Stay the night: Chalet Edelweiss, Courchevel

This exclusive-use property is the very highest of the high-end, reveals James Palmer

'There's something wrong with your right leg!" yells Julien the ski guide, moments before I vanish in a cloud of powder. An old cruciate ligament injury, I wheeze. Like a wizened mountain sage, he nods and whispers: "Keep your legs closer together. Shift your weight to your toes. Turn with your shoulders pointing down the mountain." It works. Julien can spot a weakness in a skier like an eagle sizing up a marmot. Which is useful, because many of the visitors to the forgiving slopes of Courchevel look rather like furry animals, dressed in sable and mink, some carrying miniature dogs. They expect only the sharpest of guides.

Courchevel 1850, the highest and most prestigious of the five villages that make up this corner of the vast and interconnected Trois Vallées ski area, has been the mountain retreat of choice for the absurdly rich since the 1950s. The resort has six Michelin-starred restaurants and its own airstrip, the Altiport, a treacherous, sloping runway up at 2,010 metres. Eddie Jordan, the former Formula 1 team boss, likes to land here, as did Pierce Brosnan when he was Bond.

Bar the dicky knee, I feel mildly Bond-like today as we schuss past hulking Russian-owned chalets and skid to a dramatic halt outside the British-owned Chalet Edelweiss, the kind of place you'd expect to find Q waiting. Or "home" as I think I'll call it for the next 48 hours.

The rooms

Exclusive-use Edelweiss purports to be the largest and most luxurious free-standing chalet in the Alps. It's a seven-storey Savoyard wood-and-stone palace, configured around a central spiral staircase that drills deep into the mountain to a lavish spa complex – a swimming pool and hot tub, flanked by sauna, hammam, gym and two massage rooms. The eight en-suite bedrooms (including two master suites) are sumptuously appointed with rainforest showers and baths with views of both the plasma TV and the mountains. Artworks by Dalí, Miró, Picasso, Lichtenstein, Marc Quinn, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor are casually dotted about. It may be big, but it's tasteful.

Food and drink

Still no sign of Q. But two chefs are on hand to serve up canapés and a giant stone-baked salmon. After a pre-arrival menu consultation, there is nothing you cannot order. Breakfast and dinner are usually served in the cosy dining room, but tonight we're eating in the private nightclub. From the dancefloor you can peer through a wall of windows down into the pool far below. This room drips with decadence and tonight Morton's 2&8 Club from Mayfair is jetting in to host a pop-up club night. That's the sort of add-on that guests can request and that the chalet expects to provide.

The owner

In the corridor to the private cinema hang limited-edition Terry O'Neill prints of Hollywood legends. "I picked those up from the Chris Beetles Gallery in SW1," says a voice behind me. Goldfinger, is that you? No, it's Chris Levett, the chalet's owner. He's a gently spoken hedge-fund manager, worth an estimated £250m, who describes himself as a "compulsive" art collector.

Raised in Southend, he began collecting Roman coins at age seven and has been acquiring classical artefacts ever since. He's done rather well. In 2011, he opened the Mougins Museum of Classical Art in the South of France to share his collection – which includes an unrivalled trove of Roman armour – with the world.

The cost

Levett says Edelweiss cost him €44m (£37m) to buy and rebuild. So here comes the prohibitive part. To hire Chalet Edelweiss for up to 16 people for seven nights will cost you at least £9,950 per person. Prices like that, you might say, are enough to spark a revolution. And last season, there was a small one in Courchevel. In an effort to quash the stigma of elitism that emanates from 1850, the elevations were rebranded: 1850 is now plain Courchevel; 1650 was renamed Courchevel Moriond; 1550 became Courchevel Village and the lowly Le Praz (way down at 1330m) gets to call itself Courchevel Le Praz. Now everyone can benefit from the Courchevel prestige label. They can even dine at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants: I could eat a three-course meal at the one-starred Azimut down in Le Praz for €28 (£23.50), the tourist board's Nathalie Faure Bernoud tells me at the bar.

The essentials

Chalet Edelweiss, Courchevel, France. Rental starts at £9,950 per person, per week, through Summit Retreats: (01985 850111; summitretreats.com) including champagne reception, tea and coffee in bed, daily breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, children's supper, daily canapés, chauffeured vehicle and private ski instructor.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power