Escape to the Mountains on a luxury break
"The mountains are calling and I must go,” wrote the naturalist and author John Muir. The lure of the mountains will be familiar to many, particularly as the snow begins to fall on Europe’s ski resorts, However, while Muir was no doubt happy to bed down in a simple hut at the end of the day, most contemporary mountain lovers are looking for a more luxurious way to enjoy what the landscape has to offer – one that combines access to the slopes with spa treatments, award winning food and world class design.
Here ski enthusiast and journalist Charlotte Abrahams picks her top five luxury European ski hotels.
Adler Mountain Lodge, Alpe de Siusi, Dolomites, Italy - www.adler-lodge.com
The best way to arrive at this remote larch and spruce hotel is by cable car. Set in the middle of the piste between Ortisei and Alpe de Siusi and within walking distance of the lift station, Alder Mountain Lodge consists of a 30 bedroom hotel and 12 separate guest chalets, each one built with planks engineered by local craftsmen. There is a wellness centre and an excellent restaurant, but the star attractions of this place are the suspended infinity pool on the top floor and the private sundowner terraces from where guests can witness the enrosadira – a natural phenomenon that sees the surrounding peaks change from red to yellow to purple as the sun rises and sets.
The Alpina Gstaad, Gstaad, Switzerland - www.thealpinagstaad.com
Since its launch in December 2012, this elegant hotel has scooped up numerous awards, including a Michelin star for its contemporary Japanese restaurant MEGU and a place on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2016. New for this season is a self-contained three-bedroom chalet suite and an array of special packages for skiers and non-skiers alike. The Adrenalin and Zen Package is particularly tempting. As well as three nights deluxe accommodation, guests are also flown by helicopter to Les Diablerets glacier for a day’s off-piste skiing or boarding with a private instructor and then taken back by limousine for an Absolute Wellness and Crystals treatment in the Six Senses Spa.
Altapura, Val Thorens, France – www.altapura.fr
Occupying a ski-in, ski-out position in Europe’s highest resort, Altapura would be worth visiting for its location alone. However, it has made it on to this list because it combines its enviable setting with a design-led interior (think blonde wood furniture, bright, textural fabrics and generous windows to maximise the magnificent views), three restaurants, a dedicated kid’s concierge and a Pure Altitude spa specialising in Nordic and Baltic treatments. Among the muscle-soothing treats on offer are long soaks in the indoor mineral pool and, for the truly brave, a frozen snow rub down in the igloo.
Hotel Zhero, Ischgl, Austria - www.zherohotelischgl.com
With its exposed stone walls, timber ceilings and pared back furniture, Hotel Zhero is a sleekly modern take on ski chalet chic. Located just outside Kappl and 4km from the buzzing resort of Ischgl, it promises excellent skiing (accessed via a free shuttle bus), along with some tempting non-snow based activities. As well as a well-appointed spa and wellness centre boasting La Prairie treatments and a generous 20 ft. long swimming pool, there is also a rather fabulous shop called Next Generation. A cut above the average hotel boutique, labels on offer include Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Missoni.
Six Senses Residence, Courchevel, France – www.one-courchevel.com
The Six Senses group’s first residential project in Europe opened its very elegant doors in December 2015 and offers everything you could wish for in mountain living. Set in the heart of Courchevel 1850, it combines access to the with Trois Vallées 53 super chic apartments created by the go to Alpine interior designer Alain Foeillet, a private ski-in, ski-out concierge and, new for 2016, a Six Senses Spa. The residencies are available to buy outright, or to rent by the week.
Winter Break Insurance Check List:
As insurance brokers, we know that it is important to plan ahead to help reduce the chance of something untoward happening and minimise the damage if it does, so we asked, John Cottrell, Account Director at Aon Private Clients to give us his top travel tips.
Before you go:
Consider putting your most valuable and vulnerable items in a bank safe
Check the security of the property. Is the alarm working properly? Will you be able to see the CCTV footage from where you are going? If you have a monitoring company, let them know you are going to be away
Ask any staff or family who are coming into the property to check it to vary the times they visit
Make sure that you have the right level of insurance cover. Check the limits for single items and be aware of any restrictions – for example, some policies state that you must have jewellery on your person at all times
If anything is lost or stolen then you may need to prove ownership and value so check that you have photographs of your most valuable items and that all valuations are up to date
You will need winter sports cover if you are going skiing, both for your equipment and medical emergencies. Again, ensure that the levels are appropriate for your needs. Check that you have your insurer’s helpline number to hand should you need it
If you are taking a taxi to the airport, use a company you trust. Book transit from the airport or at the other end through your hotel or chalet
Be aware of your surroundings. Luggage labels can give away your address and expensive suitcases and designer clothes can advertise wealth
- Ensure you keep high value items which you have taken on holiday with you at all times
Hotel and chalet bedroom safes tend to be flimsily built and easy to find (they are almost always in the wardrobe), so consider leaving any particularly valuable items in the hotel’s principal safe instead
Be aware that posting images of yourself and your family on social media advertises the fact that you are away leaving your home vulnerable. Make anyone travelling with you aware of the risks too
Take care when removing your winter gloves or scarves, jewellery can become entangled within the garment causing it to fall off, especially in the cold which can lead to your rings becoming loose
These tips are relevant for any trips away from home, so no matter which luxury trip you are looking forward to enjoying this winter it is advisable to take a short time to plan ahead. If you are in doubt about what your insurance policy covers call one of our Client Managers who would be happy to discuss it with you.