Portetta arrived several years ago on the French alpine scene with little pomp and ceremony, in the usual understated way of operating that its sister UK hotels of Lime Wood and The Pig Group do so well. It’s a snow dusted home away from home, which offers a cosy brand of luxury that has been exported to straight from Hampshire to the Alps. In the UK the hotel group has become synonymous for offering stripped back comfort – think luxury without formality; there is little in the way of dress codes, table clothes, ‘yes sir's or chintz – you instantly fall in love with its simple and honest charm.
Combining the rustic aesthetic of the UK examples, but with a thick glaze of alpine lodge applied, Portetta at once feels cool and comfortable. There is a large inside copper bar, a delectably cosy snug with open fires and taxidermy on the walls, and a ski-in/ski-out terrace with wood burning pizza oven and fur throws for the ideal après after pulling up in your Helly Hansens. Situated in the village of Courchevel Moriond 1650 away from the flashiness of 1800, it is proudly four star in its friendly and welcoming manner. Stuffiness and shoulder glances are certainly not welcome here.
The hotel has 39 rooms, each perfectly formed for a good night’s sleep – and not much else but lets face it – who goes to Courchevel to stay in their room? There are also 6 lofts if you’re thinking of taking the whole family, each with hidden toy filled nooks for the children and fireplaces surrounded buy armchairs for the adults. The hotel also owns a series of superb lodges – the finest in the village, each including a dedicated driver, chef and butler, as well as the week's food and drink included if you feel like leaving everything to the professionals.
Portetta’s restaurant continues the hotel group's excellent collaboration with chef Angela Hartnett who trained under Gordon Ramsay and has been awarded a Michelin star for her work. A bold move placing an English chef in a French town – but one that has paid off. Word has quickly spread amongst the ski-set and many people make the pilgrimage to Portetta just for the food (often after having sampled Angela's delights at Lime Wood back home). The menu offers the Anglo-Italian dishes she has become famous for; saffron risotto, gnocchi, guinea fowl, and of course, to-die-for steaks. The chef can even help you pick your choice cut of meat and cook it on the open grill in front of you. The stripped back design of the restaurant means you sink wonderfully in to dinner, which easily rolls in to the early hours accompanied with an excellent wine selection. Afterwards, the sleek bar provides the ideal retreat for post dinner cocktails.
Possibly the most welcoming hotel in the Three Valleys, Portetta greets you with open arms in a refreshing way since the resort has been over run with five star chains in recent years. The hotel’s spa, restaurant, bar, terrace and boot room (where they will warm your boots in the morning and put away your skis at night) are the ideal combination for people looking for an all in one skiing experience. The staff have struck that precise point between friendly and attentive and are dedicated to making sure you have the smoothest, most enjoyable stay possible.
The hotel has successfully captured the magic of its English counterparts without losing the charm we have come to love. Expansion and export often lead to the suffocation of a brand's delightfulness – not here though. You can tell every detail has been considered as a labour of love. You may leave with your calves aching, but you will definitely have a smile.
By Harry Seymour
Oxford Ski offering: 2 persons, 7 nights half board from EUR 3,080 (circa £2,617). For travel add a further £500 for flights and transfers. Portetta Mountain Lodges: From EUR 2,200 per person (circa £1,870) half board based on exclusive use of a whole chalet. Helly Hansen provides the best in professional grade ski wear. No1 Lounges provide the best UK airport lounges from £26 per person.