When it comes to luxury Alpine ski resorts, Lech has always sat below Courchevel, Verbier, and St Moritz on the radar. The Austrian village has, unlike its counterparts, resisted rapid expansion and retains much of its original Alpine charm as a result. Today, it is the haunt of an über-sophisticated elite, who want little more than a cocktail and intelligent conversation from their après ski scene.
The cluster of ultra-high-end chalets in Lech is representative of this clientele, none more so than Chalech S. Situated above the center of the village, the beautiful chalet offers supreme living and ultimate relaxation just a stone’s throw from pristine ski runs. Operated by renowned luxury chalet specialists Bramble Ski, it is already one of Lech’s hottest properties after opening its doors for the first time last year. Elite Traveler was one of the first to step through its doors.
Everything about Chalech S has been designed with Lech’s distinct character in mind. The designers, Julia Aulenbacher Interiors, have used traditional materials to create an atmosphere of understated opulence and comfort. A sense of warmth runs through its four floors, where you will find six en-suite bedrooms (sleeping 12 guests) and a tranquil private spa.
Walk to the open-plan living area and you are hit with the heat from its spectacular central fireplace, double-height ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a private terrace. The panoramic view of Lech’s twinkling lights and the snow-capped peaks beyond is certainly one of the best in town. It is a cozy place to spend time during the day and a sophisticated setting for an evening of fine dining.
To see the chalet come to life, guests should opt for the fully-catered experience. It is what the Bramble Ski team does best. From the luxury airport transfer to the professional ski instructor, there was not a thing for us to think about other than hitting the slopes.
After arriving, we were whisked into the charming town of Lech to visit Strolz. Known for making world-class custom ski boots since 1921, it is still owned and run by the founding family and today offers everything from equipment hire to high-fashion skiwear.
The ski hire was already arranged prior to our arrival. The only thing left for us to do was get our feet measured. As soon we had the equipment, it was whisked back to the chalet by the chauffeur and stored safely in my personal locker in the chalet complex’s shared ski room.
The house staff are very professional and impressively intuitive. The moment you feel cold, a blanket arrives. As soon as you feel parched, a glass of water is in front of you. They also wear traditional Austrian dirndls, charming dresses that date back hundreds of years in this part of Europe. The outfits are made to order from an experienced craftsperson and do not come cheap. But the people behind Bramble Ski leave no stone unturned in their efforts to deliver a truly authentic experience.
A catered weekend also guarantees a high-caliber chef for the duration of your stay. Our chef had an impressive resumé including time in Michelin-starred kitchens. He delivered an array of delicious canapés and an accomplished four-course meal every night. Although food can be tailored to your preferences, our chef reveled in producing dishes inspired by his travels. We tried an array of cuisines from South American-inspired ceviche to a very British family-style roast pork.
Bramble Ski Pros
Each night finished with a selection of local artisanal cheeses that had been hand-selected by the chef, a self-confessed connoisseur. On top of that, he also produced a daily afternoon tea, including sweet and savory treats. What a wonder it was to come home after a day on the slopes to the smell of freshly-baked brownies and a cup of peppermint tea. Breakfast was also a grand event. Prepared by the chalet team, we arrived at the dining table to be met with elegantly presented fruit, pastries, cereals, and a full menu of cooked options. It’s just what we needed before a long day of skiing.
Although hard to leave the comforts of the chalet, skiing is indeed what we had ultimately come for. A ski pass here gives you access to the vast Arlberg ski area, offering 185 miles of the managed pistes and plenty of off-piste for those inclined.
Lech was the first resort in Europe to limit ski passes, selling 14,000 per day. The limit is rarely met, however, and it is the exclusivity of Lech itself that serves as a more effective filter. Despite arriving a day after a flurry of fresh snow, we did not have to queue for a ski lift at any stage.
Our lack of queuing may have been down to the expertise of our Bramble Ski Pro, who took us on a wondrous tour of the area and on runs that matched the group’s ability. A fully-catered week includes two days with one of the company’s specially-trained pro, who simultaneously acts as a tour guide, ski instructor and concierge. Our guide was always on-hand to offer advice on technique and take us through training drills to ensure we returned to Chalech S a better skier. As a trained concierge, he was also able to book tables for lunch and ensure the drivers were waiting for us at the bottom of the run at the end of the day.
Returning from a day of skiing, you can unwind in the private spa, which has a sauna and steam room. Spa treatments are available through the Bramble Ski team, who can call upon a number of trusted therapists on short notice. There is also a swimming pool and gym (shared with the four other properties) for those who just don’t get enough exercise on the slopes.
As well as utmost professionalism in what they do, everyone on the Bramble Ski team appears to revel in the challenge of providing a bespoke service for all their guests. They tell us numerous tales of outlandish requests from guests-gone-by; that seem impossible to me. The end of these anecdotes is always the same; the request was granted without a hint of inconvenience for the guest.
My own outlandish request was for an espresso martini at an hour when caffeine is not advisable, and certainly when few stores are open. It took slightly longer than usual, but not so long that I had to ask again. It arrived, tasting as good as any I had ever ordered. ‘Sorry for the delay, sir’, the host said, ‘we had to source the coffee liqueur’. And if you can pluck a bottle of Kahlua out of the streets of Lech after midnight, is there anything you can’t do?
Weekly rates at Bramble Ski’s Chalech S start at $27,400 self-catered and $45,200 fully-catered with two days Bramble Ski Pro instruction, to book visit www.brambleski.com or call +41 27 776 2164.