“Let’s Courchevel together.” With a sly wink, the Courchevel tourist office has turned the name of this ski resort in the French Alps into an active verb—and that’s fitting. For those who love fun in the snow, “to Courchevel’’ is to find paradise: the largest skiable domain in the world, fabulous shopping by day, exuberant dining by night. The resort comes alive in the four months between mid-December and mid-April, when the snow is at its reliable best. Courchevel makes the most of its season by offering its international clientele a whirl of activity on and off the slopes—from world-class art exhibitions to tours by hot-air balloon or dogsled–as well as plenty of ways to relax and restore.
Hotel Barrière Les Neiges places the best of Courchevel at its guests’ feet–literally. Superbly located on one of the sunniest and most skier-friendly slopes in the resort, the Barrière Les Neiges makes skiing easy: It offers ski-in/ski-out access, and it has the staff and structure for all ski-related needs, from boot fitting to bespoke lessons—whether the guest was born on skis or is stepping out for the first time. The hotel's impeccable service has won it the distinction of "Palace" from the French government. “When I hear guests say that they never liked skiing before they tried it at our hotel–well, I am delighted,” says Charles Richez, general manager of the Barrière Les Neiges. “Our goal is to make every moment of the day the most fun it can be.”
Our goal is to make every moment of the day the most fun it can be.
This “Barrière spirit,” as the hotel’s team calls it, continues at the Diane Barrière spa, the largest in Courchevel, whose treatments and beauty products are designed specifically for high altitudes. The skylit underground pool area comes with all the trimmings to soothe weary muscles, including an innovative “parcours aquatique,” a bathtub-warm basin with phased whirlpool jets to work the entire body, limb by limb. For guests whose idea of fun includes shopping, Bernard Orcel, the local name to know for couture skiwear and après-ski fashion, has an onsite boutique. The village of Courchevel 1850, packed with luxury boutiques and gourmet shops, is just five minutes away by hotel car.
As the dinner hour approaches, guests start to congregate on the soft seating in front of the fireplace at Fouquet’s Bar. The Barrière Les Neiges has three restaurants that bubble with enthusiasm as well as great food: Fouquet’s, with an upscale bistro menu created by the triple-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire; BFire, based on wood-grilled dishes to share and helmed by another triple Michelin laureate, Mauro Colagreco; and Fouquet’s Chalet, a cozy, rustic cabin where local Savoyard specialties like fondue and raclette are served. An after-dinner genépi, or local firewater, and some live music, and it’s off to the Barrière Les Neiges’ warmly furnished guest rooms—complete with fuzzy slippers and maybe a fur-covered Teddy bear–to rest up and do it all again the next day.