Experience Val d’Isère – From the TOP!

An Elevated Experience in the French Alps

Our family has long subscribed to the travel theory that if a place is semi difficult to reach it is WELL worth the effort. This started early when driving from Deer Valley to Vail and stopping in Moab for 2 nights on top of a hill for a 2 day hiking adventure when the twins were just 3. Camera having been lost on a roller coaster ride in Park City, I have no visual recordings of our rather fun, ambitious and super scenic cross country driving and hiking adventure. 

Since then, among other adventures, we have been deep into the Amazon jungle with tarantulas clinging to the windows as roommates and on top of long serpentine hills in North Carolina, Sonoma, the Serengeti, Nicaragua and most recently St Lucia to experience locations from an elevated vantage point ie the very top.

This travel ethic or perhaps habit? is why we pounced at the opportunity to reside in the super luxe Refuge de Solaise on top of a mountain above the tres chic ski village of Val d’Isere, France over the kid’s FINAL High School spring break.

Super enthused by this opportunity, we shared our travel plans with friends and their families to join us on our adventurous mountain top experience. It was divine and 1 million percent worth the extra effort of arriving and departing.

Refuge de Solaise is very much the idyllic Grab Your Group & GO ski (or in the fall, spring or summer hike destination). Here is why you might consider grabbing your group and GOING.

The Views!

If you go for no other reason than to experience lodging in the clouds with the French Alps as your backdrop – you will be happy. The only way to get to The Refuge de Solaise is to arrive by a 15 minute Gondola ride up the mountain. Implicit with this activity are the views of the glorious French alps in any and all directions with ample windows and indoor and outdoor places to perch to admire them. 

The Lodging Opportunities!

In addition to the views, the variety of lodging offerings was a second winning feature of this deluxe place to sleep. Luxurious hotel rooms with views that make you reluctant to blink are one option to consider, but it was the super well appointed apartments with thoughtful layouts, well equipped kitchen and views upon views that are impossible to tire of that won us over. There are multiple floor plans to choose from and the apartments are the ideal choice for groups from 10 to 28! If you go this route you have a home within a hotel with luxury services – which is a pretty sublime combo.

The Shared Spaces!

When you travel with a group it is FUNDAMENTAL to consider spaces for your group to gather. We are fans of curved seating arrangements that give your groups a built in seating hug. The Refuge de Solaise has an abundance of curved seating spots that foster close conversation amongst the entire group and a subsequent abundance of laughter.

Cozy corners abound in the great room that has soaring ceilings and giant windows that take full advantage of the mountainous views beyond. So warm and inviting were these spaces it is a wonder we ever went skiing. Not once, but twice did we takeover this sumptuous room with piano concerts from the talented youngsters in the group. 

Take me back! 

The SERVICE!

When you are 8,000 feet up and in a very remote location on top of a mountain – attentive service is paramount to the experience and attentive, polite, respectful, and speedy service with engaging French accents is exactly what we received. Each apartment comes with it’s own butler(!) at the ready by text to deliver lattes or cafe au lait’s or yogurt piled with fruit or baguettes and fromage or bottles of champagne to the room at any hour. The butler helped with ski guides, ski rentals, our travel up and down the mountains and helped arrange the many lunches that became the centerpieces of our ski days all over the mountain. 

The SKIING!

Of course! Go because of the skiing. Another reason to select Val d’Isere and our mountain top local is for the skiing – particularly in the middle of March where things can begin to get a bit iffy. Val d’Isere, thanks to its location and resident glaciers, stays open until May!! This helped build our ski destination selection confidence.

With a yes checked next to SNOW – consider this hotel the ultimate ski in and ski out location. Want to be that first person down the mountain? Be suited up and ready to go when that green light goes on – somewhere around 8:50am. You will be the first person down the mountain and likely the first person in line for the gondola at the bottom. A fresh track skiers bliss. Also just an amazing experience to be with your own private group swishing down what feels like a private mountain in France. And that is just the first hour!

The mountain is vast and the group loved exploring every acre of its 25,000 acres using the lunches as carrots for long haul ski pilgrimages to our carefully selected lunch destinations and then back again to our lodging which no one was ever sad to return to. 

The LUNCHES!

On the first morning in Val (while still residing in the village) while buckling into my ski boots some Parisians wanted to know why we would travel all the way to Val D’Isere from NYC for skiing. They pointed out some of our finer ski offerings – Vail! Snowmass! Deer Valley? My reply to their query “The food.” They laughed. But my answer was honest and it is an answer I cling to after 6 days of the most glorious – on mountain – meals where the setting was always 1000 percent concomitant with the food on the table.

Every meal was delicious (we were in France), but it was the on mountain lunches that for me stole the dining show. Something about skiing hard all morning and then settling in with the group on an outdoor deck or a private room for 15 or a long table tucked in with fellow enthusiastic skiers for indulgent and divine French food is an experience that bears repeating and repeating and repeating. If the lunch place is difficult to get to!!?? Even better!!

The Guides!

As mentioned Val d’Isere is a vast and somewhat overwhelming mountain. The French are not quite as sign happy as our American offerings. There is a new color – red – which is between Black and Blue as far as this skier could tell. Hiring a guide to help navigate this vast terrain is a very good idea. When that guide is a rather dashing, super charming, and well informed Italian, it is a must do idea. Thanks to Mateo and his incessant corrections of my maladaptive form, I am a much better skier than when I arrived. And thanks to Mateo our group of 14 made it safely and generally on time to each lunch location and again home at the end of the day. He sent the expert skiers where expert skiers like to go and made sure each and every skier tackled terrain that was, if not perfectly in their comfort zone, twas perfectly within their reach. Handsome, dashing and a genius really. 

The SPA!

Ski, lunch, ski, SPA…repeat. This quickly became the group’s daily “grind” at The Refuge de Solaise. The pool was so long I could barely cover half of it in my underwater swim self challenge. Sitting in a jacuzzi over looking the alps at sunset is a pretty fortunate way to end any day, especially though a day on skis. The cylinder sauna was also a hit with the crowd. We enjoyed copying the Europeans with their sauna/dive in the snow/sauna/dive in the snow sauna techniques. Super sublime way to close out the day!

The MEMORIES

Our trip to Val d’Isere with our group was a grand and elevated success. We are so grateful for the group that joined and we will be re-visiting the many fun memories we gathered for a lifetime. This will not be our last time to this sublimely special mountaintop retreat – who’s with me next time!?? I would be happy to visit this literally TRANSPORTING SPOT and make memories with you any day of the year!

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Space does open up! When it does it’s often at the last minute. Will keep our fingers crossed. Would love to see you at this experience!