I’ve just returned from a week in Tignes and enjoyed sunny days, fresh snow and – typically for January – very cold temperatures. Most skiers and boarders know this resort for its extensive piste network, efficient lift system and quick and easy access to neighbouring Val d’Isere.
Like many purpose-built French resorts, Tignes has a lot of self-catering apartments but for British skiers arguably the most popular – and cost-effective type of accommodation is the chalet hotel. Market leader here is Mark Warner, which has two properties in Tignes, the Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin and the Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percée.
Can’t decide between the two?
Here’s how they stack up:
The first thing to say is that Mark Warner’s greatest asset is its chalet and childcare staff. Well trained, slick and relentlessly enthusiastic, it is the service they provide that keeps guests coming back. But the actual properties are pretty impressive too. Arguably, the main difference is location.
The Aiguille Percée sits slap bang in the centre of Tignes Le Lac, a three-minute walk from the main Toviere gondola (with direct access to Val d’Isere), the key Parafour chairlift, plus ski rental shops, bars, restaurants and supermarkets. With sunset views across the lake, the location couldn’t be better.
The L’Ecrin is in Val Claret on the other side of the lake. Also an excellent place to stay, Val Claret is prettier than Tignes Le Lac and is closer to the glacier (more important later in the season). The Fresse chairlift provides access to Val d’Isere.
However, the L’Ecrin is 250m from the slopes and guests need to jump on a (free) resort bus to reach the lifts. These run about every 15 minutes during the day, and less frequently after 8.30pm.
The L’Ecrin has a grand rustic interior. There’s a lot of distressed exposed wood, and a very attractive lounge with log fire, squashy sofas and a lake view. The restaurant serves a three-course a la carte dinner each evening and there’s a large welcoming childcare area with natural lighting. The pool and spa area is popular with guests, although it looks in need of a refurb. Some reports say the sauna and steam room are often out of action.
The Aiguille Percée is smaller with a more contemporary look. The restaurant and bar are welcoming, and the spa area is outstanding. The pool is small, but the sauna, steam room and relaxation area get top marks. However, the rooms are a little smaller than those at its sister hotel.
Both chalet-hotels offer a cooked buffet breakfast plus afternoon tea and coffee with home-made cake and soup from 4.30pm (handy if you want to power through and skip lunch). Dinner at both was very good – and sometimes excellent – with plenty of choice, plus vegetarian and fish and seafood options. Wine is included with dinner, although it’s nothing special: vin ordinaire. All the rooms I saw looked well equipped and recently furnished.
Guest reports about childcare are consistently positive, though many children – and adults – were disappointed by the free wifi, which frequently ground to a halt at busy times.
So which Mark Warner chalet hotel is best?
Overall, I feel it’s a question of priorities. If location is paramount for you, I’d choose the Aiguille Percée. If you want a touch more comfort and luxury, choose the L’Ecrin. Either way, you’ll be happy with your choice.
MadDogSki.com #SkiDeal: Mark Warner has seven nights chalet board at the Aiguille Percée from £729 per person and at the L’Erin from £829 per person. Prices include flights from London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham, coach transfers, breakfast, afternoon tea and six dinners.
The Chalet Aiguille Percee is featured in the MadDogSki.com hotel directory.