Spring is without doubt the sweetest time to ski. If skiing in April seems like an odd concept to the uninitiated, Val d’Isère has all the answers. This small village in the Tarentaise Valley just across the border with Italy, located some 6,070 feet (1,850 meters) above sea level, became a winter sports destination in 1932.
Its slopes are renowned around the world, thanks in no small part to native son and triple Olympic champion Jean-Claude Killy and the unique challenges of the site. But Val d’Isère remains an elegant and discreet resort town that has welcomed a cosmopolitan clientele that knows how to ski, and ski well.
A far cry from the uber-popular Courchevel or Megève, Val d’Isère begins with rich family traditions that built a small empire from generation to generation, including the Killy family, and Cerboneschis, who head the most distinguished and urban hotel in town: Le Blizzard.
With its wooden facade and stone pillars, the five-story building located on the main street scored its fifth star after expanding in 2012.
This large, supremely chic chalet is a hub for locals and regulars, with its bar one major attraction. It’s just the place to be, whether it’s for tea time, before dinner or liqueur after downing a heavy dinner of fondue. Come here and find a cocoon of comfort, equipped with a fire crackling in the chimney, deep seats and subdued lighting.
One name to remember here: David. The bar chief and cocktail expert who also manages the playlist, has reigned supreme there for nearly two decades. He knows everyone and remembers everything, so hold your tongue before going on with anecdotes you’re not ready to share widely. You can’t miss him with his plaid pants.
The bar attracts a varied, urban clientele: top CEOs, politicians, actors, ski instructor… Some nights, including on New Year’s Eve or on the evening of the station’s early May closing, an orchestra plays all night to a dancing bunch in a nutty, good-spirited atmosphere that has nothing to do with the commercial menu at the Folie Douce.
Don’t forget to give a little rub to Hattila, the family’s golden retriever that often stakes out a spot at the top of the hotel stairs near the bar.
Starting this winter, the Blizzard added to its stable La Mourra, a group of three (and soon four) top-rated private chalets in old town that will open as an exclusive hotel next season.Bon à savoir : depuis cet hiver, le Blizzard s’est agrandi avec l’ouverture de La Mourra.