Skiing in Courchevel, France


Courchevel ski accommodations

Hotel De Charme Les Airelles' Private Apartment has a 1,600-square-foot terrace with Jacuzzi


Visits to U.S. ski resorts rose 4.2 percent for 2009-10, according to the National Ski Areas Association. With demand up—and with the value of the dollar in Europe improving—why not start selling long-haul ski vacations to your clients? Travel Agent attended an event in New York City for Courchevel in the French Alps, and found out why agents should take note of this destination.

First off, Courchevel has the largest ski area in the world, Les 3 Vallees. More than 370 miles of interconnected terrain with altitudes ranging from 4,265 to 10,498 feet contains 330 runs. Combine six of the largest ski resorts in the U.S. and Les 3 Vallees is still bigger.

There are 1,000 instructors, who among them speak 15 languages— nothing will be lost in translation. For experts, there’s a variety of heli-ski options. If you’re a beginner, group and private lessons can be custom-serviced to your ability. Rest assured with little ones, as there are nurseries for kids under 18 months, and for those above, baby ski lessons. Activities for nonskiers include paragliding, cooking classes, ice skating contests, bowling, sledding and shopping at more than 50 boutiques.

Four villages, at four different altitudes, comprise the resort area: Courchevel 1300 is the traditional setting; Courchevel 1550 is for the young at heart; Courchevel 1650 is for those looking for a party; and, at the top, Courchevel 1800 is the jewel.

Gondola lifts and a free shuttle bus help you get around. Plus, 90 percent of accommodations are ski-in/ski-out.

The Courchevel villages have 11 five-star hotels, but for your most discerning clients, we suggest the Hotel De Charme Les Airelles in Courchevel 1800 that recently underwent a $43.6 million facelift. The upgrade added a 1,100-square-foot Kids’ Kingdom, which contains a fortified castle, the latest arcade video games, game consoles, a theater room, a multimedia corner, books, games and more—each under a nanny’s supervision.

The property features 37 guest rooms and suites with flat-screen TVs, DVD players, sound docks and Wi-Fi. Most come with a fireplace. Dining options include upscale cuisine at Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant, Les Airelles; buffet-style dining at La Table du Jardin Alpin; Le Coin Savoyard (with its own wine cellar); and Bar des Airelles. The 7,000-square-foot Valmont Spa has a pool with waterfalls, a sauna, Turkish bath, sensory showers, outdoor hot tubs and an 11-person team of masseurs, physical therapists and beauty experts.

The top dig is the new 5,000-square-foot Private Apartment on the fourth floor with direct elevator access and panoramic views. It has four bedrooms, each with a fireplace, walk-in closet, steam shower, plus an en suite spa. For entertainment or relaxation, guests can turn to the 1,600-square-foot terrace, outdoor Jacuzzi, and the home theater.

Getting There: Transfers are available from Geneva (two-hour drive) and Lyon airports (four-hour drive). Continental has direct flights to Geneva from New York, and travelers can connect to Lyon via Paris.

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