1 Timeless Grandeur
Chalet Sun Arbois
With the swanky French ski resort Megève (which has welcomed international legends from the likes of the Lacoste family to Audrey Hepburn) at its base, Chalet Sun Arbois is the go-to destination for an extravagant ski-cation of a lifetime. Sitting on a glittering white French field, the palatial four-storey cabin befits its glamorous prime location and is outfitted with nothing less than the lavish designs of Visionnaire Home Philosophy in partnership with design studio Pure Concept. A picture of sophistication, the cosy interior is intricately dressed with ornate chandeliers and candelabras, as well as intensely plush rugs and sofas. A white and crystal Schimmel grand piano takes centre stage in the living room, while to every child's fantasy, adorable, life-sized stuffed polar bears lounge in the bedroom. Best of all, after a long day out with Mother Nature, you can return to a healing soak in the heated indoor pool, or raid the stunning wine cellar for some vinotherapy.
Must-do: A long warm soak in the indoor pool which overlooks the pearly white peaks of Val d'Arly.
2 Homely Luxuries
The Alpina Gstaad
Internationally renowned hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates has left its creative imprint on The Alpina Gstaad, a new hotel atop the Swiss Alps. Featuring rustic timbers and handcrafted embellishments along with a majestic sweeping staircase and ornately painted ceiling, the chalet is a vision of muted luxury, enveloped in a blend of old world charm and contemporary comforts. Of note is the reception table in the inviting lobby, which is hewn from an alpine ash tree trunk and decorated with illuminated glass pendants in the form of a Swiss verse. Each guest room boasts splendid views and bespoke furniture in earthy tones accentuated by cheery red, maintaining the chalet's motif of luxurious comfort.
Not-to-be-missed: An al fresco meal out on the terrace of Restaurant Sommet.
3 Private Pad
Ferme de Moudon
Les Gets, France
Private grounds and a completely elite living space that is a few minutes drive away from the city centre of Les Gets — what more can one ask for? Ferme de Moudon, a once charmingly secluded farmhouse dating back to the 17th century, has been converted into an award-winning luxury chalet by none other than leading alpine luxury chalet designer Nicky Dobree. Decked out in an elegant style and furnished with the most lavish of modern amenities, it can house up to 10 persons, making it suitable for intimate parties. Worn out from tumbling about in the powdery snow outside? Unwind in tastefully designed rooms complete with cutting-edge entertainment gadgets, enjoy gourmet cuisine prepared by the in-house chef, or simply kick back and admire the unspoiled views of the glorious Mont Blanc.
Selling point: Your own chalet manager, chef, chauffeur and chalet and household assistants.
4 Party in the Alps
The Heinz Julen Loft
Crafted exclusively by designer Heinz Julen — right down to the furniture, windows and chandelier — this Manhattan-style loft has hosted celebrities such as Robbie Williams. Eschewing the typical quaint charm of wood-themed ski resorts, this chic residence is all glass and steel, a contemporary gem that stands out beautifully against the snow-capped Alps. Most fascinatingly, the main living area has an illuminated table, which can be raised and lowered depending on whether you need a coffee table, dining table, or extra space for a dance floor. Featuring a special path that leads straight to the lifts, the loft also allows occupants to ski directly into the charming village of Zermatt.
Fact: Previously the home of local designer-to-the-stars Heinz Julen, the loft was once the venue of rock-star parties.
5 Snow Chic
The Loft Niseko
Based in the heart of Hirafu Village, Loft Niseko will be the newest addition to Niseko's famed “middle bluff” (Donguri Avenue) when it opens in February 2014. Designed by Riccardo Tossani Architecture and Philippe Starck's yoo Design Studios, the development is a high-tech wonderland with solid green credentials. Boasting views of Japan's picturesque stratovolcano Mount Yotei, each of the four loft-style, three-bedroom apartments come with state-of-the-art kitchens, energy-efficient appliances, timber-lined walls and beautiful stone floors that epitomise understated sophistication. Be spoilt by the large living-dining spaces and the flexibility of services its concierge makes available.
Beyond winter: Niseko is also a popular vacation spot for golf, hiking and fly-fishing.
6 Exclusive Seclusion
Situated at an altitude of 1,660m and enjoying stunningly picturesque views of the world-famous Arlberg massif, the opulent and worldly six-star Chalet N has set new standards for ski chalets in the Austrian Alps. Its facade, for one, is made of 100-year-old colour-sorted wood and stones from a nearby Vorarlberg stone quarry, while the 308-sq-m spa features special Belgian bluestone and glass mosaic from the legendary Sicis — The Art Mosaic Factory. If bullet-proof windows, titanium cutlery and Swarovski crystal curtains weren't enough, each of the chalet's 11 suites also comes with its own private balcony with views of Lech and Oberlech.
The bonus: Guests are provided with a private ski instructor who works for the royal family.
7 Ski, Pray, Love
Influenced by the principles of feng shui, Hidden Dragon is an exclusive hideaway in Switzerland's Les 4 Vallées known for its auspicious location — to its front is a meandering river and at its back is a protective mountain — and cosmic qi. Its traditional wooden architecture may ooze rustic Swiss “cabane” charm, but inside, the interior is anything but conventional with its Asian-influenced use of materials such as bamboo and eel skin. Quietly coveted by those in the know, the previously underrated ski resort employs a private chef to whip up healthy, hearty meals and houses a wine cellar, spa and cinema. More importantly, it also offers the ski-in, ski-out access.
In harmony: Each bedroom is named after a celestial animal to provide good luck, happiness and prosperity.
8 Rustic Revelation
San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge
Val Pusteria, Italy
Tucked away on the slopes of The Dolomites resides a former hunting house in all its restored glory. Built in the 16th century, its tall wooden architecture serves as the perfect refuge after a day of sub-zero degree sporting. Set against 42 acres (17 hectares) of private woods and meadows, the four-bedroom lodge has a wonderfully appointed spa, a lounge with fireplace, a fine wine cellar, its own private helipad and an open-air lounge with a heated tub with the most exquisite panoramic view of Italy's winter wonderland. Breathing new life into the lodge are owners Giorgia and Stefano Barbini who also lovingly designed much of the rustic-contemporary furniture.
Claim to fame: Previously one of the “it” couples of Italian fashion, Stefano was CEO (Italy and France) at Escada and Giorgia is the granddaughter of Gaetano Savini, co-founder of Brioni.