Guest blog by Tim Stevens, freelance journalist and a regular contributor to International Excellence Magazine: It is always the way, to find the best you have to seek it out. That is quite a job when you are looking for a luxury ski chalet in the world’s largest ski area which comprises so many villages […]
Sometimes it’s not the uber-modern chalets that steal your eye. For those less attracted to the shiny opulence of Courchevel and Megeve, wanting a more traditional alpine experience then The Ecurie is the chalet for you.
The Ecurie was originally a typical Savoie stable located in the tiny hamlet of Villarabout – just a couple of minutes from St. Martin de Belleville. Right up until the 1960’s, the family would live down on the ground floor with the animals, an easy way to keep the heating bills down! In 2014 the chalet was taken on by it’s new owners. Fully renovated over the summer and completed in early December, the chalet oozes a sophisticated luxury but stays in keeping with its traditional surroundings.
Walking into the Ecurie from the courtyard at the front of the chalet, you enter the hallway and cloakroom. On the ground floor there are two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, mirrored on the first floor above. All the bedrooms can be configured to give you the option of a double bed or twin singles – perfect for groups. All bedrooms have super comfy beds with mattresses flown over from the UK (French mattresses just don’t cut the mustard sometimes!) and are carefully appointed with wool throws and sheepskins from the local area.
On the top floor perches the open plan living and dining area of The Ecurie. A large wooden dining table with ample space for all 8 guests sits in front of the open kitchen – perfect for watching this season’s chef, Hayden, working his magic. He creates some superb dishes which can be seen in the images below!
Top left: Crisp pork belly, parsnip purée, boudin noir purée with fresh apple, Savoie apple and pork jus.
Top right: Marinated strawberry carpaccio with crème fraiche ice cream, hazelnut crumbs praline and champagne jelly.
Bottom left: Langoustine with chipotle cream, charred compressed cucumber, toasted sesame seed and puffed black wild rice.
Bottom right: Horseradish set cream with roasted beetroot, puréed beetroot, beetroot syrup, beetroot emulsion, beetroot shoots, pickled beetroot and shaved beetroot.
In Hayden’s own words –
“I started working in commercial kitchens part-time when I was 13 and left school at 15 to start my apprenticeship full time. I spent from 13 to 16 one on one with a head chef before moving on to a high-end heritage listed restaurant on the bank of the Swan River in Perth Australia. My passion for food started at a young age, from cooking with my Nana for family on weekends at their property where we were lucky enough to have an orchard and large vegetable garden to use the great produce Australia has all year round.”
The seating area is a great size for groups, with comfortable sofas and a flat screen TV attached to the wooden cabinet next to the fire with Freesat if you fancy watching a film or TV program. It can be stored out of the way for when socialising calls! Another time you may want to put the TV away is during the daytime, when you can soak in the stunning views from the huge windows that stretch from floor to ceiling. The view over the roofs of St. Martin down the Vallee des Belleville is just spectacular and when the sun is shining it’s even better! You can open any window in the chalet and be sure that nothing will disturb you, the area is so peaceful that there is no noise at all!
The management team at The Ecurie work very closely with a great in-resort community. You’re guaranteed fantastic service from the staff up at Twinners Ski Hire in town, meaning that you get kitted up and instantly ready to hit the slopes – they have all the latest equipment which won’t leave you wanting! The St. Martin 1 bubble is just behind the shop to whisk you up to take advantage of the Three Valley’s varied pistes.
For those of you looking for a quieter, more peaceful affair than the livelier resort but still retaining superb service standards and access to some really amazing skiing then there is no doubt that a stay at The Ecurie in St. Martin de Belleville should be on your to-do list.