In 1919, Noémie de Rothschild charged her ski instructor, Trygve Smith, to find her a resort to rival St Moritz. Smith suggested the small, farming village of Megève, nestled in the Val d’Arly, that basks in the afternoon sun (when it appears).
On his recommendation, Noémie bought several hundred acres of land and a year later began building Hotel Prima – known as the Palaces des Neige (Snow Palace). Nearly a century on, Noémie’s vision has grown and folded into the Four Seasons collections, and now comprises Four Seasons Hotel Megève 5*, Les Chalets du Mont d’Arbois, and La Ferme du Golf 3*.
Megève is a great all round ski resort that is particularly appealing to families and beginners with its long green runs and extensive facilities for children.
But there are enough black and red runs to challenge more experienced boarders and skiers, while the epicurean skier is attracted by the Michelin starred dining.
The chalets and hotel are a short drive from the quaint car-free village with its high-end shops including Hermès and Moncler, and delis groaning with local specialities such as the mild cheese Tome des Bauges, saucisson and sweet jammy tarts.
Four Seasons Hotel Megève is the town’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel while the chalets are a two-minute drive, or an easy walk, to the Mont D’Arbois ski terminal.
The mountain-top Suite Idéal, which is available only as part of a package that includes a stay at both other sites, is accessible in winter only by ski lift.
Megève is about an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport (transfers are included in the room price).
Rooms and Suites
The sites are connected and aligned but have entirely different feels.
The original Noémie chalet was built in 1961 and was for many years the Rothschild’s personal Megève bolthole, but is now one of three owned by Four Seasons along with Eve (the main lodge) and Alice (built in 2015) – named after Benjamin de Rothschild’s daughters.
The Chalets du Mont d’Arbois, which house 41 rooms, are designed in alpine classism with woven rugs, carved wooden tables and stools softened with sheepskin throws and squishy cushions, The junior suite in the eaves where Spear’s stayed has a terrace overlooking the picture postcard town and the mountain that lit up in the early morning sun. Ariane de Rothschild oversaw the development of Les Chalets du Mont d’Arbois, alongside interior designer Thierry Curty under the artistic direction of Pierre-Yves Rochon, and the family’s influence adds a homely, personal touch (there’s even a display of pipes from family collection).
The 55-room Four Seasons Hotel Megève has a different aesthetic. Designed by Yves-Rochon with Ariane at his elbow, the hotel includes codes of alpine design but with a luxurious, contemporary stamp reflected in the vibrant lobby that pulls together different textures, materials, prints and shapes to joyous effect.
Objets d’art collected by Ariane line the halls while specially commissioned modern artwork playfully reflect the setting.
Guests can ski from the hotel when the lift is open and there is a ski concierge who will present residents with warmed boots.
The pulling power of the signature king-size Four Season beds vie with the slopes guests can see from it. The baths in the hotels’ suites also allow guests to wallow in Parisian brand Codage bubbles while gazing over the mountains
The six floor suites are bright and light with duck egg notes and huge windows that frame the majestic mountains.
There is a beautiful spa at the chalets and hotel, both with an indoor/outdoor heated pool and outdoor saunas with spectacular views. The spas offer a range of treatments, including bespoke massages to soothe post-ski muscles, facials and aesthetic treatments. The small details make this a standout spa, from the superb therapists who will tailor a treatment to your needs, to the peaceful post-treatment rooms. Enjoy a post-treatment swim or simply lounge by the pool.
There are ‘children’s kingdoms’ at both sites, and a teenagers’ paradise at the hotel (video games, a cinema and an abundance of arcade games) to keep younger guests occupied.
The dining options at the sites are superb and varied enough that guests don’t have to leave the hotel (although the town also has some great restaurants).
The Four Seasons Megève boasts the two Michelin-starred La Dame de Pic, helmed by gastronomy queen Anne-Sophie Pic who creates a new menu every season (the restaurant is only open in winter). Pic’s love of the Alps is reflected in the Alpine produce at the heart of the menu. The season Spear’s visited, the tasting menu was devised around the senses, and it was certainly a feast for them. At once classically French and inventive, the pairing menu threw up some surprises including an exquisitely light, chocolate dessert accompanied by a cocktail of sake and local ale.
Japanese pan‑Asian restaurant Kaito offers fusion cuisine with flair. A shiitake raman had a depth of umami flavouring that belied its simplicity, while juicy yuzu-soaked cubes of aubergine and oozing local reblochon cheese yuzu accompanied by blueberry jam were so morish, sharing plates of them were ordered again (and again).
The cocktail list was inventive and inspired both by the mountain setting and Japan. Servers were also happy to suggest off-menu versions based on guests’ preferences.
Bar Edmond is a more relaxed restaurant, perfect for lunch. Bag a seat on the terrace for spectacular mountain views accompanied by a rich, soothing velouté and a local beer.
Special mention must go to the 14,000 bottles wine cellar that boasts one of the world’s largest Lafite Rothschild verticals. Guests will be hard-pressed to find a wine the knowledgeable sommeliers can not find.
Service throughout – from the front desk to La Dame de Pic – was impeccable; staff would go out of their way to accommodate guests’ needs with grace and good humour but without being obsequious.
For non-skiers, or those who want a break from the slopes, there is plenty to do. Snow walks in the nearby countryside can be arranged by the hotel that include a tea stop in a candle-lit igloo.
Horse-drawn carriage rides in the village as the sun sinks are also a popular activity and a great way to get oriented.
In summer, there’s the 18-hole golf course of the Domaine du Mont d’Arbois, at an altitude of 1,320 metres. Overlooking the village of Megève, it lays claim to being the oldest mountain course in the world.
The verdict on Four Seasons Megève
Combining Four Seasons polish with a slice of contemporary le goût Rothschild, the Chalets du Mont d’Arbois and the hotel offer a warm welcome for the modern traveller in luxurious comfort. Whether it is the cosy classic mountain lodge chic of the chalets or the sleek elegance of the hotel, the first-class food, hospitality and amenities make this an ultra-luxe destination for skiers and non-skiers alike.
To reserve a room, call toll-free from the UK on +00 800 6488-6488