Live a rustic life of luxury with VIP Ski in Meribel
PUBLISHED: 13:29 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:33 25 January 2016
The friendliness and professionalism of our VIP Ski chalet hosts were put to the test when we got stuck in Friday night rush hour traffic in Geneva - meaning that we turned up at Chalet Club Pierre in Meribel two hours after dinner should have been dished up and at precisely the time they should have been heading off home.
We thought they might have been nice enough to save us something warm in the oven. Little did we imagine they’d give us time to freshen up in our cosy room, before the resident chef enthusiastically offered us a choice of two veggie and two meat three-course meal options.
While whipping it up, he ran out from the kitchen midway to grab a bottle of beer from the honesty bar for my fish batter.
With onion soup starters and crème brûlée desert, the fish main was so light and tasty it may have been the best I’ve ever had. This was a flavour of the gourmet dining experience in the nine-bedroom chalet which has an enhanced ‘Club’ service.
The seamless service moulds together to give you the ultimate in luxury, with tea and coffee delivered to your door in the morning, Aromatherapy Associates bath products and drivers on call all day who never let you put your own skis in the boot.
It was clear that nothing was too much trouble for our four hard-working, cheery hosts at Pierre.
This is the beauty of VIP Ski. While some chalet set ups treat their staff as an afterthought, VIP prides itself on treating theirs in the same way that they treat their customers, and this psychology evidently pays off.
Chalet Pierre itself did not disappoint either.
With a ski-in, ski-out location, an outdoor hot tub and a roaring open fire, dinner is a wonderful experience with atmospheric dim lighting enhancing its rustic chic feel.
Pierre is set right by the Morel chairlift in what is one of France’s most charming resorts.
Pretty, wooden chalets are set amidst scenic pine forests you can explore on skis, and the resort is slap bang in the centre of the infamous Trois Vallées – one of the world’s largest ski areas.
Sadly strange weather patterns mean this season has been the warmest in living memory, and when we visited just before Christmas the locals were concerned that the resort was looking as green as it should come the end of spring.
But the lift company was doing an incredible job of keeping runs open, and we still managed to ski our hearts out and more.
A week at Chalet Pierre starts from £909, based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick, coach transfers and catering . See www.vip-chalets.com.
A three-hour afternoon lesson with Magic in Motion costs from €205 for two people, and €15 for each additional person. See www.magicfr.com.
A six-day Three Valleys lift pass costs from €274.
Getting kitted out at Pierre couldn’t be simpler; Chamoix hire shop is a two minute walk away and VIP drivers will drop your skis back there for you at the end of your stay.
We were in and out within five minutes, thanks partly to having custom fitted boots from Surefoot in Fulham, an essential if you are serious about skiing.
Lessons from Magic in Motion ski school were hinged on an ethos of enjoying yourself whilst learning.
With Pierre’s fair-sized helping of humour, it’s easy to see why people return to him year after year, and he worked hard on getting us to relax and loosen up. By the end of two lessons we were flying.
Meribel Vallee, © JMGouedard
La Folie Douce, © JMGouedard
La Folie Douce, © JMGouedard
Emma Bartholomew in Meribel
The heated boot room in the mountain restaurant
The boot room at the restaurant
The coffee deserts
The view of Meribel from Chalet Club Pierre
The dining area in Chalet Club Pierre
Chalet Club Pierre is right next to a ski lift
The hot tub at Chalet Club Pierre
Meribel Vallee, © Meribel Tourisme
Ski holidays are always a good time to indulge your appetite, and we made the most of the resort’s Label Food Altitude, given to restaurants using at least 70 per cent fresh ingredients.
We were treated to an incredible space-age singing, dancing and acrobatic show outside the trend-setting La Folie Douce, while dining at its upmarket restaurant, La Fruitière.
An interior of white-washed wooden tables is modelled on a cheese-making theme, and staff wearing wacky blue jump suits serve up Savoyard dishes, which are good value at around 20 Euros for a main course when you consider the huge portions.
Thumpingly loud techno music sets the tone for younger skiers and boarders to go crazy on table tops in the afternoon until the last run down.
The rustic Plan des Main at the bottom of Mont Vallon on the other hand is calmer, and its crème de marrons soup was divine.
A big draw here are the boot warmers, meaning you can truly relax away from the confines of ski boots in a pair of loaned slippers.
After whizzing around for the rest of the afternoon, a massage is most welcome, and you don’t need to venture far to find one in the spa, set in the centre built for the 1992 Winter Olympics at the bottom of the slopes.
Then all you need to do is call your VIP driver for a lift back home.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in affordable luxury, you will find it with VIP Ski in Meribel, a perfect springboard to the Trois Vallées.