Chalet Inoko is said to be the highest in Val d’Isere, and the view from the surrounding glass walls certainly suggests it. The glacier mountains opposite, the enchanting scenery of wooden houses, smoke blowing from snow and pine trees.
Step outside on the wooden deck and enjoy the bubbles of the hot tub.
Chalet Inoko houses lawyers, bankers and expats who crave crystal cold ice and snow. A chief guest often treats 14 family members and friends – and you can see why.
The interior is a picture of cozy luxury, with warm cedar paneling on the walls and heated floors. A barn-sized living space is stylishly furnished – lights hang from the ceiling like sculpted clouds and a giant life-size fashion photo of Vivienne Westwood overlooks the dining area.
There are couches to sit on and books to browse, as well as a champagne-filled welcome bar. Flowers decorate each room, slippers are provided for each guest, and rugs cover the chairs by the fire pit.
Sarah Hartley travels to Val d’Isere (pictured) with Purple Ski, a British boutique operator offering luxury ski holidays.
As big as a barn: Sarah checks in on Chalet Inoko, a “picture of cozy luxury”
Given the ribbed headboards and lampshades in the bedrooms, and the fluffy furs on the lounge chairs in the spa, it’s no surprise that the design-conscious owners are a young French couple.
For those who love to swim, the allure of the indoor pool will make you jump out of bed first and return to a day on the slopes. Throw in the sauna and floor-to-ceiling mountain views from the pool or lounge chairs, and you’ll be making memories without even trying.
Drinking the crystal clear water that flows straight from the tap is also a treat, while bathing really softens the skin.
There are six bedrooms to choose from – two lead to family suites and one has bunk beds. The master suite is cozy, although we envy our daughter’s wraparound balcony.
Breakfast is a daily fanfare of fruit, charcuterie, juices, smoothies, pastries, and a hot selection — pancakes one day, scrambled eggs the next — and is served on the long wooden table, lit by candles around the evening’s treats. to fill which is presented by our charming young French chef, Hugo Atto.
He is one to watch as he has previously worked in Michelin star kitchens, so each of his creations is a real gastronomic treat.
Dishes that stand out — apart from the handmade sushi — include agnolotti filled with truffles and squid ink, served with Parmesan cheese, chives and garlic, or the slow-roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and artichoke.
The nightly snacking ritual followed by a four-course meal is enough to blow up your dungarees, but will also make you ski a little harder the next day. And all that food comes after freshly baked afternoon cake, which you can enjoy with tea.
Sarah writes: “If you love swimming, you’ll be the first to roll out of bed with the indoor pool and return after a day on the slopes.”
Sarah reveals that you can enjoy the view of the peaks from the whirlpool on the wooden terrace of the chalet
Chalet Inoko has six bedrooms – two lead to family suites and one has bunk beds
We ask our chef if he gets any requests. Apparently only once for Apple Crumble.
Guests arriving from Lyon or Geneva should expect a three-hour drive to the resort.
In our case, we are picked up in Geneva, but since Swiss law prohibits drinking in vehicles, we are not allowed to pour the Veuve Clicquot champagne into the basket Hugo packed until we cross the border.
Once opened, it is washed down with delicious cheese and ham sandwiches and chocolate brownies.
It’s February, but the twinkling lights in Val d’Isere give the pretty town a Christmas-like atmosphere. A steep, snow-covered road leads to the beautiful three-story house with pine trees above “Petit Alaska”, as the area is known. Chalet Inoko is stunning – the kind of place where Hollywood stars are photographed for glossy magazines, lying on fur rugs by a roaring fire, dressed in white cashmere.
We traveled with Purple Ski, a British boutique operator offering luxury ski chalet holidays in Courchevel, Meribel and Val d’Isere. It’s a smooth operation so we were able to book ski equipment, restaurants and even a massage in the chalet’s dedicated massage room before we left the house.
Ski equipment is usually arranged at the chalet, but we arrive late and have to wait until the next day to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the young team who match us at the Oxygene shop. A boy from Australia grew up on ski trips to Japan. Big dry snow, he says, but none of that, nodding at the clear, cornflower blue sky.
Chalet Inoko is home to lawyers, bankers and expats who crave crystal cold ice and snow, reveals Sarah
Lights hang from the ceiling like sculpted clouds and a large life-size fashion photograph of Vivienne Westwood overlooks the dining area
Above is one of the exquisite dishes prepared by the chalet’s private chef, Hugo Attou
Perhaps more than any other vacation, skiing requires compromise because of the variety of skills and enthusiasms present in the group.
If you ski, it can be fun to mess around in cheap hotels with heavy gear and limited luggage space. But if you’d rather spend more money to ensure less hustle and bustle, then Chalet Inoko makes perfect sense – especially if you want everyone in the family to have a stress-free holiday.
Everything is designed to be as simple as possible so guests just need to relax. A chauffeur-driven minibus will take you to the slopes in four minutes – and the chauffeur on duty will be waiting for you when you’re done.
Val d’Isère doesn’t come cheap, so let’s make it unforgettable. A margarita pizza lunch at Gigi’s halfway up Mt Solaise with coffee and water is 40. But we relax on lounge chairs, watch the sun set and listen to the skis whizzing down the slopes in front of us. That’s life.
Who is skiing in the ski area now? Not the Sloane Rangers of my childhood, sinking Steiners and wearing bandanas, the girls all pink marble lipstick and pearls. Rising costs have made the resort more international and less Anglocentric than before containment, when the British outnumbered the local French.
In many ways, Val d’Isere has become a refined version of its former self.
Val D’esire:[The resort] has become a refined version of his former self,” writes Sarah
A feast for the eyes: Sarah enjoys lunch with Gigi on Mount Solaise
On the chef’s off night, we settle into the Fondue Factory, a city institution and far more glamorous than it sounds. There is an open kitchen, a good wine list and comfortable tables with plenty of space in between. The fondue is more, whether you want cheese or meat or both.
Take your time to explore the prosperous city. A little gem is the church, built on the site of an 11th-century chapel, with flickering lanterns, candles and shrines bearing the faded images of happy young faces full of hope lost in the mountains. It is a burning reminder of how snow and ice should be respected.
On a sunny afternoon we join other Après skiers on the covered terraces of the Yule Hotel at the foot of the slopes to watch experts slalom down Le Face – Val’s legendary black Piste d’Isere. I am amazed at this power.
The next morning my heart beats in my mouth as my young daughter dashes impressively hard green then soft blue runs, her pink snowsuit vibrating as she slides down the slope.
The benefits of a ski school are obvious and worth the investment.
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks as green runs remain my comfort zone. But on the last ride on the last day, film me, I say.
Although playing felt like I was zooming to the edge of danger and moving at speeds that took my breath away, the snowsuit-clad white figure appears to move no faster than a bag of flour on top of your supermarket conveyor belt . There’s always next year…
James is an author and travel journalist who writes for The Fashion Vibes. With a love for exploring new cultures and discovering unique destinations, James brings his readers on a journey with him through his articles.