A short break in Courmayeur is an easy way for ski lovers to escape the office grind and recharge - especially if you're tight on time but still looking to get the most out of your weekend.
Take a short flight to Geneva on a Thursday evening and enjoy four full days in the Alps and out on the slopes before heading home on Monday evening. With a surprising amount of sunshine, expanses of skiing both on and off the piste as well as plenty to do for non-skiers, it's the perfect Alpine getaway.
Courmayeur is built around a charming mediaeval market town at the foot of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc in northwest Italy. From Geneva airport, you’ll arrive in just 90 minutes.
With pistes above 2,500 metres, this resort has fantastic snow conditions for all abilities, with a variety of red and blue runs and cross-country trails. It's also an exciting base from which to hire a guide and try advanced off-piste skiing along the 17km Vallée Blanche and on the 3,470m Punta Helbronner mountain, where you’ll plunge down the spectacular Toula glacier.
Grand Hotel Courmayeur is a luxurious five-star venue in the centre of town. Opt for a superior room with a balcony and a large flat screen TV, or try out the luxurious Mont Blanc suite, with its own spacious living area and not only one but two balconies.
Indulge in a spa afternoon where you can sample beauty treatments and massages and take a dip in the pool, sauna and Turkish bath. Afterwards, head to the terrace at Lounge Bar Equinox to admire unrivalled views of Mont Blanc while sipping a chilled drink.
For a cosy stay, try family-run Hotel Centrale. This friendly bed-and-breakfast is ideally located for easy slope access via the Courmayeur and Dolonne cable cars.
Après ski has a gastronomic focus, with many fantastic high-end options – be sure to book as they’re hugely popular. The Grand Hotel’s restaurant La Fourchette boasts spectacular views and a warm welcome, not to mention the quality of its dishes. In the nearby Hotel Royal e Golf the Michelin-starred Petit Royal is decorated in the style of an opulent hunting lodge, with cheese tasting, a juniper-smoked pigeon main and a lavish tasting menu.
For mountain lunches Maison Vieille takes some beating: it’s the sort of spot that’ll make you want to spend all afternoon in the sun enjoying the exceptional food and wine courtesy of its charismatic host Giacomo.
In town, Pierre Alexis is known for its magnificent wine collection and exquisitely presented food.
The monthly menu features seasonal produce, from porcini and truffle pasta dishes to heavenly cheesecake. Mont Frety also does fantastic pasta, as does La Terrazza, where you can tuck into succulent lamb chops and vegetarian aubergine lasagne.
Cadran Solaire, meanwhile, is cosy, traditional and frequented by discerning locals for homemade gnocchi or a delicate artichoke starter. Non-skiers seeking a lunchtime bite should pop to Mmmartine Take Away for delicious Italian cuisine to go, or spend a long, lazy afternoon at the Vieux Pommier, the destination for fabulous fondues.
Non-skiing activities. Since many Italians come here for the scenery alone – rather than to ski – the resort has plenty of options. Wander round the pretty, cobbled streets and peruse the shops along Via Roma, where you'll find enticing bars, delicatessens and antique stores. Head to Pré St-Didier Village and treat yourself at the thermal spa and baths at Terme Pré Saint Didier with a facial or back massage.