The Times: Living the high life in Courchevel 1850

15 Dec, 2015 by Investors In Property
The mountain resort increasingly devoted to cosseting the super-rich was conceived as a place for the poor to ski during the Second World War. France’s first purpose-built ski village, Courchevel 1850, was planned as “the people’s resort” by the Vichy government, as an alternative to the Rothschilds’ exclusive playground at Megève, and the anglo-funded Méribel.

Seventy years on, 1850 has eclipsed them both, the dazzling star of the largest ski area in the world, with one of the most efficient lift systems, the best “corduroy” groomed motorway pistes, a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants and the French Alps’ only six-star hotels. With visitors such as the Beckhams, George Clooney and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, where better to build lavish chalets with swimming pools, cinemas, gyms, mini-nightclubs and spa suites?

The resort’s first spa-based development, the Six Senses Residences Courchevel, a branded collection of 53 high-end apartments with ski-in, ski-out concierge services, will be launched next week. The properties, averaging €20,000-€25,000 per sq metre, are possibly the most expensive apartments in the French Alps, and constitute the first new-build scheme in 1850 for 12 years. Prices start at €1.5 million for a 70 sq m one-bedroom apartment and rise to to €9.6 million for a five-bedroom 300 sq m penthouse with private treatment rooms.

The interiors are styled in contemporary neutral, with alpine twists — the rooms are luxuriously large by French resort standards — and kitted out with the latest smart-home technology, with balconies overlooking the slopes from the development’s central location, handy for the Chanel and Hermès boutiques. Furniture packages cost from €100,000 to €200,000, and service charges are €75 per sq m a year — a chunk of which can be recouped by renting out your home through the management scheme, commanding rents of €10,000 to €60,000 a week (12 weeks being a “good” season in 1850) — plus you can reclaim your 20 per cent VAT if you let.

Courchevel 1550 has the benefit of being directly linked by lift to 1850, and there you can buy a two-bedroom apartment for about €400,000; but the big game-changer for 1650 (or Moriond) is a sensational aquacentre that will be linked by a new lift to 1850 — not far from the Aga Khan’s two new chalets. This 12,000 sq m of dramatic glass curves housing indoor/outdoor pools — and a Nikki Beach café — cost €45 million and will bring a much-needed summer dimension to the Trois Vallées when it opens this month.

In the lowest-lying 1350 (or Le Praz) — a traditional village popular with Brits but with a shorter season — you can get a beautifully restored seven-bed chalet for €3.4 million, and hop on the lift to dip a toe in the glitz of 1850. And that’s the great thing about Courchevel — whether you’re spending €10 or €1,000 on lunch, you’ll still be on the same superb pistes. Maybe not so divorced from the masterplan after all.
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