Chalet des Neiges is the ultimate skier’s chalet, just yards from some of world’s best-known runs and two of France’s fastest ski lifts! A minute’s walk takes you to the edge of the piste, a further 30 seconds’ glide reaches the Funival, and a five-minute ride gets you to the top of Bellevarde. Des Neiges occupies the top three floors of a large chalet built especially for YSE on the slopes at La Daille, surrounded by OK, Orange, Diébold, Raye and Verte runs. Just below is the new super-fast La Daille bubble. Reasonable skiers can ski right back to the door, while the less experienced tend to stop about 60m away.
The location is so perfect that we not only signed a very long lease on these chalets, we also bought the shack next door to live in ourselves. Could we give a more sincere endorsement than that?
Being right on the pistes is great. And these aren’t just any pistes: they are World Cup Downhill pistes. They offer skiing for every standard, ultra-quick lifts back up and guaranteed snow from snow cannons top to bottom. And once the lifts close, they become lethal with tearaway toddlers on toboggans!
In the morning, you can either take the new high-speed ten-heated-seater cable car, which as you can see from the picture, is practically in our garden, or you traverse to the Funival, still the world’s fastest lift. Going to the cable car involves a 50m walk down our hill to the bottom of the OK via the direct path lovingly carved through the snow by our staff and their new snow blower. The Funival is a 100m walk and a short glide from our door.
At the end of the day, good skiers ski right back to the chalet (probably making a quick pit stop at the outrageous Folie or a more genteel one at the Trifollet), while the less intrepid ski back off the Verte to about 60m away, or just take the free ski bus which stops a short walk below.
The only people who find the 20-minute walk from the main village less than ideal are those who spend more time in Dick’s Tea Bar than on the slopes, but the free bus runs until 02.00, and the teenage sample we asked were enthusiastic: apparently, staying in La Daille gives time to chew on a mint or two on the way home, while being right on the pistes means even with a record hangover one can still be on the first lift. Parents will be reassured to hear that.
The owner of the chalets is a furniture maker, so they are as meticulously finished and furnished as his showrooms down the valley near Aime. There are acres of wood, much of it quite old.
More importantly, the chalets are very comfortable and well appointed. The bedrooms are not huge – predictably, since the real estate they occupy must be some of the most desirable in the world – but they are tastefully decorated and have underfloor heating, reasonable cupboards, safes, good lighting and gorgeous bathrooms. Even the beds are bigger and firmer than usual in France. Each bedroom has a private ski locker in the ski room, with individual boot dryers.
All those booking the whole chalet will receive one free holiday.
The sitting and dining rooms are magnificent. Tons of wood and stone, bottomless sofas, and fireplaces from the only man in the Savoie who knows how to make a chimney draw properly.
Chalet des Neiges has seven bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. It actually has space for fifteen guests, Room 3 having three beds. The optional extra person in Room 3 pays 75% of the standard price (with a minimum of £450), whether the chalet is booked by one single party or several small groups/couples/individuals.
The heart of the chalet is the dining room, with its long table and open-plan kitchen, where one of our top chefs and two assistants will be serving some of the best food in Val d’Isère (the proof of the pudding being the fact that des Neiges almost certainly has more regular customers than any other chalet in Val d’Isère). After eating or, Heaven forbid, drinking a little too much, it is a mercifully short stagger to the large L-shaped sitting room with its huge log fire, balconies, WiFi and dozens of satellite channels on the plasma-screen TV.