In episode two of The Investment Journey, Neil talked with Gillon, a resident of Morzine, family man, MTB enthusiast and Marketing Director of Athena Advisers. The topic of conversation was the vast Portes du Soleil ski domain.
Covering 650km of skiable pistes, connecting 12 resorts across France and Switzerland (the world's first ever cross-border ski domain) and offering one of the best summer seasons any mountain adventurer could ask for.
Portes du Soleil, literally "The Doors of the Sun," is a leading ski sports destination in the Alps, spanning thirteen resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It boasts over 650 km of marked pistes and about 200 lifts, making it one of the largest ski areas in the world.
The skiing facilities are connected by lifts, with a few towns accessible only by bus services. It has a range of elevations with the highest accessible point on skis at 2260 m and the lowest at 930 m. The region also features snow-making facilities to prolong the ski season.
The history of Portes du Soleil dates back to 1934 with the construction of the first lift, the Pleney cable car in Morzine. It grew steadily with various developments, such as the construction of the "Boule de Gomme" drag lift in Les Gets in 1937 and the inauguration of Avoriaz in 1967. The ski area officially adopted the name 'Portes du Soleil' in 1965, with the name originating from a mountain pass above the resort of Les Crosets.
The region has twelve resorts, with most growing around traditional valley villages, and the largest of these traditional towns being Morzine and Châtel. The area benefits from a microclimate between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, resulting in substantial snowfall from November to April, typically allowing the ski season to extend from early December to late April.
For property investment, Portes du Soleil represents one of France’s prime real estate areas, with 12 villages offering a sizable ski area.
The property prices in this area are generally lower compared to more well-known resorts, and it has been attracting more buyers, especially British, Swiss, and French, who find it better value than Swiss resorts. Investors purchase real estate for cash as a long-term investment, benefiting from the year-round resort activities.
Châtel, specifically, has been gaining popularity as a year-round destination with upgraded infrastructure and accessibility to a vast ski area. The resort has new lifts, making it part of the world’s largest international linked ski area and offering easy access to the slopes. Additionally, Châtel has enhanced its appeal with the opening of a new aqua centre and the availability of numerous summer activities.
In terms of property types, Portes du Soleil offers modern off-plan and new build apartments and chalets, which provide several advantages over resale homes. New properties offer buyers the chance to customise their space, and they often come with constructors' guarantees and are built with safer, more energy-efficient materials. Additionally, buying a new-build in France comes with financial benefits such as lower buying costs and tax exemptions.