Hotel Le Portetta
Where do I start?
Now lets start from the beginning. We are keen travellers and we regularly stay at 4 and 5 star hotels around the world usually preferring to stick to brands such as SLH and Leading Hotels of the World for our hotel choices. Hence we may be spoilt by our travels but Le Portetta does not qualify for 4 stars... It is a 3 star deluxe hotel at the best of days.
As the man at the front desk put it to me when I complained "if you want all these 'things' (that I was complaining about) then you better stay at a 5 star hotel next time". This is exactly the sort of attitude that a young hotel should not have. If you want to see me back at your hotel season after season then you should go out of your way to make your 4 star hotel feel like 5 star rather than scrape as close to 4 star as possible so you can keep the rating but never go the extra mile.
It all went wrong from the minute we arrived. After treacherous driving conditions for three hours making only 25km up the mountain we arrived at the hotel with high expectations that now our holiday begins. We pull in front of the parking garage gate and my wife goes up three storeys to the reception asking them to open the garage door. The man at reception advises her to go back down to the garage press the buzzer and then he will open up. I am in the car so he should have opened the door there and then given he sees me on the CCTV camera. We forgave that and moved on hoping this was just a misunderstanding.
When we arrived at the reception (having parked the car and had our luggage taken away by the only friendly face so far) we found a scene from McDonald's at the front desk. Three families trying to check in (including ourselves) and three members of staff at reception but no organisation. They refer to each family by the wrong surname and basically they are like fast food cashiers wanting to process your 'order' as quickly as possible so that they can move on. Instead of getting us checked in they ask us to sit and wait. We sit and take in the decor. Saviore style of old and new made a bit modern by putting too many differently coloured LED lights everywhere which are really unnecessary as if you want an authentic chalet style then you don't have to try and twist it.
We finally get checked in and by now they have found our details and know who we are. Regardless I made the reservation in both mine and my wife's name directly with the hotel they only have my name and this continues throughout the stay in the resturant and in the Spa- the concept of Mr and Mrs does not appear to gel with them. Only the Ski room knew our actual names.
Upon entering the room we are a bit overwhelmed by just how small it is. Ski hotels are never known for their large rooms but this one is truly a shoe box. We asked for a room with piste view and indeed the view is lovely and so is the amenity of the balcony but this room can barely accommodate two people in the best of days. First of all there is no storage space. You get two drawers for your clothes and a double hanging cupboard with a shelf above it. No thought as to where you store your empty suitcases or the fact that ski gear is always bulkier than your usual holiday. We just about manage to cram all our stuff in to the room but find we all the time bump into each other or trip over things.
By far the worst element of design in the room is the bathroom. The toilet and bathroom are separate which is not bad but unless you are very petite you will struggle to walk into the toilet room and close the door behind you without having to physically stand on the loo to allow the door to clear your feet. The bathroom is much of the same story. Instead of putting a wall mounted sink with counter space around it they opted for literally 'monster' sized cabinetry to be built around the sink (see photo) which means once again no more than one person can use this bathroom at the same time without bumping into each other and again the door does not clear shut without you really making an effort. They obviously forgot about the invention of pocket doors that slide away and are these days often used in modern small bathrooms to allow more space. The only good point is that the fittings in the bathroom are of good quality, Hans Grohe Axor shower and bath fittings with Duravit Sanitary Wear but this is really disadvantaged by the poor layout and lack of space and not to mention an odd window in the bathroom overlooking the room which you constantly get wet. (See photo)
As you can imagine by the length of the review by this point we are becoming ever more disappointed given our ever diminishing expectations and the knowledge of how much we are paying each night. Tiered and a bit flustered we head downstairs to have dinner having opted for the half board option. Once again with high expectations we sit down in the dinning room which at first instance appears to be spot on. White table cloth, candles, silver wear and everything you would expect. We get given the menu which is fixed every evening with three different choices for starter and main followed by cheese and desert. The menu looks Ok and so we make our choices of food. The starter arrives and the portion is minimal and the taste rather bland. We ask for a half a bottle of wine and end up getting a full one instead . Then the main course arrives and I opted for the braised venison cheeks. This was probably the best dish I had in our entire stay and shame it was only on the first night.
After three nights of eating dinner at the hotel we asked for the half board to be cancelled and opted for other better restaurants in the resort that had the same cost per person but had much more to offer. The hotel appears to try and make the dinner overly sophisticated by creating a menu that sounds gourmet and hopes to look gourmet but is actually made of very simple ingredients put together imaginatively that fail to deliver on taste. The starters are always fried balls of some sort and the mains are really all over the place.
When skiing whether the hotel is 4 star 5 star or even 6 star the dinner should be sumptuous, fulfilling and hearty. At the heart of the Alps in France you would expect creamy soups, divine meats and dishes such as soup Le onion, escargot, steak tartare, steak bavette etc. Better be more wholesome then creative. If we want Michelin star food you can book those restaurants separately and Courchevel has plenty of them to offer.
Our first night sleep follows the same story as before. The bed is as hard as sleeping on the floor and so are the pillows. If you think you will wake up energised for another days skiing then think again... The room temperature is computer controlled at reception which means if you are too hot or too cold you have to call all the time. The first night we froze between 3am and 6am and when we finally complained about it we got cooked the next night. I appreciate they want to be Eco friendly and save every penny on power as possible but give me an old fashioned room thermostat to decide how hot or cold I want my room to be. They can save far more money by changing all their light fittings to modern LEDs rather then using incandescent bulbs everywhere... The only good thing about our sleep was the silence - the rooms are perfectly insulated and you could hear a pin drop at night.
After our rather average sleep we head for breakfast at 9:30 am in the knowledge at 10 am they want to pack up the breakfast and prepare for lunch. The spread of choices available is appalling... Probably one of the stingiest breakfasts I have seen in many years. The spread offered by British Airways at their Business class lounge at Heathrow has far more to offer. We are in France so you would expect pain au chocolate, croissant, pain au raisin, choices of bread etc... Instead you get a silver basket on your table with two mini pain au chocolate and two mini croissant. On offer there is one yellow cheese and three types of meat. ( see photo and quantity). Absolute disgrace given they have a cheese course in the evening you would expect the same platter out there in the morning so that you can make your cheese selection. No sign of eggs, smoked salmon, bacon or sausages. Instead you can order some eggs which are not bad but when I ask for Salmon I get a measly portion that made me want to go back upstairs and grab my camera so that I could have a photo of it. I would feel ashamed to put out a plate like that. It looked as if they found two left over pieces and served them. The rest of the breakfast has some yogurt options and jams but overall poor selection. I raise this up with the front desk and they tell me that all jams are made in house, all the meats are cured Inhouse and they even smoke their own salmon. I don't buy into all of that but explain my concerns above. They try to make amends the next morning by bringing me and my wife a basket with large format pastries, a cheese selection and a good portion of Salmon. This is however only available to us because we complained and when I explained at the front desk that we want the choice to be available every morning rather then have all of the above thrown at us in one breakfast he said that is not possible. So we end up leaving some pastries as after all I didn't want to be stuffed I wanted the choice.
Overall meal services are haphazard, staff is running around all the time but don't give you attention when needed. You can sit down for breakfast and be ignored for ten minutes until you get asked for your tea or coffee option and get the measly pastry basket brought over. There are no courtesies whatsoever so don't expect to be greeted with a good morning or have a good day when you leave. You feel as if you are a nuisance to them and they just want to 'process' you. If you have breakfast at 9:30 am expect the staff to be mostly busy with running around to set tables up for lunch. What ever happened to everyone finishing their breakfast and then closing the room and setting up for lunch? Instead you feel rushed because you are in their way.
Unfortunately problems continue in other parts of the hotel. Rooms are well cleaned and attended to everyday but the evening turn down service walked in on us amidst getting ready for dinner and had no courtesy to knock first.
The spa area is nice but the steam room is more like a humid shower than a real steam room but at least the Sauna works well. There is good amount of space to relax but the lack of a pool or a Jacuzzi.
The spa treatments we had were OK (we opted for their signature one at €170 each) but the hotel has a drainage issue where the drains make noises all the time. This happened in our room on one of the nights and then again in the spa while laying on the treatment bed all I could hear are the drains in the floor gurgling. Not exactly relaxing addition to the background music...
The WiFi works when it feels like it and on the first night me and a few other guests could not get connected at all. The men at the front desk admitted he does not know what to do with it and will raise this up the next day with someone who understands.
Overall the staff are not very friendly but for a maybe three memorable characters who do try their best. The hotel does not feel like a homely hotel nor do you feel like a valued guest. It has the coldness and lack of attention that you would get in large bracket business hotel where you are there truly for one night and all you need is sleep. We have come here to relax, unwind and enjoy great Ski coupled with great service but the hotel let us down at every corner.
Other issues: beware this hotel does not accept Amex so be armed with your Visa... Every other resturant and bar in the resort does but as I said this place tries to stand out in all the wrong ways. Loo roll is as cheap and hard as sand paper and the type you find in motorway stop overs and not luxury hotels.
Our suggestion is if you are looking for a 3 star deluxe hotel with mediocre service then do book Le Portetta. But if you are looking for a 4-5 star luxury boutique hotel then scrap staying at Le Portetta altogether because luxury and this hotel don't go hand in hand.
For the same money you can stay at Le Helios in Meriebel which is also 4 star but truly boutique with real ski in and ski out and fantastic service and food quality or the 5 star hotel next door that does not charge that much more and has one of the best restaurants in the whole of three valeys.
The few semi good points:
Very friendly and helpful ski room, will match you a set of skis and ski boots to perfection and always help you take your kit on and off. If you need to buy anything they will find the most suitable item for you without trying to make you buy the most expensive item available in the shop.
The Fire&Ice resturant overlooking the piste is a great place for lunch, wide menu selection and great views. Prices are reasonable but service is mediocre. Don't expect to be attended too quickly or for what your order to come in the right sequence. We got food first, then drinks, then napkins and then cutlery...
Location is at the top of 1650 and is overlooking the piste so you can't argue with that but this hotel is not ski in / ski out. You walk up 14.5 icy steep steps from the Ski room and then keep walking in the snow until you get onto the flat bit where you can put tour skis on and Ski to the gondola. For adults not a problem but if you have children and have to take all the kit up then it becomes a problem.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.