All-inclusive vacation pioneer Club Med has been reinventing its large collection of ski properties, and just opened a new French Alps flagship.
In any given year there are just a handful of notable new ski resort and mountain town hotels, and last winter’s biggest domestic opening, the Limelight in Sun Valley, Idaho, made my Forbes Top 10 New Hotels of 2017 list. This year there are five important debuts for winter sports lovers, at various price points and styles, and all just opened this month (December, 2017).
The brand new Four Seasons Megeve is the luxury brand’s first ski hotel outside North America, and located at one of the world’s toniest ski resorts, in the French Alps.
Four Seasons Hotel Megève: Opened on December 15, this is the global luxury brand’s first ski property outside North America, where it has standouts in Whistler, BC, Vail, CO and the Forbes 5-Star Four Seasons Jackson Hole in Wyoming. An hour from Geneva, near Chamonix and Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, Megeve was the original ski destination for French aristocracy and the first purpose-built ski resort town in the French Alps, conceived in the 1920s as an alternative to Switzerland’s St. Moritz. It is one of the world’s toniest, and an escapist, exclusive hidden gem, with no crowds on slopes or lift lines. The new Four Seasons is a ski-in/ski-out slopeside hotel conceived as a modern interpretation of the traditional Alpine mountain resort, with easy access to 136 trails, and is the new location of the just relocated Le 1920, Megève’s renowned two-Michelin starred restaurant, long a favorite of locals and resort visitors. The hotel has a luxurious spa with fitness center and heated year-round indoor-outdoor pool, in-house ski concierge and ski valet services, and in summer, preferred guest access to the Mont d’Arbois Golf Course located next to the resort.
A $60 million rebuild created Vail’s newest luxury hotel, The Talisa, with lots of fine details – like these guest bathrooms.
Hotel Talisa, Vail, CO: The highest profile domestic ski town opening of the year is actually a reopening. Following a lengthy closure and massive $60 million renovation, what used to be the Vail Cascade Lodge has been transformed into the first North American ski property in Starwood’s Luxury Collection portfolio. The reborn 285-room hotel kept the most important feature of the old Cascade, its own chairlift (Chair 20) and trail access, making it the only real ski-in/ski-out hotel in all of Vail, America’s single most popular ski resort, though it achieves this with a location in Cascade Village, slightly removed from the action and attractions of the main village. The Talisa is very self-contained, with its own full-service ski rental shop and ski concierge, Swiss Alps/Colorado Rockies fusion mountain restaurant, 24-hour fitness center plus guest access to the high-end Aria health club across the street and its vast menu of classes, and a lavish spa with 10 treatment rooms and his and her locker room facilities, each with sauna, steam room and hot pool, plus outdoor year road pool complex.
After large investments, Club Med’s all-inclusive ski resorts may surprise you with upscale comforts like this guest room bath at the new flagship French Alps property.
Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon: Under its current ownership, the all-inclusive pioneer has been reinvesting millions in new properties and renovations, and they now have two dozen ski properties across Europe and Japan. But where Club Med’s all-inclusive model really excels above all else is for skiing, and the value rates include not only all lodging, meals and booze, like any all-inclusive, but things almost never found in a ski vacation and the costliest extras: lift tickets and lessons – yes lessons are included, unlimited and for all abilities. Club Med has numerous resorts across the Alps and Dolomites, and the newest one is a family-friendly property centrally located in the heart of the French Alps, only an hour from Geneva airport, with a stunning 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. The resort straddles two neighboring ski areas, offering a dual terrain experience: Le Grand Massif is ideal for beginners and Flaine’s high-altitude above tree line terrain is ideal for advanced skiers. Club Med Samoëns was purpose built to be the French brand’s new flagship ski resort in France, has 420 guest rooms, and a sense of place, with a Savoyard environment and local fare – think fondue and raclette – at every meal. In addition to a great value proposition, Club Med ski resorts offer a welcoming turnkey experience for apprehensive first timers skiing in Europe, with English-speaking instructors and smooth logistics.
Hyatt Place is a value oriented brand that gives families and frequent Hyatt guests a great new vacation option in popular Keystone, Colorado.
Hyatt Place Keystone, CO: This is the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Keystone, widely considered one of the world’s best family ski resorts. It is being operated by Keystone’s owner, Vail Resorts, which knows a thing or two about the hospitality business, since they run North America’s largest and most popular ski resorts (Whistler, Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, etc.) and several other top ski hotels, most notably the awesome Arrabelle in Vail, and the Rockresorts brand (One Ski Hill Place, Grand Summit Hotel, Osprey, Lodge at Vail, etc.). Hyatt Place is a low key mid-level brand, which fits Keystone’s laid back, unpretentious, value proposition atmosphere with included basics like 24-hour fitness center, free breakfast and WiFi. The just opened hotel offers a new opportunity for anyone with Hyatt frequent guest points to splurge on a family ski trip. Hyatt Place Keystone has 103 guestrooms, all with work spaces, sofas and family-friendly mini-fridges.
The new Hyatt Centric La Rosiere is an upscale boutique hotel in the French Alps that emphasizes its great location in views and food.
Hyatt Centric La Rosière: This is Hyatt’s first ski resort in Europe and the first Hyatt Centric hotel in France period. The brand is marketed for “the modern explorer,” and sits below Andaz in the Hyatt pecking order. I recently stayed at my first Andaz, in Mexico, and was surprised and blown away by the experience (read here), and I’ve long loved Hyatt’s top tier Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, easily one of the nation’s finest ski hotels, so I have high hopes. The Centric brand claims to stress sense of place, and this does seem to be reflected in the showcase views and culinary offerings. The hotel is in the center of La Rosière, a popular Franco-Italian skiing destination in the Tarentaise Valley, near the Italian border and home to the most skiing in the world. It is a boutique ski-in/ski-out slope-side hotel with just 69-rooms including 12 specially designed family suites. One of the highlights is the signature Summit Spa, with a huge indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and indoor and outdoor hot tubs. In keeping with the local flavor, it has both French bistro and Italian trattoria eateries, and a relative rarity in the Alps, onsite heli-skiing.