What’s Ahead for Europe Ski Travel This Season

Guests can stay in an igloo at the new Hotel Pashmina in Val Thorens.
Guests can stay in an igloo at the new Hotel Pashmina in Val Thorens.

A strong dollar and a host of new hotels are driving interest in Europe this ski season, but there’s plenty to do stateside as well.

“We’ve definitely been seeing a rise in international bookings,” says Richelle Blanken, vice president of Alpine Adventures. “The dollar is strong against the Euro and the Swiss Franc, so we’ve had a lot of inquiries for Europe.”

Millennial travelers, too, are increasingly taking ski vacations in Europe as the strong dollar has led to lowers costs, says Blanken.

“If they’re on the East Coast near a major airport, they can fly over in winter for about the same price as Colorado or Utah,” explains Blanken. “A lot of Millennials haven’t gone to Europe, so they can stay a couple of extra nights in a gateway city — we’re definitely seeing a rise in that.”

For clients traveling with their family, Blanken recommends booking early, particularly for popular holiday periods like Christmas and New Year. Another good tip for families is to consider a private home rental.

“For example, we can do a six-bedroom ski-in / ski-out house in Deer Valley or Park City, Utah, and if people don’t want to deal with cleaning or cooking, we can hire a private chef for one to three meals a day,” says Blanken. “It ends up being more affordable than doing rooms at a five-star hotel, and it gives everyone a lot of space.”

New Hotels on the Horizon

Guests headed to Europe this season will have their pick of a host of new and freshly renovated hotels. This December, for example, the new Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges is set to make its debut in Courchevel. The luxury property will have 42 guestrooms and suites, some with connecting doors for families, as well as direct access to the Courchevel ski area. All suites come with butler service. For dining, guests can check out the Le Fouquet brasserie, as well as a south-facing outdoor terrace and lounge. Other amenities include a cinema room and the Spa Diane Barrière, which offers an aquatic circuit, swimming pool, hammam, sauna, outdoor Jacuzzi, fitness center and seven treatment rooms with a treatment menu developed specifically for winter sports.

In Val Thorens, the new Hotel Pashmina offers ski-in / ski-out access from its 50 rooms and suites as well as concierge service, according to Dan Sherman, vice president of marketing for Ski.com. Chef Romuald Fassenet, winner of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France prize, leads the property’s two restaurants. The bar has a unique design with chairlift benches and a dining alcove in the shape of a cable car. For another offbeat experience, there is an igloo on site in which guests can spend the night. Another added incentive is an on-site spa offering wellness and beauty treatments by L’Occitane.

Also at Val Thorens, Fahrenheit 7 has renovated all 107 of its guestrooms and suites in a design that’s meant to be modern yet cozy. There are four restaurants on the property: Seven, for breakfast; the Terrace, for lunch; and La Rotisserie or Le Zinc for dinner. La Rotisserie serves a variety of roasted meats, fish and other dishes, as well as kid-friendly options, while Le Zinc specializes in fondues and other local dishes, sometimes with live music.

Val d’Isère is getting two new hotels this season: La Mourra Hotel Village and Chalet Skadi. La Mourra is a series of luxury private chalets, a restaurant and a lounge bar arranged in a mountain hamlet at the entrance of the old village and a short walk from the center village, which has a variety of shops and restaurants. The property is held by the same family from the famous Hôtel Le Blizzard, says Sherman.

Chalet Skadi is a new four- to 10-person unit opening December 17. In addition to chalet-style services, guests also get access to the Les Bains du Montana spa, which has an indoor swimming pool, sauna and hammam, as well as beauty treatments by 5 Mondes.

Club Med, which has 20 all-inclusive ski resorts in the Alps and beyond, is offering an all-new Ski Expert program for graduates of the Club Med Expert Agents program. Perks include advance notification of exclusive webinars, personal invitations to FAM trips, one free night for every 14 nights booked and much more. For program details, visit clubmedexpertagent.com or travelagentuniversity.com. For your clients, Club Med is currently offering all-inclusive ski vacations from $169 per person, per night, if booked by August 30.