Room Service: Le Fermes de Marie, Megeve, France

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The Independent Travel

There is no disputing that Megève oozes Alpine charm with its horse-drawn sleighs, pedestrianised cobbled streets and pretty church with bulb-shaped bell-tower dating from 1754. This small French ski resort has always had glamorous appeal. It all started in 1916, three years after its first winter season, when the Baroness de Rothschild decided that what France really needed was a fashionable ski resort to rival that of St. Moritz in Switzerland. Predictably, the elite followed suit, and it was soon attracting the likes of King Albert and Queen Elizabeth of Belgium.

Nowadays, it is a little more low-key. At 3,600ft, its slopes encompassing the Megeve-Sallanches-Combloux ski area, do not attract the daredevils, but whatever Megève may lack in altitude, the food scales serious gastronomic heights.

The village has earned a reputation for its abundance of excellent restaurants. Megève boasts four Michelin stars and countless top-notch eateries.

And, while the Rothschilds may have put Megève on the map, the Sibuets are doing their bit to keep it there. The husband and wife team of Jean-Louis and Jocelyne Sibuet are the uncrowned king and queen of stylish French hotels. Natives of Megève, their business Le Compagnie des Hotels de Montagne owns five properties in Megève and a further three in Menerbes, St. Tropez and Lyon.

Le Fermes de Marie opened in 1989 and is named after the couple's daughter. The hotel itself is a cluster of traditional wooden Savoyard farmhouses rescued from dilapidation by the Sibuets.

The rustic theme continues inside under the watchful eye of Jocelyne, whose tasteful eclectic style loosely translates as "Heidi chic". Roaring log fires and cosy corners abound, creating the perfect atmosphere for relaxing after an exhausting day on the slopes. The hotel also has three restaurants; one specialising in haute cuisine overseen by the chef, Nicholas le Bec, a rôtisserie and the third dedicated to dishes containing cheese (read fondue).

Spa junkies will also delight in Le Fermes de Beauté, which has gained an international following. Complete with indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tub it is decorated in a soothing palette of greens with lots of wood, water and stone. You can take your pick from an array of Alpine-inspired treatments including bran and oat baths, massages, reflexology, sea salt body exfoliations and facials.

Despite all this sophistication though, Le Fermes de Marie retains a laid-back atmosphere - the family's dogs pad around after guests and people are sufficiently relaxed to laze in the bar in their towelling robes. You do find yourself praying for that blizzard so you will have to stay a few crucial extra days.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

A short trudge through the snow from the centre of town, the hotel is a little village in itself framed by a backdrop of Alpine peaks.

Chemin de Riante Colline, Megève, France (00 33 4 50 93 03 10; www.c-h-m.com).

Time to international airport: Geneva airport is a 40-minute drive away. A taxi will set you back around €160 (£115), so it is more prudent to hire a car.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The 63 rooms and eight suites are individually decorated but share a rustic-chic feel - beamed ceilings, traditional fabrics, lots of pine, a sprinkling of antiques and, in most cases, views over the surrounding valleys.

Bathrooms are a combination of wood and stone with large baths perfect for long après-ski soaks - that is, of course, if you can't make it to the outdoor hot tub.

Freebies: Bathrooms also contain the covetable own-range Le Fermes de Marie beauty products containing a specially devised cocktail of herbs and plants including the delicate edelweiss flower.

Keeping in touch: All rooms contain direct dial telephones and satellite TV.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start from €184 (£130) per night with no meals included, or €308 (£220) per room on a half-board basis.

I'm not paying that: Mont Charvin (00 33 4 50 21 0095) offers double rooms from €74 (£53) on a half-board basis.

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