Just returned from a four day trip to Meribel, staying at Hotel Le Roc right in the centre (if you dont mind it basic, then this is a good place to be based with the piste 50m away).
It was very quiet. We virtually never queued for a lift or gondola, and some of the more distant pistes were empty. It did get busier on the Sunday, with many French visiting for the day - but this is to be expected. Some of the Meribel locals said that the economic conditions are affecting the resort - perhaps that's because its developing a bad reputation for being so expensive - quite rightly.
Its a pretty and comnpact village (unlike Les Muniere & Val Thorens which are just plain ugly and busier). The nightlife was good, but not outrageous like Sauze D'oux for those of you who have been there. Le Taverne sold 5 pint jugs of Amstel for 17 euros, which was easily the cheapest beer in town. Normally its 6-7 euros, or Mutzig is 8 euros for a pint. Mojitos in Le Poste bar were 10 euros. Whilst on the subject of money, the lift pass for 4 days across al l valleys was 180 euro. A family of four staying for 6 days its around 800 euros - crazy prices!
If you hunt around though, things can be done cheaper. If you stick to pizza, pasta and tex mex it wont get painful. For example, the restaurant at the top of Col de les Loze served up some lovely fresh pasta for around 12 euros.
The big selling point for Meribel is of course the access to all three valleys. We covered most areas in 4 days but missed many pistes - the area is just too big to do any of it justice. The downside in attempting to explore as much as possible is having to do many of the blue "boulevards", the narrowflat paths that traverse across the mountain. The one boarder with us hated these big time. We were lucky to have a good dump of snowon the Friday, leaving brilliant snow conditions for the whole weekend. Lots of variety of pistes - wide motorway-style ones in Les Muniere through to narrow tree-lined tracks in La Tania.
Overall I'd highly recommend Meribel, but on two conditions. First is, dont get in Feb. The second is, dont think you can do it on a budget, you cant.