Emily Anderson braved the slopes as a beginner to see what all the fuss was about, only to come home with a brand-new hobby – and we're not talking about Champagne tasting.
The popular resort of Morzine, an authentic mountain town in the French Alps, is known for its position in the huge cross-border Portes du Soleil ski area, which encompasses 15 resorts. Morzine’s many beginner and intermediate runs make it perfect for families, whilst more advanced skiing is easily accessible at neighbouring resorts, such as Les Gets, with a tap of your pass.
Being just over an hour transfer (via the humorously named Skiidy Gonzales) from Geneva airport further adds to this resort’s appeal. Within a day you can go from the drizzly UK to getting your ski legs back on the slopes above Morzine; it helps that it is really pretty too.
Where to ski
As a newbie skier, Morzine was ideal for me. Having a convenient bubble lift like the Pléney to ease you in was a relief, because simple things like walking in your ski boots and carrying your skis are much harder than they look.
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‘I felt less self-conscious about being a beginner when a member of our party turned up at the chalet holding only stumps for ski poles’
At the top of the Pléney it is very busy any plays host to a range of slope difficulties, which can be quite daunting, but it’s nice and flat.
There are nursery slopes with a covered magic carpet to get you started and a short run down to a chairlift so you can do a few quick loops. However terrifying the chairlift might seem at first, even the pros have some stories of their ‘epic ski lift fails’. I felt less self-conscious about being a beginner, when a member of our party turned up at the chalet after a full day of skiing holding only stumps for ski poles.
Where to take lessons
At the top of the Pléney is where I met my amazing, English-speaking ski instructor from New Generation. He was great at assessing my ability, building my confidence and then pushing me out of my comfort zone. I can honestly say he conquered my fear of falling over – it happened a lot!
By day two I was following my ‘New Gen’ instructor down a merry, tree-lined blue run. He even pointed out where you can see Mont Blanc from the top of the Pléney on a clear day.
Where to stay
There is however a more tempting reason to consider Morzine for your next ski break. The incredible Chalet Sapphire, designed with a 5* boutique hotel in mind offers far more than just a base for your skiing vacation. It’s fun and exciting learning to ski, but it is also hard work. You will probably find you aren’t always as keen as the rest of your party to rush out onto the slopes as soon as the lifts open.
Therefore, an ideal ski break to me is as much about the chalet experience as the skiing itself. The Chalet Edit understands this dynamic and offers the ultimate ski holiday package. They’ve handpicked this high-end chalet for its exceptional service, great food and impressive array of facilities. Industry expert Anna Sampson will tailor-make your ideal holiday; from essentials such as childcare and ski lessons to elaborate celebrations and private jet travel.
Upon arrival, it may appear quite modest from the outside, but this just to keep you in suspense. You don’t have to wait long for the wow factor; as soon as you open the door, the impressive modern and alpine chic designed interior is sprawled out in front of you. Quirky details such as the enormous gong and swing chairs complete the vibe.
The chalet has been designed so that the dramatic glass façade is at the back of this chalet so you can enjoy views of Morzine’s mountain range, framed like picture-postcards. Balconies looking onto the swirling vistas pepper each floor. After exploring your unique and individually designed rooms (and feeling like you’ve made it in life) you will be called for your in-chalet ski hire fittings at the Gravier Ski Shop.
These pre-arranged services are small details The Chalet Edit thinks about so that you don’t have to and any experienced skier will tell you that not having to trek into a village rental shop makes all the difference.
Where to unwind
There are a lot of facilities to take advantage of over the course of your stay; a large heated indoor pool, steam room, ice chamber, gym, cinema room and bar-cum-games room. With the benefit of an open bar included, the hills will most definitely be alive the sound of music… or in our case, bad karaoke.
The outside area is just as stunning as the interior, with a warming glow created from the sunken firepit and the option of the hot tub or barrel hamman for breathtaking vistas. My favourite spot had to be in the outdoor hot tub with a glass of fizz watching night skiers make their way down the Pléney slopes.
After a long day of skiing, you can wander downstairs in your dressing gown to the chalet’s Bamford Spa treatment room where a Bamford-trained therapist can be pre-arranged for a well-earned massage or beauty treatment.
Whether it is driving you to the slopes, handing you a cocktail in the evening or cooking you mouth-watering cuisine, the team at Chalet Sapphire will go above and beyond to make your stay the best ski experience you’ve ever had.
A seven-night fully catered (open bar) stay at Chalet Sapphire in Morzine, including breakfast, daily afternoon tea, dinner on 5-nights, plus a resort driver starts from €2,208 per person in low season. Rates based on 12 guests sharing. www.thechaletedit.com,
Where to eat
Conveniently located in a quiet spot at the top of the Pléney gondola, Le Vaffieu restaurant is the perfect meeting place for lunch and for anyone not skiing, as it is easily accessible by foot. It is a bustling chalet style mountain restaurant, so advisable to book. My guilty pleasure is tartiflette, a savoyarde specialty of cheese, onion, potatoes and bacon. Not to have everyday but well deserved after a hard lesson.
To book call +33 4 50 79 09 43
This family-run traditional Savoyarde restaurant is located in the small village of Les Lindarets, best known as ‘goat village’ in summer. It is easily accessible by skiing or on foot from the Ardent gondola. There are lots of rustic restaurants perfect for a lunch break in Les Lindarets but I would recommend La Cremaillere. It serves all your favourite skiing specialities and offers a warm and friendly welcome. Enjoy one of their casseroles with sauté potatoes and wild chanterelle mushrooms in a cheese sauce on the large sun-trapped terrace.
To book call + 33 4 50 74 11 68
Where to sledge at night
After getting toasty and relaxed in the chalet the last thing we wanted to do was to adorn our damp ski gear and head back out into the cold. Yet there we were, on top of the Pléney in the dark, it was snowing, with just a torch on our head for visibility. The gondola was shut after we got to the top so the only way down was a plastic sledge with what can loosely be described as brakes for turning and slowing down. The rules were surprisingly simple; go for it and don’t fall down a ditch.
I jest, but don’t expect any sort of lesson, practice run or one to one support. The experience is terrifying and chaotic and not for the faint hearted but the most exhilarating brush with death I’ve ever had. Not obligatory, but I highly recommend a helmet, gloves, goggles and ski mask.
New chalets on the scene
If you’ve been bit by the bug, Anna Sampson, Founder of The Chalet Edit has announced three spectacular new properties in Morzine for the 2019-2020 season.
Achingly cool, with modern industrial styling throughout. Set over 4 floors it boasts a 10 metre indoor swimming pool, indoor slide and climbing wall for the kids.
28,700€ – 63,800€ per week, fully catered with driver service, sleeps 12 + 2.
The Old Macaroni
Restored farmhouse, with a luxury art deco themed cinema room. Each of the 5 bedrooms takes influences from the owner’s favourite novels and an additional open mezzanine level offers an exciting Harry Potter themed room, with four double built-in cabin beds.
£16,500 – £28,000 per week -fully catered with driver service, sleeps 14 + 4.
Lodge du Nantes
This showstopper set over five floors, is a truly lavish and luxurious catered chalet in the heart of Morzine, perfect space for large groups.
£20,000 – £36,000 per week -fully catered with driver service, sleeps 15.
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