THE fantastic daily fragrance of freshly baked croissants, the swish of snow under your skis, the spectacular mountain views as far as the eye can see.
There aren’t many better sights, smells and sounds when it comes to a winter holiday, and as you begin to think about your next, or first, alpine escapade there aren’t many better places to look than La Plagne.
One of the most snow-sure resorts on the continent with accommodation positioned at altitudes ranging from 1,200m to 2,100m, La Plagne has something for skiers and non-skiers alike. And for us, Alpoholics Chalets (alpoholics.co.uk) provided a week not to be forgotten.
The fact that Alpoholics recently received 100 per cent five-star TripAdvisor reviews for three consecutive years is no coincidence. Runner-up at the 2014 World Snow Awards for Best UK Chalet Company and shortlisted again in 2015 and 2016, they certainly know their stuff.
We were pointed in their direction by ChaletFinder (chaletfinder.co.uk) after sending a list of preferences – including resorts, room arrangements, ski in/out and the all-important hot tub. They help fill more than 1,400 chalets across Europe each season, and found us one that ticked every box.
A holiday is, by design, an opportunity to relax and switch off, and being able to step away from the stresses of organising every detail of your trip is an added bonus.
To put it simply, Alpoholics have mastered the ski holiday down to a tee. From start to finish the staff go out of their way to act on any and all concerns and questions are often answered before you even think of them. That leaves you with one simple job – to enjoy carving through some of the finest snow in all of France before finishing the day with a stunning three-course chalet feast.
Following a direct flight to Geneva, Chalet Blanchot was our home for the week – one of four chalets expertly run by company owner Charlie Bulbrook and his team, just metres from the white stuff in Plagne 1800.
Traditional wooden lodges surrounded by snow and fir trees are reasonably hard to come by in many resorts. Not here, with Blanchot – one of the original buildings from the village’s early days – offering a relaxed and picture-perfect chalet experience.
The building is as conveniently located as you could ask for, with the ‘1800’ chairlift in full view from the chalet’s hot tub and private terrace. It will be ready to whisk you onwards and upwards after a 60-second downhill stroll, while the Mélèzes lift, heading towards some of the highest pistes in Europe, is also reached within three minutes.
The bedrooms (three doubles/twins and a quadruple spanning four floors) are all en suite and the open-plan living area provides plenty of space to relax after a hard day on the slopes.
When searching for a five-star chalet-style skiing holiday, the standard of catering is perhaps just as important as location and snow conditions. Once again, Alpoholics have this covered.
Having completed his 11th season in the mountains earlier this year Charlie knows exactly what his guests crave, and our smiling Blanchot hosts, Luke and Holly, ensured every member of our nine-strong group felt like royalty.
Chef Luke served up a hearty cooked breakfast every morning – alongside the usual continental delights – to make sure we were suitably fuelled, and the traumatic experience of unclipping the bindings and waving au revoir to the pistes each afternoon was eased by the thought of a fresh cake on the living-room table.
Not only that, we were wined and dined on all but one of our seven nights with a menu that most Island restaurants would be proud of.
Wine glasses were on automatic re-fills and ‘superb’ barely does the food justice. Chicken and salmon dishes were personal favourites, although the phrase ‘that was the best yet’ was regularly heard around the table. When one of the main memories from a much-treasured skiing holiday is the quality of the food, you know you’ve made the right choice.
Free transfers, lift passes and equipment hire are all pre-arranged so that arrival day comes and goes without a hitch, and when it comes to skis, boards and boots only the best will do. Depending on your chosen mode of downhill transport for the week, top-quality Batalleon snowboards and/or Armada skis will be delivered to your chalet door before first lift on day one, and boots will also be supplied when required. Most Alpoholics chalets also have boot rooms, kitted out with boot warmers.
Your time on the slopes will be made easier and less tiresome with top-quality skis or boards under your feet, but the team are also aware that hurtling, or indeed just meandering, down a mountain can take its toll on the muscles.
They leave no ice block unturned in making sure you’re primed and ready, and Katie, their dedicated physio and massage therapist, is on call most days to alleviate any aches and pains in the comfort of your own chalet room. A perfect ‘reviver’ for the weary legs or just an opportunity to unwind. Treatments are also on offer throughout the day for non-skiers.
And the excellent service didn’t stop there. Fancy a night at the four-lane bowling alley in Belle Plagne, or a table at a local restaurant on your hosts’ night off? No problem – it can be booked on your behalf. Advice is also offered on the perfect routes as you explore 425 km of runs in the Paradiski area, which spreads across to Les Arcs, and also where to go to make the most of La Plagne’s thriving après-ski culture. Charlie, also a DJ, appears at La Bergerie twice a week – certainly worth a visit.
La Plagne has so much on offer aside from skiing that there is barely enough time to fit it all in. The resort has its own bobsleigh track – open to those aiming to mimic scenes from the Hollywood classic Cool Runnings – and there is also a not-to-be-missed toboggan run (I haven’t laughed so much in years).
Elsewhere, at the resort’s highest point, the Bellecote Glacier boasts stunning views across the Alps and towards Mont Blanc, and there is also a fantastic ice sculpture museum, beautifully chiselled deep inside the glacier itself.
There are often times when, as your holiday nears an end, you are happy to go home – batteries recharged, ready to return to familiar surroundings and settle back into everyday Island life.
Not this time. Heels were dragged in front of reluctantly packed suitcases for our short hop back to Jersey.
From JEP sports reporter Jason Fox. For 2018 bookings with Alpoholics, call 0044 2034 880 969 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For other resorts, email email@example.com.