Across the Alps, ski resorts are adding new lifts, new facilities — and stylish new property.
There’s no doubting the most significant improvement this winter: the €45m (£38m) Flexenbahn link between St Anton and Zürs, in the Arlberg, which has finally joined the two halves of Austria’s most exciting ski area. But there are plenty of other improvements worth shouting about. Here’s our pick of the peaks.
The Arlberg now offers a seamless 305km of on-piste skiing, as well as the highest average snowfall in the Alps and some of Europe’s most celebrated off-piste descents. No wonder it’s being compared to the best of the mega-resorts in France.
Construction in the region is tightly controlled: if you buy a new-build property and don’t plan to live there permanently, you’ll have to let it, as the authorities don’t want resorts turning into ghost towns of second homes. That hasn’t stopped a building boom. In Warth, for example, the Austrian property specialist Alpine Marketing is offering vast off-plan two-bedroom flats in the ski-in, ski-out Alpen Spa Residence from €687,000 (020 8455 0505, alpinemarketing.com). It’s due to be completed in December, and the price excludes VAT: you can claim the tax back when the property is offered for rent.
Pocket-sized Warth would suit families with young kids, or any skiers seeking a quiet life and easy pistes. Those who like their slopes steeper and their evenings buzzier should target St Anton, where Kristall Spaces estate agency has one-bedroom apartments in the Mountain Spa Residences from €496,500 (020 3735 8790, propertysaleaustria.co.uk). It’s in the suburb of Nasserein, a good 20-minute walk from the resort’s famous nightlife, so you won’t be woken by revellers. But if there’s enough snow, you can ski to the nearest lift in a couple of minutes.
La Plagne, France
Last summer, the most visited ski area in the world announced a huge upgrade of its lift system, costing €220m over the next 10 years. It’s part of a wider commitment to innovation that bodes well for the future: last winter, for example, La Plagne opened avalanche-protected ski touring routes for first-timers who want to try the latest winter-sports craze.
There is a bewildering number of villages to choose from in the resort, but for keen skiers, Belle Plagne is one of the best: it’s well placed for access to the top of the ski area and the link to neighbouring Les Arcs. Low Property is marketing two-bedroom properties in the recently renovated Résidence Le Centaure, a ski-in, ski-out property with a pool; prices start at €287,375 (020 7590 1624, ernalowproperty.co.uk).
Le Grand Massif, France
Here’s another big French ski area that is putting on a growth spurt. Next winter, Le Grand Massif, which lies just north of Mont Blanc, will get its first Club Med — a self-contained resort-hotel on the slopes at Samoëns 1600. To prepare the ground for the 420-room property, the lift company is spending €25m on lifts, pistes and snow cannons, as well as new off-piste and freestyle areas. On a more modest scale, the village of Les Carroz is opening a tubing area for kids, complete with characters from the Ice Age movies.
Easy access from Geneva airport has always been one of Le Grand Massif’s main selling points — and this will improve further with the planned opening of the FuniFlaine cable car, which will whisk skiers up to Les Carroz and Flaine from a TGV station and motorway exit. Two months ago, changes to the project were demanded by local officials, so it’s not a dead cert. If it goes ahead, though, the 22 new Hermitage de Clémence apartments, in Les Carroz, will be well placed to take advantage of the new link. One-bedders start at €258,000 (020 7590 1624, ernalowproperty.co.uk).
Change is afoot in Megève. Last winter, Chamonix’s lift company took control of the lifts in its posh neighbour — and announced a €100m investment in infrastructure. The programme won’t be complete until 2033, but the resort’s snow-making capability has already been boosted and the first new lift will be installed in time for next winter, at a cost of €4.5m. Two more should follow for the 2019-20 season.
The resort is famous for its swanky chalets, and Savills estate agency is currently marketing a prime example — a five-bedroom new-build with rough-hewn timbers, a wine cellar and a double-height dining room. The price? A vertigo-inducing €4.2m (020 7016 3744, savills.co.uk).
La Rosière, France
In December 2018, the French resort of La Rosière — which shares its cross-border ski area with La Thuile, in Italy — will be getting a new mountain. At a cost of €12m, two chairlifts will add Mont Valaisan to its ski area, raising its highest point to a snowsure altitude of 2,805 metres.
There’s been a spate of building in anticipation of the growth, and at the recently finished Lodge Héméra, the last remaining two-bedroom flats are on offer from €312,000 (020 7494 0706, mgmfrenchproperties.com). The lodge is only 100 metres from the nearest lift, and has an indoor pool — an advantage in a resort without public swimming facilities.
Properties for sale
Arlberg, from €496,500
In Nasserein, on the edge of St Anton, the Mountain Spa Residences will have 28 one- to four-bedroom flats, a pool and a brasserie, and will be surrounded by Alpine meadows. The development is due for completion this autumn. 020 3735 8790, propertysale austria.co.uk
Arlberg, from €476,000
The Alpen Spa Residences consist of 29 apartments in the village of Warth, with a new lift offering ski-in, ski-out access. Prices range from €476,000 for a one-bedder to €1.43m for a five-bedroom property. There will be a pool, a spa and private parking, and furniture is included. 020 8455 0505, alpinemarketing.com
La Rosière, from €312,000
Just a couple of two-bedroom apartments remain unsold at Le Lodge Héméra, in the heart of the resort. The south-facing building offers uninterrupted views of the Tarentaise Valley and the Les Arcs ski area. 020 7494 0706, mgmfrenchproperties.com