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Resident skiing expert Nicky Holford is a big fan of ski chalets. Here’s why:
The ski chalet holiday, a uniquely British invention, has evolved out of all recognition since the concept of a shared chalet with an English girl to cook and cater first arrived on the skiing scene in the 1960s. Today this kind of skiing holiday can be tailored to all budgets from a simple self-catering chalet to the Full Monty luxury chalet with butlers, chauffeurs, hot tubs and gourmet dinners. For a week’s holiday you can pay anywhere from £500 a week per person to £80,000 if you go for the full five star deal and take over the whole chalet.
Luxury ski chalets
At the top end of the market, luxury ski chalets now provide the kind of service and quality you would expect in any 5-star hotel. Expect ferrying to and from the slopes with your chauffeur, a butler, spa facilities such as a steam room, sauna, hot tub and in some chalets a pool, breakfast of your choice, champagne before dinner, a gourmet dinner, up to five courses with a top chef, and homemade cakes for tea. Some even offer a full nanny service, others may be child-exempt. For this you can expect to pay £1,500 to £2,500 per person. Chalet Eugenia for example in Klosters which sleeps up to 15 costs from £15,500-£52,000 for the whole chalet and has clients such as Prince Andrew. In Verbier try Richard Branson’s The Lodge or in Meribel and Courchevel 1850 contact Consensio.
Catered ski chalets
Much better value especially for families, catered ski chalets allow you to budget for your trip. Included in the price is a large breakfast, afternoon tea, three course dinner and wine. If you want to cut down on après ski costs, stock up on your favourite tipple on the ferry. There is a vast choice throughout the Alps and many chalets will provide childcare and babysitting. Expect to pay from £800 per person with deals at low season from £499 for a week. For family chalets try Ski Esprit. Erna Low has many great deals in a variety of resorts catering for self-drive guests.
Self-catering ski chalets
Not all chalets offer catering, and opting for a self-catering ski chalet can offer great value for money, particularly for short breaks and for family ski chalet holidays. But make sure the chalet is in a good location, as sometimes they can be some distance from the chairlifts. If you have children, you will need to be close to the nursery slopes and to local amenities. Some of the self-catering chalets in purpose-built resorts such as La Plagne and Les Arcs are perfect for families with small children as everything is in close proximity.
Less formal than a traditional hotel, chalet hotels are larger than catered chalets but offer facilities and packages that are ideal for families as they will provide crèches, childcare and babysitting. Other facilities usually include a bar with moderate prices and sports facilities such as a gym, swimming pool and spa. Chalet hotels also offer more flexibility such as staggered meal times – handy for younger kids - and may include offers for lift passes, ski school and equipment. Some names to look for include Mark Warner (St. Anton, Tignes, Les Deux Alpes), Ski Esprit (La Plagne with its new flagship in Belle Plagne, Val d’Isere, Meribel, Courchevel) and Club Med. (Chamonix, Zermatt, Cervinia, and all major French resorts).
Not sure if a ski chalet is right for you? Read Nicky’s handy ski accommodation guide.