Paris - Sarah Turner checks in to Les Chalets de Philippe in Chamonix, France.
Star quality: Kylie Minogue and partner Andres Velencoso, film-maker Michael Moore, Monaco’s royal family, the Bamford dynasty.
Vital statistics: A collection of wooden chalets acquired from across the Alps, delicately transported to Chamonix and fashioned into an idyllic hamlet suitable for millionaires and celebrities – Heidi in style, but with a serious overlay of luxury.
Incurable romantics will thrill to the sight of antique furniture, including carefully sourced vintage milk pails dotted about the grounds. Fairy lights come on each night and baskets of freshly baked pastries arrive on your doorstep every morning.
Pragmatists will appreciate the gourmet restaurant, toasty heating and 24-hour concierges. The eight chalets come in every size, from Le Clopet – a compact nest for two – to La Grand Jorasses, which sleeps 13. Kylie and Andres chose to book into a small chalet. The ultra-rich Bamford family, who started JCB and created Daylesford Organic, and members of the Grimaldi family who rule Monaco have used it for mass gatherings.
Location report: In a quiet spot just outside Chamonix, the chalets face west to scoop up the sunsets and look directly on to Mont Blanc. The resort is in the centre of the extensive Le Lavencher off-piste area. A quick drive through Chamonix’s tunnel takes guests to Courmayeur and the hot springs at Pre-St-Didier. If you don’t want to venture out then, naturally, Les Chalets de Philippe has its own hammam – with plans for a heated lake next year. It already has its own cinema.
Key attraction: The wholly fantastical place is the brainchild of music impresario Philippe Courtines, who arrived in Chamonix in 1983 and has been adding to his hamlet ever since. You can self-cater but most guests find themselves calling on the services of top chef Denis Flota for Michelin-quality food. Pretty much anything can be arranged here, from dedicated ski instructors to helicopter tours. Above all, it’s absurdly indulgent, from the hand-embroidered bed linen to the outdoor hot tubs and Hermes toiletries.
In the news: Resolutely French, Les Chalets likes being under the radar but Kylie Minogue has checked in twice now, including a stay over New Year – and apparently likes singing Edith Piaf songs while there. French singing star Garou has also stayed and it’s a regular destination for the heads of the main French fashion houses, including Guerlain. Next year, there will be a chapel and a spa.
Good enough for the rest of us? Prices start at €160 (about R1 600) for a night in a chalet that sleeps two, rising to £34,200 to hire the whole hamlet for three nights. A meal at Les Chalet de Philippe will set you back at least €100, although one couple managed to spend more than €6,500 on a single meal. More details at chicchaletguide.co.uk.
Getting there: EasyJet (easyjet.com) and Swiss (swiss.com) fly to Geneva. - Mail On Sunday