Chic ski chalets away from the crowds
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Peter Zumthor, the celebrated Pritzker Prize-winning architect, is known for bold projects in concrete and glass but has also built three exquisite wooden chalets in the tiny Swiss hamlet of Leis. His wife Annalisa lives in one, but last year they began renting out the second to holidaymakers; a third, also for rent, has just been completed. The lifts of the Vals 3000 ski area are close by, though it may prove hard to drag yourself from the chalet, whose floor-to-ceiling windows give hypnotic views over the valley.
Both chalets sleep five; from £2,760 per week during the ski season.
The Trois Vallées is the world’s largest linked ski area, with 173 lifts and 600km of perfectly groomed pistes. The main resorts – Méribel, Val Thorens, Courchevel and Les Menuires – lack charm and can get busy, but a handful of small villages remain all but overlooked. In little Villarabout, Chamois Lodge was completed last year, a sleek modern take on the traditional alpine chalet. A chauffeur is on hand for the four-minute drive to the lifts.
Halfway between two of the Alps’ most famous resorts – Val d’Isère and Tignes – is Franchet, a cluster of stone chalets set beside a tiny chapel. Probably dating from 1840 and lovingly restored over four years, Chalet Colinn is the perfect retreat after a hard day’s skiing. Guests can curl up with a book in the library or soak in the hot tub on the terrace. And if the peace gets too much, Dick’s Tea Bar and the rest of Val d’Isère’s nightlife are just two miles away.
Sleeps up to 12; from €6,248 per week.
With 31 lifts and 116km of pistes, Kronplatz is ideal for beginners and intermediates but remains largely ignored by tour companies. The slopes are a 10-minute drive from the San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge, a 16th-century hunting lodge renovated by the former CEO of fashion brand Escada. The delightful chalet now has three double bedrooms and a bunk room for four children, as well as a sauna, outdoor hot tub and 1,500-bottle wine cellar.
Sleeps up to 10; from €2,600 per night.
The Tauferer Ahrntal is a world away from the honeypots of the Alps – a dead-end valley surrounded by high peaks and pressed right up against Italy’s border with Austria. Its two main ski areas, Speikboden and nearby Klausberg, together offer 18 lifts and 40km of pistes as well as numerous mountain restaurants – the area is known for its cuisine. Right on the Speikboden slopes is Chalet Obertreyen, a beautiful 300-year-old farmhouse complete with sauna.
Sleeps up to 10; from €3,500 per week.
Baita 1697 is a 17th-century Piedmontese farmhouse in the tiny hamlet of Pattemouche. The name relates to the year of construction but might almost be the altitude – Pattemouche sits at 1,600m above sea level, on the edge of the vast Milky Way ski area. It’s ideal for intermediates, with 72 lifts, 400km of pistes and the opportunity to ski across the border with France. Guests can return right to the chalet on skis, to relax by the fire or enjoy the terrace with its mountain views and hot tub. Interiors, by the designer Lucie McCullough, blend rustic wood with a sleek finish.
Sleeps up to 18; from €12,500 per week.
Le Miroir, France
The Tarentaise Valley is one of the most popular ski destinations in the Alps, home to resorts including La Rosière, Val d’Isère and Tignes. The village of Le Miroir is a short drive from all those resorts but gloriously removed from their noise and crowds. Guests at Chalet Merlo have free daily transfers to any of the nearby resorts – and on their return can enjoy a champagne reception, gym, sauna and massage room.
Sleeps up to 12; from €7,350 per week.
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