Robbie Williams, Wills and Kate, Brad Pitt, various footballers and Lewis Hamilton are all regular visitors to the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt and I can see exactly why. This stunning, car-free alpine mountain paradise really is the last word in chi-chi chic, nestled in the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn and beloved by celebrities, the super rich, international ski bunnies and party animals the world over. This high end crowd travel by horse-drawn carriage around the village centre, invariably sporting the Euro-trash winter uniform of big hair, big sunglasses, big fur coats and small dogs. You never know quite who might be sitting next to you on the chairlift. And aside from all of this, with 313 km of outstanding pistes, 71 lifts and Cervinia and Valtournenche just over the Italian border should you fancy a pizza for lunch, any level of skier or snow boarder will find it almost impossible to run out of new runs to try.
I've been lucky enough to stay in some spectacular ski chalets around the world but none of them is even the tiniest patch on the two places I just visited in Zermatt. Chalet Les Anges and Chalet Maurice are both owned by the Elysian Collection, whose fabulous food, impeccable service, beautiful decor and attention to every single detail truly is second to none. They're exactly the sort of places you can imagine a rock star renting out for Christmas but, of course, the owners are far too discrete to name any names.
Chalet Les Anges, which has seven bedrooms and can sleep fourteen, has a white marble wellness area, birch-walled massage room, Japanese fountain and a heated plunge pool downstairs, with sublime views of the valley and the Matterhorn from its living, dining and decked outside area complete with sheep skin rugs on all the seats to keep you toasty warm when you're enjoying the sights. Every bedroom is differently decorated yet all are beyond gorgeous and in keeping with each other; there's a grand piano in the living room and a separate TV room should the kids need somewhere to play their Xbox out of sight. The levels of luxury are off the chart and you'll want to stay put for the rest of your life.
Chalet Maurice, a five minute walk away, sleeps twelve and comes complete with a private funicular lift which ascends through the mountain to reach the lower entrance and your champagne welcome. The décor is pure Bond: stylish and sleek with a black granite wellness area and outdoor Jacuzzi to help sooth your body after a hard day out on the slopes. Therapists from the Zermatt Massage Centre can be booked to come into either chalet to attend to your aches and pains at any time or to give you gorgeous facials and reflexology treatments – whatever your heart's desire, these gorgeous staff will move heaven and earth to get it organised for you.
Our party of ten enjoyed a brilliant day on the slopes with guides from the super-cool Stoked ski and board school, owned and run by Christian Meier, the undisputed king of the mountain who is also a legend at making anyone's dreams a reality – he recently hosted the launch of George Clooney's new Nespresso advert at Chez Vrony, Robbie Williams's favourite restaurant in the world (photographs of him and the charming Vrony herself adorn the walls) and the classy joint where we stopped for a historic lunch. Platters of local salamis, cheese and dried meats were swiftly followed by delicious gnocchi and ravioli, traditional Swiss rosti with all sorts of things on the side, minced veal with mushrooms in a creamy herb sauce, huge tranches of foie gras, burgers, salads and soups not to mention a decadent array of puddings and Irish coffee chasers.
It was a good thing we skied hard all afternoon as the seven course extravaganza plus kick-off canapés awaiting us back at Les Anges and Maurice was far too fabulous to refuse. Hendricks gin and tonics with cucumber slices, glass after glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne (the Elysian Collection's house brand) and fine wines were offered and delightedly accepted as we congratulated ourselves on a great day's skiing. Rabbit terrine, beetroot Carpaccio with a goats cheese pannacotta, halibut steaks on a crush of beans, venison medallions with truffled mash and a divine chocolate tart with an orange reduction were just a few of the delights we sampled over our couple of days serious eating and drinking.
In Greek Mythology Elysium was the abode of the blessed after death, a blissful place of ideal happiness - the VIP section of heaven if you like, where you found the most exquisite kind of enjoyment. I can't help but think that the Elysian Collection is aptly named for that is exactly what you'll find there in Zermatt today; for their seven star service, stunning surroundings, delicious drinks and glorious food from Michelin Star trained chefs I can't recommend them highly enough.
For more information and to book either property visit www.elysiancollection.com, phone +353 1 2886634 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both properties can also be found within The Luxury Chalet Collection, telephone + 44 1865 395 001), an exclusive portfolio representing 20 of the finest chalets in the most desirable destinations in the Alps. Created by The Oxford Ski Company, the new collection is an indispensable guide that will act as a one-stop-shop for genuinely indulgent and luxurious winter holidays.
By: Sara Lawrence