Hyatt, the Four Seasons and Hard Rock Hotels are all making their Alpine debut this season. Is this a good thing? Some die-hard mountainites think not — indie spirit has always set the tone in the Alps, so do the big American franchises belong here? The answer remains to be seen, but what we do know is that their arrival should raise standards, especially in the big-name resorts where some (though not all) of the established hotels could be accused of resting on their laurels. There’s still plenty of room for the small boutiques and family-run independents, but the ski resorts of Europe have been crying out for some new kids on the block. And now they’ve arrived en masse.
Four Seasons, Megève, France
The Canadian chain made its Alpine debut last season with this 56-room property. It’s understated and littered with artwork from the Rothschild Collection, and the 10,000-bottle wine cellar heaves with family vintages. Food is courtesy of Michelin-starred Le 1920, run by Julien Gatillon, while Bar Edmond and Japanese-fusion restaurant Kaito make up the trio of options. There’s also a spa, pool and cigar room. Doubles from £745 per night.
Valsana Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland
Designed by the Swiss architect Carlo Rampazzi, the stylish Valsana opened its doors last season, sister of the feted Tschuggen Grand Hotel in upmarket Arosa. Reclaimed wood and retro furnishings make a big impact in the 40 rooms (complete with such finer details as a vinyl record player, no less). There are also indoor tennis courts and the hotel is a stone’s throw from the resort’s main cable-car. B&B doubles from £310 per night.
Hard Rock Hotel, Davos, Switzerland
It’s better known for the World Economic Forum than rock ’n’ roll, yet last season, the new Hard Rock Hotel arrived in Davos. The brand’s first Alpine outpost, guests can order Fender guitars for in-room jams or kick back by the fire pits surrounding the rooftop cocktail bar. Rock memorabilia adorns the walls throughout the 111-room property. B&B doubles from £365 per night.
Le K2 Djola, Courchevel 1850, France
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a city boutique hotel, such is this property’s slick design. Tibetan-themed throughout — Djola means ‘little brother’ in Tibetan. Rooms are modern with Eastern decorative touches, and there’s a small but perfectly formed spa. It’s well located, a minute’s walk from La Croisette base stations. B&B doubles from £435 per night. lek2djola.com
Hyatt Centric, La Rosière, France
The choice of quiet La Rosière for the first Hyatt in the Alps seemed peculiar, until the resort unveiled a €15m (£13.4m) masterplan for two new chairlifts and a network of new slopes. Inside, rooms are smart and spacious, and there’s an expansive spa as well as two restaurants. The smartest, La Tavola Trattoria, serves dishes from the neighbouring Italian Aosta region. Half-board doubles from £250 per night.
Terminal Neige, near Chamonix, France
Perched high above Chamonix, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, Terminal Neige occupies the century-old Montenvers refuge. Last year, it was transformed from a hiker’s retreat to a swish hotel with 20 rooms, designer bathrooms and retro fabrics. Make for the terrace and watch the sun set behind the rose-pink peaks. Half-board doubles from £115 per night.
Published in the Winter Sports 2018 guide, free with the October 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)