Breathe in the icy air, ski, stroll amidst the drifts, unplug and steep yourself in the mountain atmosphere. Here are twelve warm, welcoming Relais & Châteaux properties in Europe’s peaks and valleys, offering sparkling winter days and nights.
Five-star aesthetic heaven - Les Barmes de l’Ours, Val d’Isère, France
This Scandinavian-designed, five-star hotel, set at the foot of the celebrated Face de Bellevarde ski slope, called upon Val d’Isère cabinetmaker Christophe Mattis to oversee renovation of its Michelin-starred restaurant La Table de l’Ours, as well as its bar, Le Sofa. Enjoy fera fished from Lake Geneva and prepared by chef Antoine Gras amidst comforting colors and fragrant wood. Or snuggle by the fire and sip hot chocolate after a spa treatment with products from famed French company Sisley, truly attuned to natural well-being – just like your hosts at Les Barmes de l’Ours.
Tailor-made welcome by a mountain family - La Bouitte, Savoie, France
Each year, father-and-son team René and Maxime Meilleur and their spouses find innovative ways to delight their guests, earning five stars for the hotel, three for the restaurant, and status as an Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company). This season, La Bouitte shines the spotlight on bread, whether it’s fresh from the newly opened bakery or part of the Berger (Shepherd’s) breakfast served in new rooms built from larch. Bread and wine pairings, all-things-wine evenings, analyzing altitude’s impact on wine aging and tasting – the Meilleurs are ever-focused on everything essential to an exquisite experience.
An experience of epicurean excellence - Arosa Kulm Hotel & Alpin Spa, Arosa, Switzerland
Each country has its own culinary traditions and ingredients. Against a Graubünden backdrop of snowy summits, the chef demonstrates dizzying inspiration and imagination, creating exceptional fondues and raclettes from the finest local ingredients. In an explosion of taste, your palate discovers mountain pastures, the loving labor of farmers and producers. To work up an appetite for these creamy feasts, do a few laps in the superb stainless-steel swimming pool that shimmers in every shade of lake and sky.
A gourmet Graubünden getaway - Hotel Walther, Pontresina, Switzerland
In the Engadine’s oldest village, Anne-Rose and Thomas Walther, third-generation owners, host guests beyond the hotel walls for a novel dining experience. An old Diavolezza cable car gondola is now home to their Gondolezza, a one-of-a-kind high-altitude restaurant. The menu includes family-style dishes, cheese and meat platters, raclettes, fondues, Graubünden sausage salad, and barley soup – truly an Alpine culinary winter wonderland!
Magical Christmas enchantment - Hotel Bareiss, Black Forest, Germany
Come the holiday season, with one of Europe’s most beautiful coniferous forests in its backyard, this hotel – celebrating its 70th anniversary – cannot help but become a magical setting for all ages. Boasting joyful music, a genuine Christmas market, wooden decks, fir trees graced with twinkling lights – and sweet treats of the season from three-star chef Claus-Peter Lumpp – the hotel spreads the festive feeling to the very treetops!
Relaxation, well-being, and the great outdoors - Gut Steinbach Hotel & Chalets, Upper Bavaria, Germany
The Graf von Moltke family has breathed new life into the Chiemgau estate and farm, at the Austrian border, on land graced by water, mountains, woods, and wildlife. Their objective was to turn the site into a hotel that rigorously respects the environment “with all the creativity the region has to offer.” Their Heimat & Natur spa opens this season to share that dedication, built from local materials and offering completely natural holistic treatments.
A legendary ski race - Post Lech, Arlberg, Austria
When a hotel sits in the center of a famous winter ski resort, it’s naturally involved in sports events, inviting guests to cheer on the competitors or compete themselves. Which is why the “Post” has packages for those wishing to enjoy the thrills of The White Ring, a 13.7-mile ski race held in mid-January. A thousand skiers compete in this event dedicated to its founder, Nordic combined skier Sepp Bildstein, who built the sport’s first lift in Lech.
A meal with a Matterhorn view - Chalet Hôtel Schönegg, Zermatt, Switzerland
One naturally chooses Zermatt for its incomparable skiing and generous sunshine. Likewise, one naturally chooses to stay at the Chalet Hotel Schönegg, first for its location next to the Sunnegga-Rothorn funicular, but also for its epicurean creativity using regional ingredients and some 80 wines to sip alongside. Chef Reinhold Wrobel is committed to serving a fresh, simple, healthy menu, dishes he crafts with his enlightened team in an ambiance of mutual respect.
A spa where edelweiss blooms - Hotel Hermitage, Breuil-Cervinia, Italy
The Hermitage, high in the Italian Alps, pampers its loyal guests: to satisfy their desire for clean living and overall well-being, the hotel has partnered with Swiss beauty specialist Bellefontaine, whose cosmetic line contains extracts of edelweiss. This velvety flower naturally withstands snow, wind and ice at altitudes above 4,200 feet. The plant’s active ingredients – carefully extracted in keeping with regulations for preserving the species – protect and repair skin, offering gentle respite after the sun and cold of the slopes.
A window on the world - Terra – The Magic Place, Sarnal/Sarentino, Dolomites, Italy
Upgrade the view of the panoramic whirlpools and two completely renovated saunas, enlarging the guest-room balconies: Terra’s owners (and respectively, its head chef and sommelier) Heinrich Schneider and his sister, Gisela, have handily accomplished a large-scale makeover of their property. There are culinary changes, too: a new wine list and tasting menus with a focus on local produce, with wild herbs and mushrooms foraged from the forest in front of the hotel, as well as meat, flour, milk, cheese, bacon, butter and more bought from the valley’s farms.
Heaven for children, paradise for parents - Gardena Grodnerhof Hotel & Spa, Ortisei, Val Gardena, Dolomites, Italy
Parents can enjoy the spa, savor intimate meals minus the kids at the Michelin-starred restaurant, and go hiking on their own. How? Gardena Grodnerhof Hotel & Spa is the only Italian Relais & Châteaux member to feature a Kids’ Play Land – a club that welcomes children ages 3 and up, open 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. six days a week, all at no extra cost. In addition to the new playground with climbing wall, interactive floor, movie-watching area, football, ping-pong, etc., children take part in workshops with fun and fascinating mountain themes.
Ecofriendly well-being - Bellevue Hotel & Spa, Cogne, Valle d’Aosta, Italy
The Bellevue Hotel’s décor masterfully demonstrates the art of showcasing the region’s history and traditions while keeping one eye on the future, as seen in its 13,000-square-foot spa. Its features include being powered by renewable energy, pure water from the Gran Paradiso glacier, natural wastewater recycling, waste reduction, plus a selection of natural, local spa treatments using organic cosmetics from the world’s oldest pharmacy, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, founded in Florence 600 years ago. Enjoy relaxation and ecological awareness in an unrivalled setting.