While five-star hotels are clustered around the slopes of , few can rival the position of the Barrière Les Neiges. The ski room - stealth-wealth smart in cream and chocolate leather - is a hop, skip and a jump (or, in my case, a few ski-boot clomps) from the Bellecote piste. The young staff are charmingly attentive. And such is the level of service provided that, in the morning, having helped us into our ski boots, they carefully position our skis and poles on the snow, in readiness for the gentle descent to the main lift station.
It couldn't be easier to access the slopes of the world's largest ski area, but Barrière Les Neiges has so strong a sense of cocooning comfort that I wouldn't be surprised if some guests never venture beyond its wood-panelled walls. A draw for skiers and non-skiers alike is the spa, which has a sauna, hammam and hydrotherm pool. The adjacent 20-metre swimming pool is a thing of beauty with its stained-glass walls, designed to echo the colours of the surrounding mountains, and a view of a snow-covered terrace, where steam rises dramatically from a hot tub. On the floor above are seven treatment rooms including a double (very his-and-hers). There's a choice of facial and massage options using products by French brands Biologique Recherche and Ligne St Barth, but for dedication to beautification, surely none can rival the five-hour Alpine Chic treatment for 720 euros.
The avowed ambition of general manager Charles Richez is that everything should be 'easy' for guests. It's clear attention was paid to all ease-inducing details when the hotel was built from scratch (it's in only its second season). In the 42 rooms and suites, traditional chalet-interior tropes - larch cladding, fake fur throws, slate and marble - are combined with novel gadgetry. Lights and curtains can be controlled on an iPad. The Japanese-made toilets have a sensor-operated lid, warmed seat and wall-mounted control panel with an array of bottom-pleasing functions.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that enough calories are burned during a day's skiing to offset any off-piste feasting. Barrière Les Neiges offers ample opportunities to test the principle. Fouquet's is the embodiment of Parisian-brasserie elegance, with a menu of French classics and fiery-red banquets lit by golden-disc chandeliers. Next door is BFire, for which chef Mauro Colagreco (the Argentinian-Italian is a big name in France, it seems) has devised a menu that majors on meat and fish cooked over a wood fire. Craving Savoyard favourites such as cheese fondue or raclette? These are served in an enchantingly diminutive chalet across from Fouquet's outside terrace.
On our last morning, we hitch a lift on a snowcat to a buzzing mountain restaurant recommended by the concierge, La Cave des Creux. Apparently, it's not unknown for hotel guests to opt for heli-dining. In this playground of the super rich, the phrase 'let's do lunch' takes on a whole new meaning.
Double rooms at 1,200 euros a night; . Discover more about Courchevel 1850 at