss away. And the hotel provides standards of service and fanatical attention to detail to suit a dizzyingly high-spending and correspondingly demanding demographic.
Interiors architect Jean-Marc Mouchet helmed the building’s transformation and his creation spins a handsome palette of traditional local architectural materials into sleek, generous spaces that tick all the boxes of contemporary international luxury and house intriguing modern artworks alongside a sprinkling of eccentric kitsch. By night, Perspex chandeliers, one twinkling through the floor-to-ceiling windows over one of our apartment’s four balconies, light the building’s traditional wood-chalet façade, as well as the snow beyond, in Pop neon colours. Our bedrooms, by contrast, are dark-wood and fur-rich cocoons – with the exception of the 44-sq-m master, whose huge polished-concrete bathroom could comfortably ablute the entire national ski team simultaneously.
Among Courchevel-exclusive extras are an in-house spa partnership with the Swiss beauty uberbrand Bellefontaine and a deal with Foil Skis that allows guests to test-drive and/or buy its limited-edition, €40,000 Oro Nero models, made of 8,000-year-old bog oak with 14-carat-gold-plated bindings and poles. Further designer tie-ups are apparent with couture house Hermès displaying framed scarves on the walls of the hotel’s Bellini’s bar and splashes of signature-orange soft furnishings throughout. Meanwhile, the iconic 1950s speedboats of storied Italian yacht brand Riva inspire the decor of the dapper pool area.
Mix some rough with the smooth of your cosseted stay with Courchevel Aventures, a company offering rugged activities. Drive snowmobiles by night, ride fat bikes on the pistes or take a dog-sled. This is also the only place in France you can get behind the wheel of a piste basher, those steeps-hugging behemoths that turn raw snowy slopes into perfect corduroy carpets overnight.
The hotel’s guest team is constantly poised to realise the most extravagant of guest whims, from a private champagne breakfast in a hot-air balloon to building an igloo to host a young guest’s birthday party. Any vintage you could wish for can, of course, be sourced and the general manager confides in us that many a guest’s connoisseur requests see them outdrink their room bill.
Where Grandes Alpes is breaking ground, though, is in delivering all this glamour and pampering (glampering?) in a relaxed spirit that contrasts with the forelock-tugging obsequiousness traditionally typical of Courchevel’s most rarefied establishments. There’s no formal restaurant. Guests can choose from the excellent French/Italian menu in the bar, venture out to sample the resort’s truly exceptional destination dining or, as we do, cosy up for a private dinner, served by Pascal in our apartment’s spacious dining room (with personalised wine pantry).