Emma Earnshaw visited Aman Le Mélézin in Courchevel and was blown away by the attention to detail, not to mention the €70 pizza...
Location, location, location
Where other than 1850, Courchevel’s highest town, overlooking the Bellecote Piste? Known as a playground of the rich and famous, you can hardly throw a snowball in 1850 without hitting a five-star hotel, but you’ll struggle to find one with better access to the slopes than Aman Le Mélézin.
With skis or snow boots strapped on, the hotel is less than 10 minutes down a gentle piste into the town and main ski lift catering for the Trois Vallées region. The hotel also provides a daytime and evening shuttle service.
Sliver-platter ski service
While you fuel up with an indulgent breakfast, the hotel’s ‘ski butlers’ will be busy preparing your ski equipment for the day. The ski room and stylish (but pricey) shop are located directly on the slope, with knowledgeable staff to help you into your boots and ply you with yet more cappuccinos and patisserie biscuits. In fewer than 10 steps, you will be on the piste, where your skis and poles await you.
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There is no waiting in queues, trying on countless sweaty boots or lugging around your battered hire skis here – the hotel’s gleaming equipment is measured and fitted in the wink of an eye. You will also have the cream of Courchevel’s ski guides and instructors at your disposal.
The menu at Le Mélézin’s Japanese restaurant, Nama (found at a handful of the most exclusive Aman properties), is curated by Keiji Matoba. Sushi, sashimi, ramen and signature dishes, such as the Wagyu beef, make a lighter alternative to the traditional French fine dining also on offer. The sake and wine menu is extensive, but the head sommelier is always on hand to guide you through.
Of course, there’s always the option of eating elsewhere – how about a €70 slice of truffle pizza on the slopes, perfect for the cash-rich-time-poor?
The hotel offers a free yoga and stretch class each morning to prepare your muscles for the day ahead. Catering for all levels and hosted in a tranquil studio, with kit provided, it really did make a difference to my skiing – from poor, to ‘pas mal’, according to our guide.
The hotel spa is another feather in the Aman’s cap. With an entire floor dedicated to five large treatment rooms, including two double suites, a Thai massage will ease away aches – and I highly recommend a facial to combat the Alpine elements. For anyone who can face it after a day’s skiing, there’s also a fully equipped gym and impressive pool.
Refurbished in 2016, the 31 rooms and suites are now dripping with signature Aman touches, such as thoughtful gifts left out each morning – the Himalayan bath salts were a great touch for tired legs. In contemporary Alpine style and kitted out with every mod-con (hurrah for heated loo seats), the rooms vary in size and layout, but most have views onto the piste, and even private wooden hot tubs.
The open bar and lounge is a welcoming space of blazing fireplaces and sumptuous armchairs, with parquet and stone flooring teamed with wild-bird bronze sculptures that inject personality. Look out for the 100-year-old Bonsai tree in the lobby, which spends the season here, then summers in Paris.
No ski, no problem
For those seeking an outdoor experience minus the skis, the hotel can arrange dog sledding, guided snowshoeing and tobogganing. There’s even the option to go hot-air ballooning at sunrise. For children who would rather not be out in the snow all day, there’s a large, supervised playroom to keep them occupied.
Have your cake and people watch
Afternoon tea, the richest chocolat chaud and most amazing cakes are almost worth the trip alone. The hotel’s patisserie chef came up trumps everyday with a new mouthwatering cake to indulge in after a day’s exertions.
Nestle in the library or take a seat at the glass-fronted bar for a spot of people watching, as they ski, tumble or pose past – the latter is to be found in particular abundance. The hotel’s terrace is a great spot for enjoying the morning sun or a lunchtime cocktail created by the mixologist in residence.
Stays at the Aman Le Mélézin start from £956 per room per night, half board (excluding beverages) and inclusive of taxes. Visit www.aman.com/resorts/aman-le-melezin to find out more. Top tip: the hotel is only open from mid December to mid April, so avoid disappointment by booking early.
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