Where to buy on the Alps’ snowiest slopes
Snow has already been falling in the Savoyard resort of Val d’Isère, and the winter season is kicking off with a wave of optimism. Last season 79ft of the white stuff fell in the resort, more than in any other top ski town, including Whistler and Aspen.
Snow-sure and demanding pistes, along with the lively apres-ski, have combined to make “Val”, as it’s popularly known, the favourite French ski resort for the British. Since it became established in the Fifties, many families have purchased homes in the resort, with its old village centre of cobbled streets that surround a church dating back to 1664.
Although often overshadowed by Courchevel 1850 as the most fashionable French resort to purchase a home, Val d’Isère – in the 186-mile Espace Killy ski area, with a glacier that was open in June this year – has always had a strong domestic market, and has begun to up its game and attract investors.
“Val d’Isère is arguably undergoing the greatest amount of change of any resort in the French Alps,” says CharlesAntoine Sialelli of agent Athena Advisers. “The redevelopment of the centre with Le Coin de Val is the biggest in any mature resort.”
The town underwent a facelift in the late Eighties for the 1992 Winter Olympics, but it’s finally getting another. Le Coin de Val is the regeneration of a key central part of the main street, with a new €200million (£177million) “village within a village” replacing outdated hotels with high-end apartments, hotels, cafés, shops and a tourist office.
Completion is due in 2022 but it is already bringing new interest, according to Isobel Rostron of the ski property portal Nidski. “We are often asked by investors who want a ski property ‘where’s hot?’ and we say Val d’Isère – but get in now before prices rise,” she warns.
“Val d’Isère continues to be the number one choice for British skiers, and luxurious winter rentals are always in demand. In recent years it has struggled to offer new high-end stock to would-be investors, but this is changing. Ongoing investment in the lift system will also give investors confidence in the long-term future of the resort.”
Having the highest hotel in the Alps should also pique interest. Although double-the-average snowfall has recently hampered the highly technical job of constructing a hotel at 8,370ft, the new Refuge de Solaise, located at the old arrival point of the Solaise cable car, is due to open next season. This is on the back of the new 10-person Solaise gondola (that comes with warmed seats and Wi-Fi) in 2017. This season, the gondola to La Daille, the area at the foot of the World Cup ski run, has been upgraded; it is rumoured there will be another large development built there.
But what can you buy now? Most people want new four-bedroom apartments in the centre, for which they should expect to pay €1,860 to €2,325 per sq ft, or €2.5 to €3million, suggests Sialelli. “Buyers, who are still mostly French and British, want the convenience of a lock-andgo property, but one that is much larger than all the one and two-bedroom properties that were built during the Eighties and Nineties.”
At Alaska Lodge, a boutique new Savoyard-style development of six apartments 330yd from the Solaise chair lift, prices start from €1.93million for a three-bedroom property. Another small development in a sought-after location, Legettaz, has four ski-in, ski out apartments that share a pool; a four-bedroom one is for sale at €3.16million (both through Athena Advisers). You can pay less for a smaller apartment in fringe areas like La Daille (such as a one-bedroom flat that is for sale for €240,000 through Free Spirit Alpine), or in Le Fornet, a hamlet that is beloved for its village atmosphere and ski-in, ski-out properties. Knight Frank is selling a 10-bedroom chalet there for €6million.
For a prime chalet in Val d’Isère expect to pay €1,767 per sq ft, according to Knight Frank. This is lower than Courchevel 1850 (at €2,325) where Russian buyers pushed up prices, and higher than Méribel (€1,465), the resort that agents suggest is the main competition for British buyers in Val.
Half of chalet sales are off-market, but entry level is around €2.5million. Prices can go up to around €17million, such as the seven-bedroom Chalet Le Rocher, a popular rental property located near the infamously steep Olympic black run, Le Face (through Athena).
“The best areas for chalets are Legettaz for its superb location with great views, and Les Carats for the cachet of its private tunnel entrance and proximity to the slopes,” says Andrew Beale of Free Spirit Alpine. In what he describes as a “quieter, more refined location”, the agent is selling a four-bedroom chalet in Le Crêt for €4.5million. “It is also a real slice of Val d’Isère history.”
A €6m chalet in Le Fornet with Knight Frank, left; a house in Le Cret, €4.5m with Free Spirit Alpine, right