On an early afternoon this February, I arrived in Geneva and I was met in the city centre by the hotel’s limousine. I could not feel more welcome as the driver recognized me, saying ”It is a pleasure to see you again. We met during your stay at Hotel du Cap Eden Roc last Summer”. With his impeccable manner, the chauffeur took me from Geneva to Courchevel in less than two and a half hours and the scenery on the way was trulyspectacular, with each 100 meters upwards seeing more and more snow.
It was snowing heavily when we reached the 1850 m altitude where Courchevel 1850 sits, France’s most exclusive ski resort destination. We passed by a dozen of new luxury private chalets (a trend in premium hospitality in Courchevel) and several newly opened luxury stores, each with a bespoke retail concept: Dior, Vuitton, DeGrisogono and Prada. The centre of the resort was rife with tourists and the vibe was energizing.
I arrived at L’Apogée Hotel, situated at the top of the resort, along with its two other competitors LVMH’s Cheval Blanc and privately owned Les Airelles (the only hotel with a Palace distinction in Courchevel). L’Apogée is strikingly different, providing a unique offering both in facilities and service – young, yet elegant; trendy, yet glamorous; slick, yet warm; prompt, yet personalized. Similarly to its competitors, L’Apogée offers direct in-off access to the sky slope. Each morning, I would watch from my large terrace how the hotel’s staff would carefully arrange each pair of skis for each guest, based on their room number. The hotel also features a fully equipped ski equipment and gear shop, with specialized staff on call for any suppport for the ski equipment.
I must admit it took me the first day of my stay to understand the very bold and colourful design of the rooms, which feature some striking contrasts in terms of colour and materials. However, I later understood this was specifically the intention of the young owner, French entrepreneur Xavier Niel (46) and the management company, the prestigious Oetker Collection, who also own and operate Paris’ leading luxury hotel Le Bristol and Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, the most prestigious luxury hotel on the French Riviera.
While still using some references to a traditional mountain chalet, the two interior designers have succeeded in creating a very original environment in terms of aesthetics and ultimate comfort, blending several materials and colors: pine wood, wool and velvet in colours like burgundy, pine green, blue-green, ginghams. Although very cozy and warm, to me, rooms appeared slightly minimalist and lacking some ‘cocoon’ and plush details.
All rooms and suites are among the largest in Courchevel, with the Penthouse being the most lavish among all luxury hotels in Courchevel. Bathrooms are opulet and luxurious – exquisit two-tone mix of Fior di Bosco marble and black stone from Zimbabwe, all accentuated by the brushed brass tacks. Most of the bathrooms have double windows onto the room and a mountain view from the bath. This indirect daylight adds to the sense of wellbeing which is also achieved by the luxurious natural amenities line by Bamford, based on Geranium and Peppermint.
But it is not only adults who are being pampered. Youngsters and kinds can enjoy their past time in two exquisitely designed play rooms, divided by interest and age, both attended by a specialized attendant. Other details aimed at children, which the hotel masters: bathrobes and slippers for children in all rooms as well as Spa treatments. Besides skiing on the many dedicated slopes, children can also play and feel pampered at the hotel’s indoor heated swimming pool (1,4m depth) and 10m long.
Technology is at its highest XXI century standard, boastig: integrated Apple SmartTv’s, centralized control of lighting, service call and DND. As it was such a newly opened property, there were still some issued with the wi-fi internet both in rooms and public spaces. The only technical downturn which I believe the hotel must improve is heating. Upon check-in I was told by the Front Office that temperature can only be set from the reception desk – despite that there are two heating units in the rooms.
While intentionally minimizing the space of the lobby, besides the generously sized Bar and the lavish Restaurant, the hotel added a luxurious Champagne lounge, exclusively available for hotel guests. The Restaurant is by far the centre-piece of the hotel, with two arched stairs leading to an open atrium space, with a communal round table in the middle and several salons on the sides. Food is flawless and so is service at all F&B facilities.
Similarly, the Concierge, the Front Office and Housekeeping boast very high standards of luxury service, with many of the staff moved seasonally from Hotel du Cap Eden Roc and Chateau Saint Martin, both managed by Oetker Collection. This is a major achievement, especially considering the short period from opening. The Spa is flagged by French cosmetics brand Sisley, while body treatments feature essential organic oils by Bamford.
The signature massage which I tried, was exceptional, worthy of a top international luxury summer resort – my therapist, Marta, commanded the best techniques, with an utmost attention to providing an attentive service and treatment.
This is also a major achievement for the relatively young luxury hotel chain Oetker Collection, L’Apogée being the second major hotel which the group manages (after the opening of the stunning resort of Palais Namaskar in Marrakech in 2012) without being the owner as it is the case with its other properties. The synergies between the other two properties in the South of France and L’Apogée, will surely make the latter a long term success!
My special thanks to many of the other staff who have made my stay memorable: Antonio, Sebastien, Duarte, Philippe, Marta, Pascal and so many more.
A comprehensive dedicated photo gallery on L’Apogée Courchevel can be found on our Facebook page.
Oliver Petcu in Courchevel 1850
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