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Courchevel Darling!! - Champagne Lifestyle on Beer Money – Part Two

Finding accommodation in the Alps can be really difficult, prices vary greatly and so does the quality.  My very first skiing holiday was on a real tight budget in Les Houches which is close to Chamonix.  I’m surprised I ever went back to be honest, after living in a shed for a week that had Alice in Wonderland syndrome. Two rooms you couldn't even stand up in and it was falling apart at the seams.  I remember that if we were charging a phone and used a hairdryer, the electricity went out completely and there was only enough hot water for one person out of eight to have a decent shower.

 

This taught me to make sure I research properly in future, but what is the best option for you with regards to accommodation and how do you make that final decision to ensure you stick to your budget. I’m following the trend of focusing on Courchevel again as we’re still trying to get to the super exclusive resort on a shoestring …or should I say boot clip.

 

If you Google Courchevel (or any resort), the number of hotels, apartments, chalet companies in the results is mind boggling and if you’re visiting for the first time you’re really not going to know the difference between ‘Moriond’ and ‘Village’.  So hopefully the below will help.

 

1850 is the more ‘exclusive’ part of resort and unfortunately over the years I’ve noticed it exile the ‘Average Joe’ somewhat. I will always see this as a bonus, because the slopes are that little bit quieter, the window shopping is very nice indeed for those of us who like to drool over very expensive handbags and the celebrity spotting is second to none. I will always remember seeing Victoria Beckham on the ‘Jardin Alpin’ with her body guards walking beside her whilst she clung on to them for dear life.  There are some half board, catered and self-catering options at some 3* hotels www.booking.com always has reasonable deals as well as the odd last minute deals that come up (there was one on snowvole just the other day,) but do keep in mind that drinks and food can be quite pricey in this area, the more reasonably priced businesses are a little further down the mountain which is just a short bus ride away.

 

I am a little biased as I’m a fan of the smaller, more traditional villages rather than the built up resorts (what can I say; I grew up in the countryside).  I like the old fashioned chalets, the narrow streets and bumping into the locals in the shops, this is why places such as la Tania and La Praz (1300) would be my location of choice. With access to the upper slopes being just a 10 minute extra commute (and a longer ski back home again), the difference in price is vast.  1650 (or Moriond as it is now known) also has a more relaxed setting where you can mingle with the locals and seasonnaires in the bars and restaurants. Something to note is that from 1650 it can take that little bit longer to get out of the valley if you are a keen explorer, but very pleasant to ski back to in the afternoon.

 

There are lots of self-catering options available in La Tania, La Praz, Courchevel Village and Courchevel Moriond and this can be a cheap way of holidaying. However, buying food can be expensive with prices inflated to a certain degree in resort.  I have often travelled self-catering and lived in resort, but we have always had a car to hand and on the holidays my mother with us who doesn't ski and was more than happy to do all the cooking/clearing up to keep her busy whilst the rest of the group were out enjoying themselves.  As far as I’m concerned any self-catering ski holiday needs a ‘mum’ to take care of them. If I had chores before and after a day on the slopes I would be eating out a lot and that would completely obliterate my budget, so do think about this before you commit to your booking.  If you’re travelling as part of a group though and everyone is happy to ‘pitch in’ it can be a really fun holiday.  There are many supermarkets in Moutiers just before you head on up to resort and this is where the locals and chalet companies do their weekly shop, just plan your meals before you leave the UK so you don’t find yourself wandering aimlessly round the store not having a clue what to get.

Moving onto the catered Chalet.  I will happily admit that before I did my seasons, the idea of sharing a house with complete strangers would have really put me off, but it is actually a really cost effective way of holidaying. To add to this, I would have missed out on meeting some great people who now I consider good friends.  There are a number of independent chalet companies in the lower villages of Moriond (1650), Village (1550), La Praz and La Tania. 1650 and la Tania are the more lively resorts, 1550 the quietest.  I know that snow vole have great links with http://skiamis.com/ and in La Praz, I personally tend to stay with Pete and Bev at http://www.ski-le-praz.com/

 

A chalet offers a relaxed feel and for me, it’s like going home every time I visit and having spoken to other guests, they feel the same way. Small independent companies (such as the above) offer very reasonably priced holidays and can often arrange transfers to and from the airport if you need it.  Chalets offer a very homely environment and can be quite social if you want it to be.  The good thing is that you immediately have something in common with your fellow guests…the snow, so you can chat with the other guests or keep to yourself if you prefer. You will have a ‘Host’ (aka ‘Mum’or ‘Dad’ as detailed above) that will provide breakfast, afternoon tea, which includes fresh bread and cakes made daily and a three course meal with wine in the evenings They also keep the chalet clean before/after/during your stay.  Breakfast should keep you going for most of the day with maybe a brief snack at lunchtime (thus saving a small fortune) so make sure you stock up well. I will say that if you are looking for black tie evenings, 5* cuisine, champagne and caviar at every turn, this type of holiday might not be for you and the budget we’re talking about will be out of the window. Chalets aren’t the same as hotels, and this is reflected in the price, if you have food allergies or requirements, make the hosts aware and they will of course cater for you, but you won’t be offered a comprehensive menu every evening before dinner.  If you are like me and like a comfy bed, good homemade grub and a laid back atmosphere then is the perfect place. I have been known to have breakfast in my pyjamas, but am yet to brave it at dinner, although I have witnessed a guest dressed in a onesie for a 3 course evening meal (why not!).

 

So hopefully that helps with regards to what type of accommodation would work best for you we need to get up onto the mountain.  What with ski hire, lift pass and general expenses on the mountain, this is where it can get really pricey, but we can rein it in, so until next time…

skichevel · 1466 days ago
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skichevel
The brave don't live forever but the cautious don't live at all
17.02.2014 (1466 days ago)
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Courchevel Darling!! - Champagne Lifestyle on Beer Money – Part Two