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RECOMMENDATION: A luxury family ski holiday with friends at La Grange au Merle, Châtel

By Sara Hardy– 21st October 2020
RECOMMENDATION | Billy Bob’s Parlour & Diner – The Yorkshire Dales 289
What I loved about  La Grange au Merle:

Arriving at our beautiful chalet with our tired hungry babies, we could not have asked for anything better than to be greeted by four smiley faces ready to take our bags and thrust a much needed glass of delicious crémant into our hands. We made our way up the wooden staircase of this luxury alpine retreat to the living area with panoramic views over the twinkling lights of Châtel. The children’s tea was served a few moments later and as soon as the little ones were tucked up in bed we started to take in how unbelievably beautiful the chalet was. Aesthetically and practically, it is everything you could dream of for a chalet. Traditional but modern, spacious but cosy; we arrived late in the afternoon so the excitement of the view would be revealed as the sun came up the next morning.

Were we crazy even considering a ski trip with six under fours? Perhaps, but we did and it far exceeded our expectations. This was one of the biggest holidays I’d ever planned for our group of friends. We travelled with the same motley crew we’ve always skied with but this time with our mini-me’s in tow, taking our group of snow seekers up to sixteen.

In a former life we were the powder hounds and first lift brigade; our sleepless nights were due to too many jaeger bombs and dancing on tables in Follie Douce. Now we are all mature-ish, professional thirty somethings. We needed exclusive use as most of the babies were still napping; we needed somewhere a little special as we’d be spending more time in the chalet than we usually would, and we needed a resort with lots going on for non skiers for whichever parent was on parenting duty.

 

The resort

After much research we decided on Châtel, an unspoilt Savoyard town in the French Alps with lots to do on and off the mountain. We were not disappointed; there is loads going on to keep children and adults entertained, even soaking up the alpine atmosphere is a great way to spend the morning. Being one of the lesser known resorts, the town is oozing with alpine charm and authenticity. There is a large, clean soft play and the swimming pool is great too. The locals welcomed our babes and buggies into their quaint cosy cafes with open arms and nothing was too much trouble.  It was also easy to take the buggies up the mountain in the gondola so the little ones could play in the snow, you just need to buy a pedestrian ticket at the lift station for around €6.

 

The ski area

The Portes de Soleil ski area is vast, and whilst challenging skiing may be considered by some as a little limited, we had decided that this trip was about getting the children into skiing. That said, it’s there if you want it; one morning a small group of us skied hard and fast and there was plenty to keep us entertained.

The resort isn’t particularly high so generally speaking is a little warmer than others which we felt was a bonus travelling in January with young children. The snow cover was good and there is ample support from snow cannons where needed.  There is a magic carpet lift on the lower slopes and the beginner runs are easily accessible with plenty of good options for tuition.

The two older boys in our group went to Club Piou Piou (part of the ESF) which was more like a creche with an hour of ski tuition during the three hour session. For a 3 and a 4 year old we felt this was a sensible option for their first time on skis. We skied with them on the nursery slopes each afternoon and by the end of the week they were able to use a chair lift and ski the green run all the way to the bottom.

 

The chalet

The living space is very sociable with a bar and lots of little comfy nooks where you could sit and read a book (if given half a chance!). The sofas around the fire place are so comfortable that you may struggle to drag yourself away after the canapés and fizz have been served, but a gourmet dinner will be waiting for you. There is even a cosy playroom which is equipped with toys, games, Apple TV and Netflix for those very early risers.

The chalet has four ensuite bedrooms and an additional twin room on the mezzanine; each of the ground floor bedrooms accommodates a cot and the children’s bedroom is fabulous. The LED starlights above the lower bunk are a magical touch. There is a Sonos in every room which we used for white noise just in case any of the babies dared to wake each other up.

 

The catering

With full chalet board, the standard of catering throughout the week is outstanding and in our opinion better than anything we would have in a high end restaurant. At dinner, each of the four courses is accompanied by sommelier paired wines.  Children’s tea is served each day at the chefs table and naturally you will be offered drinks at the same time. Breakfast is a veritable skiers feast.

The outdoor hot tub is a real treat; sitting with a glass of bubbles looking out at the snowy mountains is like something dreams are made of.

I never imagined that we would all be out the door with kids in ski boots by 8.45am, but thanks to our chalet driver (who patiently took car seats in and out of the minibus and helped the children with their boots, helmets and skis) this was a daily occurrence. This is the kind of service you do not get from big hotels! You will be taken to and from the lifts or into town throughout the day as required. It is worth mentioning that the walk to town is approximately fifteen minutes and largely flat, the walk to the lift is a few minutes further. However, with unlimited access to a driver throughout the day this is never an issue.

If you are looking for value for money, luxury standards and top notch personal service, La Grange au Merle is the place for you. It is the eptiome of family friendly luxury skiing in France and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the chalet and Châtel. When you’re travelling with young children, it is invaluable to have everything taken care of so you can just relax and concentrate on making those amazing memories.

For more information visit: La Grange au Merle

Enjoy!

Sara x

 

Photo credits: Clarian Chalets

RECOMMENDATION

This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

RECOMMENDATION | Billy Bob’s Parlour & Diner – The Yorkshire Dales 297
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By Sara Hardy– 11th April 2020
RECOMMENDATION | Billy Bob’s Parlour & Diner – The Yorkshire Dales 298
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RECOMMENDATION

This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

 

REVIEW:

This is a Girl About review. I was invited by the management to dine at their restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest and frank review. All my opinions are my own and in no way have they been swayed by their kind invite. Girl About reviews are always 100% honest. We only publish reviews that, for the most part, are positive.

RECOMMENDATION | Billy Bob’s Parlour & Diner – The Yorkshire Dales 297
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