Courchevel is one of the most popular alpine ski resorts, renowned for its glitz and glamour. But don’t let that fool you – the resort is not all style over substance as Courchevel has some of the best skiing in Europe.
Courchevel’s high altitude ensures that the slopes are covered in snow all season, and much of the ski terrain is above the tree line resulting in glorious views of the tops of the Alps, as we found out on a recent trip in mid-March where perfect snow was matched with stunning blue skies and dazzling sunlight.
Courchevel is large enough that it caters to a variety of clients: If you are looking for fur clad ski bunnies and their admirers sipping from magnums of champagne, Michelin starred dinners with extensive wine lists, and high-end shopping boutiques, then Courchevel 1850 is the place to go.
A little further down the mountain with more of a homely vibe is Courchevel 1650, with a pleasant mix of more accessible restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes along a main street that cater to the rental apartments and a handful of hotels.
Courchevel 1650 is home to Le Portetta, which occupies a prime position on the piste next to the gondola. Skiing on and skiing off could not be easier. The hotel is built in a traditional chalet style with its distinctive peaked roof line and balconies with hand-carved wooden rails.
Le Portetta was acquired by new owners in 2008 (who also own the fabulous Lime Wood Hotel and The Pig in the New Forest), who brought the interiors up to date and created a welcoming, homely and family friendly hotel.
The main areas of the hotel are full of comfortable sofas and wing-back chairs around a roaring fire and a wall of windows overlooking the snowy slopes. These are perfect nooks to unwind and warm up in after a day of skiing, or to curl up with a book while others brave the cold outside.
Even though the hotel is sleek and polished, it is aimed at families and strikes a good balance between being luxurious yet laid back enough where three generations can sit down to a long dinner together without worrying about being too proper.
The children’s ski school is immediately in front of the hotel, which allows parents to perch on their balconies (with a glass or two of wine) while keeping an eye on the progress of their young ones in the distance.
The hotel has three main dining areas: The more formal restaurant serves a hearty breakfast (with wonderful bread), a full lunch and a gourmet dinner. Service is formal but friendly, the wine list very French and the food reflects local produce. Highlights included locally caught lake fish and a cheeseboard of some of France’s finest and most pungent cheeses.
There is a more informal brassiere serving food all day for those not wanting to waste too much time between ski sessions. The menu in the brasserie is simpler – pizzas, burgers, pastas and grilled meats dominate.
Lastly, weather permitting, for the perfect lunch or après-ski experience, Le Portetta has a large sun terrace spilling out into the slope, where the brasserie menu is served.
To ease your sore muscles after a day on the slopes, head to Le Portetta’s spa with its large relaxation room, steam room and sauna. For someone keen on the snow plough technique, the rosemary scented massage was an absolute treat. Unfortunately, the spa does not have a pool or hot tub, which would be a welcome addition.
Le Portetta is as polished as the glitzier properties higher up the mountain, but it offers a more relaxed haven where families can unwind together without compromising on quality. Service was familiar, friendly and personal throughout.
Le Portetta is an excellent hotel for those who value quality and service on the slopes, yet want to feel at ease in bringing their families for a fun vacation.