As my sworn duty as an esteemed member of The League of Super Duper Good Hotels, I wanted to follow up on my recent stays in Airelles Courchevel, Cheval Blanc Courchevel and Le K2 Palace, along with visits to Aman Le Melezin and L’Apogée, by doing what any decent human being in 2023 would do: a list. Actually, it’d probably be a TikTok video that requires jumping head-first off a cliff whilst rapping a song from the early 2000s, but I’m old so I’ll pretend it’s still 2013 and lists are as cool as Buzzfeed.
For some reason, a lot of people are interested in my thoughts on this, even though we only stopped by for a show around at Aman and Oetker properties, whilst also not having time to visit Grandes Alpes or K2 Altitude. So this list is about as complete as a politician’s soul. All the same, all press is good press.
Whilst the design might look like a hotel inspired by the post-apocalyptic The Last of Us, everything comes together beautifully to make you forget about that. From their over-the-top Christmas decorations to their over-the-top service that seems to anticipate your every requirement for the next fifteen years, there is something magical about this resort. The atmosphere and warmth remind me of The Connaught, where there’s something overwhelmingly inviting about the place – like you don’t want to leave, but can’t explain why you want to stay. It’s the kinda place you imagine Santa would live. They have gone with a homely feel, which is also emphasised by the food offering being simple, well-done cuisine, no fuss. It’s hassle-free, it’s luxurious, it’s comforting and it’s very family-friendly.
Best at: Service
Worst at: Interior design
Whilst it’s next door to Airelles, that is where the comparisons end. Cheval Blanc is far more modern and elegant, but it completely lacks a soul. Imagine being able to stare at the Mona Lisa every day, but you had to descend into your dungeon and hang out with Gollum who’s constantly whispering shit into your ear, to do so. Even the kids club had the charisma of Marshmallow, the snow monster from Frozen. Yet don’t let these things like words put you off, as they really do have a lovely spa.
Best at: Spa
Worst at: Caring
To continue my broken-record sound of discussing my dislike of rooms, please allow me to introduce Le K2 Palace. Maybe I just don’t like rooms at all. Maybe I’m claustrophobic. Maybe I once suffered trauma in a small space, like I watched Jurassic World Dominion, and now I’m haunted by rooms. Yet the room here is the problem because it felt like they gave up halfway in and hoped the view would distract us. And what a view it is. Easily the best view. Keep looking at it and don’t get distracted by anything yet.
Once you escape the clutches of the rooms, I like the style. It’s warm but modern. Overall though, they don’t necessarily stand out for anything, other than their mighty fine two Michelin-star dessert-only restaurant. It was awesome, but you don’t need to stay in the hotel to experience it. Even if you did need to stay in the hotel, would you eat there every night? If so, please be my friend, you’ll make my waistline feel happier.
Best at: Setting and Gym
Worst at: Spending too long in IKEA and being inspired
Aman Le Melezin
I was surprised by Aman. This is often considered one of their weaker properties and is a rarity amongst the Aman brand, in that it’s not often considered among the local competition. So I was surprised to see it was nowhere near as bad as previously assumed because in recent years they’ve done some digging and added some extra levels to the property, which now include a pool, spa and kids club. They are now pretty much in line with the competition. As it’s Aman, a company that basically doesn’t try when it comes to food and one day will likely replace their menu with Uber Eats, they only offer one restaurant, which serves Japanese cuisine. In another surprise, I very much enjoyed our lunch there. It was a pleasure to be greeted by a few of the team from Amanzoe. Just like Airelles, they have a half-board offering that gives you the choice to eat at other nearby restaurants. The rooms are the biggest downside, with them looking somewhat neglected during the rest of the upgrades they’ve made.
I was not surprised by L’Apogee. The website clearly shows what you’re getting. It’s a short walking distance from Airelles, which seems fitting, as I consider them to have the most in common. With a similar number of rooms (48 for Airelles, 53 at L’Apogee) and a somewhat similar sense-of-place design, similar facilities and a similarly strong focus on families, it’s pretty similar. The design changed dramatically throughout, from the extremely modern and shiny kids club, to the rooms, which, like Aman, are in need of a refurb. In the short time I visited, the way they greeted me and interacted with me already showed that service was at the forefront of what they do. Not once did anyone spit at me. L’Apogee was the most requested property for me to give feedback on, even though I didn’t stay there. So I’m gonna say: if you cannot handle the Airelles design, but somehow can handle L’Apogee, then it might be the right place for you.
There are seventeen five-star resorts in Courchevel. That’s a lot of choice, especially as all the properties are within a short distance of each other, like walking distance for a European or motorised vehicle for an American. The activities are basically all the same, with the exception that Airelles’ tend to be free and K2 Palace has a cinema. If you went through the properties above and did a checklist of their facilities, they’re often very similar. So what you’re deciding on is what matters most to you: style, food, views, rooms or whether you just want service that The Banshees of Inisherin didn’t inspire. I’d like to say you can’t go wrong, but evidently, you can.
As we were told multiple times by locals, and we agreed heartily… Airelles is the best in town.