Hotel Insider Checking into this old farmhouse high above Les Gets which has been converted into a five-star hotel, Sue Ryan finds that the only thing lacking is her skiing.
Experience a pampered skiing holiday at La Ferme de Montagne, France
It takes some beating as a bienvenu when, less than two hours after leaving our plane, we are at the top of the snow-covered mountain in glorious sunshine, enjoying a splendid picnic of Scotch broth, charcuterie, cheese with chunks of freshly baked spelt bread and fruit. La Ferme picks up all its guests at the airport for the hour's drive to Les Gets from Geneva, Switzerland. Suzanne, the chalet owner, anticipated that we would want to ski on such a lovely day and so has arranged for the staff to organise ski passes, transport and lunch, and is there to welcome us with a picnic rug at the top of the lift.
Part traditional chalet, part five-star hotel, La Ferme de Montagne is an old farmhouse high above Les Gets, a town that combines Savoie alpine charm and the modernity of a popular ski resort. It is part of the massive Portes du Soleil ski area and links to Morzine, Avoriaz and over into Switzerland on a single lift pass. The runs vary from gentle blues through stunning woodland scenery to blacks designed to test the best. The nearest lift, a drag, is only 200 metres away, while the six-man chair at Perrières is five minutes away - a swoosh down the end of a run.
Beautifully designed in local wood it has a bath to soak away every ache of a long day's skiing and a bed so comfortable that we soon forgot about going up on the first lift of the day. It is a warm retreat with great views of the mountains and all the usual hi-tech mod cons, including free Wi-Fi access, Nespresso machine, an iPod dock, TV and phone. Best of all, the bathroom products are Jo Malone.
The enthusiastic and well-drilled young team working on the bar and waiting at table are effortlessly welcoming and attentive. The 1:2 staff-guest ratio is most certainly not the norm in skiing chalets, nor is their willingness to drop you off and collect you from the town or the slopes whenever you want.
Also included in the price is personalised ski guiding - it's one of the things that makes this chalet experience special. It's win, win: you start and finish whenever you feel like it but you also have an experienced, knowledgable skier selecting the runs that suit your ski level and the weather. And although there are only nine bedrooms, there is a full-time therapist available for spa treatments.
Guests begin the week skiing and eating on their own but as they make friends they often join up. Long-term friendships are forged through the intimacy of the chalet experience, and few, if any, go to La Ferme just once. It has a regular clientele comfortably taking afternoon tea and cakes in the leather chairs in the small library.
Be prepared for food unlike anywhere else in the Alps. A tasting menu, a sumptuous range of seven courses, is served two days a week. Chef Alan White has been here for five years and has the not unrealistic ambition of earning Michelin star status. Breakfast features Chef White's specials, a different one each day, to set you up for a day in the mountains. Dinner includes dishes such as seaweed and green tea consommé oversoused land and sea vegetables with chicken wing confit, and risotto of squid, miso and winter squash, gently cooked squid tentacles, toasted onion bread with sea vegetable butter.
The outdoor hot tub with its view of the mountains, the log fire inside, and the idea that it is both intimate and luxurious.
The fact that my skiing didn't live up to the high standard of everything else, even with our patient ski guide, Kerri, finding the gentlest runs, the best coffee stops and lunchtime restaurants.
Perfect for a pampered skiing holiday where the après is as important as the piste - all the hard work is taken out of the holiday.
The bottom line
Double rooms from £925 (Dh5,384) per person for three nights, half board, including airport transfers, a ski guide and a spa treatment. La Ferme de Montagne, 1020 Route de la Turche, Les Gets, France (www.fermedemontagne.com; 00 33 4 5075 3679).