With child-friendly hotels being something of a rarity in this cluster of the French Alps, when you come across one that caters to the whole family, it’s well worth noticing. A pine chalet with magical mountain views, French hotel group Barrière’s Alpine Hotel Les Neiges in the luxury ski resort of Courchevel, which offers unparalleled skiing in the Three Valleys, has everything you and your children might wish.
Les Neiges (“the snows”) has 42 spacious rooms, including a 3,000 square foot duplex suite, views of snow-capped villages nestled in mountain valleys and snow-capped pines carving ski slopes below, a ski -fully equipped in-ski -out boot room, two gourmet restaurants – whose menus have been designed by three-starred chefs Pierre Gagnaire and Mauro Colagreco – indoor and outdoor bars with live music, fire pits and plush blankets for stargazing, and a spacious spa with a 66-foot-long pool. And it also has an elaborate kids’ club where you’ll find the loveliest staff, plus a separate breakout room for teens with video games and foosball. It’s no wonder, then, that this place is a destination of choice for stars like Prince William and Kate Middleton or football stars like French player Blaise Matuidi and their families.
This was my first trip to the mountains with Marley, my 15 month old granddaughter, so although I had read good things about Les Neiges, I had heard that most hotels that claim to be family friendly are so ill-equipped for babies that it can turn a perfectly planned vacation into a nightmare.
When we arrived at Les Neiges I was worried about the extra arrangements we would have to make for Marley, but as soon as we got to our room and saw the purple and white unicorn musical mobile hanging above a bed with duvet matched, I knew everything would be fine.
The bathroom was stocked with baby amenities – there was even a diaper bin, which most parents will tell you should always be a must. Staff had placed bright, jungle-themed wooden letters that spelled out Marley’s name on her bed, “to take home and hang on her door.” slippers to keep her little baby feet warm.
Marley was ready for her first hotel experience in Courchevel. The only thing that got him out of the room was talking about the kids club downstairs next to the locker room. With a cinematic theme – a boost to Barrière’s long-standing involvement in the film industry, such as the group’s restaurant Fouquet’s being the venue for the annual César du Cinéma luncheon – and staff so welcoming that I found myself wishing I could be a toddler again, just so I too could spend the afternoon coloring and molding playdough into indescribable shapes with them.
Children will also love the spa area with the huge swimming pool open to the snowy surroundings, managed by Emmanuel, a child psychology student, who will be happy to share his advice and anecdotes and distribute floats and balls colorful inflatables for the little ones. The spa — with sophisticated Biologique Recherche treatments — is also a highlight for adults. There are massages that will banish even the most severe jet lag or ski legs, leaving you fit like a fiddle and ready for another day on the slopes. There is also a steam room and a sauna, which you can have mostly to yourself during the day.
Meals are also a hassle-free affair with chefs happy to create bespoke baby purees despite their gourmet credentials. The hotel’s culinary offering, led by Chef Alexandre Colonna who has over 20 years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens around the world, is another reason to indulge away from the snow. Be sure to try the alpine offshoot of the Fouquet’s restaurant for its traditional French must-haves created for the hotel by Pierre Gagnaire, often considered the most cerebral of the multi-Michelin-starred chefs. Don’t miss the creamy eggs with mimosa to start, the Savoyard specialty of tartiflette de reblochon or, for something lighter, a sole meunière with meaty butter.
Whether or not you are staying at Les Neiges, the BFire dim fire dinner is a staple of Argentinian dishes imagined by Mauro Colagreco. Try the grilled Morbier cheese and the truffle ‘tartifles’ and follow with the shoulder of lamb cooked over a wood fire with meat so tender it falls off the bone to be shared. In addition to great food, the place is cozy and warm, and the staff is upscale; you will definitely want to come back.
Les Neiges is one of a kind in Courchevel thanks to its lively and laid-back atmosphere, bars and restaurants that are packed with customers. It’s a fun choice for a place to stay, and also, very important if you have little ones, it’s a place where Marley’s tantrums might go completely unnoticed.