Falling in love with functional – Plagne Bellecôte18th March 2015
My parents, both teachers, were snow-hunters, not sun-seekers. This meant that during my adolescence I never once went on a beach holiday (I’m discounting Great Yarmouth as a beach holiday by the way) and instead was taken skiing whenever time and money allowed. Lucky boy.
Add in all the school skiing trips (amazing how far £300 per person went in the late 90’s) and even by the age of 19 there were very few French ski resorts I hadn’t been to.
These days I visit the Alps almost as frequently and grading ski resorts with colleagues is a common past time. Until recently, the cream of the crop would be have been Meribel, Samoens, Courchevel and Val d’Isere. Family-friendly, après-ski of varying styles and decibels, and top notch skiing. The other concurrent theme with all of these resorts is their Savoyard qualities. Relatively constrained buildings in line with the local vernacular, for the most part.
Of course, there is another type of ski resort in the French Alps. Introducing…. ‘la station fonctionelle’. Following a recent trip to the archetype of functional my perception of what is required of a ski property and also the resort in which it resides is changing. Rapidly.
Back in the 60s the French government realised the unutilised potential it had in greenfield ski resort development. Skiing was on the up and they needed to build resorts and fill them with economy-boosting French and European skiers. They didn’t hang about. By the late 80s dozens of purpose built resorts had popped up.
The problem today, as most ski property buyers see it, is the same thing you’ll think whilst walking down the south bank of the Thames. The architecture is at best, using snowboarder vocabulary, gnarly and is simply not in line with the requirements of the modern ski property buyer.
So why then is it that a range of ski apartments within one of these purpose built resorts are selling to British and northern European buyers? There are two reasons; firstly proximity and secondly affordability.
Whilst the aforementioned resorts are indeed family-friendly, they are also very big. Functional resorts like Plagne Bellecôte in the Paradiski were specifically designed to put everything within a short walk for the domes. Artisanal shops, fine restaurants, bars and all the basics too. If you can show me somewhere in Val d’Isere where you can have all of this for around €3,000 p/sqm I will eat my ski sock. Not even for €15,000 p/sqm on a prime ski-in ski-out chalet could you get all this within touching distance.
Yes okay, comparing Val d’Isere and Plagne Bellecôte is like comparing chalk and a fine Reblochon cheese, but having stayed there recently I cannot deny its affability, affordability and most important its functionality. What do you really want out of a ski resort after all? Everything within touching distance and great skiing. At Plagne Bellecote you have this. A sixty-second walk and 30 mins on lifts and you’re skiing at over 3000m (which means summer skiing too).
Those that have bought through us in Plagne Bellecôte (prices from €60,000 to €123,000) are all planning on complete interior renovations bringing them up to the standard of modern day new-builds. The outside is also getting a facelift.
After spending a few days at one of our luxury chalets, my opinion may change again, but if you have a more modest budget and are happy not rubbing shoulders with celebrities, functional resorts are definitely worth considering. Lets call it substance over style.
Lloyd Hughes, Head of Comms, Athena Advisors