Bucket-loads of powder, a game-changing €200 million euro development and a new state-of-the-art lift system: Find out why the historic resort of Val d’Isère is the hottest topic of the season.
The historic alpine village of Val d’Isère has fast become one of the hottest topics of the winter season. It begun back in November, when an increasingly precarious global climate meant that the 2016 Skiing World Cup was cancelled in Colorado’s Beaver Creek due to poor conditions and relocated to the 3,400 metre French resort. As a dismal start to the season continued across Europe, skiers were reported to be driving daily from resorts as far as the 3 Valleys to capitalize on Val d’Isère’s superior snow. It highlights an important fundamental – that no matter how sleek the chalets and properties for sale, glitzy the après-ski or family-friendly the kids clubs, in essence, it all pivots on the propensity of glistening white powder. While its high altitude and favorable positioning have long cemented it as one of the principal global melting post for serious skiers, snow conditions are now guaranteed from November to early May thanks to one of the world’s leading snow producing systems. Poised to groom the 300 km of piste, the technology is sophisticated enough to carpet an area the size of Wembley stadium in knee-deep snow in under an hour.
It’s as if the snow gods knew what was coming. The last minute surge in demand for skiing in Val d’Isère was perfectly timed with the launch of Val d’Isère’s €16 million redevelopment of the Solaise lift system and lodge, launched in late November 2016. The previous chairlift, dating back to 1938, has been replaced by a lightening-quick 10-person gondola, complete with warmed seats and wifi, which deposits skiers at a new North-American style lodge in just 7 minutes. Here, floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views across the slopes, alongside a new family-friendly area that sees kids kicking back on bean-bags over films, playing over table-football or lunching with parents in one of Europe’s first indoor picnic areas. It’s all part of an overarching plan to make the resort more versatile and family-friendly, spearheaded by the launch of a new nursery slope at the top of the Solais lift, enabling families and friends to stay more closely connected on the mountain regardless of standards.
But this season’s openings are just a beginning. They mark the start an ambitious €200 million redevelopment plan designed to position the resort as an industry trail-blazer, modernizing services and improving the experience without compromising that authentic alpine charm that has garnered it such an extensive army of loyal devotees. Termed ‘Le Coin de Val’, the project will encompass a substantial new residential area, combining boutiques with hotels, restaurants, parking and playgrounds. Access from the base of the mountain, known as ‘Front de Neige’, will be reconfigured to improve access, while outdated buildings will be replaced with redesigns in line with the charming alpine architecture. At the top of the Solais, a new 5 star boutique hotel is slated, overseen by the Covarel family, who are credited with turning this one-time working village into one of the world’s stellar resorts. “Val d’Isère is a resort that has really come of age’, explains Peter Hardy, Managing Partner at Skishoot. ‘There has been consistent development over a long period of time, and this is really starting to pay off’.
Through-out the season, a dynamic events calendar combines ski races with film and yoga festivals, while in the charming pedestrianized centre, ice-sculptures and laser shows delight visitors with a weekly Winter Wonderland experience; adventure lovers can learn how to control high-speed skids in the latest BMW on a nearby ice-rink, climb naturally frozen waterfalls with crampons or test out parapenting and free-skiing under expert guidance.
Demand for property in Val d’Isère mirrors the superior services, with prices for new build properties increasing by approximately 17.7% in the past two years. As a result, the prospect of Le Coin’s new residential section, with 100 new apartments that come with access to hotel facilities, is highly anticipated in one of the only resorts in the world where top-line new build properties for sale come with a waiting list. ‘Val d’Isère is changing. It’s a beast that’s realized he needs to wake up. Parts of Val d’Isère are becoming a little dated and it is time to make the whole resort feel the same way as the historic centre.’ explains Athena Adviser’s alpine expert Charles Antoine Sialelli, ‘It will create a vibrant new pedestrian centre and lots of shops and facilities. It is also bringing many opportunities for real estate investors within a market that rarely has new-build opportunities. Our list of international clients looking for new apartments to buy in Val d’Isere grows continuously”.
The Inside Track: The latest you need to know about Val d’Isère
- The ski domain recently underwent a name change, from L’Espace Killy, after the resorts Olympic golden boy Killy, to Val d’Isère -Tignes, representative of growing ties between Val’ d’Isère and her sister resort. This makes Tignes a resort to watch.
- The ski season runs from late November until the beginning of May with guaranteed snow.
- Val d’Isère has the largest snowmaking facility in Europe, capable of pumping out 2 500 square metres of snow per hour.
- The new Val d’Isère snow express connects travellers direct with Paris or Lyon.
- It’s the first resort to have full wifi access across (almost all) the slopes
- You can learn to cook with Michelin starred chef Benoît Vidal when your ski legs need a rest
- The resort app, available for iPhone and Android, can help you plan your ski schedule, with personalized itineraries dependent on level of skiing, type of group and if you are travelling with kids.