A wintertime trip to the Alps isn’t complete without sampling some gourmet cuisine. From hearty local dishes to mouth-watering fine dining and the obligatory cheese fondue, food is one of the essential ingredients of a good holiday. In fact, some alpine restaurants are so outstanding that some choose to take a helicopter and fly in just to sample the food and fresh air on a sun-soaked winter terrace. A surprising number of Michelin eateries are ensconced in Europe’s snow-peaked valleys and are perfect venues for special occasions. We’ve chosen our favourite venues for a heli lunch in France and Switzerland that are less than an hour from Geneva by helicopter transfer.
A touch of class in Gstaad
No ski resort epitomises old-fashioned glamour quite like the Swiss village of Gstaad, and VIPs still flock to its restaurants. The Alpina Hotel has been a hotspot for discerning diners since it opened in December 2012. The Michelin-starred Sommet Restaurant attracts a select crowd of visitors who appreciate its luxurious and discreet surroundings. Highly renowned chef Martin Göschel and his team prepare exceptional tasting menus paired with a hand-picked selection of wines, including over 400 bottles of rare vintages from across the world. The Alpina’s two-level lobby includes a branch of New York’s Japanese restaurant Megu, a traditional Swiss restaurant, a cigar lounge and a lobby bar.
For a taste of the mountains and a view to match, head to the Berghaus Eggli, which is 1550 metres above sea level on the mountain of the same name. Eggli’s terrace offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the Bernese, Valaisan, Vaud and Freiburg Alps and a cosy, warm interior for the occasional inclement days. The restaurant is always buzzing, which is a testament to its popularity, but the staff are attentive and efficient. The vegetarian-friendly restaurant has a large menu to suit all tastes, including Swiss specialities like fondue, alongside pasta dishes and Wagyu beef burgers.
A serving of stars in Courchevel
Courchevel is perhaps the most exclusive ski resort in Europe and this is reflected in its unrivalled dining options. A Geneva to Courchevel helicopter transfer takes just 30 minutes and is by far the fastest and easiest way of getting to this world-famous ski resort. Courchevel has 12 Michelin-star restaurants and two of those have three stars. Despite this incredible concentration of haute cuisine, Courchevel also has some surprisingly low-key restaurants. For example, the ever-popular Bistrot du Praz is located at in Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz village) and is an unpretentious Savoyard establishment that has mastered the art of cold foie gras to perfection in addition to its traditional bistro-style cuisine.
The higher you venture up the mountain, the more plentiful the awards. The 3-Michelin-star Le 1947 leads the way with Parisian chef Yannick Alléno’s flavoursome delicacies. Located inside the exclusive Cheval Blanc Courchevel resort, the restaurant is named after what many regard as the finest vintage of Château Cheval Blanc wine.
Cuisine with a view in St Moritz
Saint Moritz has the most picturesque setting to fly in and enjoy a heli lunch. Located on the edge of a lake, this ski village is surrounded by soaring glacial peaks which offer an abundance of alpine charm and an unforgettable backdrop to create treasured memories. Talvo is a Michelin-star restaurant that has a rich history of catering for the international jet set. Set in a converted 17th-century farmhouse, it serves classic European dishes and traditional local cuisine.
Ecco On Snow, located in Giardino Mountain Hotel, ups the ante with two Michelin stars and a sublime seven-course degustation menu with wine pairing, while La Marmite in Corviglia is the highest restaurant in the Alps (2,484 metres) and owner Reto Mathis serves sumptuous caviar and truffle dishes in a stylish contemporary setting.
Whatever type meal you fancy, the Alpine ski resorts are ideal helicopter lunch destinations where the views on the journey are as appealing as the restaurants.