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Hot spots: The Koh-I Nor, Val Thorens

Alf Alderson

 

What is it? The newest five-star hotel in the Three Valleys area of the French Alps. It is named after the 105.6-carat diamond set in Britain's Queen Elizabeth's crown. "Koh-i-nor" is Persian for "mountain of light" and the hotel's architecture plays on this theme, featuring large glass facades that look out onto the spectacular snow-covered mountain panorama and light, airy rooms with a mix of distressed pine, stainless steel and glass, which works better than you'd think.

Where is it? Val Thorens is one of a number of resorts that make up the Three Valleys ski area, which is the biggest in the world, with 600 kilometres of pistes. At 2,300 metres, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, which means the Koh-I Nor, located at the highest point in the resort, is the loftiest five-star hotel in Europe.

Who is it aimed at? Well-heeled skiers in the market for guaranteed snow and luxury. In general, the clientele are looking to ski straight out of the hotel in the morning and straight back in at the end of the day. The Koh-I Nor also caters to non-skiers - and those, like your writer, who need to recuperate after a major wipeout on the piste. It's a pleasant place in which to just hang out and enjoy the mountain ambience.

And what is there to do apres ski? The Koh-I Nor has an 800-square-metre spa (pictured) with swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and hammam, all bathed in bright mountain light. A wide range of massage treatments are available for aching muscles and there's a well-equipped gym for those with a little puff left after the mountains.

So what's the skiing like? Being this high (Val Thorens' highest ski run is at 3,230 metres) ensures you generally get great snow on- and off-piste for the entire season, which runs until May. And an innovation introduced this winter is skiing with a mini drone helicopter mounted with a camera that films your moves (the hotel can arrange this for you). The resulting video will not only impress your Facebook friends but also help you to improve your technique.

And what about the dining? Yoann Conte, a two Michelin-starred chef, is in charge of the hotel's restaurant and brasserie (pictured) and has managed to master the art of cooking at this altitude - boiling an egg takes two minutes longer, for instance, and the low humidity makes bread, pastries and cheese dry out three times faster than normal. You can also enjoy two Michelin-star dining on the slopes, at the Restaurant Jean Sulpice.

What's the bottom line? Rooms range from € 340 (HK$3,560) to € 545 a night for a 26-square-metre room (pictured) to € 670 to € 1,055 for a 60-square-metre four-person suite. All prices include breakfast and taxes.

Go to www.hotel-kohinor.com for details.

 

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