Battered Black Book were invited by ALS Ski and AirX to bring a select group on a fabulous trip to Lech, to experience first-hand, 3 days of mountain luxury that they regularly book for their bosses; flying by private jet and sampling some of the best food, accommodation and activities the area has to offer.
The BBB Blogger attempts to do the trip justice…
It was a suitably grey Monday morning to escape London as we started to gather at Luton Private Terminal around 11.30am, all set for a 12 noon take-off – as it turns out, and as the more experienced PJ travelers amongst us demonstrated, with no check-in or immigration queues to contend with, 30mins is far too early…there’s really no need to allow more time than you would to board a bus. But for a number of the guests, although very familiar with booking private jets, this was our first time travelling on one and without having to play it cool around clients / principals, we were all rather excited!
On boarding the Bombardier Challenger 850, we were treated like royalty, with champagne and a delicious selection of canapés and fresh fruit. Our host for the week, ALS Ski’s indomitable Bella had curated stunning goodie bags for the guests, including all sorts of glamorous ski ‘essentials’; Bracelets from Florence London, sunglasses from Taylor Morris, hats and keyring from Popski, Levison Wood books, bottles of gin from Ableforth’s Gin and beauty products from Bux @ Bewl. An incredible selection and set the tone for the spoiling days ahead.
The flight was a mere 90 minutes (if only it was longer…) but included a particular treat for Sarah, who was invited to take a seat in the cockpit for landing, which was an incredible experience for her and a lovely touch from the AirX pilots…who became rather popular amongst the guests…
At 2.30pm local time we landed at Zurich Private Terminal and within a matter of minutes, we were through private immigration, our luggage was transferred to two luxury transfer vehicles and we were on the road to Lech. Not a finger raised.
After 2 hours on the road, enjoying breath-taking scenery and gradually seeing blue sky and cityscapes change to snow and mountains, we arrived in Lech. Excitement was building as just a few hours after leaving grey Luton, we were in the magical Narnia-like setting of Alpine beauty.
The party was split between two accommodations – Severin*s and Aurelio with both parties feeling they lucked out with their allocated accommodation! At Severin*s, our delightful host, Cecily showed us around the stunning property; a beautiful combination of classic Austrian architecture and contemporary design, artwork and technology, including Loewe TVs / Revox sound systems in every room. The property consists of the hotel (exclusively Suites) and The Residence, a sprawling 4 bedroom private chalet with cinema room, grand piano and outside hot tub (natch!). Both buildings have direct access to a full wellness spa featuring an indoor pool, gym, 2 saunas, steam room and infrared cabin.
No time to enjoy the spa just yet…
Bella had organized a fabulous horse-drawn sleigh ride around Lech – we all piled in and wrapped up with blankets, as we were taken through breath-taking scenery of crisp white snow and village life – very Dr Zhivago. A wise member of the group had the foresight not to depend purely on blankets for warmth and had popped to the Spa (shop, not wellness) returning with copious amounts of Schnapps, so by the time we returned to Severin*s, the group was in high spirits. It may have been around this point that Alasdair floated the idea of extending the trip and delaying Wednesday’s return flight by a few hours – unsurprisingly, the suggestion was unanimously endorsed. And an insight into how a change of circumstances, or simply a whim, AirX can easily accommodate changes to guests’ plans.
Returning to our hotels for some downtime to unpack, relax and prepare for dinner, most repaired to their rooms but BBB managed to sneak in a quick visit to the fabulous spa for swim, sauna, steam.
We then gathered for pre-dinner drinks [can you sense a theme here…?!] in the wine cellar at Severin*s, made all the more special by champagne flutes from Becky Broome individually engraved with each of our names! Such a thoughtful touch and another example of the wonderful attention to detail by ALS.
The dinner that followed at the Residence was sublime – delicious food cooked from a menu created especially for us and served by Severin*s private chef. It was agreed that both dinner and chef were mouth-watering. A screening in the private cinema was planned for after dinner, however first-night-itis was taking hold so we gathered around the piano and laughed the night away – it turned out that BBB had assembled a very jolly group!
The next morning, despite slightly foggy heads, we rose for breakfast in our respective hotels either bright and early / at our leisure depending upon whether we were skiing or spa-ing. Bella and Emma from ALS, Georgia and BBB decided to hit the slopes. As we’d already sent through our measurements, skiing ability and hire requirements before leaving London, ski hire was seamless and having left the hotel shortly after 9am, we were kitted out, p the mountain and had completed our first 3 runs by 10.15am.
Despite some us not having skied for some years, we soon got our ski legs back and were all of a similar ski level, so following Bella’s lead, were soon bombing down the mountain and blowing last night’s cobwebs away.
It’s worth noting that Lech is a very family friendly resort, with a variety of slopes and wide pistes many of which are above the tree-line with great visibility.
It was then revealed that it was Bella’s birthday…so a mid-morning pit-stop was called for to celebrate! Following fizzy refreshments, fully fortified, we skied on until lunchtime to reconvene with the rest of the group for lunch at Hotel Kristiania. Navigation hadn’t been an issue up until the point that BBB thought they’d spotted a more direct route to Kristiania – unfortunately BBB was mistaken. We found ourselves heading the wrong way along a cross-country ski lane that eventually met the road. However, with a click of her fingers, Bella had the hotel’s driver locate us and we were collected within minutes – yet another illustration of ALS’s exemplary service that VIP clients can depend upon.
Lunch at Kristiania was a particular highlight for BBB – it was lovely to see the reunited gang sharing their morning’s experiences, clearly having a blast and firm friendships being formed.
The Kristiania staff gave us such a warm welcome, were incredibly attentive but relaxed and informal. Lunch itself was outstanding Haute Cuisine, accompanied by sensational wine, including a particularly memorable Austrian pinot noir…
Back up the mountain after lunch, this time to toboggan down(!) before being ferried back to our hotels for some downtime before the evening’s activities…
Before dinner Axel and Claudia from Aurelio took us to view two other incredible properties that are right up BBB’s Strasse: Chalet Mimi and Chalet Arula. Both are utterly stunning, super-high spec and very James Bond, complete with private pools, underground parking, private wellness spas, private ice-rinks and beautiful furnishings and lighting throughout. Naturally, they are both ski-in-ski-out.
Perfect properties for principals who require the very highest standards, while also enjoying total privacy.
At Chalet Mimi, we were treated to gorgeous canapés from the chalet’s private chef and yet more champagne, before heading back to Aurelio for dinner, a sensational 8-course tasting menu, followed by digestifs in the drawing room. A marvellous way to round up an incredible day.
On Wednesday morning, we rose gradually, umm-ing and ahh-ing as to whether we could squeeze in one last ski, although deep down knowing that the spa would win over. At this point, BBB must declare an absolute obsession with Austrian breakfasts; homemade granolas, yoghurts, fresh fruits, hams, salamis, cheeses, fabulous breads and eggs prepared any which way. There’s no better start to the day.
Following a lazy morning, those of us staying in Severin*s were given a tour of Hotel Aurelio and Chalet Aurelio all they have to offer – the epitome of a traditional Alpine hotel in the very best sense (including their own charming alpacas) but again, amazingly appointed with superb facilities and incredibly located at the foot of the mountain, where the piste meets the town.
Having extended our stay by a few hours, there was time for one final flourish from Bella; a traditional Tyrolean lunch of Fondue, Gröstl, Raclette and Schnitzel.
As we rolled out of the restaurant, our transfers (pre-loaded with our luggage) swooped in to collect us and start the journey home. We were soon re-boarding our Bombardier and once the champagne was flowing again (this time remembering to hold on to our glasses on take-off!) we set off back towards London.
On arriving back into Luton, it was another short stroll from the plane (Lynn’s principals’ driver was already waiting for her airside!), through immigration at the private terminal and literally within minutes, we were on the road.
And definitely with a tinge of sadness – an unforgettable whirlwind of a trip, experiencing the very highest levels of hospitality imaginable, with an incredible gang, we had all become very accustomed to the lifestyle. None of which would have been possible without the vision and attention to detail from Bella and her whole ALS team and the incredible generosity of Alasdair and everyone at AirX.