There’s an almost unearthly tranquility here. Wrapped in a pile of still-warm bedding, fresh cup of tea in hand, watching the snow drop silently outside the window, I’m surrounded by complete, delightful quiet. If I really try, I can just hear the soft padding feet of Rob, my daily tea-bringer, heading to the third floor to ready Chalet Artemis for another busy day of cheffing, chauffeuring and whatever else a group of skiers can throw at them.
Rob’s morning tea round is the only thing encouraging me to poke my head out from this emperor-sized cocoon, a bed so big I can’t reach any sides no matter how hard I starfish and stretch across it. The bed, like the tea, has exceeded all expectations. Chalet Artemis prides itself on providing an exceptional level of luxury, but while I had visions of haute cuisine, masseuses and hot tubs in my head, the idea of a homely cuppa brought to my mammoth bedside never occurred to me. It’s these considered, warm-hearted touches from a genuinely lovely team that really sets Artemis apart.
This dream team, brought together by Scott Dunn travel operator owner Andrew Dunn, consists of host Rob, chef Rosie and Becky who sees to our every whim (usually before we’re even aware we have one). Both Rosie and Rob come from a culinary background, with Rob having spent a decade as an executive chef and Rosie as the former head forager at Noma – a job title that easily out-cools all others.
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Rob and Rosie’s talents put food at the forefront of the Chalet Artemis experience and it’s exceptional. I’ve simply never experienced a ski chalet like it. Each stay is prefaced by a catering questionnaire to find out your desires and dislikes and the menu produced has remarkable scope. Whatever you care for is catered to, whether it’s burgers and fries for a family film night in the home cinema or the famous cheesecake from the La Viña bakery in San Sebastian. I can particularly recommend the latter – so insatiable was our hunger for it that we ended up being given one to take home with us. It didn’t make it out of Innsbruck airport.
Four meals a day and several snacks in-between are served up in the bright dining room decorated with reclaimed wood – part of the Chalet’s newly refurbished alpine interior. With an entire wall taken up by a floor-to-ceiling wine cooler, an outside balcony area complete with statue, furnace and fur-lined chairs, and a panoramic view over St Anton am Arlberg, the dining room serves up a feast for the eyes too.
This rustic redecoration continues through into an elegant lounge. A statement Paul Smith rug in swirling colours sets the tone while plush Rolf Benz sofas create two open nooks for family and friends to crowd into for canapés and a crisp glass of champagne. It’s warm, colourful, inviting – as if the chalet’s renovations were designed to match its excellent team. The little touches continue with designer lamps, cushions and a roaring fire: the result is a remarkable blend of domesticity and decadence.
Taking the near-obscene, quilted red leather lift from the top floor communal area, past two bedroom levels, to the basement brings you to the wellness centre. The sizeable 8m pool is a fantastic addition, giving sore ski and snowboard legs somewhere to warm down after a day storming the slopes.
Of course if you’d rather warm up, you have your pick of the steam room, sauna and hot tub, which is nestled outside under a canopy of LED stars. Lounging in here with bubbles in hand and under foot, I can’t help but wonder if Chalet Artemis doesn’t actually want you to go skiing at all. It would be far too easy to spend an entire week within these walls. Before I can continue that thought however, I’m called to my massage appointment in the room next door, where ski-sore calves and back are taken in firm, Norwegian hands. Feeling spoiled doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The snow, of course, is why people from all over the world come to St Anton each year. Considered the birthplace of alpine skiing, St Anton am Arlberg is where celebrities, professionals and even film crews come to pit themselves against the Austrian alpine powder. There are myriad aspects that set St Anton apart from other resorts, one of which is the extent of its pistes. St Anton is actually one town of many in these valleys, all of which are connected by chairlifts, gondolas and in one case, a short bus. This accessibility – recently made even easier with the addition of a new ropeway – means you can spend a week here and not ski or board the same area twice. It’s a snow-lover’s playground, both on and off piste, with some of Europe’s best powder to boot.
St Anton first soared to fame back in 1931, when Arnold Fanck chose to film Der Weiße Rausch – ‘The White Ecstasy’ – here, starring Leni Riefenstahl and Hannes Schneider, a skiing legend born just over the mountain in Stuben. The film follows a downhill hunting race, where the two stars are nominated as foxes and a group of 40 skiers have to hunt them over the mountains. It’s not just a film fantasy: this race is done today each year in St Anton, though without the foxes, drinking and high-jinks. As soon as the ski season is over, 555 participants join the ‘White Rush’ race: a 37m ascent on foot followed by a 9km downhill sprint on skis, boards or telemarks. It’s a wild event – the fastest athletes make it down to the Galzigbahn lift station finish line in under nine minutes.
Der Weiße Rausch is available to watch in Chalet Artemis’s private cinema, where you can also have dinner, drinks and popcorn from the traditional old machine.
The film is in German, though slapstick enough for non-speakers to get the gist, and is well worth the 70-minute run time – not only for views of old St Anton but for its ahead-of-its-time cinematography, including cameras strapped to plank skis and incredible stunts. Understandably, if over an hour of black-and-white German comedy isn’t your niche, the cinema is stocked with films, a console, games and the great generational bridge, karaoke. Whether you’re amusing a group of children, enjoying a knees-up with friends, or charming clients on a business trip, Artemis has your entertainment covered.
Every skier and boarder knows that what comes after the slopes is almost as important as the sport itself. If you manage to wrench yourself away from the sweet smells of Rosie’s afternoon baking, St Anton has an infamous aprés ski scene, with some snow bunnies going straight from piste to party and back to piste. The MooserWirt and the Krazy Kangaruh are the places to be once the afternoon sets in, though sometimes it doesn’t even take that long. Having hit the slopes early to make the most of our final day, we bumped into someone asking directions to the Krazy Kangaruh bar – at a sprightly 8.30am. For some, the St Anton party never stops.
Getting to and from the pistes is a doddle. The chalet is located in Nasserein in the east of St Anton and the nearest lift is a short, seven-minute stroll away. Of course there’s no need to walk; you can use the chalet’s private taxi or go green and take the free bus that stops just outside. On your way back, if the snowfall is heavy enough you can even take a back-country route that brings you right to the chalet’s road, ready to dump your stuff in the boot room. It’s worth paying this boot room a visit each day before you head out, even if your gear is stashed elsewhere. Keen skier Rob knows all to well the hazards of piste hunger and has provided bottles of water and chocolate bars for you to take – just in case the muffins, hot daily special, smoothies, breads, yoghurt and fruit from breakfast aren’t enough to tide you over till lunch.
By the time you’ve skied, boarded, boozed and stuffed your body into a sleepy state, those emperor beds start their seductive siren call. Like the chalet itself, each of its six bedrooms are named for a greek god – a whim of Dunn – and Helios is luring me in with its sunny warmth. The bathroom, complete with bath, shower, toilet, two sinks and the softest towels known to man, really isn’t given the due it deserves as I’m far too fatigued and filled up with sticky toffee pudding and Sauternes. After the quickest ritual possible, I’m more than happy to fall into the silky Italian sheets, courtesy of the Queen’s own provider Heirloom, and consider that Hypnos would have been a far better name for my room.
I have a passing thought of whether I could manage a hot chocolate in bed before sleep and the next thing I know, there’s a soft knock at my door. It’s Rob, it’s tea, it’s morning, and the snow is still falling silently outside, ready for another day,
Luxury retreats at Chalet Artemis start from £4600 per person in high season, £2,800 in low, based on 7 nights including flights. To find out more or book, go to chaletartemis.com. For ski passes and equipment hire, head to the St Anton am Arlberg website.
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