Champagne on arrival, golf ranges and climbing walls: welcome to the new super chalets

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Apopka, all 43,055 sq ft of it, is spread over seven floors, has a master suite, golf practice range and a cavernous living room. It will cost €350,000 (£253,760) a week to rent and is expected to be completed before Christmas. Welcome to the latest super-chalet in the Alps and, arguably, the largest mountain home in the world.

The “super-chalet” phenomenon has taken root in France’s glitziest ski resorts over the past few years, with swimming pools and spa treatment rooms, climbing walls and ceiling-height waterfall features, increasingly found in private homes on the slopes. However, the owners of Apopka – located in star-studded Courchevel 1850 – are taking decadence to new highs.

Chalet Aspara has four bedrooms, a library and ski room with boot warmers. But its crowning glory is the huge dining room-cum-living space, with an open plan kitchen at one end for socialising. The sale price is ?4.7m (£3.4m) and the agent is John Taylor (john-taylor.com) Photo: Pascal Pronnier

“The owner wanted to have the biggest chalet in Courchevel, but this is actually the biggest chalet in the Alps and possibly the world,” says Olivier Nicolai, director of John Taylor Courchevel and Méribel, who is marketing the property.

“Spending €20,000 a week on rent isn’t a problem. Most chalets there are now available for rentals, which wasn’t the case 10 years ago. It’s encouraging owners to renovate and upgrade their chalets in order to stay competitive,” says Nicolai.

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Courchevel gets even more glam

The owners of Apopka probably aren’t British – Russian Oligarchs are the main resident of Courchevel 1850. But lower down the slopes, and after an eight year-absence following the global recession, British buyers are back. For those who want the buzz without quite so many bucks, Courchevel 1650 – renamed Courchevel Moriond – is a “lively, middle class” destination loved by British investors, says Nicolai.

A view over CourchevelCourchevel 1850, the home of the new super chalet, Apopka, to be unveiled this Christmas. As yet, no photographs are available from the agent John Taylor Photo: Alamy

Where luxury property prices can hit €4,200 per sq ft in 1850, the equivalent in 1650 would cost half and the average apartment price is €840 per sq ft, according to John Taylor.

The resort’s multi-million euro aquatic centre – with a surf zone, water slides and wellness spa – opens this winter and in the pipeline is a lift that will link the town to its swankier neighbour.

“Courchevel has more spas than any resort in the Alps, but they all belong to luxury hotels. The new aquatic centre, which is open to the public, will change the dynamic of 1650 completely and the new lift will mean the resort will no longer be disconnected from 1850,” says Nicholas Leach, partner at Athena Advisers, who are marketing three-bedroom apartments near the aquatic centre from €940,000.

Charming Châtel gets a lift

Châtel, a resort that retains its rustic charm on the French/Swiss border, has already seen the benefit a new ski lift can bring. Since the lift linking the Super Châtel and Linga ski areas opened in January, there have been waiting lists for property, says Athena Advisers. Now, buyers are waiting for the imminent release of new apartments at Chatel 360, with the first phase selling out in a fortnight.

New slope underneath chairlift in ChatelThe new lift in Châtel Photo: Sylvain Cochard

“It has been the most popular resort this year with British buyers,” says Leach. “Châtel has lagged behind neighbouring Les Gets and Morzine in terms of development and investment, but its new ski lift has completely changed how you get around. The resort is developing its infrastructure while retaining its prettiness and it’s still about 25 per cent cheaper than Morzine,” says Leach, who is selling apartments at L’O Rouge in Châtel from €417,000 for two bedrooms. For a base next to the Super-Châtel gondola, apartments in the new Lion d’Or development cost from €340,000.

British buyers are back

UK-based buyers are returning to the French Alps in all price brackets. Knight Frank reports that Brits made up 32 per cent of buyers in 2013; now it’s 58 per cent. David Adams, managing director of John Taylor, has also noticed a new phenomenon among wealthy London property owners.

“They don’t want to pay 12 per cent stamp duty to trade up to a bigger property at home, so they are renovating their existing London home, instead, and buying French ski property in places such as Courchevel, Méribel or Megève. The buying taxes are lower and they can get somewhere nice to take the kids,” says Adams.

Mont Tremblant, Méribel, via Firefly Collection (firefly-collection.com) which sleeps 12

Four (all) Seasons

Megève, developed by the Rothschilds in the Twenties as a French alternative to Switzerland’s St Moritz, has always attracted Europe’s elite. But the opening of its Four Seasons next winter – the first Four Seasons in a French ski resort – will mark “a new start for Megève,” says Sandro Fanara, director of John Taylor Megève. “The town wants to keep the same spirit but bring a new level of luxury.”

Megève also has its super-chalets, the biggest of which rent out for up to €200,000 a week, and trendy clubs such as La Folie Douce. But a bigger factor in Megève’s popularity is its proximity to Geneva, 45 minutes away by car.

Not only does that make life easy for those flying in from the UK, but it is also increasingly appealing to Swiss investors. “It is now much cheaper for the Swiss to buy in Megève than in their own country. They can pop over for dinner, then back to Geneva. It’s like the Hamptons are to New York,” says Fanara.

Never mind the chair lift, the price of the nine-bedroom Ormello Chalet is so high it will make you dizzy. As well as the children?s playroom, it has a cinema room and a bar and sleeps 15. Ren is: ?120,000pw (£87,00). Book through Firefly Collection (firefly-collection.com) Photo: Alison Hammond 2010All rights reserved07939 716409

Given average property prices those with smaller budgets are heading to Combloux, 5km away, which offers more for your money and stop-in-your-tracks Mont Blanc views. Developments include Les Fermes du Mont Blanc where off-plan apartments cost from €142,000 available as freehold or within the leaseback scheme.

Another resort to up its offering this winter is St-Martin-de-Belleville, which links into the Three Valleys – the world’s largest ski area. A speedier, bigger chairlift is replacing the old model, whizzing skiers up to the Méribel ski system.

“This development will surely attract attention from investors who already know the delights of St-Martin, including the three-Michelin-starred La Bouitte, one of the best restaurants in the Alps,” says Julian Walker, of skiingproperty.com, who is marketing a five-bedroom penthouse a short walk from the ski lift and village for €1.5 million (£1.1million).

It seems just like the glamorous skiers, France’s Alpine resorts are far from standing still.

Our pick of the super chalets – SLH Lodge in Meribel

The living room in SHL Lodge with roaring fire and views of the mountains as night falls on the slopes Photo: Pascal Pronnier

Firefly Collection – one of the lead agents looking after this property – describes it as "where rustic chic meets gentlemen's club

The chalet in Meribel is also on the market with Leo Trippi

The chalet costs from ?45,000 euros a week to rent to ?85,000 euros depending on the time of the season

Champagne and macaroons are served on arrival and a private chef is at your disposal

Step out of the cold and into the spa, downstairs in the chalet

Agents

Firefly-Collection: the agents pick top luxury holiday homes from around the world to market.

Tel: +44 (0)203 432 7784

email: enquiries@firefly-collection.com

Lep Trippi: this company have been running luxury skiing breaks since 1882

Tel: +41 81 385 1882

email: sales@leotrippi.com