You don’t have to be a millionaire to ski, you can search out a bargain, have a great week in the snow, it can be done, but in some resorts you’d definitely feel like the kid at the sweetshop window, looking in to a world way beyond your means. If you’re not in the wealthy minority and don’t like that fact being rubbed in your nose perhaps you should avoid the more upmarket, wealthier resorts. On the other hand, if you like celeb spotting and seeing how the other half live these three resorts are prime contenders for poshest ski resorts in the Alps.
Celeb watchers will be keen to note that Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams have all skied here, Madonna even hit the deck, minus the cloak but the truth is you’re more likely to find yourself sharing a ski lift with Mike Hucknall or Phil Collins, (having said that it’s pretty difficult to tell who’s who with helmets and googles). Fans of fine dining are spoilt for choice: Zermatt has the highest density of gourmet restaurants in the world. You can even hire a guide to take you on a gourmet ski tour of the mountains, (it’s debatable how much skiing you’ll actually achieve). Highly recommended are the sweetbreads with morel cream sauce at Zum See and risotto with white truffle shavings at Chez Vrony. You can arrange a private helicopter or limousine pick-up from Geneva, Zurich or Milan airports. The Matterhorn, more photogenic than any of the aforementioned celebs attracts visitors from around the world and is Zermatt’s calling card.
For apres ski dine at the stylish Cervo, situated in an ideal spot on the piste – typical dishes include succulent venison, home-made ravioli with ricotta, and côte de boeuf. The coolest place to hang-out is The Vernissage – a cinema, bar, restaurant and gallery all rolled into one, designed by Zermatt’s favourite son, Hienz Julen. Start the evening with here with cocktails; music goes on until 4am.
If money’s no object, Chalet Zermatt Peak is a private catered residence costing more than CHF 200,000 for two weeks in high season, and is the most expensive in Zermatt. Among the highlights in this amazing chalet is a walk-in wine cellar, three HD cinema areas and a wellness centre. French footballer Thierry Henry wrote in their guest book: “The best chalet I have ever stayed in and I cannot wait to come back.” But to be honest Zermatt can boast many high end chalets of similar calibre.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
If you name a brand of cigarettes after a town and you’re aiming for the sophisticated luxury market, you’re unlikely to call them, Skegness, but St Moritz, yes, the name speaks of class and elegance and that’s because St Moritz attracts that kind of crowd. It even boasts a “Champagne climate” (dry air and sunshine to the rest of us). If you can afford to splash the cash, St Moritz is the place to flaunt your wealth and its associated trappings. You’ll find plenty of flagship brand boutiques in which to buy yet more stuff. Rubber neckers will delight in spotting Liz Hurley, Ivana Trump and Indian steel baron Lakshmi-Mittal or indeed rub shoulders with the creme de la creme at the Cartier Polo Tournament. This exclusive ski resort is a favourite of Russian billionaires who fly their jets from Moscow to Samedan, then hop in a limo for the short drive to St. Moritz.
Apres-ski is as good here as anywhere in the Alps. Take an after-dinner drink at the Altitude Bar in the Kulm Hotel with live piano music (gentlemen must wear jackets and ties) or book a room here at CHF 2,120-per-night suite, with super lake views. Then double your millions or lose the lot at the Casino St. Moritz in the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains.
Courchevel 1850, France
Courchevel boasts three resorts, 1650 and 1550, but 1850 is where it’s at. Arguably the worlds most expensive ski resort, 1850 attracts the big spenders like no other resort. Prices are as steep as the pistes and the place drips with ‘posh’. Wealthy Russians and the Ray-Ban set dominate the place and Posh & Becks, racing drivers, F1 owners and pop people are scattered about the town like extras on a film set.
For apres-ski take a long luncheon at the two-Michelin-star Airelles restaurant decorated with jewel-toned silk curtains, Hermes tableware and Saint Louis chandeliers. After your day’s skiing, head to Le Piggy’s – the oh-so-chic wine and piano bar – in the centre of town where a beer will set you back €14. Then it’s on to the Les Caves nightclub to quaff Dom Perignon or the finest Moët. You’ll find nine five star hotels here. One of which is Le Kilimandjaro where individual chalets will set you back €11,300 per night although they do sleep twelve. Included is a private butler and a team of staff to make you feel that little bit more special.
Rebecca Taylor is Director at SkiBoutique.