Luxury Cycling Tours - Alp Leisure style!
21st May 2015
Having seen the Tour come through these regions every year since 1997, being witness to Pantani's infamous finish at Courchevel Altiport, seeing Armstrong do his thing (!), watching as Froome bleeds for his sport, has firstly lead to us being tempted onto bikes for real ouselves! This inevitably meant actually hitting some of the big climbs of this amazing cycling mecca too all culminating in us being delighted to announce the launch of Alp Leisure Cycling tours!
19 years of mountain experience counts for a lot! From any/every climb or col, time trialing around Lac Annecy, to trying the world cup downhill VVT course, we can cater for your every cycling whim. The Tour has passed through these parts since its conception with history, drama, blood sweat and tears and we can help you relive as much of that as you wish! The Dauphiné passes through regularly as does the VTT World Cup so we've got everything right here on our doorstep!
And with our Luxury Chalets, spas and support vehicles we have the facilties! Our local network ensures you have the guides, masseurs and support team to take exactly what you want out of the mountains!! Further we can tailor things excatly to your requirements, so if you fancy doing the Madeleine of a morning then that can be arranged. If on the other hand cruising the flats of the valleys, taking in the stunning views is your thing, followed by a soak in the jacuzzi and full body massage then why not!
For either option or anything in between read on...http://www.alpleisure.com/cycling.htm
Luxury-What’s in a word!
4th Dec 2014
Over 18years of being in the luxury travel industry it’s been a bug bear of ours that the word "Luxury" when used in reference to chalets has been over used and abused, probably because who’s to say that a put me up isn’t luxury to someone who’s used to sleeping on the sofa! Luxury is sadly a relative term that means it doesn’t mean much at all and consumers ended up finding out for themselves after the fact, that some websites were being rather loose with their words!
Some ski in/ski out claims were (and arguably still are!) of interest too!...” You CAN ski in and ski out” (but you might have to ski over a road, through a farmyard over a stream and though the neighbours garden!!) Whether you would want to of course, is another matter!
The solution? Well, restaurants have Michelin stars, Hotels have Relais Chateaux, but what can be done about chalets? Some years ago some of the resorts put a resort “label” in place which although a positive move, did not do enough to really distinguish between most chalets. In fact in one resort not so far away, every chalet that requested the label received maximum rating; which got everyone nicely back to square one!
Finally the French Ministry of Tourism eventually got hold of the issue and recognised it was a mess and in 2009 established new and reasonable norms for levels of facility and service within tourist properties. Sadly, at the time, only the local prefecture could actually class any properties and anyone that has spent any time in France will know that the local prefectures have the deepest infatuation with beaurocracy across all of France so of course nothing really happened!
At last in April 2013 the French Ministry of Tourism allowed local tourist bodies to become assessors of these grades and they put in place a nationwide grading system for all tourist properties with very specific regulations about what constitutes a particular level or star, making the grades meaningful at last!
The local assessor then applies 112 specific criteria in a four hour visit and completes a detailed report with marks for each particular aspect. E.g. double rooms must be of a certain surface area, xxxx etc. What does it all mean? Well, simply put, consumers can now book with much greater confidence that the chalet IS as it is described in the website.
We have always been of the view that it’s only fair and right to undersell and over-deliver on our product, for the long term benefit of our clients. Because of course, it’s normally too late to do anything about overselling once you are here so a system that provides an objective rating of chalets is a real service to consumers and our clients.
Chalets fall under the term “Meublé du Tourism” and although a rather nerve racking process as they really do get the measuring tapes out and apply the letter of the law we have been delighted to have received the highest grade of 5 stars for the national grade for ALL of our chalets in Courchevel!
We have also received the highest standard from Courchevel tourist office (they have their own ranking system) which has three grades, "Mountain of Charm" if the property amounts to between 80 to 89 points; "Mountain of Dreams" if the property amounts to between 90 to 94 points and "Mountain of Exception" if the property amounts to between 95 to 100 points. Again, we are delighted to have achieved “Mountain of Exception” for all four chalets.
For more information on the rating of “Meubles du Toursim” see the French government website (in French) https://www.classement.atout-france.fr/meubles
For more information on our Chalets in Courchevel see below:
Le Praz - Courchevel’s rising star…without the price tag!
24th Nov 2014
Courchevel Le Praz (or Le Praz as the locals call it) is the rising star of the 3 vallees but without the “Courch” price tag and swagger! With its brand new 6 person high-speed detachable Foret chair lift, replacing the old bubble of the same name, capacity from Le Praz will be more than doubled. Costing €9m it can move 2400 skiers an hour (in comparison with 1000 for the old bubble) and connects with the new chair lift installed last year above la Tania at the Bouc Blanc. It will mean that you can get above 1850 and/or into Méribel with only 2 lifts! Thomas Thor-Jensen, Ski Area Director of S3V, explained that it’s just a part of the €140m investment into modernising the lift systems for this year. Not only will this investment change things enormously for skiers heading in La Tania/Méribel direction it will reduce the strain on the Le Praz bubble and Plantray access to 1850 so everyone’s a winner!
Of course Le Praz is not just about the new speedy lifts. It’s charm as an original mountain village is well known amongst regulars but now with a raft of updates; new developments, new restaurants and changes of ownership mean it’s becoming chic AND quaint and won’t empty your wallet for one drink! Sadly Le Praz is saying goodbye to one of the oldest standing restaurants in the 3 vallees, the Bistrot du Praz, although the exciting thing is that it has been taken over by a young local chef who is completely refurbishing and creating a new restaurant “haute gamme”. It’s so new the name hasn’t even been released yet but whatever it’s called, it promises to liven up the cuisine options in the village!
Perhaps because of the new addition above, Norbert owner of one of our favorites ‘Le Table de mon Grand Pere’ and the Hotel Peupliers, is developing a young and upcoming new “Gastro” Burger Bar. Called the BAC (Burger d’A Cote) it has been completely restyled in a contemporary, chic fashion and is serving Burgers with Style! Including veggie, chicken, tartare and salmon burgers - it won’t be anything like our friend of the yellow arches! Norbert (of Le Peupliers) is also opening a Champagne and Oyster bar in the central square of Le Praz which will also sell Crepes and Vin Chaud and will liven the centre of the village further. And if you’ve never had Chocolate Chaud in Le Praz’ best kept secret ‘Norby’s’ (downstairs in the Peupliers) then you’ve never really done après ski in Le Praz!
One of the best places to hide away and absorb the real village atmosphere is the Cave du Lys (where you will find most of the real locals!) with its old barn vaults; it has been extended and improved this year. Serving a variety of local and Italian anti-pasta specialties and an amazing wine list it’s the “Cheers” of Le Praz. They also stock truffles, cepes and other specialties to take home! Not to be outdone the Darbeilo is now under new ownership and is updating and is also doing the tapas thing. For the more sport and party minded the Escourch will be showing all of the sport as well as some of the local bands and if the teenagers need a separate cool spot to hang out there is also the Drop-in with free pool!
For cheese lovers, in keeping with a real traditional savoyard village, the fromagerie sells the local Beaufort which is made in the village from the milk of cows fed in the surrounding pastures and is matured in the cellars of the local huit a huit! (Local tours of the cheese making facilities and caves can be arranged) You could not get fresher or better!
To wrap up the “eating and drinking” in Le Praz we can’t finish without a mention of the Azimut which has the only Michelin Star in Le Praz and is most definitely worth a visit. Quiet calm and relatively simple the cuisine is excellent and it’s certainly the least expensive Michelin starred restaurant we’ve ever had the pleasure to have experienced!
Activity wise the usual firework at Christmas & New Year displays which are set across the lake creates a natural amphitheater and really should not be missed though if you love your pyrotechnics the finale of the yearly Courchevel International fire work competition ceases to amaze. Every year they just get bigger, better and louder!
Of course Le Praz boasts the ’92 Olympic Ski Jumping hills where you can see the local guys and girls, the French Teams and some of the best National teams in the world, who come to train here throughout the winter. There are also a number of French National Cup circuit competitions during the winter on both the 90m and 120m jumps which are definitely worth a viewing!
Accommodation is also on the up with a number of new developments providing equivalent and exceptional facilities at half the price of 1850, including of course our new Chalet Dulcis Casu with a “New York Loft” feel and all mod cons it really is worth a look! www.alpleisure.com/chaletdulciscasu.htm
Finally along with a list of activities all season long, Courchevel hosts the Ladies World Cup on the 13th-14th Dec for both Slalom and Giant Slalom - it’s really quite astonishing how fast they are in the flesh! (Access is easiest via the Le Praz bubble, which avoids the parking madness in 1850); and, last but not least, as part of the World Cup festivities and new for this year is a stop on the International Tennis Masters… in the ice rink, which will be transformed into a tennis court and includes legends like Mansour Bahrami, Thomas Enqvist, Henri Leconte and Ilie Nastase.
Other Alp Leisure Chalets in Le Praz include the very chic Folie Blanche www.alpleisure.com/chaletfolieblanche.htm and the wonderful Loup Blanc, www.alpleisure.com/leloupblanc.htm . If you would like further information about Le Praz or our chalets please email email@example.com or call us on 00 33 (0)4 79 00 59 42
Hosting Cheryl's Judges House!
10th Oct 2014
Yes, it's true, our stunning Villa Sambracia was the location for Cheryl Fernandez-Versini X Factor judges houses which was aired on Sunday 5th October. Cheryl and guest judge Tinie Tempah, presenter Dermot O'Leary and the Executive Producers on the show enjoyed staying at the villa whilst the rest of the crew and contestants stayed at a local hotel in St Maxime and came to Villa Sambracia each day for the performances and the decision on which lucky acts would make it through to the live shows.
Cheryl's guest judge Tinie Tempah, well known recording artist and rapper, arrived at the helipad via helicopter, using our very own helipad. We can't say where the helicopter came in from but one of our senior members of staff had to join Tinie on the trip in to ensure the pilot knew where to go!! The "reveal" was a great success and the contestants were delighted to see who would be helping Cheryl make her important choices.
The auditions were held in the upper gardens next to the helipad with great views across the Gulf of Saint Tropez as featured heavily in the programme. It has to be said that all the contestants did an amazing job considering the nerves, the cameras and the 'waiting' for their moment. Our favourite was Lola Belle Saunders who though somewhat emotional got the vote amongst the crew.
As per our mantra " Freedom to Choose" we looked after all and sundry in every way possible. The VIP's had fine dining a la carte and we also provided huge buffets for the mass numbers of crew and contestants - assisted in style by the team from Serenity Management. It's quite a surprise when a whole film crew including, camera, lighting, hair and make-up, production & support turn up - you would have no idea how many bodies are behind the cameras!
Some of the fun moments included teaching Cheryl to play boules (French version of bowls) up at Coco's bar. Coco, our resident Cocker Spaniel, was also a big hit with everyone especially Cheryl and Dermot and almost made it onto the programme as Cheryl's side kick! He became less impressed the more people turned up and took over "his" Villa!
Finally, it was a pleasure meeting all of the crew who were a credit to themselves, X Factor, Xtra Factor and Thames TV - the weather couldn't have been better and the filming went incredibly smoothly.
It also goes to show that whatever "Freedom to Choose" means to you, we can fulfil your desires no matter what they are!