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PEAK PERFORMER Hotel Le Taos, Tignes-le-Lac, France


AMID THE MILLENNIA-OLD splendour of alpine France’s Haute Tarentaise, the ski resort of Tignes is a comparative youngster. Today’s town was born in the 1960s following the construction of the hydroelectric Barrage de Chevril, which sank old Tignes village beneath a valleyful of meltwater from the Isère river.


This dam – the tallest in Europe when it opened in 1952 – is a dominating feature of the region, and may be familiar to the UK’s Channel 4 viewers as the setting for the supernatural thriller Les Revenants (The Returned), which recounts eerie goings-on in a lakeside village. There’s no such spookiness in modern-day Tignes, though – the resort buzzes with winter sports activity during the day and positively thrums with après-ski nightlife after dark. In keeping with the vibrant atmosphere, the four-


star Hotel Le Taos in Tignes-le-Lac combines luxury with a spirit of adventure, offering the ideal base from which to explore this glorious setting on the roof of Europe. “Tignes has a good standard of hotels but they are more traditional,” says Natacha Blanc- Gonnet, Marketing Director of the Montagnettes Group, which owns Le Taos. “We wanted to offer something totally new.” Le Taos is the group’s second alpine hotel.


“We find inspiration from mountains all over the world,” says Natacha. “Our last alpine hotel, Hameau de Kashmir in Val Thorens, focused on the Himalayas; this time we concentrated on New Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. Our CEO Agnès Girard spent two years studying in the Rockies and we loved the Taos area, which shares the same kind of free spirit as Tignes. We didn’t want a pastiche: people were free-skiing in Tignes 30 years ago and


we felt that there was a shared sense of nature preserved, a real authenticity.” Le Taos opened its doors in December 2015


and has already been nominated for this year’s World Ski Awards in the Best New Ski Hotel category. “It shows we’ve reached a standard in the first year that you wouldn’t expect until the second or third,” says Natacha, “when you’ve had a chance to assess performance and enhance the product.” Tignes has plenty of activities on offer beyond


the pistes, and Le Taos also opens in July and August as well as the December-to-April skiing season. The Lac de Tignes – a short stroll from Le Taos – offers sailing, canoeing and waterskiing (even ice diving in winter), plus a lakeside golf course, mountain- bike trails and more. “There’s something for kids, adults and grandparents,” says Natacha. “Even if you don’t ski, there’s something different every day.” From the hotel restaurant guests can enjoy the


panoramic majesty of the valley – a 180-degree vista from Les L’Aiguille Percee round to Grand Sassière. It’s a stunning scene, but also a reminder of the unforgiving ruggedness of the region and Tignes’ growing pains from half a century ago. “It was a kind of rebirth,” says Natacha, of the


five villages on the shores of the lake that replaced old Tignes. “The barrage destroyed a village, and it affected people deeply. But it’s a tribute to those people that, when something like that happened, they rose to the challenge and begun again. The high- altitude environment can be harsh, but enjoying that challenge informs the mountain attitude. It’s a competitive, sporting spirit.” Hotel Le Taos shows that this spirit is alive and thriving. — www.hotel-le-taos.com/en


THE GREAT OUTDOORS 209


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