Short cuts: French luxury ski destination


The tiny hamlet of Le Miroir, which sits high above the Tarentaise valley in France’s Savoie region, is becoming one of skiing’s most desirable destinations – despite not having a single lift or piste. Already home to Chez Merie, one of the best restaurants in the Alps, and the lavish Chalet Merlo (which costs at least €10,500 per week in season), next week it sees the opening of Chalet Pelerin, the first French outpost of Eleven Experience, the exclusive travel brand being set up by Chad Pike, vice-chairman of Blackstone Europe, the investment and advisory group. Pelerin, which sleeps 10, has an indoor saltwater swimming pool, Finnish sauna and outdoor whirlpool, chef, sommelier and guiding team on hand. With rates from $12,500 per night, it’s one of the Alps’ most expensive properties, and part of a trend to sacrifice ski-to-the-door convenience for privacy and authenticity. The slopes of St Foy and La Rosière are within a few minutes drive; Tignes and Val d’Isère are about 25 minutes away.


Abercrombie and Kent, the luxury tour operator that celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is moving into concierge services for the first time. Its “global lifestyle club” costs £7,000 per year, in addition to a £2,500 joining fee, in return for which members will be assigned a private travel consultant, and a personal “lifestyle manager” on hand 24 hours a day to book restaurants, send flowers and so on. An “SOS” service also provides security and medical advice.


May 29 marks the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent of Everest, and events to celebrate the occasion range from a major photographic exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in London to a new Everest collection from Bally (who provided the Sherpas’ boots on the 1953 expedition). Those looking for a more first-hand experience can join a trek to Everest base camp led by Tashi Tenzing. A three-time summitteer and the grandson of Tenzing Norgay, he will give talks on the history of Everest climbing, the modern mountaineering scene and Sherpa culture. Trekkers will stay in lodges and tea houses, and camp at base camp itself. The trip runs from May 16 to June 5, and costs £2,975.


Sir Richard Branson last week announced the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s Gallery in the Air – “the first ever commercial art gallery in the sky”. A series of promotional photographs showed the canvases of British artist Ben Eine decorating the Upper Class cabin of a Virgin aircraft; Eine is to be the first in a series of “onboard collaborations with renowned artists”. There is just one problem: aviation regulations mean that in fact all work exhibited in the Gallery in the Air must stay firmly on the ground. Instead, the works (priced between £2,500 and £15,000) will be displayed in Virgin’s lounges at Heathrow, JFK and Newark; passengers can view them onboard in a catalogue given out with the in-flight menu, or on their television screens.

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