Just over two hours from Geneva by road (30 minutes in a helicopter), we whiz through the picture-postcard villages of Le Praz and Courchevel Moriond, gradually making our way up to 1650, a chic, bustling ski resort, and then on further to Belvedere, our home for the next 48 hours – Portetta Mountain Lodges. For those who have had the privilege of visiting the country-chic Lime Wood Hotel, in England’s New Forest, or one of the few Pig Hotels and restaurants, in the neighbouring counties, the brilliant group’s signature rustic-chic, pared back yet luxurious style and informal, attentive service has been quietly shaking up the winter ski resort of Courchevel for over six years. Four traditional wooden chalets have been reimagined and can be enjoyed on a 7-day basis with a total complement of household staff. Hosts Laure and Faustine, and their impeccable team of smiley, helpful colleagues, are on hand to ensure each guest is prepped, chilled and rejuvenated. The lodges, sleeping from two to fourteen guests, are kitted out beautifully, with subtle taxidermy filling the expansive walls, stuffed mountain animals in the bedrooms and airy, light-filled living spaces. A glass fire crackles away happily in the centre of the main quarters. Our lodge, Chamois, was impressive. A ski room and mini-spa, complete with sauna and cinema, fills the basement, whilst six cozy en-suite bedrooms are found on the first floor. The second floor comprises a large master suite and extraordinary living area (think triple-height ceilings and banquette sofas) with a functional kitchen at one end. These lodges are the business. Sleek, comfortable and elegant. Children are well looked after. In fact, many of the lodges boast a third floor, which is simply beautiful. A sort of indoor wonderland, a kiddies paradise where everything is in miniature form. Tiny beds, tiny writing tables, traditional wooden games and bright white mountain rabbits everywhere. A pre-visit questionnaire is shared with guests prior to arrival, which covers everything from ski-boot sizes, dining preferences and personal requests such as planning drinks in a private igloo high up in the mountains. Laure really is the host-concierge with the most.
A stay at the elegant Portetta Hotel at 1650 is a winter must for seasoned ski pros as well as those who take pleasure in a spot of refined après-ski. The hotel, originally launched in 2009, quickly underwent a total transformation from drab 1970s rambling chalet-hotel to its present incarnation, a bright 45-room rustic-luxe home-from-home, where quirky English elements are perfectly fused with French ski-chic. Although the hotel is run independently from the lodges, there is a continuous style; that of a much-cherished private club but without the stuffiness. The six mountain lofts are the jewel in the crown here. Two- and three- bedroom mini-chalets located within the heavily beamed roof of the hotel are just gorgeous. Think roaring fires, awesome snow-capped peak views and total privacy and tranquility. The hotel is a place for entertaining, for enjoying drinks and spending long afternoons in the expansive club-like lounge. London-based Michelin heralded chef, Angela Hartnett, of Murano and Lime Wood fame, is now in charge of the restaurant, Cucina Angelina. She’s devised a stomping menu, which blends ancient Savoyard recipes with modern Italian cooking techniques. We wolfed back octopus ceviche and cote-du-boef, whilst sipping wines from the Cote du Rhone and Bordeaux. The open grill and large winter terrace make for a popular destination, not just for those fortunate enough to stay here but for the global jetsetters who descend on the glamorous resort each year. If all this sounds too good to be true, well, it almost is. The uber-cool mountain lofts are fully booked by repeat guests during peak season (New Year and all of February) for the forseeable future so early enquiries are encouraged. The Portetta group are doing something very special, a cut above, in an area synonymous with style, but face tough competition - L’Apogee, Aman's Le Melezin and the eagerly anticipated Six Senses Residences are just a stone’s throw away, but it is the loving and forward thinking team here that will win you over. 48 hours of awesomeness.
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