Courchevel 1850 is a ritzy ski resort in the French Alps with Gucci gondolas, 5-star chalets, and skiers toting designer shopping bags on chairlifts.
- Courchevel 1850 is the world's most luxurious ski resort that attracts high-net-worth visitors.
- The village has Michelin restaurants, designer stores, and signs of wealth on every corner.
- India Hogg spent last winter in Courchevel as a host in a 5-star chalet and shared what it's like.
Nestled in the French Alps is the ski resort Courchevel. And within Courchevel are six villages, including one that attracts ultra-high-net-worth travelers — Courchevel 1850.
Signs of wealth dust the entire 1850 village like snow. Online search results on Courchevel 1850 show images and videos of an airstrip that caters to private jets, Gucci-branded gondolas that lead to ski runs, five-star chalets at the bottom of snowy slopes, and designer stores that fill storefronts.
And according to Oxford Ski Company via Travel and Leisure, Courchevel 1850 is the most luxurious ski resort in the world as of last December. Oxford Ski Company, which specializes in luxury ski holidays, came to that conclusion by reviewing the gross revenue of the more than 60 resorts in its portfolio. Courchevel 1850 topped the list.
In December 2021, India Hoggs, 22, quit her corporate job in London, packed her bags, and hopped on a train headed to Courchevel, France.
She was en route to Courchevel 1850 for a six-month job as a chalet host, which is also known as a chalet girl, she told Insider. There, she said she worked in a five-star chalet that cost between $83,000 and $104,000 for a week's stay.
As a host, Hogg said she catered to wealthy guests during their ski holidays. She'd tidy their rooms, serve meals, and make drinks. During her free time, she was often on the slopes, exploring the luxe ski resort, and sharing her life as a chalet girl on Instagram and TikTok.
Hogg said she remembers arriving in 1850 and being stunned by both its beauty and wealth.
"There are private jets flying into the ski resort. There's Louis Vuitton and Fendi right off the slopes," Hogg said. "You'd see families with four, five nannies."
Hogg's routine as a chalet girl involved more dirty toilets than shopping bags. And while she wasn't living the same life of luxury as her guests, who she said were mainly families, she told Insider that "Courchevel 1850 is the most ridiculous place on earth."
Located in the French Alps, Les Trois Vallées, or The Three Valleys, is the world's largest ski area, according to Ski Solutions.
The Three Valleys includes three resorts: Courchevel, Méribel, and Val Thorens. Together, there are 375 miles of ski runs, according to The Three Valleys website.
Hogg said it was massive, and even after spending six months skiing in the region, there were still parts of The Three Valleys she didn't explore simply because of its size.
Within The Three Valleys, Courchevel is a mountain resort tucked into the eastern side, The Telegraph reports. Courchevel has 52 ski lifts and nearly 500 feet of ski runs, See Courchevel's website states.
Courchevel is divided into six villages, including five main ski villages, according to Emerald Stay. The five are named after their altitude in meters and are all connected by chairlifts. The sixth, Saint-Bon, is the birthplace of Courchevel and isn't connected by a chairlift, according to Courchevel's tourism website.
At the bottom of Courchevel are Courchevel La Tania and Courchevel 1300, or Le Praz, which Hogg said are the most affordable villages and where many seasonal workers live, including herself when she was working in Courchevel.
Above Le Praz is Courchevel 1500, or Courchevel Village. Then it's Courchevel 1650, or Moriond.
Finally, at the top is Courchevel 1850, which doesn't have a nickname.
Hogg said that based on her observations, Courchevel 1850 is the richest of the four villages.
Between skiers in designer snowsuits and endless Champagne, every bit of Courchevel 1850 oozes wealth, Hogg said.
"This picturesque hamlet is renowned for being the height of luxury during the winter ski season," See Courchevel's website states. "The resort is where the rich and famous choose to holiday, so don't be surprised if you are sharing a ski lift or a bubble car with someone you recognize."
The wealth is experienced across the village. For instance, the average prime real estate in Courchevel 1850 is valued at $2,381 USD per square foot and was ranked as the world's top ski resort, according to Mansion Global.
Hogg compared Courchevel 1850 to the winter version of Saint-Tropez in the sense that it attracts celebrities and ultra-wealthy visitors.
Celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham, Robbie Williams, and Elton John have vacationed in Courchevel 1850, along with Formula One representatives and Olympians, CoastPrivate reported.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were also spotted in the village in 2016, the Daily Mail reported.
Outside of royalty and celebrities, Russian oligarchs go to 1850 in the wintertime, The Telegraph reported.
For example, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich used a more-than $10,000 bottle of Bordeaux for mulled wine, The Telegraph reported. And other rich Russians are said to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for chalets that sit empty for the vast majority of the season, according to The Telegraph.
Next to the ski slopes, Courchevel 1850 is the only village in Courchevel to have its own airstrip and helipad for private jets and helicopters, Courchevel VIP states.
The small airstrip has earned its reputation as the shortest runway in the world and the highest in Europe, the same source reports.
Skiers and snowboards from the nearby slopes will often pause to watch helicopters and tiny jets flying in, Hogg said.
Besides Paris, Condé Nast Traveler reports that the greater Courchevel area has the highest concentration of five-star hotels across France.
And travelers won't find many hotels with fewer than five stars in Courchevel 1850, Ski Solutions reports. It's filled with hotels like Les Airelles Courchevel, which according to Forbes, is "one of the most exclusive hotels in the world" where the average room costs around $3,000 a night.
These hotels have amenities galore. According to Forbes, the Les Airelles offers guests everything from a Hermés horse-drawn sleigh to a children's kingdom complete with a heated tree house.
Courchevel 1850 also has many luxe chalets. For example, Hogg said she worked in a five-star, five-bedroom chalet that cost guests between $83,000 and $104,000, for a week's stay. And according to a 2022 report from Knight Frank, at $570 a day, Courchevel 1850 has the highest daily rental rate of any major resort in the region.
Many of the chalets come with personal chefs ready to cook wealthy visitors anything they crave, Hogg said. For example, the chalet where she worked had a personal chef at the guests' disposal.
"Whatever the guests wanted, we would give them," she said. "If they wanted lobster at midnight, they would get lobster at midnight."
Outside of personal chefs, Ski Solutions reported that the greater Courchevel has the most Michelin-starred restaurants across the Alps. According to the Michelin website, there are 14 Michelin-rated restaurants in all of Courchevel and eight with stars. Haute Retreats reports that at least six of those are in Courchevel 1850.
Hogg said this fine dining was impressive, and, of course, pricey.
"Everything is super expensive. The restaurants and stuff on the mountains, it's like 48 euros for a burger, which is usually the cheapest thing on the menu," she said.
Hogg said outside of fine dining, there were plenty of places for aprés or post-ski happy hour. One popular hotspot Hogg named was Bagatelle Courchevel, a lively French-Mediterranean restaurant offering 360-degree views of snow peaks.
Hogg said that based on her experience, the ultra-rich travel to Courchevel 1850 to ski. The village has ski-in and ski-out access, as well as ski runs that suit every skier, See Courchevel's website states.
There are plenty of beginner and intermediate slopes, plus it has the steepest black run in all of Europe, the same source states.
Access to these slopes can cost visitors a pretty penny. A six-day pass for the entire Courchevel area costs $336, according to See Courchevel.
Hogg added that many visitors skipped the chairlifts and opted for heli-skiing instead, which is where helicopters drop skiers and snowboarders off in remote areas of mountains to ski down.
"That was a big thing in Courchevel for sure," she said. A private heli-skiing experience through See Courchevel costs between $1,238 USD and $3,303 USD depending on how many "drops" or times they want to ski in a day.
If vacationers aren't into skiing, Hogg said there are plenty of other winter activities to try in Courchevel 1850. She said her guests were often adventuring out on paragliding trips or sledding with huskies.
The village has an ice rink, cinema, and indoor climbing wall, according to See Courchevel.
Most of the snowy days would end with some sort of spa treatment, Hogg said. Places like the Spa Diane Barriere offer visitors $750 caviar and cryo treatments, Luxury London reports. And according to See Courchevel, there are five spas in Courchevel 1850, and nearly 20 spread across the resort.
Hogg said it felt like nearly every luxury designer had a storefront in Courchevel 1850. According to Courchevel VIP, there are over 40 designer stores. From Fendi to Louis Vuitton to Gucci, the list goes on and on, Hogg said.
And all across 1850, Hogg said she sees people taking advantage of the shops. Hogg said she remembers watching skiers go on shopping sprees, hop on chairlifts, and ski with their shopping bags in tow.
Even after long days of skiing down slopes or lifting shopping bags, Hoggs said Courchevel 1850 would come alive at night.
According to See Courchevel, there are bars and clubs sprinkled across the village, including the trendy Les Caves de Courchevel and La Mangeoire Lounge and Nightclub. Inside these exclusive clubs, visitors find Champagne flowing, dress codes, and DJs playing until the early morning.
Hogg added that chalets often hosted parties and after-parties. There were nights when Hogg said she hopped from one chalet pool to another with friends. Meanwhile, there were plenty of nights where she was up til 3 a.m. serving guests drink after drink at her chalet.
If you come to Courchevel 1850, Hogg encourages people to have the luxe experience the ski town is known for.
Try fine dining, splurge on bottles of wine at après, window shop, and embark on new adventures, she said.
"Throw yourself into everything," she said. "If you want to go to Courchevel, have the Courchevel experience."