High-altitude funding: specialist property development finance for the French Alps

01-April-2019 3:00
in International
by Jennifer Stevenson

Regardless of the snow report, the forecast is good for property investment in those French ski resorts which are determined to have the edge on their competition.

The era of blocky apartment buildings lining the approach to long lift queues, clankingly slow trails of t-bars, and rough-and-ready overpriced mountainside restaurants featuring variations of melted cheese is over.

In the forward-looking resorts we’re seeing rebuilds, re-cladding, a new adherence to sympathetic traditional designs, a lot of serious investment in snowsport infrastructure, and a more diversified, year-round offering to attract non-skiers as well as dedicated powderhounds:

  • heated pavements
  • heated seats on chairlifts
  • high-speed gondolas
  • wi-fi across the slopes
  • snow polo
  • summer polo
  • high-end shopping
  • spa resorts
  • golf resorts
  • no less than 30 Michelin-starred restaurants in the Savoie Mont Blanc region

Diversification and the move upmarket

The French tourism industry paid attention to the worldwide decline in visitor snow-days that were a wake-up call in the 1990s.

Skiing holidays were expensive, they were a little cliquey, not everyone in a family enjoyed them, some years the snow just didn’t come, and other exotic holiday destinations were opening up to the short-holiday market.

Only a decade ago, the Swiss Alpine Museum in Bern staged a major exhibition entitled “Vacancies: Alpine Hotels from Decline to Renewal.” It featured developments which were breathing new life into an industry that needed a shake-up.  

Extraordinary projects such as the scheme to build a 117-metre pyramid hotel on top of the Kleine Matterhorn in Zermatt, to raise the height of the mountain to 4,000 metres, didn’t make it past planning.

But other developments from “luxury wellness” destinations to “gentle” eco-tourism pointed the way to a new direction for mountain resorts that were prepared to face up to the challenge.

Strong performance in French resorts

After three years of stagnation or decline the 2018 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism showed that there has been a 4% increase over 2016/17 in the total number of worldwide skier visits.

Major growth is being driven by the enthusiasm of the fledgling ski industries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

And the luxury branding of France’s most established resorts continues to attract property investors and buyers from Russia and the Middle East as well as the UK and Europe. They’re looking for resorts which offer year-round attractions and activities, and high summer occupancy.

Read more about the premium French alpine locations which are leading in infrastructure investment and high-value returns:

In the north / Mont Blanc

Property development in Megève

Property development in Chamonix

In the east

Property development in Val d’Isère

In Les Trois Vallées

Property development in Courchevel

Property development in Méribel

To access specialist lending for alpine property investment, from land purchase to refurbishment and rebuild, contact us at Clifton Private Finance to discuss your project:

+44 203 900 4322

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