What's so special
For years, if you wanted top-end luxury in Mribel, a ski resort in the French Alps, you needed to part with a small fortune to rent an exclusive chalet. All that ended last December with the opening of Mribel's first five-star hotel, Le Kala.
How they are it
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Le Kala is a "place that goes the extra yard in the pursuit of perfection", says Minty Clinch in The Independent. The bedrooms are "Alpine chalet-chic" with "standard lamps fashioned from reclaimed tree branches". Take the time for a visit to the spa, where "the P-shaped swimming pool is the scene-stealer.
The larger end gives swimmers mountain views unobscured by buildings, while the narrow part forms an aqua channel with sunken exercise bikes, contra currents, water-jet beds and fountains."
L'Ekrin restaurant is headed by Mickael Mibord, who masterminds a "refreshingly small menu". His style is "traditional with a twist".
Doubles start from €430, including breakfast. For more information visit www.lekaila.com, or call 00 33 4 79 08 89 03.
Hotel Allodis, Le Belvdre
What's so special
When the French go skiing, this is where they stay. The hotel is full of French and Belgian skiers with just a few English tourists seeking out a Francophile experience.
How they rate it
This is "the epitome of ski-in ski-out", says The Daily Telegraph, as it sits "just across the piste from the halfway stage of the Rhodos gondola". It's at the very top of the resort, in the exclusive suburb of Belvdre. The hotel is ideal for families with young children, as the second stage of the gondola takes you straight to the top of the Altiport nursery area.
The bedrooms are "comfortable", with most having south-facing balconies overlooking the Tougnette mountain range. The only drawback, for some, will be the location: Allodis is far from the centre of town. However, "when you compare the quality of food, space and service with other Mribel hotels of a similar price, this offers great value for money".
The hotel's restaurant is "regarded by many as the best in Mribel", with classic French cuisine "beautifully executed" and served on the vast terrace with beautiful views.
Double rooms start from €275. Find out more at www.hotelallodis.com, or call 00 33 4 79 00 56 00.
Three ways to cut the cost of a ski trip
Choose the right resort
If you want to ski the big slopes, but your budget is limited, consider staying in smaller satellite resorts that offer lift access, says Gabriella Le Breton in The Daily Telegraph. Examples include Nendaz for Verbier, Kirchberg for Kitzbhel, St-Martin-de-Belleville for the Three Valleys, and Chtel for the Portes du Soleil ski area.
But "never choose a resort just because it's cheap". Resorts in Romania and Bulgaria, for instance, can disappoint in terms of the quality of the skiing and accommodation.
Check your transfer costs
Before booking cheap flights, check thecost of resort transfers, says Le Breton. "They could wipe out anything you save on flights." Taxis are often expensive, so instead of relying on them, look at shared transfers that you can book through operators such as Skiidy Gonzales (Skiidygonzales.com) or Find Transfers (Findtransfers.com).
Stay in a chalet hotel
If you want the ambience of a chalet without the hefty cost of exclusive use of the chalet, the cost-effective alternative is a chalet hotel where you can book one room or several, depending on the size of your party, but still enjoy all the ambience of a chalet, says Le Breton.
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