On 27 May 2016, just over a year after Ski France added the prestigious Méribel Mountain Retreat in Méribel le Villard, France, to its dynamic portfolio, it was severely damaged by a fire.
Undeterred, Richard Green, the Founder and Chairman of Ski France, decided to completely rebuild and refurbish what was left of the chalet, and turn it into a luxurious lodge.
Over the next 18 months, the new retreat was painstakingly constructed, stone by stone, wooden beam by wooden beam, until, in late 2017, Chalet Iona was born.
Known by the locals as the last chalet in the village, due to its peaceful setting at the end of Méribel le Villard, Chalet Iona offers guests peace, space and spectacular views within the mighty Trois Vallées.
Situated on the edge of the Forest des Allues, a rich and diverse mountain wood, Chalet Iona has its own orchard filled with apple, pear and cherry trees, plus spruce and silver birch. Visitors can admire the vistas – which stretch through the Valley of Bozel across 12 hamlets and on to the glaciers of Tignes, more than 35 km away – from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area, the decked terrace, or even the bubbling outdoor hot tub.
Having opened its doors at the end of December 2017, just in time for the 2017/18 ski season, the chalet features six en-suite bedrooms with televisions, a dining area with a 15 ft hand-made oak table seating up to 20 people and a living area complete with leather armchairs and a crackling wood burner.
Outside, a decked terrace encircles Chalet Iona, offering guests 360-degree views of the picturesque mountain scenery and a sunken Jacuzzi offers guests a warm, relaxing retreat (always helped by a glass of champagne).
Next door, there is a little cottage called Chalet India, an open plan two level cottage sleeping up to six people; ideal for grandparents, extra friends or those after a little more solitude. Together, Chalet Iona and Chalet India can accommodate up to 18 guests.
Visitors will experience the luxurious nature of the holiday as soon as they touch down in France: a driver will meet them at the airport, ready to whisk them to Chalet Iona on a private transfer, and their ski equipment will be ready-and-waiting on arrival.
Throughout their stay, guests will have the services of a concierge and ski rep. The dedicated team will cook breakfast, light the fires and offer private transport to the slopes or elsewhere in resort during the day (in two eight-seater vehicles), plus provide afternoon tea, organise skis and boots and keep the chalet in top-working order along with a daily clean. A professional gourmet chef will prepare lunch (if the guests are at the chalet) and every evening a three-course dinner with drinks is included.
Many alternative activities can be enjoyed too, making it ideal for non-skiers and those who fancy a break from the slopes. A world of winter walking, outdoor yoga, and Aquamotion (an aquatic centre just below Courchevel) awaits, plus, cookery classes can be organised, a snow-shoeing guide can be booked and there are multiple tobogganing opportunities too.
Skiers and non-skiers can also explore the village of Méribel le Villard, which is is hundreds of years old (its chapel dates back to 1645). The commune was renowned for its farming, and one of the villages four fresh-water sources is located immediately in front of the chalet. The old bread oven, that was used every month in the olden times, can also be found next to Chalet Iona.
However, with everything you need (and could ever want) at Chalet Iona, there is no need to leave. Keep an eye out for the many interesting art-deco fixtures comprising furniture from the 60s, 30s and earlier, plus the tiffany lamps merged with modern touches; truly making the chalet a home-from-home.
A week’s stay at Chalet Iona costs from £1,230 pp (£14,800 total) for 12 people staying in six rooms (all with en-suite bathrooms) with an all-inclusive formula (all meals at the chalet including drinks, private airport transfers, private driver service within resort from 8am-6pm, ski hire and daily cleaning of the chalet). Chalet India (the self-contained cottage next door) can be booked with Chalet Iona and include the all-inclusive service, or be booked as an independent self-catered chalet, costing from £324 pp (£1,943 total) for four to six people staying in the open plan two level 80m2 chalet.
For more information, visit www.skifrance.co.uk or call 0203 475 4756.