Luxury Ski Chalets: France Vs. Switzerland
BY - Tim Latimer, 2 May 2022, ARTICLES
BY - Tim Latimer, 2 May 2022, ARTICLES
Traditional ski chalets are a much-loved feature of any winter time trip to the Alps. Chalets have become instantly recognisable symbols of mountain living, encapsulating the sense of history and authenticity with which alpine culture is associated. While chalets were originally put to use as simple mountain farmhouses, in which ordinary families would live and work, they now offer some of the best luxury accommodation for discerning skiers at an increasing rate.
Nowadays, the most exclusive ski resorts in the Alps are comprised of architecturally spectacular chalets that exude sophistication, and are custom-designed with luxury in mind. Design styles can vary enormously between regions, usually due to the availability of local construction materials and a disparity in regional styles. The chalets of wooded areas, such as the Haut-Chablais area of Savoie, differ in appearance from those that are constructed from stone, such as those in the Tarentaise.
However, when luxury means a no indulgence spared experience, which chalets are most indulgent – luxury ski chalet rentals in France or luxury ski chalets rentals in Switzerland?
Switzerland is the birthplace of the alpine chalet. In fact, the Swiss chalet as we know it today was actually invented by foreign architects to appeal to wealthy tourists.
The aesthetic that characterises traditional chalets in Switzerland is still popular, even in newly built luxury ski resorts. Their key features derive from timber construction, prominent overhanging eaves, front-facing gabled roofs, balconies and terraces, and rustic embellishments, such as hand-carved hearts, flowers, geometric designs or other motifs. Indulgent amenities can usually be found in the most luxurious Swiss ski chalets, including jacuzzis, cinema rooms, and even swimming pools.
The Swiss ski resort of Zermatt is a stunning ski resort, characterized by the backdrop of the beautiful Matterhorn Mountain. The resort has led the way in modern ski chalet design. Local architect and design guru Heinz Julen, whose panache can be witnessed in the resort’s finest buildings, has designed many in recent years. The Heinz Julen Loft is perched up high with some of the best views of Zermatt through huge windows. It was designed as Julen’s very own party pad, so it has a state-of-the-art music system, grand piano and an under-lit coffee table that can be raised to the ceiling. The Heinz Julen Loft is a modern take on Swiss chalets. It follows the traditional design but utilises glass where wood is commonly used. The whole building is therefore infused with light. It’s a Manhattan loft in a luxury ski chalet!
Many of the larger ski resorts in France are superbly located with extensive and well maintained ski areas. The high altitudes of the best resorts guarantee reliable snow conditions, though a handful have been purpose built and therefore the architecture can be more utilitarian in style. However, for every purpose built ski resort in France there are many smaller and more traditionally styled villages with good access to exceptional skiing. In fact, it is easy to find traditional Swiss chalets in France as well, but they usually have their own local twist. The style of these chalets is also influenced by local materials and designs, particularly since stone is a more commonly used material in many areas of the French Alps.
France has enough ultra-modern chalets of its own to rival Switzerland with French designers adding their own je ne sais quoi to traditional design. Chalet Black Pearl in Val d’Isere has a timeless allure, but it is also equipped with every modern convenience too. The highly regarded architect Philippe Capezzone designed it using local stone and classical woodwork paneling in line with its Savoyard history, while the interior features a state-of-the-art finish. This chalet is an interior designer’s dream property with natural, pale wood, dove grey and charcoal hues complementing armchairs, soft comfortable sofas, a large stone fireplace and carefully selected artwork. The opulence doesn’t end there: the luxury ski chalet’s boasts an indoor swimming pool with jet stream, a cinema screen, and a hammam.
Traditional and ultra-modern chalets can be found throughout the French and Swiss Alps. Each region has its own design variation, but in the world of luxury, skiers will find exactly the type of chalet they are looking for in both France and Switzerland. The most exclusive resorts will have luxury ski chalet rentals to suit all tastes.
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