Certain ski resorts from Chamonix to St Moritz attract a particular type of property buyer - recognise anyone you know?
Hugo is a 35-year-old high-net-worth individual from Kensington who works all hours in his office in Mayfair and so likes to let off steam when he spends his three weeks’ holiday a year either at his chalet in Courchevel 1850 or at his villa in Cap d’Antibes in August.
He and his wife, Maddy, bought their new-build six-bedroom chalet four years ago and it boasts an indoor pool, a hammam, a cinema room, a library, a lift and even a bar area with a DJ booth. They keep it fully staffed so they can hit the ground running when land by private plane at the Altiport—Hugo doesn’t want hassle, he simply wants the best, whatever it costs. This includes dining at Le Cap Horn and Le Chabichou and partying at Le Caves (when not spinning the decks back at the chalet with a few hedge-fund mates). He rents the chalet out for a mighty €200,000 a week when they’re not using it— it’s a no-brainer, especially now the Russians are renting rather than buying.
The Courchevel 1850 property market
Hugo’s chalet (which is €40,000 per sq m) will be beside either the Jardin Alpin or Bellecôte green runs and is worth approximately €25 million, which is about the same as when he bought it.
‘Entry level is €6 million for a chalet,’ says Roddy Aris of Knight Frank. ‘Or €3 million to €6 million for a large lateral apartment (fully serviced) in the heart of 1850, which are also popular.’ Savills is selling one- to five-bedroom apartments at rue des Clarines (€750,000 to €10 million).
This five-bedroom, five-bathroom modern chalet in the Cospillot area of 1850 comes with a rare inside swimming pool, bar area and spa facilities.
Knight Frank (020–7629 8171; www.knightfrank.com)
Richard hails from Clapham SW11 and is what Méribel seasonaires call a ‘superdad’. He’s loved skiing in the resort since Pa used to compete in the Inter Services Snow Sports Championship every year, but, for the past few years, he’s had to ‘slum it’ in Les Menuires or Mottaret to get Freddy and Grace (now aged seven and five) up to scratch.
He’ll come with his wife, Sophie (who runs a PR company), the children and their nanny—he’ll chivvy the small folk to catch the first transfer bus up to the first bubble lift in the morning (children who moan are mock threatened with being disinherited)— and he’ll have a boys’ trip with his lawyer friends in December.
At the office, he’ll name-drop about his trips with VIP Ski and his après sessions at Ronnie’s (officially Le Rond Point), where two or three toffee vodkas take the edge of everything.
The Méribel property market
The best locations for a chalet are the ski-in, ski-out areas of Routes des Chalets and Le Belvedere, says Theo Camfferman of Leggett Méribel. ‘For a 200sq m chalet, you’ll need about €5 million—it’s €20,000 to €25,000psm, with top-end chalets at €10 million,’ he says. Richard’s €3 million will get him a five- or six-bedroom chalet, but it’ll be a short drive from the centre/lift.
This luxurious four-bedroom chalet close to the centre of Méribel has recently been built and offers 227sq m of living space, including a south-facing terrace and indoor swimming pool.Savills (00 33 688 023 747; www.savills.com)
Like generations of alpinists on Mont Blanc before him, Duncan loves staggering up the mountain as much as coming down. Skiing since he was three, he’s seriously committed: this winter, he spent a month ski touring (skiing uphill), which is huge in the valley and great for your fitness levels.
In the unlikely event that you’re up that early, you’ll see danger-loving Dunc hot-footing it in his Dynafits (the new superlight and stiffer boots make touring much easier than 10 years ago) to the first lift. He doesn’t do lift queues or marked pistes for that matter—even black ones. No, he’ll head to Grands Montets or Flégère to tour into the next valley, skier-free and in search of untouched powder before returning to Cham to grab an après beer with his splitboarder pals (uphill boarders) at Chambre Neuf or Moo. In the summer, he’ll be trail-running (six hours in the Mont Blanc Marathon in June) before doing the Etape du Tour de France in July.
The Chamonix property market
Hearty types like Duncan buy in Chamonix not for an investment, but for somewhere to relax and be away from the nightlife of the town centre (Michelin stars don’t appeal although he’s quite tempted by the new American Bighorn Bistro). Locations such as Les Bois and Les Praz are ideally close to nature.
‘You’ll pay €2 million for a fourbedroom chalet, although there is a lovely five-bedroom example by the river in Plaine des Praz for €2.75 million,’ says Andy Symington of Mountain Base, Knight Frank’s associate in Chamonix. ‘Also popular is Les Chavants—the higher (sunny) sides of Les Houches—where some new, high-end chalets are currently being built.’
Located on the higher slopes of Les Houches, this ski-in, ski-out threebedroom chalet is newly on the market and enjoys panoramic views of the valley and is great for biking trails, too.
Knight Frank (00 33 480 96 5051,www.knightfrank.com)
James has done Aspen, Whistler and even Niseko in Japan, but nowhere else beats Verbier for both the exceptional quality of the skiing and the parties. Of course, he’s also tried Courchevel 1850, but he’s so not into motorway pistes (or all that ‘bankbreaking bling’) and the off-piste is so much better in Verbier.
For as many weekends of the season as he can, he’ll go with a guide and take his ‘big fat rockers’ (powder skis) to the back side of Mont Fort, the Bec (Bec des Rosses, one of the toughest mountains in the Alps) for extreme powder. Fresh powder gets tracked off quite early at Verbier, so he’ll be on the first lift and ski long and hard before lunch, then back down to Place Blanche at the W Hotel for a mojito and on to the bar at Le Farinet hotel, a notoriously lively party spot.
The Verbier property market
For hardcore skiers like James, a popular option is a three- to four-bedroom apartment in the triangle of rue de Ransou, route des Creux and rue de Médran for CHF3.5 million to CHF6 million (£2.4m–£4.1m)—with CHF30,000 per sq m being achieved, says Caroline Murray of Savills Verbier office. ‘If the budget stretches to a chalet, the piste-side areas of Les Esserts and Le Rouge are sought-after: you’ll need CHF5 million to CHF15 million [£3.4m–£10.2m].’
This four-storey chalet near the Médran lift offers large windows with superb views over the Alps. Includes relaxation room and five-car garage. Chesterton International (020–7201 2071; www.chestertons-international.com)
For Elizabeth, the wife of a fashionable architect, who divides his time between Chelsea, the Cotswolds and Mallorca, St Moritz is her winter playground. Her family have had a villa in the Suvretta for many years—her great-grandfather was the first of four generations to do the Cresta— although she’s been toying with buying a property in Cortina D’Ampezzo, but, thanks to the likes of NetJets and
Victor private jet charters, trips to St Moritz are so easy and she particularly looks forward to the polo in January when she can catch up with everyone she knows. Plus, top chef Angela Hartnett was at Badrutt’s last season for the gourmet festival. As likely to be seen browsing in Balenciaga or Michael Kors or lunching at the Corviglia as on the ski slopes (although husband, Richard, will hit the slopes), Liz will frequently end up at supper club Dracula’s.
The St Mortiz property market
The villa-style properties in the Suvretta were built in the 1960s and many have been in the same family since then. Entry level is CHF5 million (£3.4m), although one once sold for CHF60 million (£40.6m). ‘The other prime area is Chantarella, where properties tend to be more modern, and you can find an apartment there for €1.5 million to €2 million,’ says Annatina Valentin of Aylesford Alpine.
‘The rentals market is limited; it’s still not the done thing to rent out one’s property in St Moritz.’ Alternatively, you can get a super-modern duplex apartment right in the centre for CHF 19 million (£12.9m) (www.aylesford.com).
Fifteen minutes from the centre of St Moritz, this is a woodand- slate four-bedroom chalet on three levels. It offers a fitness room and hot tub in the master suite. Aylesford International (020–7349 9772; www.aylesford.com)
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