Mon 19 December 2022

VIP SKI’s Bear Lodge in Arc 1950 has been named the ‘World’s Best New Ski Hotel’ at the World Ski Awards. PlanetSKI’s James Cove is currently staying there, he reports on what it offers & if it is worthy of the accolade.

Now I must make a confession.

I am not terribly interested in, and certainly not influenced by awards.

I was a judge on the World Snow Awards for many years and I have an understanding of how these things work.

One person’s best hotel is often not someone else’s – people are different and each has separate requirements.

It is possible the awards are the result of the best social media campaign/biased judging/commercial influence/money changing hands/personal views.

I could go on.

The World Ski Awards have been going for 10 years, so come with some credibility and are the self-proclaimed ‘global initiative to recognise and reward excellence in ski tourism’.

So, as I am staying at Bear Lodge as I pass through several resorts in this part of the French Alps on my ski travels I thought I’d find out a bit more and ask why it is No 1.

First the facts.

It has taken 7-years in the planning and building – it opened last season, and is exclusively the preserve of VIP SKI.

It is a mixture of suites (12) and hotel rooms (30).

There are a selection of photos of the rooms at the end of this article.

It features twin rooms, family rooms with bunks (children in bunks pay half price), or adjoining rooms for parents and teenage kids.

So far, so good but many other new hotels across the Alps are probably offering similar facilities for this winter.

I liked the comment the owner of VIP SKI, Andy Sturt, made to me as we met in the lounge of one of the suites, Misha.

“OK, let’s be honest here, there are plenty of smarter, glitzier, posher hotels out there, but for our own community of discerning skiers, Bear Lodge is just about perfect,” said Andy.

“I’m actually mystified by the whole process of awards. I heard we were nominated and obviously asked our staff to vote if they wanted to and that was about it.”

“No money changed hands and we had no campaign to win, but we’ll definitely take it and are very, very honoured.”

“I would like to thank all our staff who bring Bear Lodge in Arc 1950 to life, without them, this award would not have been given to us,” he told me.

So, how were the votes cast?

They were cast by ski industry professionals and ski consumers, with the nominee gaining the most votes in a category named the winner.

VIP SKI’s Bear Lodge is right next to the piste at a snow-sure altitude of 1,950m.

It is a short walk to the centre of the car-free village of Arc 1950.

The village itself is pleased to see the new offering from VIP SKI.

“It makes us very happy to be able to welcome more British guests and it is good for the local economy as VIP’s guests are discerning, and like to visit the bars and shops,” said the director general of Arc 1950, Nathalie Guidon, to me.

VIP SKI has an arrangement with the local ESF ski school who come to the hotel for the Bear Lodge guests, and there is a special nursery area for kids.

No trudging off to find your instructor at an inconvenient meeting-point.

There’s a bar and dining area (obviously).

All the 60 or so staff are from the UK and VIP SKI has had to deal with the complexities of working in France due to Brexit and the ending of the free movement of labour.

It includes proving that no French person is able to do the job.

There is plenty of paperwork with layer after layer of bureaucracy to get the necessary work visas – including, rather bizarrely, a lung test in Annecy to ensure the employee doesn’t have tuberculosis.

Ironically Brexit with its bureaucracy and extra costs may actually have helped VIP SKI.

Many of the other UK operators, large and small, have pulled out of the market leaving VIP SKI as one of the few offering the traditional UK chalet-style ski holiday.

After 3-days in Bear Lodge I can see why it has been a contender for the award as The World’s Best New Ski Hotel – and won it.

Almost everything is perfect, down to the finest details.

Almost everything?

My only grumble was the small ski room and the limited number of rental skis on offer.

Regular readers will know I am rather particular about what skis I use (some say unnecessarily so).

No matter – the skis in Bear Lodge are provided by Intersport and I was able to go to an Intersport shop in Arc 1950 and get the ones I wanted.

Bear Lodge is more than 80% full for the rest of the winter.

That single fact speaks volumes.

In my opinion it would be hard to argue it is not at least one of The World’s Best New Ski Hotels – the World Ski Awards have concluded it is the best and I wouldn’t disagree.

With Bear Lodge well over three-quarters sold as the season of 2022/23 begins I am clearly not the only one with a similar view.

James will be updating this report shortly with a full PlanetSKI review of Arc 1950 and what it offers.

Do check back for that…

Oh, and as promised – some images of the rooms and suites at Bear Lodge:

What you need to know

Price: A seven-night stay, from 8th January 2023, costs from £999pp (was £1344) in a Mont Blanc view twin room.

Price includes cooked breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner with choice of menu on seven days, wine with dinner, coffee and a cheeseboard and return transfers from Geneva Airport.

For more details visit: VIP SKI (0203 892 4060,

Price: A seven-night stay, from 15 January 2023, in Suite Natso starts at £1,400 pp in a two-bedroom suite. 

Prices includes chalet-board accommodation (cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, three-course evening meal on six nights, welcome champagne and canapés, and wake-up drinks) and return transfers from Geneva Airport. 

For more details visit: VIP SKI (0203 892 4060,

VIP SKI still offers clients the opportunity to be flexible with flights.

Its normal holiday prices do not include flights so that clients can choose from more than 70 flights between the UK and VIP SKI’s transport hub at Geneva every day (and hundreds more to and from the other local French airports).

VIP SKI offers four complimentary scheduled transfer services from Geneva, to and from each of its resorts, at different times of the day on Tuesday throughout December and on Sunday for the rest of the season.

Flight inclusive holidays to Bear Lodge are available through our retain partner Ski Solutions.


Event Partners

Supporting Partners

Our Other Awards