Holiday homes in the Swiss Alps: forget Verbier, now's the time to snap up a bargain in the last undeveloped corner of the Four Vallées

New laws restrict building in the Swiss Alps - but the less trodden slopes of Les Collons-Les Masses still offer good value property ripe for the picking.

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The Four Vallées is the largest linked ski area in Switzerland, serving 256 miles of alpine slopes and snow parks across six resorts. Verbier is the Four Vallées top choice — a ski resort with true international appeal, where property prices are as steep as its infamous Tortin run.

"Verbier is in high demand because of its excellent infrastructure," says Caroline Murray of Alpine Homes. "It's a grown-up resort of chic restaurants, bars and clubs, with a cachet that attracts the smart European set, but it's also an overwhelmingly cool, sporty resort. Unlike Gstaad or Zermatt you're more likely to see residents in serious ski wear than expensive furs."

While the casually dressed multimillionaires of Verbier are happy to pay top dollar for a home, there are a number of better-value options sharing the exact same ski area.

NENDAZ

This is a particular favourite with British buyers."In Nendaz £800,000 buys a new two-or three-bedroom apartment with state-of-the-art heating, top finishes and great views," says Murray. "In Verbier that sum would barely buy a small renovated two-bedroom home built in the Eighties."

Nendaz has reinvented itself in the last 10 years, with new shops, good restaurants and excellent family-friendly sporting facilities, and now plans are in place for an international school funded by a Singaporean investor. Nendaz can no longer be seen as the poor man's Verbier, says Murray, pointing to the top-of-the-range cars that make the easy 20-minute ascent from the small Swiss city of Sion every weekend.

Alpine Homes' biggest seller in the Four Vallées over the past seven years has been Mer du Glace, a complex of 72 well-finished, traditionally styled yet modern one- to four-bedroom apartments in the heart of Nendaz.

The final three flats — two new and one resale — are for sale priced from £805,000 for two bedrooms. These are cosy homes, ski in and out, yet also central in the resort with lovely mountain views and access to the good on-site spa and pools — a list that is "the Alpine dream for buyers", says Murray.

OFF-PLAN AND ON-PISTE

The Four Vallées is bookended by Verbier to the east and Les Collons-Les Masses to the west. A determined intermediate skier could go from one to the other for lunch and back in a day.

Les Collons is sleepier and quieter than Nendaz. Its triple pluses are high altitude of 1,800 metres, sunny slopes and immediate access to excellent snow both on- and off-piste. At peak times when Verbier is crowded and its slopes well worn, Les Collons' pistes are quiet and snowy.

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Four-bedroom chalets, £805,000 in Les Masses, through Savills Alpine Homes

La Dixence, a new off-plan project in Les Collons, will have 110 flats, five chalets, a hotel and a big spa and pools fed by thermal waters, all with mountain views. Phase One will have one- to four-bedroom flats and penthouses of 570sq ft to 1,420sq ft, from £375,000. Annual service charges start at £1,380, with completion due in December.

New law restricts construction in the Swiss Alps — making La Dixence one of the last chances to buy new build. "The weak pound means fewer UK buyers recently but for the right property they still want to invest," says Murray. "They view Swiss property as a financial safe haven with a winning lifestyle."

Savills Alpine Homes: 020 7016 3740 (alpinehomesintl.com) 


WE LOVE OUR LIVES HERE - IT'S THE REAL SWISS DEAL

British chefs Darren Burke and Ashley Gamble, both 31, left, met while working in Verbier and now live and work at the opposite end of the Four Vallées in Les Masses. They opened their own restaurant, Le Bois Sauvage, last season, with Darren as head chef and Ashley managing front of house.

"We renovated the entire ground floor and opened as the only restaurant in Les Masses," says Darren, former head chef at The Lodge in Verbier, Virgin Collection's exclusive chalet. "We believe in using local products."

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Good sports: chefs Darren Burke and Ashley Gamble

The restaurant has 60 covers and was full for three weeks over Christmas but the couple also found time to move into the new chalet they have built in Les Masses, and start to plan their wedding in Devon in May.

"Les Masses is the last undeveloped corner of the Four Vallées," says Ashley. "Verbier is very cool but here you are in proper Switzerland. We are learning so much about Swiss wine and produce, and have received so much help and support from the community."


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