Written by Lysanne Currie, group editor of Director Publications and head of content publishing, IoD
Director visited the village resort of St Martin de Belleville to sample a taste of bling-free luxury at The Alpine Club, a collection of private chalets nestled in the picturesque Trois Vallées
The expression ‘low-key luxury’ was coined for products or services aimed at the top end of the market but delivered without the bling. The famous Trois Vallées ski area boasts plenty of bling, from the £250,000-a-week chalet that comes with its own nightclub to the restaurant where bottles of Dom Pérignon are transported from bar to table in small glass lifts on a wire cord.
This corner of the French Alps, which has become a haven for A-list celebs from Bardot to Beckham, is home to some of the best slopes in the world. But if your idea of a holiday is more relaxed Alpine village than oligarch ostentation, then St Martin de Belleville could well be the perfect spot.
The Alpine Club is centrally situated in this picture-postcard village, in the heart of the Trois Vallées, and comprises three boutique chalets. The owners are British husband and wife team, Helen and Chris Raemers, the latter of whom, an architect by profession, faithfully restored the 19th-century farmhouse to incorporate the original beams and parts of the old cowshed.
The Alpine Club prides itself on offering a bespoke customer service as well as an extraordinary fine-dining experience prepared by Michelin-trained chefs.In fact, you will feel so cosy here you could almost be forgiven for neglecting to hit the slopes.
Almost, but not quite. St Martin is a great base for the long and expansive runs Trois Vallées offers and your hosts can arrange ski-guiding if required, taking you off-piste or on a foodie tour of mountainside eateries. Try Chez Pépé Nicolas, run by the grandchildren of the eponymous former farmer and mayor of the village. The views are stunning, it’s accessible by road and by ski, and the cheese fondue is sublime. Pair with a green salad and side and wash down with the local crisp white wine, Apremont.
The chalet’s chauffeur is always on hand to drive you to the lifts and, when you return, tea and cake await before cocktails and fine dining.
The village has suffered, unfairly, through suggestions it doesn’t get as much snow as other parts of Trois Vallées. In fact, the location is ideally situated, has season-round snow and offers everything you would expect from a luxury ski holiday. That is, of course, unless you want a nightclub built into your chalet…
The nearest airport to St Martin de Belleville is Chambéry, 70 minutes away. Direct flights to Geneva airport, two hours’ drive away, are available from Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester (all with easyJet), Heathrow (Swiss) and from Gatwick (BA, easyJet).