When the four-star luxury Residence Amara opened in 2012, Avoriaz could finally offer guests the high end apartment product they had been crying out for. Adding L’Amara has meant the resort footprint and amenities have got bigger and better and Avoriaz can now go head to head against other French resorts which had already offered four star self catering apartment products.
Ski Independence Managing Director, Michael, took his family on holiday to Residence Amara in March and here is his Residence Amara Avoriaz review.
It’s fair to say the developer had their work cut out to get L’Amara open in time for the 2011/2012 ski season and a number of unforeseen delays stalled the owner’s best intentions to finish the development on time. However with the teething troubles now long forgotten, the residence has enjoyed a very successful first full ski season of operation.
Avoriaz forms part of the vast Portes du Soleil ski area and is perched at a snow sure altitude of 1800 metres. It’s a purpose-built resort dating from around 1965 and the accommodation there is principally self-catering apartments spread throughout the resort in what they call ‘quartiers’ or neighbourhoods. The ‘Quartier L’Amara’ is a brand new area that’s been created near the entrance to the resort, next to the already established Falaise district.
The developers have picked a great location; it’s ski-in/ski-out and on a clear day the views down the valley towards Morzine are breathtaking. At the beginning of each day you simply clip into your skis and join the Proclou blue run. At the end of the day, there’s a gentle ski back down to the residence from the bottom of the Ecole draglifts.
On arrival in Avoriaz, your transfer normally leaves you at the resort drop off point. If you’re driving, you’ll use one of the resort car parks. Avoriaz is car free so you’ll be collected by a converted piste basher or a horse and sleigh to be taken across the snow covered streets to your chosen residence. L’Amara makes it much easier with its own private underground car park and transfer drop off point, meaning there’s no need to use the main public resort reception or car park. Once you’ve arrived, you use the lifts to go straight to reception and check-in.
Residence Amara is actually made up of a reception building called Surya and five separate apartment buildings (Sveta, Amenda, Chandra, Dharma and Prana). The main building is effectively the hub of the development and this is where the lounge, bar, children’s play area, nursery, spa, pool, Jacuzzi and fitness room are located. To access the reception building from one of the L’Amara apartment buildings you can either walk a few metres across the snow or use the heated corridors from each building which run underground to the main reception building. This is handy if you want to put your swimming kit on in your apartment before you use the pool or spa – just walk through the corridor in one of the dressing gowns provided.
The public spaces are clean and stylish with clever carpeting made to resemble timber floorboards and each apartment building has two lifts plus a good sized (and warm) ski locker room with individual lockers for each apartment.
The apartments themselves are the best I’ve seen at this price point bar none. Being pretty much brand new helps of course as up to this point they’ve had comparatively little use. The overall style is a clever blend of mountain charm with a contemporary edge.
We stayed in a two bedroom ‘Espace’ apartment which was laid out over two floors (some are on one level) with a sitting room, dining area, kitchen, balcony and WC on the lower floor and upstairs a master bedroom with ensuite shower room, a twin bedroom and a bathroom. The standard of finish was exceptional with a big thumbs up to the bathrooms and a superb rainwater style shower in the ensuite. The kitchens are small but perfectly equipped for self catering providing you don’t get too adventurous with the food you’re planning to prepare. There were large flat screen TVs in the sitting room and master bedroom with a fairly wide choice of British channels including CBeebies to keep the younger members of our party happy. The apartments have access to free WiFi with access for up to five devices at any one time.
As expected, you can pre-order bread, croissants and pastries to pick up from reception each morning with a good Sherpa supermarket a few hundred metres away in the Falaise quartier, where there’s also a good selection of restaurants and a boulangerie.
The L’Amara quartier itself has a choice of two Skiset shops on site which meant picking up and dropping off our rental equipment couldn’t have been easier. Both shops also sell all sorts of ski essentials, clothing, boots and skis in case you’ve forgotten anything or feel like upgrading during your stay.
As well as the bar in the main building there’s also a choice of three restaurants no more than a few yards away. Le Lodge has a sun terrace designed to make the most of the spectacular views down the valley to Morzine and serves drinks and food in a fairly informal setting. They’ll also do takeaway pizzas if you’re wiped out after a day on the hill and don’t fancy cooking. If you’re looking for something more upscale there’s Le Grand Café which is open for lunch and dinner. The food here was superb and they were very welcoming with our children and a proper kids menu was available. The third choice, Le 66 wasn’t open when we visited but styles itself as the fine dining option in the quartier.
The swimming pool was located in the main reception building and our kids loved it. Whilst Aquariaz held even more appeal to them, the residence pool was a big plus and so easy, with great changing rooms, a large pool with water fountains, a ‘swim in’ Jacuzzi and a sauna. The Deep Nature Spa also has an outdoor hot tub, positioned to take advantage of the exceptional views.
The Deep Nature Spa offered a huge variety of treatments including facials, massages, hot stone therapy and wraps– they even have a ‘my first spa’ programme for kids as young as six which I’m sure will be certain to polarise opinion amongst guests.
If you’re visiting with children there’s a play area by reception and also a nursery with English speaking staff at an extra charge. This is open six days a week for 3 to 12 year olds and for morning and afternoon sessions. We didn’t use the nursery but it looked like a useful option if you’re travelling with younger kids and wanted some time to ski on your own. I’d imagine the spaces fill up quickly so if it’s an essential part of staying here please make sure you double check times and availability first.
We’re already planning our return next season and can’t recommend Residence Amara highly enough. It was the best premium apartment we’ve seen in the Alps and had the perfect mix of facilities for grown-ups and children alike. The staff were friendly, couldn’t have been more helpful and the superb amenities right on the doorstep meant we had the easiest and best family ski holiday yet!
What to do next?
If you’ve been inspired by this review of Residence Amara you’ll be glad to know that we’re already taking bookings for the next ski season (2013/2014) so why not request a quote here or 0131 243 8097 and one of our reservations team will be happy to help.