Swiss design and architecture specialists Braun are one of the most exclusive and selective publishers in the world. Their editions are works of art in their own right. „Chalets: Trendsetting Mountain Treasures“ is their selection of the world’s best chalets and a hymn to the beauty of the winter holiday world, and Finest Holidays – Luxury Travel is proud that several of the luxury chalets in our collection are represented here.
A Long Ascent from a Humble Start
A 21st-century luxury chalet is usually a high-tech, super-high-spec assembly of devices, facilities, and fashionable furniture.
The best of them usually show their heritage; the first chalets were winter shelters for shepherds. No matter how space-age the interior, most chalets – guided in part by the planning restrictions of pretty, historic Alpine resorts like St Anton or Cortina – respect traditional Alpine design principles and materials: local wood and stone.
When the great Enlightenment thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau used the term in the 18th-century, it was to paint a picture of man living in harmony with nature, and the need to fit in with and afford access to some of the world’s greatest landscapes is still true today.
Whether we can climb to the summits of simplicity and tranquility that Rousseau imagined for mankind is another question, but a luxury chalet is certainly a good place to start one’s search.
The first dedicated ski chalets were converted herders huts. While the UK has little world-class skiing terrain, it was the British who first made international holiday destinations of Alpine villages. St Moritz was the first Alpine town to benefit from a new life as a winter health and fitness retreat.
While a few mountain towns had a life beyond marginal agriculture, like Chamonix, on a pass from France to Italy, mountain sports were the preserve of gentlemen explorers who tackled summits like Mont Blanc, risking their lives in the process.
From the mid-19th century the Alps opened up. As the British middle-classes added a winter in the snows to a summer on the Riviera the converted mountain shelters were joined by holiday homes built in the Alpine style but with luxuries suited to the tastes of the Victorian bourgeoisie.
A Tradition with a Future
Nothing can stay preserved in aspic, and Alpine holidays attract a demanding international clientele. While the top resorts of Europe like Courchevel 1850 have transformed from sleepy villages to bustling off-shoots of the Champs-Élysées or Bond Street so chalet architecture has moved with the time.
The sport of skiing also developed, with the Winter Olympics serving as an advert for the sport as it toured around the world, shining the spotlight on Chamonix, St Moritz, Innsbruck, Grenoble, and Albertville in Europe.
This beautiful book tells that story in nearly 100 stunning properties, taking in the 20th-century ‘Heimatschutzbewegung’ (preservation) movement that helped formalize the ski chalet form. It also shows how architects and designers today push the envelope of what a chalet can be and what its guests can expect.
The Finest of Treasures
Among the 91 beautiful chalets in „Chalets: Trendsetting Mountain Treasures“ are locations across the Alps, in resorts like Gstaad in Switzerland, Megève in France, San Martino in Italy, Austria, and also beyond, in Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the USA: From Aspen to Zermatt as the book boasts.
These are holiday homes selected for their design excellence, and the book is a beautiful tour – and a wonderful wish list – around the most perfect ski chalets in the world.
Chalet Spa is a chalet in the contemporary style, with big, chunky timbers that are more Scandi or North American in inspiration than Swiss. There’s nothing rustic about the interiors – beautifully photographed for Braun – with the indoor pool and enormous spa facility being the obvious standouts. If there is a swimming pool with a better view than this then we’re yet to see it. It’s a big chalet too, with room for 10 guests and extra space for helpers or more family.
Zermatt Peak more than lives up to its name, taking a coveted location and somehow adding to the natural wonders around it. The style is in some senses traditional, but this isn’t a luxury chalet that disappears into the background, with its liner-like profile and huge windows that make it a landmark and one of the best vantage points from which to gaze upon the majestic Matterhorn. And the design helps to bring the true joys of an Alpine holiday – light, air, landscape – inside, and complement them with world-class, very chic design and the best tech and entertainment facilities.
Chamois Lodge is very classic. It sits beautifully in one of the quietest and most tranquil places in beautiful St Martin. The respect for Alpine tradition extends to an interior that is heavy with local wood, big stone surfaces, and other natural materials. The heating system is very sustainable and makes Chamois Lodge green as well as beautiful.
This large ski chalet is a true world-apart. Up to 10 guests can enjoy acres of beautiful space, crafted by designer Nicky Dobree, that combine rustic framing with beautifully curated antique furniture – plus the latest hi-tech gear. Tucked away down its own lane, Ferme de Moudon, allows you to enjoy the mountains, while still having the very best of everything around you. A must-see chalet by any standards.
A bergerie is one of those shepherd’s huts that were the first ski chalets. There aren’t many still in use, and this 17th-century example has been beautifully and sensitively brought up to date – and beyond – to produce the perfect luxury family chalet. Heritage is celebrated, while modern open-plan design creates a modern, livable space – complete with hot tub, cinema room and video games. If location is one of the keys to a great luxury chalet, then La Bergerie shows that 17th-century shepherds had a great eye for a beautiful view.
No. 14 doesn’t date back 400 years, being the best that 2020 can offer. It’s far from discrete, a huge, eye-catching chalet with 13 rooms and room for 26 guests. It has seen service (and can still) as a luxury boutique hotel. That’s a good starting place to describing the design feel of this unique, stylish interior, furnished entirely with bespoke London pieces. The size of No. 14 means there is room for everything – really everything – that you could desire in a luxury ski chalet: two massive hot tubs, a 10m indoor pool, home cinema, and much more.
Finest Holidays – Luxury Travel is Katrin Wittich’s personally curated collection of the world’s finest luxury ski chalets, chalet apartments and luxury villas. Specializing in personal service and experience design, Finest Holidays – Luxury Travel can help you find the property that fits your needs. View our portfolio of luxury accommodations of that caliber! Call us on +34 661 71 80 61 or text firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what we can do for you.