Theres a competitive streak afoot in the luxury ski chalet world – it was ever thus, every year, someone with more money than a lottery winner ups the ante, adds a new wow factor feature to an already amazing residence and raises the bar, newly defining what constitutes the ultimate luxury accommodation. There are no gold medals to be had, only a satisfied guest list and being ahead of the game in the race to be the chalet to beat. Where will it all end? A heli-port on the roof? An actual (mini) mountain in the games room? An Olympic sized pool with 10m diving platform in the spa? Rainbow coloured snow? As long as people have imaginations, the skys the limit, literally. It used to be that luxury ski break seekers were quite satisfied with an outdoor hot tub and an attentive staff and to a degree many still are but the aforementioned competitive streak ensures that what was once a satisfactory degree of luxury is being ever expanded to include ever more fabulous elements. I was half joking about the mini mountain – the owners of Chalet Husky, Val dIsere have actually installed a climbing wall. An owner with more imagination than most is Heinz Julen, Zermatts resident architect, artist, sculpter and creative genius. In his acclaimed Backstage Chalet, which opened its doors for the 2014 ski season, he incorporated a hydraulic hot tub that raises up through the roof and out into the open air, above the rooftops of Zermatt, revealing incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding splendour, thats a first and is sure to be replicated elsewhere as interested owners catch on and introduce their own take on the Flying Hot Tub. If anyone can reinvent the luxury ski chalet, Heinz can. Hes ready to introduce a brand new chalet for the 2015 ski season and who knows what he has up his sleeve to surprise us all. Youve seen one pool, youve seen them all? Not so, Id never seen an indoor pool that doubles as a kitchen before. In Chalet Himalaya, Val dIsere, the pool is concealed beneath the kitchen floor, flick a switch and the floor morphs into a pool which is both inside and outside the chalet, heated of course. As the floor lowers the water rises and fills the pool, so clear away the dishes and have a dip, the swimming kind, not the savoury kind. Not to be outdone, the owners of Chalet Lhotse, also in Val dIsere, have installed a cinema in their pool, not actually in the pool, of course, but in the pool area, guests watching Waterworld, the Kevin Costner epic can sit in the pool and feel part of the action. Luxury ski chalets worthy of the label must now have indoor pools, hot tubs, fabulous spa facilities, cinemas, games rooms, professional staff, cavernous living spaces, bar areas, wine caves, garage parking, ski boot rooms, the list is ever expanding and while the rest play catch up theres always one ahead of the curve setting the standard. This is great news for the luxury seeker as owners and operators find ever more ingenious ways to spoil their guests and be one up on the competition. Moving away from chalets and getting into other luxury services available to the discerning and affluent traveller, helicopter transfers are currently gaining in popularity. It used to be that even the rich and famous had to put up with long transfer times from the arrivals hall of their designated airport. In the early day of the Alpine tourist industry this was an especially arduous journey, as a drive up to the higher altitudes of the most popular snow sure resorts was difficult and sometimes a near impossibility. Charlie Chaplin famously got around any such difficulties by fitting tank tracks to his vehicle and adopting smug mode all the way to the top, leaving the stranded behind. His reward was a stay in the Palace, St Moritz, a hotel that wrote the rule book on customer services. Nowadays a helicopter transfer is the way to go. Air Zermatt, who run a fleet of ultra modern helicopters, are finding that their transfer business is increasing year on year, as more and more of the wealthy set catch on to the convenience of a helicopter transfer, taking a fraction of the time of the normal journey by car. Some go one further and charter a private jet from Victor, cutting out the long queues in departures and arrivals, finding themselves on the slopes while the less fortunate are still in the air and still hours away from the snow. Rebecca Taylor is Director at SkiBoutique. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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