LE KAÏLA, FRANCE
Méribel has always been popular with families from the Home Counties, who book out rooms a year in advance. The good news is that there is now a five-starhotel alternative to the many chalets. Le Kaïla is the town’s first true luxury hotel, complete with a restaurant for food lovers and five designer shops. The 600-squaremetre Spa Nuxe is a selling point, with a large pool complete with aqua bikes, hydro-massage chairs, and geysers. In keeping with the overall style of the hotel, the spa is decorated in slate and wood, with warm, natural tones. For families, there is a designated club area, with dozens of activities ranging from cooking and jewellery-making to DJing sessions.
BEST FOR HELI-SKIING
ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MOROCCO
CHALET AMELIE, FRANCE
Put the flexibility back into the ski experience, by choosing from chalets that can be rented fully staffed or on a self-catering basis, or holidays that can be booked with or without flight transfers – the package can be trimmed to suit the budget. The wood-and-stone Chalet Amelie is one of the best-value and prettiest spots to stay in Courchevel 1650, now a viable alternative to the fabulously expensive Courchevel 1850. Slightly off the beaten track, this area of the region is never as busy as parts of the Three Valleys. Sleeping eight, Chalet Amelie has an open-plan living/ dining room complete with balcony and fireplace. Africa’s first heli-skiing outfit has a base camp in Marrakesh and flies skiers into the Atlas Mountains – the top of Toubkal in the southwest or the Bou Iguenouane in the northeast – for drops of more than 4,000 metres. Snow conditions are similar to those of the Alps, but the rocky and treeless terrain is a different world. A well-known French ski school, Evolution 2, provides heli-ski coaching with knowledgeable local guides from the small mountain village of Imlil. After a day in the mountains, you can catch the sun and take a dip in the pool at characterful Le Bled de Gre, a traditional Berber kasbah on the outskirts of Marrakesh.