Hotel Of The Week: Pragelato Village Resort & Spa, Italy
Sunday 04 February 2007
It has been a variable season on the slopes so far this year. Where some return complaining of bruised limbs and muddy salopettes, others say that they have enjoyed great conditions. But the truth is, the higher you go, the more likelihood there is for good snow.
At 1,600 metres, the new five-star Pragelato Village Resort & Spa qualifies as a fairly high resort, especially when you consider that the highest in Europe is Val Thorens at 2,300 metres. Built only a few years ago with the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics in mind, it is perfectly placed for alpine adventures from downhill skiing on the Olympic pistes of Sestriere to ice-driving in a 4WD, when conditions allow.
A cluster of contemporary lodges, the Village is set on a hillside among the forests and fields of the Val Chisone, which stretches to the French border. Walkways lead from the main reception area to the wood-built chalets offering duplex living. This is Pragelato's first winter open to the public, yet it already works like a well-oiled machine.
Pragelato Village is 90 minutes' drive from Turin airport. Built on the border of the Val Tronchea national park, it enjoys the kind of peace and tranquillity unknown to its ski-boots-on-tables, après-ski neighbour from hell, Sauze d'Oulx. A new, specially built cable car takes skiers from just outside reception to the slopes of the massive Vialattea (Milky Way) ski system.
The comfort factor
Choose from 97 suites - with one, two or three bedrooms - all housed within individual "chalets", which have a cosy, self-contained atmosfera. (There are also three deluxe apartments.) Each suite, some of which are split-level, has a living/dining room and galley kitchen, bedroom(s) and bathroom. Executive suites have frills such as flat-screen televisions; ordinary suites are less lavishly furnished.
Snug but well-lit with sizeable walk-in power showers. Fresh robes, towels and slippers on demand. There's also a set of scales provided (although mine appeared to be broken as they were stuck on 84kg). The complimentary toiletries are by Laura Tonatto.
The food and drink
This is Piedmont - home to some of Italy's finest produce - so you are spoilt for choice. Pan Bení is the fine-dining showplace (expect to pay about €80 (£53) per head for three courses without wine); La Taverna is a rustic cantina serving mountain food such as dried meats, cheeses and simply grilled meats (€39 per head); La Tuccia, which is the largest restaurant, offers a classic Italian à la carte menu (€39 per head). Breakfast - a vast, inexhaustible gallimaufry of goodness - is served as a buffet in La Tuccia. The village just down the road is a quaint old mountain hamlet with a few restaurants of its own to explore.
The clientele is glamorous and pan-European. The resort is popular with families; the suites provide sizeable accommodation and there's a crèche, Casa Pinocchio, for children to enjoy while the grown-ups lounge by the pool.
The Vialattea skiing area is the main attraction, with more than 400km of runs. But with the Val Tronchea Park so near, there is also plenty of walking and snow trekking to be done. One of the legacies from the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics is a fantastic cross-country skiing network. The chic grey-slate and dark-wood spa, La Mineralia, offers a full range of treatments using products by Daniela Steiner, plus saunas and a steam room, and the pool has two built-in hot tubs, and two ingenious jets streams that you can swim against. A gym overlooks the pool and the view looks to the mountains.
Wheelchair access limited.
Suites start at €424 (£303) per night half-board. Scott Dunn (020-8682 5080; scottdunn. com) offers seven nights' half-board from £1,570 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights and transfers.
Pragelato Village Resort, Via Rohrbach, Frazione Plan, 10060 Pragelato, Turin, Italy (00 39 0122 740011; pragelatoresort.com).
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