Two beautiful new chalets in Morzine in the French Alps, have been handpicked by AliKats Mountain Holidays, increasing its portfolio of top-flight accommodation to ten. Chalets Debussy and Bizet are east of the town in Montriond, a select enclave known as home to the ‘most wealthy in France’. The owners, from Versailles, have applied their aristocratic influence to the fittings and décor of the two-hundred year-old building. No expense has been spared in creating great luxury, the finest local materials and expert-craftsmen being employed to produce opulence of the utmost standard.
“We were looking to extend our exclusive collection of catered chalets, and were approached by the owners”, AliKats co-owner Al Judge told me. “We were flattered to think our reputation is such that we didn’t have to search. The owners have the highest possible pedigrees…all I can tell you are that they are closely connected to Macron and Mitterand. Kat and I viewed the chalets and immediately said yes!”
It’s easy to see why. Set on a commanding hillside with a direct view of 1,535m high Mont Chéry in nearby Les Gets, the prospect from Debussy’s terrace is utterly stunning. Bizet has an equally drop-dead gorgeous balcony panorama, both, of course, with obligatory hot tubs.
Al, who has the devilish good looks of a young Mick Fleetwood, met Kat at a Rubik’s Cube party. No, I’d never heard of one either. Guests dress in Rubik’s colours and ‘rotate’ among other guests. They ‘clicked’, wed soon after, and eventually chucked in banking and publishing to pursue their dream. AliKats is in its eighth year and thriving, Al doing front-of-house and finances, Kat the exquisite cooking. As if that wasn’t enough to keep them off the streets they have three children of six, four, and one…Oh!..and a dog called Hector. More of him later.
Let’s take a tour of the place, with Debussy first. I have tried to find a word to substitute for Wow!…my reaction to the living area. I couldn’t. Sensational. Stunning (used that already in the fourth paragraph) Drop-dead (ditto). So Wow! it shall be. When guests first arrive and have ‘Wowed!’ like I did, they are served vintage Bollinger. What else.
From the canted centuries-old beams to the suspended log fire, to the ancient table that could tell some tales if you let it, to the luxurious rugs; all a backdrop to that view. Room for eight adults and seven children, everything is designed for comfort and relaxation after a day on the slopes or hiking (its open summer and winter). There’s a private chauffeur service in-and-around Morzine, with the Ardent ski lift only six minutes away. Guests are given a branded hip-flask with a choice of Al’s special toffee-vodka or plum gin to see them through the day.
Bizet (the chalet, not the composer, he’s been gone since 1875) has an equally fab view, snug corners in the huge living space, a bar that’s open 24 hours (‘honesty’ after the staff had gone to bed), and age-old wood everywhere. It sleeps from six to nine in complete luxury.
One of the driving forces behind Al and Kat’s decision to start their company was her desire to ‘cook for living’. She’s untrained in the classic sense but this hasn’t stopped her winning ‘The Best Food in Morzine’ award for three straight years. She’s banned now…to give someone else a chance…so a Judge has become one of the judges.
To be fed by Kat and her Michelin*-trained head chef John is an experience not to be missed. “I put as much care and thought and effort into every meal as possible. Everything is local and seasonal whenever feasible” she said. “See that plum tree in the garden? That’s where today’s desert comes from”. Wines are carefully paired with menus by AliKats wine consultant, Rob Wade, holder of the Champagne Academy’s Magnum d’Or. All this forms part of their Indulgence Package’; the menu, the Bolly, the wines, a-la-carte breakfast in bed and pre-dinner cocktails and digestifs every day.(Not sure about the breakfast-in-bed. Crumbs alert!)
But the true star among stars of this show is Hector, their Australian Shepherd puppy. Even my stone-cold dog-unfriendly heart was melted. I refuse to use words like cute, adorable, fluffy, loveable, and “aww”, so please delete. But he is. Al is training him not to intrude into guest’s space, but the simple fact is that they want him to. Maybe they should rename the company AliKats&dog?
For more information on AliKats and their chalets see online at AliKats Mountain Holidays.