With kid-friendly hotels being something of a rarity in this cluster of the French Alps, when you stumble upon one that caters to the whole family, it’s worth taking notice. A pine chalet with magical mountain views, French hospitality group Barrière’s alpine hotel Les Neiges in the luxury ski resort of Courchevel, which offers unparalleled skiing in the Trois Vallées, has all the trimmings you and your kids could wish for.
Les Neiges (“the snows”) has 42 spacious rooms, including a 3,000 square foot duplex suite, views of snowy villages nestled in mountain valleys and snow-dusted pine trees carving out ski slopes below, a fully kitted out ski-in-ski-out boot room, two gourmet restaurants – where menus were designed by three-star chefs Pierre Gagnaire and Mauro Colagreco – inside and outdoor bars with live music, fire pits and soft blankets for stargazing, and a roomy spa with a 66-foot long pool. And it also has an elaborate kids’ club where you’ll find the loveliest staff, as well as a separate break-out room for teens with video games and table football. So, it’s no wonder this place is a destination of choice for A-listers like Prince William and Kate Middleton or football stars like France player Blaise Matuidi and and their families.
This was my first trip to the mountains with Marley, my baby daughter of 15 months, so while I’d read good things about Les Neiges, I’d heard of how most hotels that claim to be family-friendly are so ill-equipped for babies that it can turn a perfectly well planned holiday into a nightmare.
When we checked in at Les Neiges, I was anxious about the extra arrangements we’d have to ask for Marley, but as soon as we arrived in our room and saw the purple and white unicorn musical mobile hanging above a cot with matching duvet, I knew it would be all right.
The bathroom was stocked with amenities for babies — there was even a nappy bin, which, most parents will tell you, should always be a must. The staff had laid out bright jungle-themed wooden letters that spelled out Marley’s name on her bed, “to take home and hang on her door.” Marley was also given a fluffy teddy, and, quite possibly the highlight: a pair of fluffy slippers to keep her little baby feet warm.
Marley was all set for her first Courchevel hotel experience. The only thing that got her to leave the room was talk of the kids’ club downstairs next to the boot room. With a movie theme – a nudge to Barrière’s long-standing involvement in the movie industry, like the group’s Fouquet’s restaurant being the location of the annual Cesar movie awards lunch – and staff that are so welcoming that I found myself wishing I could be a toddler again, just so I too could spend the afternoon coloring in and molding playdough into indescribable shapes with them.
Kids will also love the spa area with the huge pool looking out to the snowy surroundings, managed by Emmanuel who’s studying child psychology, who will be only too happy to impart his tips and anecdotes and give out floaters and colorful blow-up balls to the little ones. The spa — with fancy Biologique Recherche treatments — is a high point for adults too. There are massages that will banish even the severest of jet lags or ski legs leaving you feeling as fit as a fiddle and ready for another day on the slopes. There’s also a steam room and sauna, which you can have mostly to yourself in the daytime.
Meals are also a fuss-free affair with chefs happy to create bespoke baby purées despite their gourmet credentials. The hotel’s culinary offerings, helmed by chef Alexandre Colonna who’s got more than 20 year’s experience working in Michelin star kitchens all over the world, are another reason to be tempted away from the snow. Make sure to try out the alpine offshoot of the Fouquet’s restaurant for its traditional French staples created for the hotel by Pierre Gagnaire, often credited with being the most cerebral of multi-Michelin star chefs. Don’t miss the creamy Mimosa eggs to start, Savoyard specialty of Reblochon Tartiflette or, for something lighter, a fleshy buttery sole meunière.
Whether staying at Les Neiges or not, dinner at the dimly-lit BFire is a must for the Argentine dishes imagined by Mauro Colagreco. Try the barbecued morbier cheese and truffle ‘tartifles’ and follow with the wood-fired oven-cooked lamb shoulder with meat so tender it falls off the bone to share. As well as the great food, the venue is cozy and warm, and the staff is top-of-the-range; you’ll definitely want to come back.
Les Neiges is one-of-a-kind in Courchevel thanks to the buzzy and laid-back atmosphere, its its bars and restaurants brimming with guests. 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 could go completely unnoticed.