Take one snow-covered alpine chalet, a roaring log fire, flakes softly falling on pine trees outside the window, a backdrop of soaring mountains, and a hot tub steaming on the terrace. Stir in a couple who can’t take their eyes off each other, a bottle of Champagne, handmade chocolates, and you have all the essential ingredients for the perfect romantic ski holiday.
You don’t need Ed Sheeran warbling away in the background about dancing in the dark, but it probably won’t do any harm.
Even if you haven’t chosen an ancient chocolate-box village like St Anton, Zermatt or Alpbach for your holiday – but have opted for somewhere futuristic like Avoriaz – you can still find lovely chalets and apartments that will create a fabulous hideaway.
Unfortunately Valentine’s Day always falls smack in the middle of February half term and the European school holidays. Resorts are at their busiest, with families dominating the slopes. So why not make your romantic ski holiday a Valentine gift, to be taken during a quieter week in March or April? Here, in no particular order, are a few recommendations:
Steep and Deep Lovers: St Anton
Austria is where you’ll find traditional villages, complete with church spires, sun-blackened timbers and pretty, sloping roofs. Not all the buildings are historic of course – and St Anton in the Tirol is a typical blend of old and new. The mix is a real success. Even the modernist buildings are softened by richly-textured wood panels and there’s a modest, friendly atmosphere to the place, helped by its pedestrianised centre.
In terms of both ski terrain and popularity, St Anton is also one of Austria’s top resorts – and thoroughly deserves its hard-skiing reputation. Yes, the new Flexenbahn link to Zurs and Lech has improved access to easier pistes nearby: but it’s best skied by a couple who want to chase each other down advanced, black-rated pistes, rather than cruising together along ego-boosting blues.
Instead of the raucous venues of the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangaruh, head for Underground On The Piste, closer to the resort on the same home run and next to The Museum (the latter featured in the film, Chalet Girl). Known for its mellow live music, you can go to the bar on foot or by skis from 3pm onwards.
Rustic Tradition: Morzine
Morzine is a bustling market town and part of the Portes du Soleil, the giant linked ski area that straddles the French border with Switzerland. The town has a year-round life and is as far removed from purpose-built as you’ll find in the Alps. There are some excellent mountain restaurants here, too.
Ever dreamed of spending an evening somewhere that’s totally cut off from the world? After a short 30- to 45-minute walk on snowshoes, you’ll be greeted by a guide…for a cheese fondue in an igloo, which is located in a secret place you only find out about once you’ve set off. The igloo evenings take place daily with a minimum of four in a group, so it could be perfect for the chalet staff night off.
Chalet Style: Meribel
The chalet-style resort is actually a collection of hamlets spread around the mountainside at the very heart of the Trois Vallees, where there is a stupendous amount of ski terrain. Meribel has flattering motorway skiing but there’s plenty for experts too, with over 30 black runs and off-piste skiing on Mont Vallon which is rated as some of the best in the Alps. Mind you, with cafes, Michelin-starred restaurants and vibrant night-life on offer as well, Meribel is the sort of place some people enjoy without ever clicking into a pair of skis.
La Bouitte is located in the neighbouring Belleville valley in the hamlet of St Marcel. You ski to St Martin de Belleville, where the restaurant will collect you, and whisk you to lunch. The chalet-style restaurant, run by father and son René and Maxime Meilleur has three Michelin stars. This is the ultimate dining experience in the 3 Valleys and comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s worth it.
Snowy Favourite: Val d’Isere
You’ll always find plenty of snow in this world-class resort, even when it’s patchy in the rest of the Alps. Val d’Isere‘s old village centre is based around the church and is full of atmosphere, and there are lots of romantic accommodation choices here, including the rustic Farmhouse.
Head to the two-star Michelin restaurant, Atelier d’Edmond, for lunch. It is in a carefully-restored traditional Alpine building in the hamlet of Le Fornet and serves wonderful food in rustic surroundings. You can eat either in the main gastronomic restaurant or, for a fraction of the price, in the adjoining bistrot. Chef Benoit Vidal is in charge of both.
Quintessentially Chic: Courchevel
Courchevel 1850 vies with Aspen and Megeve to be the most glamorous resort in the world. Designer shops and Michelin-starred restaurants abound: you’ll feel like a couple of film stars once you’ve checked in.
Rising at dawn to take a a hot-air balloon flight from the altiport in Courchevel 1850. It lasts for an hour and you’ll see the sun rising over Courchevel and the 3 Valleys. What could be more romantic?
Future Romance: Avoriaz
Some people find Avoriaz more futuristic than romantic. But others fall in love with the quirky and angular style, the ski-in, ski-out convenience and the quiet, unpolluted atmosphere (the resort is car-free). A horse-drawn sleigh-ride, and an international outing into Switzerland for a fondue are both highly recommended.
Go for a Day Spa Experience at the Pure Altitude Spa in Hotel des Dromonts. Try the 50-minute Candle Ritual where you are massaged with Fleurs de Neige candle balm, which ‘nourishes your skin in depth and envelops your body in gentle warmth’.
Old and New: Les Gets
Les Gets is a pretty mix of old Savoyard chalets and modern wood-and-stone buildings set in a valley of forest and meadows. The village has a relaxed atmosphere, and offers beautiful tree-lined pistes as well as good links into the vast Portes du Soleil ski area.
The outdoor ice-skating rink is right in the village centre and is open until 10pm, weather depending. Be sure to have a glass of vin chaud to warm up afterwards.
Royal Flavour: Lech
It was Princess Diana’s favourite, and a resort also much loved by the Jordanian and Dutch royal families, and Princess Caroline of Monaco. It was also used as a film location for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (it’s where Darcy takes Bridget on a Valentine’s break). Lech provides a quiet retreat and has an air of exclusivity.
The traditional village lies on the banks of a river, and is an ideal base for people who prefer a flattering piste to a tricky challenge. If you want something more testing, ski over to St Anton, which is on the shared lift pass.
Tiny little Hus No. 8 is one of the oldest inns of Lech and was first mentioned in a document in 1760. In recent years it has housed a sweet little restaurant with just a few tables. Specials include a traditional Walser cheese soup followed by trout fillet from local rivers and lakes accompanied by creamed buckwheat barley and parsley potatoes.
Have Your Say
Which is your favourite ski resort for romance? Maybe it’s somewhere completely unexpected? Let us know in the comments box below.