Chalet Inoko is said to be the highest in Val d’Isere, and the views from its enveloping glass walls suggest so. The glacier-capped mountains ahead, the enchanting scene of wooden houses, swirls of smoke peeking through swaths of snow and pine.
Step out onto the wooden deck and from the hot tub you can look out over the peaks.
Chalet Inoko houses lawyers, bankers and expats who yearn for snow and crystal cold ice. A main guest will often treat 14 family members and friends, and you can see why.
The interior is a picture of cozy luxury, with warm cedar paneling on the walls and heated floors. A barn-sized living room is stylishly furnished: lights hang from the ceiling like sculpted clouds and a huge life-size fashion photograph of Vivienne Westwood looks out over the dining room.
There are sofas to lounge on and books to flip through, plus a courtesy bar stocked with champagne. Flowers adorn each room, slippers are laid out for each guest, and rugs cover the chairs by the fire pit.
Sarah Hartley travels to Val d’Isere (pictured) with Purple Ski, a British boutique operator offering luxury ski chalet holidays.
As big as a barn: Sarah checks in to Chalet Inoko, which is a ‘picture of cozy luxury’
When you see the rib-knit headboards and lampshades in the bedrooms, plus fluffy furs on the daybeds in the spa, you won’t be surprised to find that the design-conscious owners are a young French couple.
For anyone who likes to swim, the lure of the indoor pool will have you springing out of bed first thing in the morning and coming back after a day on the slopes. Add in the sauna and roof-to-floor views of the mountains from the pool or sun loungers, and you’ll make memories without trying.
It is also pure joy to drink the crystal clear water that flows directly from the tap, while bathing in it really softens the skin.
There are six rooms to choose from: two open to family suites, and one has bunk beds. The master suite is comfortable, though we envy our daughter’s wraparound balcony.
Breakfast is a daily fanfare of fruit, cold meats, juices, smoothies, pastries, and a hot option—pancakes one day, scrambled eggs another—and is served at the long wooden table that is lit by candlelight at night for the delicacies on offer. for our lovely young people. French chef, Hugo Attou.
He is a benchmark, having previously worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, so each of his creations is a true gastronomic delight.
Among the standout dishes, in addition to its artisanal sushi, are the agnolotti stuffed with truffle and squid ink, served with Parmesan, chives and garlic, or the slow-roasted chicken with potato cream and Jerusalem artichoke.
The nightly ritual of canapés followed by a four-course dinner is enough to puff up your bibs, but it also ensures you’ll ski a bit more the next day. And all that food comes after freshly baked afternoon cake to enjoy with tea.
Sarah writes: “For anyone who likes to swim, the lure of the indoor pool will have you springing out of bed first thing in the morning and coming back after a day on the slopes.”
You can enjoy the view of the peaks from the jacuzzi on the chalet’s wooden deck, Sarah reveals.
Chalet Inoko has six bedrooms: two open to family suites and one has bunk beds
We ask our chef if he receives any requests. Only once, apparently, for the apple crumble.
Guests arrive from Lyon or Geneva and can expect a three-hour drive to the resort.
In our case, we are picked up in Geneva, but since Swiss law prohibits drinking in vehicles, we cannot open the Veuve Clicquot champagne in the basket that Hugo has prepared for us until we cross the border.
Once opened, it is accompanied with delicious ham and cheese sandwiches and chocolate brownies.
It’s February, but the twinkling fairy lights in Val d’Isere give the pretty town a Christmassy feel. A steep, snowy driveway ascends to the magnificent three-story house, flanked by pine trees on ‘Petit Alaska’, as the area is known. Chalet Inoko is amazing: the kind of place where Hollywood stars are photographed for glossy magazines, sprawled on fur rugs by a roaring fire, dressed in white cashmere.
We had traveled with Purple Ski, a British boutique operator offering luxury ski chalet holidays in Courchevel, Meribel and Val d’Isere. It’s a slick operation, so before we even left home we were able to book ski equipment, restaurants, and even a massage at the chalet’s massage parlor.
Ski fitting is usually organized in the chalet, but we are late and have to wait until the next day to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the young team that equips us in the Oxygene shop. A boy from Australia had grown up with ski trips to Japan. Impressive dry snow, he said, but none of this, nodding to the clear, cornflower-blue sky.
Chalet Inoko houses lawyers, bankers and expats who crave crystal-cold snow and ice, Sarah reveals
Lights hang from the ceiling like sculpted clouds and a huge, life-size fashion photograph of Vivienne Westwood looks out over the dining room.
Above, one of the exquisite dishes cooked by the chalet’s private chef, Hugo Attou.
Perhaps more than any other holiday, skiing involves commitment, due to the varying levels of skill and enthusiasm found in the group.
If you live to ski, then pushing around with heavy gear and limited fender locker space at budget hotels might seem like fun. But if you’d rather spend more to ensure a less hectic experience, then Chalet Inoko makes perfect sense, especially if you want everyone in the family to enjoy a stress-free vacation.
Everything is done as simply as possible so that all guests have to do is relax. A chauffeur-driven minibus gets you to the slopes in four minutes, with the driver on duty waiting to pick you up when you’re done.
Val d’Isere is not cheap, that’s why we make it memorable. A margherita pizza lunch at Gigi, halfway up the Solaise mountain, with coffee and water costs €40. But we relaxed in the loungers, our faces turned to the sun, listening to the rustle of skis on the slopes ahead. This is the life.
Who skis at the resort now? Not the Sloane Rangers of my youth who sank Steiners and wore bandanas, the girls all pink marble lipstick and pearls. Rising costs have made the resort more international and less Anglocentric than it was before lockdown, when the British outnumbered the indigenous French.
In many ways, Val d’Isere has become a more sophisticated version of what it once was.
Val D’esire: ‘[The resort] has become a more sophisticated version of what it was,” writes Sarah
Feast For The Eyes: Sarah Enjoys Lunch At Gigi’s On The Solaise Mountain
On the chef’s night off we settle into the Fondue Factory, an institution in the city and much more glamorous than it sounds. There’s an open kitchen, a great wine list, and lively tables with plenty of space between them. The fondue is delicious, whether you want to ramp up the cheeses or the meat, or both.
Take time to explore the wealthy city. A little gem is the church, built on the site of an 11th-century chapel, with flickering lanterns, candles, and altars with the faded photographs of hopeful young faces lost in the mountains. It’s a searing reminder of how to respect snow and ice.
One sunny afternoon, from the comfort of the covered terraces of the Yule Hotel at the base of the slopes, we join other Aperol-fueled skiers to watch the experts as they slalom down Le Face, the iconic black run of the Val d’Azur. ‘Isere. I wonder at such an ability.
The next morning my heart is in my mouth as my youngest daughter glides impressively down hard green and then soft blue runs, her pink snowsuit fluttering as she disappears down the slope.
The benefits of the ski school are obvious and worth the investment.
Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, since green slopes are still my comfort zone. But in the last race of the last day, film me, I say.
When played back, though I felt I was on the brink of danger, zigzagging at a speed that took my breath away, it turns out that the white figure in a snowsuit is going no faster than a bag of flour in a supermarket. conveyer belt. There is always next year…
- For more information on a stay at Chalet Inoko, visit purpleski.com.