Four Seasons Megève: a 'secluded' mountain retreat with plenty to explore

 Four Seasons Megève.
Four Seasons Megève.

Alpine ski resorts were set for a bumper season late last autumn when snow arrived nice and early. Yet the Four Seasons Megève hotel is ideal at any time of year, so you don't have to hope for a covering of the white stuff when booking your stay.

I was there in the heart of the French Alps at the end of September. Then, only the very top of nearby Mont Blanc was dusted with snow, the slopes were still green with the last of the summer flowers and the distinctive Abondance cattle were happily grazing on the lush grass with their traditional bells ringing out across the valleys.

Why stay here

French property developer Noémie de Rothschild turned the village of Megève into a ski resort in the 1920s. The Four Seasons Megève opened in December 2017 and it is the hotel group's first mountain property in Europe, sitting on a secluded spot 10 minutes' drive above the town.

The Edmond de Rothschild Heritage brand and Four Seasons have created a mountain retreat in the local chalet style with ski-in ski-out access, an Alpine golf course and the region's largest spa. The rooms are spacious and deeply comfortable, their wood-clad balconies overlooking the surrounding Mont d'Arbois, with views towards Mont Blanc.

Four Seasons Megève, hotel room
Four Seasons Megève, hotel room

Experiences

An alternative when it's not snowing is simply to explore the area. The lovely concierge at the hotel arranged for us to go hiking with Sabrina Duranceau, a local guide. Her knowledge of plants and mushrooms for both culinary and medicinal uses was impressive, but it was her enthusiasm for the area, having grown up with the mountains as her playground, that was the real thrill. It was a unique chance to see the area through a local's eyes.

If you're lucky enough to be there when it's snowing, she'll also teach you how to snowshoe or, for the more ambitious, she can guide you on longer hikes through the Alpine ranges.

Eating and drinking

Restaurant La Dame de Pic – Le 1920, run by Michelin-star-winning chef Anne-Sophie Pic, was closed for the season. So we ate at Kaito, a Japanese fusion restaurant marrying culinary classics from Japan with local Alpine produce, including Lac Léman's fera – a lake fish delicious as sashimi, served with a Japanese cucumber salad. The Japanese classics were executed to perfection, from eel nigiri to shrimp tempura with an impressive array of sakes available to accompany the meal. The fusion offerings at first seemed a mistake, such as the ají amarillo (a Peruvian chilli pepper) fried arancini balls with spicy tuna tartare. But they were surprisingly delicious despite the Japanese-Italian-Peruvian mash-up. All of it was beautifully presented and extremely filling.

If Japanese food isn't what you're after, there is more traditional fare available. And, of course, you could always opt for dining in your room, where you can sit on your wooden balcony admiring the mountains.

Alternatively, you could explore the charming Alpine town of Megève. It is buzzing at the height of the summer and winter seasons, with a variety of dining options, including upmarket and modern – and, naturally, there's traditional fondue. Be warned, though. In the off-season, many of the restaurants and shops are shut, but enough were still open for us to sample local beer and we were there for the Friday market, where local food and artisan producers set up their stalls. That gave us a chance to try the amazing local cheeses – products of the lush grass eaten by the happy local cows.

The hotel will drop you off wherever the mood takes you and there's an app to book a pick-up. Of course, when it's snowing you might also want to upgrade from a car to a horse-drawn carriage.

The spa

Four Seasons Megève, spa
Four Seasons Megève, spa

After all that hiking, one of the hotel's signature spa treatments – "A Stroll Through Megève" – is a real treat. It takes the Alps as its inspiration, starting with a pine-tree body exfoliation, followed by a hydrating pine-tree oil body massage and an organic edelweiss-extract facial. After 90 minutes of scrubbing and massaging, my skin felt amazing and my muscles unclenched from the mountain walk.

I finished off with a welcome sauna and a swim in the indoor/outdoor pool with its stunning views. It was the perfect end to an energetic day.

The verdict

The charming staff at the Four Seasons Megève are on hand to arrange a wealth of activities, from heliskiing to cookery classes. Then again, with its stunning location, you can always just sit out on the terrace with a cocktail and admire the breathtaking views – whatever the weather.

Natasha was a guest of Four Seasons Megève. Superior rooms cost from €600 per night in summer and €1,950 in winter.