If you're overcome need to treat yourself and leave recession worries far behind, we've chosen ten luxury ski chalets and hotels in which to cocoon yourself this winter.
Chalet Maurice, Zermatt
For the cash-rich, time-poor customer, the luxurious Chalet Maurice in the Petit Village area of snowsure Zermatt is one of the few free standing properties available for rent in Zermatt and available from deluxe specialists The Oxford Ski Company and from luxury chalet specialists Elysian Collection. Chalet Maurice is reached by a private funicular to the entrance hall of the chalet and offers stunning views of the Matterhorn. Designed by Geneva-based Magali von Tscharner, the chalet features a large open plan living and dining area, and sleeps up to 12 guests in six spacious en-suite bedrooms on three floors and is beautifully furnished throughout with luxurious cream, soft charcoal grey and white fabrics complementing warm timbers. Contact OxfordSki.com (Tel: +44 (0) 1993 899 420) or Elysian Collection.com (Tel: +353 1 524 1314) for more information.
Hotel des Grandes Alpes, Courchevel
It doesn't get much swishier in Courchevel than the 5-star Hotel des Grandes Alpes, which has an award-winning gourmet restaurant, spa and indoor pool. Arrive at Courchevel 1850 in style by private jet or helicopeter from Chambery airport. The airport at Courchevel is the busiest in the Alps, with about 7,000 aircraft touching down per season and disgorging the wealthy, and err, very wealthy. Courchevel is a classy resort linked into hundreds of kilometres of runs in the massive Three Valleys ski area and that has impreccably-groomed pistes and thousands of ski and snowboard instructors available for one-to-one tuition. Stay with Crystal Finest in one of hotels they offer in Courchevel 1850 and you can take advantage of free ski escorts, a sports massage therapist, ski hire brought to your door, and private nannies. Contact Crystalfinest.co.uk (Tel: +44 (0) 871 971 0364) for more information.
Aspen Lodge, Val d'Isere
From this winter VIP children as young as three can be treated to the very best tuition in Val d'Isere where Snowline and VIP Chalets have their own ski school in association with the award-winning Oxygene ski school. When the kids aren't learning the difference between 'pizza' and 'fries', they can be cared for with a flexible mix of private nannies, baby specialists and infant packs that include essentials such as nappies, formula and baby wipes. Stay at VIP Ski's flagship Aspen Lodge which includes 12 suites, each sleeping up to 10. There is a communal lounge area with a wood-burning fireplace, a concierge, Wi-Fi and Molton Brown toiletries. For the kids, there's cot space in every bedroom and also organic toiletries by Little Me. Contact Vip-Chalets.com (Tel: +44 (0) 844 557 3119 for more information).
St Moritz is where the jet-setters go, if not for the polo on ice or the old-boys club 'Cresta Run' - a head-first toboggan run on a skeleton sledge - then for the skiing. So it's no wonder that there are several upper-crust hotels. But crusty the Kempinski Grand is not. Opulent, maybe, dramatically grand, definitely, but surprisingly full of young people wearing pearls and polo necks. Perhaps this is partly to do with the fact it is the newest 5-star hotel in St Moritz as well as the enormous spa, award-winning restaurants and fire-engine red Porsches that you can hire? The breakfast bar here is certainly to die for, and thank God you're going skiing to burn off all of the muesli, omlette and waffles. Conveniently located near the Signal cable car, the Kempinsky Grand is available through Inghams or you can book online at Booking.com.
Kempinsky Grand - check availability and book online >
The Little Nell, Aspen
The most wallet-crushingly expensive hotel in Aspen, the poshest resort in North America, The Little Nell has plenty of things to recommend it: the ski concierge, the expansive spa, the fact it offers 'luxury amenities for your pet'. In fact, at The Little Nell, your wish is their command - the staff will arrange a gift of furs, wax your skis or scoop the poop up after your hound. All of the hotel's three bars make for great people watching, as here you'll find the glitterati, the facelift brigade with their pooches in tow and the stinkin' rich. The skiing in Aspen Snowmass is spread over four areas: Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass and offers something for everyone. Tailor made packages are available from Ski Safari (Tel: +44 (0) 1273 224060).
Chalet Cashmere, Megeve
Sometimes a chalet comes along and the design is just jaw-droppingly beautiful. Chalet Cashmere in Megeve is one. In fact, we could almost forgive the location just to spend time in the textured whiteness of the interior of this chalet, perked up with amusing design features, such as the chandelier lantern, the suspended bubble chair in the master bedroom and curvaceous cowskin armchairs. Geraldine Pretot is the designer behind this lush creation, and she's part of the power couple behind this creation with her husband David Pretot. The chalet offers a chef, four rooms themed by design (cashmere, velvet, wool and wool, and the master bubble chair room) and Bvulgari toiletries. Megeve itself is not one for the experts but offers indulgent cruisy skiing amid scenic views. You can get there by transfer from Chambery, Geneva or Grenoble airports. Contact Chalet-Cashmere.com (Tel: +33 (0) 4 50 78 27 44) for more information.
The 5-star Tschuggen Grand Hotel is in Arosa in the Graubunden canton in the northeast of Switzerland. It cuts a striking profile, with the sail-shaped glass structures of the spa, designed by famous architect Mario Botta, lending it a futuristic air. The spa is housed on four level and offers everything from aromatherapy massages to Ayurvedic treatments and two pools. The hotel itself dates back to 1929, but was spruced up in 2005, and there are lots of little design nods that combine rustic and modern in a knowing way, such as the silk velvet patchwork headboards. There are also five restaurants to pick from. The skiing in Arosa is decent for early intermediates, beginners and families, but experts will get bored unless they go off-piste. Tailored packages are available from Powder Byrne (Powderbyrne.com; 020 8246 5300) and Ski Safari (Skisafari.co; 01273 224060) or book online at Booking.com.
Tschuggen Grand - check availability and book online >
Chalet Eugenia, Klosters - Elegant Resorts
Take some turns down a run in Klosters and you're probably skiing in the footsteps of the Royal family. If you fancy playing at being regal yourself, head to Chalet Eugenia, with the pedigree of being built by a baroness in the early days of the resort. If it is privacy and seclusion you are after coupled a chalet oozing old-style glamour, Chalet Eugenia is the one. Upmarket bespoke tour operator Elegant Resorts will cater to your every whim, although you are already in very good hands as Chalet Eugenia is renowned for ridiculously pampering service. There's room for the family, with eight bedrooms in total, and an enormous lounge with centrepiece wooden fireplace. Facilities include: sauna, steam room, iPod docking stations, two chauffeured 4x4s, a grand piano - and the list goes on. For more information contact ElegantResorts.co.uk (Tel: +44 (0) 1244 897 505)
The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado takes luxury to another level - literally. The fifth floor of the hotel has a 'club' level of sumptous service, and special treatment includes five daily food 'presentations' and a private Benz. If you need more space than the average person, the Club Level is the place to be, with doubles at 450 square feet, and the big daddy Ritz-Carlton suite at 1,800 square feet. Don't be so overcome by the lavish and attentive services of the hotel staff that you 'forget' to go out skiing - there's 1,850 acres of snow out there to play in. Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch start at about £350 per night for a double room. Ritz Carlton packages are available from Igluski.com (0208 544 7101) or book online at Booking.com.
Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch - check availability and book online >
Chalet Kernow, Verbier - Oxford Ski
You're a purist and you don't want to sacrifice skiing pleasure to stay in somewhere sublime? The answer is Chalet Kernow in Verbier, which is renowned for its extensive off-piste, steeps and bumps. There's also a throbbing bar and club scene at Powder Spirit Bar, Mont-Fort, and the Casbah for night owls that can drag themselves away from the opulent surroundings of the chalet. One of the most remarkable things about this chalet is not the pretty interior sleeping 12, but rather what lies beneath: 2,500 bottles of wine in a cellar chosen by the owners who are connoisseurs. There are also all the usual entrapments of luxury chalets: chef, chauffer driven gas-guzzlers, Jo Malone toiletries etc, plus a geeky state-of-the-art sound system wired into every room. Contact OxfordSki.com (Tel: +44 (0) 1993 899 420) for more information.