ESCAPE LONDON AND VISIT EUROPE – Be the first one on the slopes
As anyone who regularly goes skiing will tell you, there is so much more to the winter holiday than the sport itself. From the fresh mountain air and stunning views to the Apres ski, live music and alpine restaurants, you can have a perfectly fulfilling break without even setting ski or snowboard on the slopes. But if you’re a total ski bunny and thrive on being the first one on the ski-lift in the morning and last one on the runs before nightfall, then staying on the actual mountain is an apt option for you.
I’d visited the charming French resort of Morzine several times before and its appeal never fades. Nestled in the Aulps valley the pretty town looks like a vintage Christmas card, a toy town of neat ornamental wooden buildings twinkling with fairy lights all season long. Yet this impressive winter play area offers 650 km of ski slopes with nearby Les Gets and Avoriaz for different green to black run options.
The vibrant social atmosphere is bustling, offering dainty shops, lively bars and restaurants, and even a smattering of spas and nightclubs.
However, the morning onslaught of lugging your skis or board across town, from wherever you’re staying, and battling the scramble of snow sport enthusiasts to get on the ski lifts was pleasantly avoided altogether when I discovered Infernos Hotel, located on Point Du Nyon, overlooking Morzine in the Valley.
We were picked up in style at the car park at the bottom of the mountain in a skidoo, which can fit two people, plus luggage and skis. The 15 minute ride itself was so fun I would have happily paid for it separately as an activity alone, but it was manned by a trained member of staff and we felt safe, and a little exhilarated.
The catered chalet offers 15 bedrooms – ranging from doubles to family, in a relaxed, quintessential ski chalet environment. The cosy, warm rooms are spacious clean and tidy, with the most sumptuous duvets and pillows, ensuring an indulgent night’s sleep after an active day on the slopes.
The views from the windows are simply stunning, especially at night, presenting a rare glimpse of nature in its simplicity, and you can lose yourself in thought staring out at the trees, stars and snow.
Food is included in the price and free-flowing, so despite all the exercise, you’re unlikely to go hungry. Breakfast is a lavish affair with fresh bread, sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, cheeses, cold meats, cereals and fruit. Then when you’ve tackled the slopes you return home to home-made cakes, cookies, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, before a three-course evening meal with complimentary wine re-fills. The experienced chef caters for vegetarians, vegans and allergies, and extra helpings of whatever takes your fancy. We couldn’t get enough of the home-made chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream.
There is a lively bar, family room, pool table and hot tub to keep you occupied off piste. Staff were attentive, friendly and eager to please, even bringing items up to our room when requested.
The hotel works with Doorstep skis – a fantastic, faff-free service which delivers skis, poles, snowboards and helmets to your chalet, after arming them with your sizing details.
The dynamic company are always on the phone if you have any equipment issues to swap them if there’s a problem with your boot or pole. The experienced staff even picked up our equipment at the end of our week from the bar we were in so we didn’t have to go out of our way at all. The whole system was easy and comes highly recommended.
Inferno’s highlight is, without a doubt, setting off first thing and being on the mountain tops and skiing down mostly deserted runs, while everyone else is still jostling for the lifts. It felt like we’d hired our own private mountain, which was priceless.