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What's new in Meribel winter 2019/20

Exciting developments for the upcoming ski season

Featured in: | Caroline Sayer, Meribel Reporter | Published
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The nights are growing longer, the trees have changed colour and there is often a distinct chill in the air. Winter is a-coming and our thoughts inevitably turn to the day when thick snow covers the mountain, the lifts open and we all get to hit the slopes again. It is not just the weather that is changing however, as there have been plenty of new developments throughout Meribel. Here are a few of the changes, both on the pistes and in the villages, for the upcoming season.

Every winter, Méribel sees improvements to its ski area and, this season, we welcome the addition of two brand new red runs to the Roc de Fer area. The resort will also benefit from three smart new accommodation options, including a luxury refuge and a five-star hotel on the slopes.

New runs

Last winter, the beautiful and tranquil Roc de Fer area gained two new chairlifts in preparation for the 2023 World Ski Championships and this season it will boast two new pistes. The first, Gypaète (meaning 'Bearded Vulture') is accessed by last year’s Cherferie lift. A more challenging variation of the nearby blue Choucas pistes, its terrain will be left relatively natural with fun bumps, banks and hairpin bends. To get away from it all, make sure you seek out the new red Daguet piste (or 'Young Stag'). Accessible from the Olympic chairlift and starting partway down the famous La Face black piste, it will take you through virgin snowfields and forests, well away from the hubbub of the main ski area. At the end, you can choose to join the Olympe gondola lift either in Raffort or les Allues.

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Elsewhere in the ski area

Several new pistes will benefit this year from snowmaking equipment, most notably Bouvreuil Rouge, Mûres Rouge, the base of Combe du Vallon and the Choucas runs. Over in Méribel Mottaret, the main ski pass office has been revamped and is now more spacious and brighter, with open-plan desks and real-time info on the ski area.

There will also be a new beginner freestyle zone at the Elements snowpark, which sees an upgraded “Earth” area including a mini zone where you can practice freestyle in safety. This winter, the route will wind around Lake Tougnète (located at the top of the Legends chairlift), combining a superb view of the valley and improved safety, thanks to this area being reserved exclusively for children and beginners. Children adore the Yeti Park and, this winter, they can enjoy a new ‘skis-off’ area in the lower part of the park. Youngsters can blow Himalayan horns, run around the temple bedecked with flags or simply relax on a deck chair and enjoy a snack.

Ski Areas in Meribel

New fun activities

This winter, prestigious ski school Oxygene have partnered up with Altitude Parapente to offer tandem paragliding flights in Méribel. Explore the resort from the skies with a knowledgeable instructor who will adapt the experience to your specific wants and needs, whether it's an adrenaline-fuelled acrobatic flight or a serene glide. Paragliders take off from the summit of the Saulire and land in Méribel Centre.

Also new this season, you can ski down Méribel’s iconic mountain by moonlight. Saulire by Night is the name given to this new evening activity – you will take a private gondola lift to the summit, then sip an aperitif while watching the sunset and descend by the light of your torch, led by the local ski patrollers. Best of all, the slopes will be freshly groomed for your descent!

In the Tuéda Nature Reserve, there'll be an ExploreGame. This new activity, combining aspects of an escape game with geocaching, will offer you a novel experience on a themed trail through the natural park. Guided by an app, you set out on an adventure to take up challenges, solve puzzles and avoid traps set for you along your route. Designed for adults and children, this is a fun and original way to discover the magnificent Tuéda Nature Reserve with its lake and 400 species of animals, including black grouse, marmots, mountain ibex and antelopes.

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New accommodation

Mountain refuges generally offer basic accommodation but not the new Refuge de la Traye, above Les Allues. With just seven rooms and one separate chalet, this boutique lodge claims to be the first "high-end refuge in the French Alps". As well as a spectacular situation in a secluded part of the valley, it offers luxuries such as spa treatments, a yoga room, cigar lounge and a heliport.

A second five-star hotel is also opening in Méribel. Located at Le Belvédère, the highest part of the resort, Le Coucou Hotel sits on the pistes and enjoys wonderful views over the valley. The hotel offers 55 rooms and suites, two private chalets, two restaurants (an Italian restaurant – Le Bianca Nieve, and a Beef Bar), a spa, children’s clubs, and indoor and outdoor pools.

Finally, the new five-start L'Hévana Pierre & Vacances premium residence in Méribel Centre promises “the tranquillity of a family chalet and the top-of-the-range facilities”. These include a spa, indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, refined restaurant, a cosy bar and tea room with its own terrace. The residence offers 95 apartments, some equipped with sauna and fireplace.

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New apr├Ęs ski

After a season off, the popular Jacks Bar returns to Méribel with new premises at the foot of the slopes in the Chaudanne area, so expect some epic post-ski fun this winter here. With the same spirit but revamped facilities, the new Jacks Bar will bring back all the ingredients that made them the most popular après spot in Meribel and much more, including incredible happy hour deals from 16:00, live music every day from 17:00 and delicious food. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bites, there'll be gourmet pub grub, juicy burgers, home-made pizzas and a long list of craft cocktails.

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New for foodies

Méribel's one and only Indian restaurant, Tsaretta Spice, will be serving a brand new selection of cocktails including all-time-favourite classics like the Espresso Martini, as well as Indian-inspired concoctions such as their signature Cardamon Chai Mojito made with a refreshing mix of rum, cardamon, ginger ale and chai syrup. Also new will be their winter à la carte menu which will introduce some exciting recipes like a Chicken Hyderabadi starter combining deep-fried chicken with ginger, curry leaves and chilli, or the much-anticipated vegan Tandoori Avocado – avocado marinated in lemon, ginger and dry mango powder and then cooked in a traditional tandoor oven.

After extensive renovations last season, Barometer is welcoming a new kitchen head this winter. Originally from Cornwall, Chef James Keightley started working in gastro-pubs and restaurants in the UK before he decided to move to the mountains. 16 years later, he's landed in Barometer having cooked for luxury hotels, private chalets and gourmet restaurants in France, Italy and Canada. He's told us that the restaurant's new menu will be inspired by his love of Italian and French food... we can't wait to try it!

A renovated carpentry workshop is the setting for the new restaurant L’Atelier in the hamlet of Le Raffort. Here, diners can enjoy traditional family cuisine drawn from the classics. Owners Stéphanie and Philippe will offer standout dishes such as Osso Bucco and steaks cooked on the central grill. The restaurant can be reached on skis and is open for lunch and dinner.

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New ski hire options

Available in two of Meribel’s Skiset shops this winter is Scanfeet, a state-of-the-art foot scan that takes a full 3D image of the skier’s feet in under 20 seconds and then pulls up the best-suited boots available in store. Enjoy rental boots that fit like a glove in record time! Even better, scans are shared among Skiset shops so you won’t need to scan your feet again if you rent your equipment with them.

Worried about slipping on those icy pavements when walking to the slopes? Fear not, Intersport is now offering GripWalk across their whole rental range. These innovative boot soles offer a non-slip surface as well as a more natural profile for walking (or dancing at La Folie Douce!), and they can be combined with GripWalk bindings for perfect performance on the slopes.

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New chalets

Groups and large families will be glad to know that there's a new luxury chalet on offer in Méribel this season. Chalet Menor is a modern Alpine retreat boasting six wonderfully cosy bedrooms that sleep up to 14 people. Its large windows overlooking the surrounding mountains, elegant decor in natural materials such as wood and stone, huge living area with fireplace, garden sauna and terrace with jacuzzi make it the ultimate place for a high-end ski holiday. However, the highlight of the chalet is undoubtedly its large indoor swimming pool complete with a counter-current swimming system and uninterrupted views of the mountains... arguably the most beautiful indoor swimming pool on offer in Méribel.

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New airport transfers

Local transfer company Vanoise Prestige will be operating in a more eco-friendly way this winter by offsetting the carbon emissions of every journey their cars make. So, when booking with them, you'll be asked whether you'd like to donate to One Tree At A Time – otherwise, they'll make the donation themselves on your behalf. Customers will also be offered complimentary glass water bottles and reusable coffee cups while being allowed to carry digital copies of their tickets. Their vehicles are currently in perfect working order so changing them would have an impact on the environment but, going forward, their plan is to swap them for those with less or no carbon emissions. They're also working on finding an effective way to work alongside other companies to pool transfers so that there are fewer empty transfer vehicles on the roads.

Also operating in Méribel, Simply Transfers are making it much easier for customers to find their representatives at Geneva airport this year. They've set up a brand new meeting desk in the arrival hall, just opposite the baggage-retrieval area and near the visitor's centre. With a rotating wall and screens displaying the Simply Transfers and Loyet logos, it'll be hard to miss! Not only will it be super simple to spot the meeting desk but also their representatives, as they'll be wearing a bright red polo shirt with their logo.

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New catering options

There are two new private chef and catering services in Méribel offering online bookings. Run by our former Méribel snow reporter, Tim Ball, Mountain Chefs was born out of a group of super-experienced private chefs living in the Three Valleys. Allowing you to tailor your Meribel holiday to your wants and needs, you can rent self-catered accommodation and book one of their amazing chefs online. Just let them know your dates and requirements and they'll select the perfect chef for you, ideal for those with special dietary requirements such as vegans or gluten-free, or those who just enjoy eating their favourite food in their PJs after a day on the slopes.

Also new this year is 3 Valleys Chefs, which provides a large portfolio of industry-leading chefs in the Alps, ready to cook in your chalet at a time and period that suits you. All sorts of cuisines are available, from relaxed cooking to Michelin-star dining, catering for all kinds of occasions. Just go online, create an account, choose your dates, select a chef, pay a deposit and you'll be able to contact her or him directly to arrange all the details. You'll see that hiring a private chef isn't as expensive as you think!

Huski revolutionised self-catering four winters ago when they launched their meal delivery service. Since then, for a fraction of the price of a catered holiday, you can enjoy delicious breakfast, lunch, three-course dinners, canapes, fine wines and even cheese boards at your apartment or chalet completely hassle-free. Huski delivers everything to your door and the only thing you need to do is pop your food in the oven to heat it up. This year, they’re offering a new, locally made, Savoyard-inspired range of meals called “Gourmet 73” cooked daily by chef Nick Casey at their headquarters in Bourg Saint Maurice. Think creamy tartiflette and moreish Beef Mondeuse! Also new this season is their very own beer, the Huski Mountain Pilsner created in collaboration with the Brasserie du Petit St Bernard.

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New ways to take care of your body

Mobile Alpine massage company Massage Me is offering two brand new therapies this winter. First of all is their 100% bespoke MY Massage service where you’ll be able to select every single step of your wellbeing journey, from the massage style and pressure preference (including Swedish, sports, holistic and even a combination of all of them), to the part of your body that needs more attention, the massage oil and even the music. This winter, they’re also adding Physiotherapy, Pilates and Yoga to their mobile services menu in partnership with Alpine Therapies. Not only that, but they’ve embarked on a green journey to be more eco-friendly, from reducing single plastic use and carbon emissions to assessing the materials they use. So it’s not only your muscles that will feel much better by booking a massage with Massage Me but also the environment.

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New properties for sale

Alpine Lodges have announced the construction of a brand new residence in the heart of Méribel, Swan Lodge. Perfect for those looking for an investment, there will be 10 luxury apartments ranging from three to five bedrooms, all of them boasting terraces overlooking the snow-capped mountains. With a delivery date of December 2021, now it's time to jump on the Alpine property ladder and buy your dream pied à terre in the mountains.

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New childcare

Local babysitting company MeriNannies have been taking care of the little ones while parents ski the pistes of Meribel for well over a decade. This year, their fully qualified, hand-picked nannies will be available in any resort of the Alps thanks to their new Travel Ski Nanny service. After you've selected a nanny, you'll get the chance to meet her through Skype to ask her any questions (further online chats can be arranged). Once booked, she'll travel to your chosen resort on the day you depart and be provided with accommodation and food. You'll get the chance to ski, enjoy the apres and even the nightlife as she'll be available full-time, night or day.

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