After a solid hour of scaling an icy, narrow mountain pass, we begin to wonder whether a parachute entrance might've been quicker. "We're 2,300m above sea level," our driver points out, while calmly navigating what can only be described as a hair-raising blizzard. Val Thorens - the highest mountain village in Europe - is one of the most prestigious ski destinations in the French Alps; ergo, the world. Offering adventurers 68 pristine, powder-white runs and a standout après scene, this small but sparkly resort might just be our top choice for a wintry weekend.
The recently renovated Le Fitz Roy is located in the heart of town, just a ski's throw from the lifts that will whizz you around Les Trois Vallées. A striking addition to the Beaumier Hotels portfolio, the 72-key stay distils the very essence of alpine chic, with seriously snug guest rooms, a state-of-the-art spa, destination bar and restaurant, ski shop and library.
The snow-blanketed front doors of Le Fitz Roy, left, and a seriously snug corner of the library.
Stepping inside, one of the first details we notice, aside from the welcome warmth that kisses our frosty nose, is the ski-themed abstract art. We later learn that all artworks throughout the property, from living quarters to restrooms, are by local artists. We slow down to admire a 70s piste map; a vintage ski magazine cover; a framed print of some legendary downhill hero… There's something remarkably beautiful about this visual celebration of the surrounding landscape.
After being handed a latte and ski locker pass, we steer away from the lobby to discover unparalleled mountain views. It's the hour in the day when the peaks are washed in a peachy colour, flocks of flushed faces are returning back to base and hot toddies are being whipped up by the dozen. We pause to take in what a terrific people-watching den the dining space is - unaware of the vistas that awaited in the bedroom.
Scenic mountain views admired from a bedroom balcony, plus a chic suite corner.
There are seven different room types to choose from, spanning family rooms to two-floor suites. Ours, a junior suite, in a prime slope-facing position, saw us resting in a king-sized bed topped with a mattress so comfortable, with just the right level of firmness, that we found ourselves peeling back the sheets to note the label. The wardrobe space is big enough that we could've brought an extra carry-on and still had room for more, with warm spotlights that greet you as you open the wicker doors. Every inch of the room's design - courtesy of the visionaries at New York-based Charles & Co - has been executed with the ultimate level of comfort in mind. We loved the sliding door that allowed us to separate snoozing from chilling. The living space comes equipped with a plush armchair, slouchy sofa, fluffy blankets, a mini-fridge stocked with the good stuff and a projector that allows you to stream your favourite titles. The bathroom is a space that makes getting glam that little bit more fun, thanks to the luxury-label toiletries, jewel-toned marble and glitzy gold fixtures.
What's for breakfast?
Providing the correct fuel for a day spent tearing down the slopes is a task these guys take seriously. Start by grabbing a fresh-pressed juice - we loved the pear concoction, but saw the orange and mango replenished more often than we thought possible. Then, make headway for the granola, where dried fruits (or sweet treats) can be chucked in the mix if you wish. Hot dishes are available to order for those brave enough to go in hard with a full English before hitting the piste. The pastry tray is hard to avoid. After a buttery croissant, you might be tempted to stuff madeleines and slices of lemon cake in your pocket.
The stylish, light-filled dining space and a snapshot of the delicious food.
How about lunch and dinner?
Murano glass light fixtures, chairs in soft-touch fabrics and ceramics you wish you had in your own house make for an attractive dining spot. Headed up by chef Jonas Noël, a sustainable and locally sourced menu delivers the goods. Starters include marinated beetroot, pumpkin soup, and beer tartare with cabbage and hazelnuts, while mains are exactly the kind of stuff you crave on a cold winter's day. Our order? The lentil stew with a side of chickpea fries. As for the cheese, we'll let you discover the magic of that over the fondue machine.
Is there a bar?
Yep, Le Roy Bar is adjacent to the restaurant. We enjoyed a classic mojito, but witnessed big love for the signature cocktail le merengue - a combination of passion fruit- and vodka-infused greatness with toasted egg white.
The subterranean spa features a swimming pool framed with deck chairs, an old-school sauna and a hammam that hits just the right level of steam. During our visit, we enjoyed an alpine massage - a treatment specially crafted to nurse aching muscles through a combination of stretching, breathing exercises, kneading and fragrant oils you choose yourself. If that doesn't do the job, a Theragun can be delivered to your door on request.
How about their eco-credentials?
The sort that would put a smile on Sir David Attenborough's face. We're talking climate-conscious menus, eco-friendly products, no single-use plastics and a housekeeping service that leaves the ball firmly in your court.
What about accessibility?
Tip-top. Three bedrooms are converted for those with mobility issues, and there are two spacious lifts on hand to take you from bar to bed, or vice versa - we're not judging.
What's the crowd like?
That lot you table danced with, post-piste? You'll rub shoulders with them at the breakfast buffet, too. We spotted lots of best pals on tour, plus the odd loved-up couple. Kids and dogs are welcome.
Things I should know
There's an in-house boutique that allows skiers and snowboarders to hire all the (stylish) essentials, from helmets and gaiters to poles and goggles. But that's not all. Downstairs, a ski room is kitted out with lockers that have inbuilt boot warmers - making buckling up your boots a joy. Both spaces are within walking distance of the slopes.
Within a short walk I can find…
Every Tuesday and Thursday, pin-stripped kiosks bless the Grand Rue with fresh local produce. Grab a paper bag and get to work on the cheese counter, where wheels of raclette, slices of beaufort and creamy Reblochon await. There are a fair few craft stalls offering handcrafted jewellery, too.
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