Courchevel 1850 - 20th January to 27th January
Having previously used Esprit Ski two years ago for a
trip to Belle Plagne, we had no reservations about booking with them again.
a great month at Red Mountain in 2012 it was a matter of cutting expenditure for 2013.
eventually decided to book our trip for January and chose the Hotel Crystal 2000 at Courchevel 1850. With children aged 6
and 3, travelling from Manchester with ski carriage and the kids both in snow club with ski lessons on 5 days came to a total
of £3200. We probably spent around another £600 on trip for airport hotel, fuel, drinks and lunches.
We travelled down to Manchester and stayed at the Marriott Hotel on the Saturday night, this cost £89
including parking and transfers to T2. The kids had to share a double bed so had very little sleep and were therefore very
tired the next day as we had a 4.15am rise to get to the airport.
Manchester T2 was quick and easy with minimal fuss. The flight was with Monarch and we had no problems with baggage, two large
bags at 20kg and two ski/snowboard bags weighing about 24kg each were accepted with no problems.
Arrival at Geneva.
We landed at the charter terminal at
Geneva and it was over an hour before we collected our luggage. We then met the Ski Esprit rep and got shown to the coach,
it was then another 45 min wait before we moved. It was a good scenic drive to Albertville and Moutiers and on to Courchevel.
We had to leave the coach and complete the last part of the trip on a minibus to get us up to the hotel which sits just below
Arrival at Hotel.
Esprit staff helped us up to our room with our luggage after we had checked in. We were then given a time to go to the in-house
ski/boot hire shop to get Anya (3) fitted with her skis and boots. We arrived in plenty of time but there was a long queue
and it was well over an hour waiting to get everything done. The guy who runs the ski shop was excellent, very friendly and
suite 209 on the second floor. There are two lifts serving the five levels, three levels of rooms, lounge/bar/reception area
plus the lower level where the pool is situated.
Our accomodation consisted of
a WC, separate bathroom, large storage area in the hallway leading to a twin bedroom then a door through to the second room
where two twin beds were pushed together. Both rooms were large and spacious with lots of storage, there was a tv in each
room with three English channels available. Our accomodation was clean and tidy but with slight signs of wear here and there.
The large windows in both rooms had wooden frames which could do with repainting but on the whole everything was good. Large
curtains down to floor level concealed the windows. The view was great looking over Moriond (1650) and down to the valley
and over to La Plagne.
were double doors from the hotel entrance and up a few steps to the reception. All the kids who were in ski lessons for the
week had an area with their name on it where they would keep their ski boots, helmets, goggles and other outdoor footwear.
They also had a rack with a hanger further up to put ski jackets and trousers and they were also given a blue Ski Esprit bag
to put indoor clothing in.
The area was a bit on the small side and there was
not much room to move in the mornings when getting kids kitted up for skiing, but everyone seemed to manage ok and nothing
got lost, its just a matter of being really well organised and on top of things.
lounge area had a real log fire as the central focal point with a few comfy sofa’s around it, the bar was just round
the corner with another area for sitting and also the pool table. It got quite busy at times but was fine.
The in-house snow club was a decent sized room located through a door at the rear of the lounge and it also
had an interconnecting door to the dining room. The nursery for the younger ones was located next to the ski hire shop and
in the evenings was used for the kids cocoa club while we were at dinner.
bar was run by Matt and he ran a tab system which you cleared at the end of the week, he would make fruit flavoured slushies
for the kids ( 2.5 Euro), Amstel was the beer on tap at 6 Euro but during the happy hours it was 5 Euro a pint. Happy hour
was from 4-6pm then again from 10-11pm.
WiFi (free) was available in the bar/lounge
area and worked pretty well most of the time, we also got a good signal in our room but this was not always the case in other
restaurant was simply decorated and had a selection of tables of various size. At breakfast there was a good selection from
the buffet, cheese, ham, salami, croissants, pain au chocolat, fruit, cereals, yoghurts and fruit juice as well as tea and
coffee. There was also the option of a cooked breakfast each morning but we never took it up.
Before leaving breakfast you would be shown the menu for dinner that evening and asked to make your choice,
there was generally a choice of two starters, two main dishes as well as a vegetarian option and then a couple of deserts.
Pre dinner canapés and drinks were served from 7.30pm in the lounge then everyone would move through
to the dining room and be seated by 8pm. On our first night we were at a table for eight then the following evening it was
six before we eventually sat at the same table of eight for the rest of the week, all of whom were great company.
There was always the offer each evening of upgrading and buying a premium wine but almost everyone stuck
with the wines served, there were two whites, two reds (Merlot and a Cab Sauv) as well as a rose. The wine was always available
and when bottles emptied they were replaced at the table. The service from the waiting staff in the restaurant was very good.
The food was exceptional all week, very good quality and very well presented. I enjoyed excellent dishes
of Pork, Lamb, Duck and Venison during the week. The deserts were also excellent with some unusual touches and always perfectly
presented. There was then a cheese board followed by tea and coffee.
of food and presentation was excellent and way better than I had imagined.
Our son Craig had his ski lesson in the morning, so after breakfast
he was kitted up and joined the ski rangers who accompanied them to lessons with the ESF. They would leave in the mini bus
to go to lessons and return prior to lunch.
After lunch the Sprite snow club
kept him occupied and entertained with both indoor and outdoor activities, the Esprit staff all seemed very enthusiastic and
were always having fun when we saw them.
Anya, our daughter who at 3 years old
had only been on small plastic skis before had a great time here. She would be dropped off after breakfast into the Spritelets
snow club where they were entertained by great staff. All the kids would then be supervised at lunchtime in the restaurant
where they were given a good wholesome lunch to keep the energy levels up. After lunch the little ones were taken on the minibus
down to the centre of Courchevel for lessons, these took place in the ski d’enfants area behind the ESF building. This
area was quite secluded and safe from the main ski runs through the village. The gentle nursery slopes wound there way down
through the trees to a small lift of “yoghurt pots” which would bring them back to the top.
We managed to watch (from a distance) on a couple of afternoons and we were very impressed by the enthusiasm
of the ESF instructors, they really were making it fun for the kids.
a great week and it was lovely to be able to go skiing as a family (for the first time) on the Saturday morning where we were
pleased to see that her skiing was pretty good.
After we returned from skiing
each day we would relax in the lounge where afternoon tea was served at 4pm. There was always a good selection of biscuits
and cakes as well as hot soup and bread. I never managed to sample any of this as I was usually still full from our nice lunches
on the mountain.
The kids would then be taken through for High tea at 5.15pm.
We would go and sit with them so they could talk to us about their day, parents did not have to be there as you could collect
and sign them out after they had eaten if you so wanted.
We would then take the
kids down to the pool. It was a decent size and never really too busy. The Hotel had two saunas and a hot tub (this was out
of action during our stay). The pool area was nice and warm and except for one day the water was also lovely and warm. There
were also showers down there and fresh towels were provided.
We would then get
Anya ready for bed, she was booked into the evening mini cocoa club but she did not want to go and after a full day of activities
she was ready for bed. We would get her settled then meet the “baby listening” staff out in the hallway and register
with them. I don’t think they ever had much to do as the kids seemed to fall asleep quickly.
We would then take Craig downstairs where he could not wait to get into cocoa club which ran from 7.30pm
We would then enjoy pre dinner drinks and canapés before
going in to eat. After dinner we would pick up Craig from cocoa club and head to bed.
The Hotel ski and boot room was located through the far side of the
hire shop with an access straight out onto the slopes.
It had a racking system
for the skis and boards and a similar set-up for the boots. It was a narrow room with benches on one side, fortunately we
were always in quite early in the mornings and managed to get our kit and get out the door before it was busy, I could imagine
it would be a bit of a nightmare when lots of people were trying to get booted up at the same time.
The Hotel is situated just below the Altiport
next to the 5 star Hotel Annapurna. It is a great ski-in, ski-out location with the Ferme and Altiport button lifts only a
few metres down from the boot room door. It was also a nice easy traverse over to the Pralong chair for easy access to wherever
you were heading that morning. Jill and I had first chair here every morning all week.
a long walk to the centre of Courchevel 1850 from the Hotel and an even longer one on the way back.
On the staff night off people got the chance to book a local restaurant or have pizza delivered to the Hotel,
with two young children we felt the best and easiest option was to eat in. The Pizzas arrived at 18.40 and by the time they
were all given out they were almost cold (not really any persons fault). They cost around 30 Euro for two.
The Esprit reps done this on 3 days during the
week but we did not take up this option, much preferring to find our own way around.
Day 1 - Monday. Courchevel and La Tania.
Took Pralong chair from outside Hotel then cruised down through Courchevel to the Village at 1550. The slopes
were very quiet and the snow in excellent condition. We headed up on the Chenus gondola and cruised down the Bouc Blanc red
piste to La Tania. Stopped at the Chrome bar (central location) for a Vin Chaud (3 Euro) and a Café au Lait (4 Euro).
We then had lunch at the lovely Bouc Blanc restaurant above La Tania. Lots of reserved tables inside but
friendly staff got us seated at a nice table and we had a lovely lunch. A Pichet (50cl) of Rose was 7 Euro and we had an omelette
fromage (11.70 Euro) and an omelette with mushrooms ( 13.50 Euro), these were both excellent with salad and fries.
We then cruised around on quiet slopes above 1850 in the afternoon.
Day 2 - Tuesday. Meribel and St Martin de Belleville.
Fresh overnight snow was then followed by clearing skies after breakfast - perfect.
Again we took the first chair on the Pralong lift and at the top there was about 20cm of fresh snow.
We made lovely fresh tracks on deserted slopes down to the Chenus gondola and the views were great in all
directions, we then took the slow old two person Col de la Loze chair and dropped down towards Meribel. The slopes were much
busier down towards the Altiport area.
We stopped for two coffees at Le Coeur
de Cristal, a lovely slope side restaurant above Meribel. Here two Café Crème cost 14 Euro, this was a bit steep
but the place was lovely and the washrooms down in the basement were very nice and on the way to them you went through a magnificent
On leaving Le Coeur de Cristal we skied through Meribel to the Tougnette
1 gondola then the Tougnette 2 chair up to Tougnette at 2434m.
We then had a
lovely run down to restaurant Loy by the side of the Biolley piste just above St Martin de Belleville.
I had the lovely lamb casserole (plat du jour) for 13 Euro. Jill had the Tagliatelles Bolognaise for 11 Euro
and a 50cl Pichet of Rose was 8 Euro.
It was a lovely place with great service
in a beautiful location and stunning views. The only expensive part was that we arrived just before lunch service started
so we went inside to the bar and had two large glasses of Orangina (poured from a plastic bottle ) and they cost 11 Euro.
After lunch we made our way back over to Courchevel to see Anya get her lesson in the kinder ski garden.
3 - Wednesday. Moriond, La Tania, Le Praz.
As usual we got first chair on
Pralong lift. It was a cold and clear morning with great visibility and as on every other day so far, deserted pistes.
Got down to Roc Mugnier chair and then onto the Signal chair above Moriond (1650). Snow was in excellent
condition and it was still easy to find untracked off-piste under the Chapelets chair. We stopped for coffee at L’Ours
Blanc where a Café au Lait cost 4 Euro each. It was a nice place to sit outside and watch the world go by for a while.
We then headed back up to Courchevel (1850) and on down to La Tania for lunch. We went to the Chrome bar
where we sat outside in the sun and had a great value lunch. An excellent large burger, fries and a bottle of beer for 10
After lunch we headed down the Jockeys piste, this is the black run down
to Le Praz (1300) where the snow was in great condition. We headed back up to Courchevel and cruised around then watched Anya
at her ski lesson before calling it a day at 3.15pm.
Day 4 - Thursday. Moriond.
Pralong chair first thing then
we headed down to Gravelles chair (this area is cold and in the shade early on January mornings). We then took the Suisses
chair to Vizelle (a great viewpoint) then headed down on perfect snow to the Chanrossa chair and up to 2540m. From here the
Roc Merlet red run and onto the off-piste by the Pyramide run was skied on lovely untracked snow. We then headed down through
the Indiens run with all the pictures then the authentic Indian village complete with an archery area. It was a coffee stop
at L’Ours Blanc (4 Euro each).
It was then time to head back over to Courchevel
where we were picking up Craig after his lunch. We grabbed a bite to eat from the snack bar at bottom of Pralong chair, had
a chicken mayo baguette for 6.50 Euro which was really good.
We picked up Craig
and spent the afternoon skiing with him going down the Proveres blue run (steep at the bottom) to the Gragettes gondola at
Day 5 - Friday. Val Thorens, Les Menuires (Reberty)
From Hotel we got first chair on Pralong lift at just after 9am and by 10.15am we were sitting having a coffee
in Val Thorens.
Only 4 lifts (Pralong, Vizelle, Plattieres and the long and cold
Cote Brune chair) before you drop down via some flat blue runs onto Plein Sud and into Val Thorens.
We stocked up on some snacks for the kids at the excellent little “Carrefour” supermarket, there
is also a “Spar” opposite.
We headed back up and made our way down
to Reberty above Les Menuires. We stopped at La Ferme for lunch where it was a little breezy when we sat at a table outside
but the waiter moved us to a sheltered spot out of the wind.
We had a lovely
Tartiflette and salad (35 Euro for the two of us) and a 50cl Pichet of Cote de Provence Rose ( 13 Euro). This was a lovely
spot for lunch, excellent food and service with stunning views over towards the Glacier de la pointe Renod and the pointe
du Bochet (3420m). We headed back on the Bruyeres gondola and then a nice cruise down to Mottaret before getting the Pas du
Lac gondola back over to Courchevel.
Day 6 - Saturday. Ski with kids, La Tania.
we got ready to go skiing with the kids, it was then that I realised that Anya did not have a lift pass. At start of the week
the Esprit staff took photocopies of passports and said they would get all the children’s free lift passes the next
day. Most parents assumed this had been done but come Saturday morning a lot of the little ones did not have a pass. Luckily
some kind lady lent us her sons pass as they were not going out that morning, other parents had to trek to the ticket offices
to get theirs. This was the only bad point/mistake that Esprit made all week.
had a good morning skiing after getting a lift down from the Hotel Annapurna courtesy bus which stopped while we were waiting
on the local (irregular) ski bus.
Anya loved showing off her new found skills
on the green runs from the Jardin Alpin bubble lift. She managed to ski all the way back to the Hotel, not a bad first weeks
skiing for a 3 year old.
I left Jill and Anya at the Hotel and Craig and I went
over to ski down the Indiens piste above Moriond before lunch.
Once the kids
were out of their ski clothes and back in the Hotel for lunch Jill and I went back over to La Tania and down to the Chrome
bar for lunch. We had a nice bottle of Rose for 13 Euro and the Burger/fries/drink deal for 10 Euro.
was a really good family ski trip. Almost everything went as planned. It was an early rise to get out to Courchevel and the
same to get back home again with young kids but it was well worth it.
airport busy at weekends.
We will back with Ski Esprit again in the future. (Probably
Most of the bubble lifts/gondolas in the area are difficult to put fat
powder skis (Line Influence 105s) on, the rectangular boxes are just too small to fit the ski in so you have to put them in
the larger slot used for snowboards, they then sometimes fall to the side on way up and have you worried that they are about
to fall out !
It was quiet on our trip so mostly had a bubble lift or gondola
to ourselves but this would have caused more of an issue at the height of the season when its busier.
are already booked with Air Transat flying from Gatwick mid March to Calgary, returning mid April.
We will spend two weeks at Red Mountain, Rossland, BC before heading down to Phillipsburg, Montana to ski
Discovery Basin then onto Big Sky before returning to Calgary.