A glance through Wikipedia’s ‘ski areas and resorts in Europe’ reveals a list that is easily pushing a thousand resorts or more. So much choice for the discerning skier, but discretion and exclusivity are harder to come by. Look no further and enjoy this bite size guide to five of the most luxurious ski resorts in the European Alps.
Lech Zum Arlberg and neighbouring Zurs
Arguably Austria’s most exclusive ski resort, Zurs is a firm favourite with monarchs from every country and awash with film stars. Tiny intimate Zurs is exclusivity personified while Lech next door is equally well favoured. While apres-ski lovers are racing back for a Jager Bomb in nearby St Anton’s Moose Wirt, Lech and Zurs accommodate a distinctly less rowdy crowd, more partial to Bollinger or Krug. Meanwhile, rumour has it the Royal Suite in Hotel Zürserhof commands several thousand pounds a night.
The jewel in France’s crown, Val d’Isere is often badged as the British resort of choice with incredibly resilient snow conditions, first class infrastructure and restaurants for the gastronomic connoisseur. While it is certainly a favourite for British celebrities and high society (It’s no surprise the Polo Masters is hosted there), a much more international clientele is growing in force and the available luxury accommodation is widely acclaimed. Meanwhile, who could not be tempted by the infamous La Face, reputed to be one of the most technically challenging pistes in the world.
Scene of William and Kate’s first kiss, Klosters in Switzerland is another ski-ing bolthole sealed with the Royal crest. In reality, it’s a small village but much more intimate than other luxury alpine resorts. With Davos a stone’s throw away on the opposite mountainside, it’s also the choice of Europe’s economic elite. The Casa Antica nightclub is famously discrete while it also boasts one of the longest runs in Europe. From the top of the Weissfluhgipfel to the Klosters valley, you can enjoy a 12km run and 2000m of vertical descent. Pure bliss.
Rumoured to be the most expensive ski resort in the Alps, Courchevel 1850 is immediately identifiable by the Russian voices and abundance of fur attire on the slopes. Pop over the hill from Meribel and spot the bodyguard, closely following a lady who may very well be a Russian princess! There are more Michelin starred restaurants in the 3 Valleys than you can shake a stick at but nowhere more commanding perhaps than the swiss cottage styled, Le Chabichou, home to Michel Rochedy and Stéphane Buron and two twinkly Michelin stars.
And finally Verbier – the highest and most extensive ski resort in Switzerland, is home to exclusive boutiques and classic black runs truly demanding the expert skills of a well seasoned skier. It’s so well thought of that Richard Branson chose Verbier as the location for his European luxury ski retreat, part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio. Close to France and Italy and like most of the other luxury ski destinations on this list, a Michelin starred restaurant comes as standard – Restaurant Arola.
So between France, Switzerland and Austria you will find the most exclusive ski resorts in Europe and quite possibly the world.