Where to stay in the French Alps

Chalet Edelweiss, France

Chalet Edelweiss

What’s so special?

Courchevel 1850 has drawn the world’s rich and fashionable skiers since the 1950s. With six Michelin-starred restaurants, its own airstrip and some of the world’s best skiing, it is ideal for a winter break. Chalet Edelweiss claims to be the Alps’ largest, most luxurious free-standing chalet. It’s easy to believe.

How are they rate it

Edelweiss is a “seven-storey Savoyard wood-and-stone palace”, says James Palmer in The Independent. There are eight en-suite bedrooms “with views of both the plasma TV and the mountains”. There are even artworks by Dali, Picasso and Damien Hirst dotted about the place – as Palmer puts it, “it may be big, but it’s tasteful”.

The menu

Two chefs are at your disposal and there is “nothing you cannot order”. You can eat in the “cosy” dining room or in the chalet’s own private nightclub that has views down to the swimming pool below. “This room drips with decadence,” says Palmer.

The cost

Exclusive use for seven nights with 16 guests from £9,950 per person. Meals, champagne reception, tea and coffee in bed, chauffeured vehicle, and private ski instructor all included. Visit www.summitretreats.com or call 01985-850111.

Le Chardon Mountain Lodges, France

Le Chardon Mountain Lodges

What’s so special?

Legettaz is a relatively quiet area on the fringes of Val d’Isère. Beyond the five Chardon chalets lies an avalanche zone, so there has been almost no building further up the valley in the past 20 years. It makes for a peaceful spot, yet pistes are within easy reach, just 50 yards from your doorstep.

How are they rate it

All five chalets have “spectacular interiors, wonderful views, superb beds and attentive service”, says Yolanda Carslaw in The Daily Telegraph. Chalets Chardon and Lafitenia “have uninterrupted views up the Manchet valley… during our visit we watched from Lafitenia’s hot tub a daily display of avalanches thundering down the valley”. Across the chalets there are 30 staff looking after a maximum of 65 guests.

The menu

From breakfast to the three-course dinners, the food is “well presented, delicious and plentiful”, with dishes ranging from seared tuna and salmon with wasabi to “gooey” chocolate brownies. You also get packed off to the slopes with ski snacks.

The cost

The chalets hold from ten to 20 guests, with prices starting from £995 per person for a week. Price includes all meals and drinks, and ski snacks. Find out more at www.lechardonvaldisere.com or call 0131-209 7969.

Seychelles beach

Three destinations the crowds haven’t spotted yet

Malawi looks set to be one of the hottest destinations for 2014, says Lonely Planet Traveller. So far, “this slip of a country has… escaped the safari-suited crowds that flock to the likes of Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia”, with tourists mainly comprising adventurous backpackers.

But that’s changing rapidly, thanks to the revitalisation of its parks and game reserves: “Majete Wildlife Reserve, which only ten years ago lay decimated by poaching… recently gained Big Five status thanks to a lion relocation project”. Act fast if you want to beat the crowds.

For luxury, try the Seychelles (pictured). The islands’ “reputation as a millionaire’s playground of private beaches may have kept you away”, but the beautiful resorts are becoming ever more accessible. “Wallet-friendly B&Bs and self-catering apartments have sprung up over the past decade.” Even the air fare need not be a hindrance – airlines based in the Gulf have launched frequent, well-priced services to the islands from hubs such as Dubai and Qatar.

Finally, 2014 marks the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s infamous attempted Antarctic crossing. What better time to retrace his footsteps? It’s now far easier to reach the ends of the Earth, but it’s hardly “for the weak of heart – sailing the Drake Passage south from Argentina is a notorious stomach churner”.

Yet it’s worth it: you’ll get to “spot minke whales breaching by your ship, to spy on Adélie penguins in massive rookeries, and to listen to glaciers shearing into the sea.”

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