When Veronique and Stephane met Glen and Claudia it was the start of a friendship that was to lead to the creation of two of the most remarkable new hotels in the Three Valleys.
I’ve just experienced both of them and they have immediately become two of my favourite places to lay my head in the Alps. They sounded promising from the start, having recently been jointly voted the World’s Best New Ski Hotels. And the promise has been delivered!
First I checked into Fahrenheit Seven in Courchevel 1650 – oh sorry, I should call it Moriond now. And the concept that had fired the imagination of two couples who had met in a ski resort only five years ago was immediately obvious. This was a hotel designed by skiers for skiers. It was ski-in, ski-out, but also with a frontage in the heart of the village.
It is a four-star hotel but has the relaxed feel of a club, with the friendliest and most helpful staff you can imagine. I tried to think of some outlandish requests to test them, but then I decided they were all too nice – both efficient and laid-back – to trouble them with that. I don’t need to tell you that these are qualities not always in evidence in French hotels.
One of the best features is the in-house ski rental shop – with an excellent range of skis, and staff who manage to give the impression you’ve made their day simply by using their skis.
Veronique Vidoni and her husband Stephane already had a wealth of experience running hotels when they met their now business partners Glen De Unger and his wife Claudia, who were skiing in the French resort of Megeve. The two couples saw eye to eye on what made a perfect ski hotel and decided to make their joint vision a reality. The hotels opened within about a year of each other, Val Thorens in 2015 and Courchevel in 2016.
‘With Fahrenheit Seven we imagined our ideal hotel,’ said Veronique. ‘Our clients are treated as if they are in our home and their well-being is our greatest concern.’
Veronique is a native of Perpignan, a Catalan (she didn’t mention Spain, so I won’t) but adds: ‘I don’t have any problem with the cold and snow. I still love the beginning of the ski season and the first flakes.’
Skiing is a passion for the whole Vidoni family – the couple have five children, with the eldest, Sorbonne graduate Chloe, 22, already playing a major part in the business.
Stephane said: ‘We live in our hotel, with our customers, which means we live at their pace. It’s only between seasons that we find time for more calm.’
The hotel they live in is the Val Thorens Fahrenheit Seven – which in that lofty resort is even more ski-in ski-out…in fact specifically designed so the snow is on the same level as the ski room and just a few steps away from your locker.
And speaking of ski rooms, that of Fahrenheit Seven in Val Thorens is alone special enough to warrant staying there. ‘It’s possibly the most important room in a ski hotel,’ said Stephane, ‘but so many are cramped places with not enough room to put your ski boots on.’
Not the ski room at Fahrenheit Seven. It’s a work of wonder and luxury, expansive with comfortable benches stretching into the distance. It has a bar for an immediate apres-ski drink. The bar even serves coffee as you get ready to hit the slopes in the morning. The lockers are big, and the ski rental shop is feet away (and this one had the best array of interesting skis I’ve seen in a rental shop for a long time, including some wonderful Faction Prodigies – more of them another time).
But possibly best of all, the ski room also had a bar football machine. I love those. I loved my room but all in all I could probably happily live in the Fahrenheit Seven ski room.