Few ski resorts have quite the social and celebrity chic of Verbier — William and Harry were there the week we stayed, Madonna had just come for her New Year holidays. Even fewer combine this chic with quite such extensive — and at times demanding — terrain, both on- and off-piste.
The result is exceptionally strong demand for discreet accommodation of the highest quality — from those who like to party, those who want to ski hard and those who just prefer to pose. The point of Chouqui — one of the most expensive private chalets in Verbier — is to cater for all three.
Built by a wealthy British family and opened for the 2016 ski season, it is set in a quiet enclave of other top-end chalets a few hundred yards northwest of the resort centre and has splendid views to south and west from its vast elevated terrace.
The chalet’s main living area CREDIT: YVES GARNEAU
With accommodation for up to 16 adults (plus a few extra children), there is room enough for two extended families, plus private staff. Not that you need to bring staff, since Chouqui comes with a team of 12 — including a dedicated chef, chalet hosts, and drivers (on duty 24 hours), plus an in-house masseuse. So you can either use it as your own party house, or as a base to enjoy the best of Verbier.
The living space is huge — over 900sq metres in all — but Chouqui still preserves the feel of a private residence, especially in the main reception room, with its open fireplace and panelled ceilings, and downlighters and oversized table lamps by the London-based specialist John Cullen.
Another British designer, Gytha Nuttall, has laid out the interiors with hand-crafted furniture upholstered with herringbone tweed and cushions in subdued browns, blues and greys. This gives it something of the air of an extremely smart Scottish hunting lodge. Vases of white roses and lilies add freshness and levity.
Next door, the dining room has a table of polished oak — set with linen, designer cutlery and fine glassware — which seats all 16 guests comfortably, either as you drift in for breakfast in the mornings, or gather for more formal meals at night.
Then there are the bedrooms — seven over three floors in the main building, including a double bunkbed room which sleeps four children. They are luxuriously cosy rather than spacious — with fur bed throws, rustic wood furniture and sheepskin rugs — and some are set under the sloping beams of the eaves. But all have excellent bathrooms with heated floors, baths and showers and potions and lotions from Bamford Organic.
There are also an additional two rooms in a smaller, linked wing which would suit travelling staff, a small family or perhaps grandparents who want a little more privacy.
Only on the two basement floors does Chouqui lose its feel of chic cosiness. But what you get in return is what is at 15 metres in length — said to be the biggest private indoor pool in Verbier, with sauna and steam room attached. And it’s a wonderful feeling to know, after a day on the slopes, that all these, plus the services of a private masseuse (proficient in hot stone, Swedish or deep tissue massage) are entirely at your disposal.
On the same floor you’ll find a cinema room with red-leather tiered seating and black interiors, and the bar where those who wish can repair without disturbing others. The other basement by the way is a huge underground car park — which makes loading and unloading the transfer minibuses that much easier and would be extremely useful if you were driving your own car.
The view from the balcony CREDIT: YVES GARNEAU
As in any ski chalet, the staff is youthful. But here they are formally dressed, always on call and experienced, with the confidence which comes from detailed training and familiarity with exceptionally demanding clients.
You will need their help — whether to slide the cover off the hot tub, or the pool, or to fire up the fire pit and load your own skis and kit onto the minibus and so on.
On the menu
A skier’s tea is laid out by the fire in the sitting room at 4pm, with excellent cake, scones and sometimes charcuterie on offer. Champagne and canapés (perhaps harissa-spiced crab or saffron tapioca crackers) are served each evening before you sit down to dinner prepared by the chalet’s professional chef.
Menus are discussed in detail in advance, but there are three styles of menu to choose from each evening — fine dining, brasserie or sharing plates — and guests tend to choose to alternate them through the week.
The dining room CREDIT: YVES GARNEAU
During our stay, the fine-dining menu comprised a starter of hand-dived scallops with cauliflower puree and shimeji mushrooms, a main course of beef entrecôte with potato gratin and celeriac puree, and a dessert of pistachio sponge with chocolate sorbet.
The simpler brasserie menu may focus on wild sea bass or braised lamb shoulder followed by hot brownies or passion fruit tart. The eastern-style sharing plates feature sushi rolls, sashimi and tempura with sides of edamame beans, squid ink crackers and wakame seaweed, followed by Asian pear tart and green tea ice cream.
It’s not quite Michelin-star quality, but it was precisely executed, well presented and charmingly served, and the short, well-chosen wine list is included in the price, as are drinks from the bar. Breakfast — fresh fruit, green smoothies, cold meats and cheeses, pastries, artisan breads and yoghurts plus porridge or cooked dishes — is cooked to order.
The pool is perhaps what sticks most clearly in the mind after a stay at Chouqui. Natural light floods in through French windows and underwater uplighters reflect the ripples onto the white-washed, curving ceiling. It’s elegant and uncluttered with stone and slate surround and a long lounging sofa, scattered with cushions where you can recline if you prefer to watch others exert themselves.
The chalet’s pool CREDIT: YVES GARNEAU
Could be better
Despite the chalet’s impressive size, there is no dedicated treatment room. The masseuse sets up a table in the games room, which is perfectly comfortable, but not quite the luxury suite you might be expecting at this price. Also, this is no mountain hideaway — it’s quiet and discreet, but there are other chalets at relatively close quarters.
Location and access to the slopes
The chalet minibus shuttles you to whichever starting point you prefer. The nearest lifts — just a couple of minutes away — are for the easier south-facing slopes of Savoleyres, popular with beginners and families. A little further, down in the resort, the Medran lifts serve the main ski area. Walking into town takes around 20 minutes.
Another of the chalet’s cosy bedrooms
Those in search of a stylish, immaculately run party chalet with chauffered access to superb skiing, and outstanding service.
The property is a two-hour drive from Geneva, served by array of flights from the UK. Those taking the Eurostar Ski Train can travel to Martigny via Geneva. It’s about a half-hour drive from the property.
Cost and how to book
A seven-night stay at Chalet Chouqui costs from £65,000 half-board and including transfers through Ski Verbier Exclusive (01608 674011).