Ferme de Moudon is the famously stunning chalet which appeared on Channel 4’s Grand Designs Abroad in 2004. Originally a 17th century Savoyard farm building, it has been transformed into an icon of contemporary design by Nicky Dobree, its delightful owner. The chalet was described by Kevin McCloud as ‘like something from a James bond set’, and the attention to detail is exceptional; it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Ferme de Moudon is set in its own private grounds with fabulous, endless views of mountain wilderness all around. A unique haven off the beaten track, it is nevertheless just a three-minute chauffeured drive to the town centre and nearest lift. Les Gets is also a well-kept secret, unspoilt by the commercial pressures and development found in more purpose-built resorts, and yet fully linked in to all the huge skiing offered by the vast Portes du Soleil ski area.
The chalet really set the standard for design-led Alpine luxury when it opened. From the outside it is a traditional Savoyard farmhouse, yet inside it is very much more James Bond mountain lair than cookie cutter Alpine traditional. Light floods in from two vast picture windows, and the large, exquisitely furnished open-plan living space is instantly impressive as well as calming, blending ancient timbers with carefully chosen bespoke furnishings. Timber, leather, lacquer, hide, linen and cashmere are used throughout.
Each room is beautiful and personal, individually decorated and with ensuite bathrooms that are contemporary and stylish. There are Jo Malone toiletries, white fluffy bathrobes and the softest, thickest loo paper. The colour schemes seem to reflect the mountain colours through the seasons -- from lichen to burnt orange, forest green and every shade of brown. Each room is also a blend of old and new timbers with tailor-made beds and bespoke mattresses throughout. The master suite takes up practically the entire upper floor, with uninterrupted views of the valley and mountains beyond.
The young Swiss chef Alex is superbly talented -- he will soon be a genuine star and have his own restaurant, without question -- and his food is French and Italian influenced, with an Asian twist. He lays on the full breakfast, afternoon tea and four course dinner with the option of lunch too if guests want it, and another quite fabulous option of a six-course gourmet feast for a real culinary treat. We selected the six-course option, and we can honestly say it was one of the top five meals we have ever had anywhere, not just in a chalet.
There was a stunningly light baby spinach with crispy bacon and quail eggs starter, followed by an intensely-flavoured pumpkin cappuccino with crayfish then wild salmon on a parsnip puree with sugar snap peas for (the first) main course. The second was a seared duck creation with purple potatoes, while the desserts encompassed a selection of exquisite fruit panacottas and a champagne sorbet with blueberries. Oh, and all this was followed by a full, deliciously creamy, belt-tightening Savoyard cheese board. Just out of this world.
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut flows freely and the cellar is filled with exceptional wines such as Chateau Margaux and Chateau Lafite. The house wines are excellent too, and have been carefully selected from the local vineyards.
The chalet is staffed with hand-picked professionals taken from leading English and French restaurants and hotels. Most are former Descent staff (Ferme de Moudon used to be a Descent chalet, before the company collapsed), suggesting the very highest level of professionalism. A personalised service begins from the first contact to the last, yet the staff are discreet and non invasive. Highly observant of your every need, yet seemingly casual – the perfect blend.
The chalet has its own in-house massage room, a sauna, outdoor ice cold shower and outdoor Jacuzzi set in its own private grounds, with stunning views of the mountains – just perfect, when accompanied by candle-light and a glass of Perrier Jouet on ice.
All children’s facilities are provided for, including nannies, babysitters, high chairs, cots, changing facilities, baby listeners, separate meals etc. There is no minimum age. Anything and everything can be arranged specifically for little ones, from ski schools to making snowmen or cooking with the chef. Les Gets is also particularly family-oriented, with extensive facilities for children of all ages.
There is wifi throughout. Every detail is taken care of too. When you start out in the morning you will find skis and boots loaded with piste maps, bottles of water, chocolate and suncream, just in case you have forgotten yours. There is a TV room with giant plasma screen and surround-sound, plus lots of dvds and an iPod docking station.
* For skiers
Ferme de Moudon uses a private ski instructor and mountain guide who knows the chalet guests and has worked with the chalet for five years. Les Gets is also linked into the huge Portes du Soleil ski area which offers a mighty 650km of skiing and claims to be the largest ski area in the Alps. It caters for all levels from beginners to off piste powder hounds. You can even ski to Switzerland and back in a day.
* For non-skiers
There really is nothing nicer than chilling out in the chalet and relaxing on the terrace. Les Gets is also an unspoilt traditional farming village with plenty to explore, including the mechanical music museum. Any number of activities can be arranged should you wish for other adventures.
* Corporate Groups
Ferme de Moudon is the perfect small, private retreat. It sleeps 10 in twin rooms. There are two separate conference spaces, ideal for breakout sessions. An optional wellness programme can also be arranged.
* Getting there
Ferme de Moudon is scarcely 1hr from Geneva. Transfers are all organised for you, at an extra cost.