Condé Nast Traveler - Hot List Hotels 2013
May 2013

Hotel Le K2
Courchevel, France

The specs: Five chalets and 29 rooms on the Cospillot Piste in Courchevel, France's upscale winter resort. Amenities include a circular pool, a hammam, and a Goji Spa; rooms come with iPads, Play-Station 3s, and Stockinger safes (purportedly as secure as a bank vault), and generously stocked complimentary minibars.
The look: Despite its perch above the Dent du Villard, the Hotel Le K2 is more Himalayan lodge than French ski resort, incorporating wooden cornices carved with Tibetan script and photographs of ruddy-cheeked mountain children.
The experience: This elegant take on a ski lodge succeeds on many levels, starting with the excellent ski shop, ski-in/ski-out access, and private button lift accessing Les Trois Vallées. The same attention to detail is found throughout, notably in the two outstanding restaurants, both under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Sale. In the evening there's live music in the bar 8611 (so called for the altitude in meters of the world's second-highest peak, for which the resort is named).
If only... The room technology were more user-friendly—the electronic key fob was hit-or-miss, and the phone was equally arcane, with keypad and speaker on opposite sides.

Alpina Gstaad
Oberbort, Switzerland

The specs: Fifty-six rooms and suites, each with a private balcony or terrace, in one of Switzerland's top ski resorts. Views are of the Bernese Alps and Schönried village or of Gstaad and Les Diablerets glacier. Among the amenities: a knockout Japanese restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, and a Six Senses Spa with a salt room.
The look: A mix of bling and tradition that combines a sweeping lobby staircase and extravagant flower arrangements with farmhouse furniture and recycled-wood paneling.
The experience: This new luxury hotel, heralded as Gstaad's first in 100 years, ushers you in with a spectacular overture—a subterranean drive that passes through a cavern of Ringgenberg limestone and skirts a frozen waterfall before snaking up to a glamorous porte-cochère. Chic and active types gear up for winter sports at the Silversport ski shop and unwind in the buzzing bar, with a crackling fire and a DJ spinning lounge tunes. Of the three restaurants, Megu lures foodies with mouthwatering Japanese; Stübli and Sommet round out the food options with Swiss and international menus, respectively.
If only... Reception would recommend making restaurant and spa reservations in advance; hotel guests do not get priority, and Megu, in particular, is very popular.

Le Kaïla
Méribel, France

The specs: A family-style hotel—the first five-star property for this ski resort—with direct access to Les Trois Vallées. Many of the 38 well-appointed rooms have interconnecting doors; all have private balconies or terraces. The location is close to the main lift, with ski-in/ski-out access from the fourth floor. Room amenities include astonishingly large bathtubs, Sony PlayStations, Hermès bath products, and furry hot water bottles slipped between the sheets at turndown.
The look: Chalet-style design incorporating pale pine, natural stone, cowhide, and polished deadwood lampstands.
The experience: This luxe hotel, with access to the world's largest ski area, is well equipped to serve families and groups, accommodating up to four people in some suites and up to ten in the 3,014-square-foot Kaïla Chalet. After a fortifying organic breakfast from the extravagant buffet, guests can grab their concierge-arranged passes and head for the slopes or succumb to a day of pampering at the Nuxe spa. The large pool, often quiet during the day, has a marine circuit, counter-current swimming, and submerged exercise bikes for aqua training.
If only... The service were more consistent. It ranges from inattentive in reception to exceptional among the porters and drivers.

Conrad, Seoul
Seoul, South Korea

The specs: A 434-room riverfront property in the International Finance Center, a towering business and entertainment complex near the Korean stock exchange. The location is close to Yeouido Park, with its network of jogging and cycling trails, and offers easy access to the Yeouido subway station, a plus in this notoriously congested capital.
The look: From the vaulted lobby with its spiral staircase to the thirty-seventh-floor executive lounge with its cityscape views, this property has a high-gloss corporate style encompassing polished marble, floor-to-ceiling glass, and diffuse light.
The experience: Ideally situated for business travelers, this new outpost of Hilton worldwide's top-tier brand has well-appointed rooms that include an ergonomic work area (U-shaped desk, large work surface, adjustable chair and light, desk-level sockets). For relaxing, there's an 82-foot indoor pool, a cutting-edge 24-hour gym, seven driving ranges, a virtual-screen golf center staffed by swing- and-putt instructors, and a spa with nine treatment rooms, sauna, and steam room. Dining options include gastronomic fare at the top-floor bar and grill, Italian food at Atrio, and an international menu at Zest.
If only... The Wi-Fi were free and the area more pedestrian-friendly; guests will find most of their retail and entertainment needs met inside the International Finance Center, but there is little atmosphere on surrounding streets.