Club Med Valmorel: stay in the French Alps in style
France is the country of choice for most British skiers who value its high-altitude resorts and good-value accommodation. Figures from this year's Crystal Ski Industry Report show that although the number of British skiers fell for the fourth consecutive year last winter, the proportion heading to France increased to more than a third of the total market.
The convenience of getting to the French Alps is a winner. Scheduled and budget airlines, direct train services or a relatively straightforward car journey provide a good choice for winter sports fans.
And thanks to a weaker euro it is better value than for four years. Figures from foreign exchange company Moneycorp show that in France the average price of a shopping basket of essential ski items, such as ski hire and lift pass, is down 6.7 per cent compared with last year.
Join the club
Club Med was once one of Europe's coolest travel brands. Their advertising was full of pictures of stylish families enjoying all-inclusive holidays that relied heavily on organised entertainment and communal meals taken on long tables.
As our holiday tastes changed, however, the concept seemed just a little too organised and too communal for many and Club Med lost out as travellers searched for more individual experiences. So the company has adapted to reflect this change at its flagship French Alps resort in Valmorel.
The much-loved parts remain — excellent Kids Clubs for babies to teenagers and a huge choice of sports and activities — but it has refined other aspects. Dining tables are smaller and, along with a vast theatre and comfy lounge, there are sofas in intimate, quiet corners.
Club Med Valmorel opened in December 2011 with 413 rooms in the hotel, alongside two restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa and extensive sports facilities. Valmorel is a tree-lined traditional village in the Tarentaise, reaching up to 8,366 feet. It is one hour from Méribel and 30 minutes from Moûtiers, arrival point for the Eurostar from London. Property for sale is close to the slopes in a quiet location at the top of the resort. Eighty fully furnished two- to four-bedroom townhouses are priced from £441,500 freehold for 895sq ft.
Built in traditional Savoyard style from stone and wood, with wide windows to soak in the mountains, these are exceptionally comfortable, classy homes. The first phase of 20 sold well, mainly to French buyers.
"Buyers like the leaseback scheme offering owners full and free access to resort facilities including their own concierge when they stay, with maintenance and a rental pool managed by Club Med," says the company's Sylvie Ernoult.
Club Med will take care of all maintenance as well as the rental pool. Ernoult says owners can receive a rental yield of 8.5 per cent including three weeks' personal use.
Pass to the mountains
At the entrance to Valmorel, less than two hours from Geneva airport, MGM is building La Grange Aux Fées, 104 one- to four-bedroom apartments with communal pool and fitness suite.
Prices start from £165,750 through the leaseback scheme, allowing owners to stay for up to six weeks, with annual returns between £3,235 and £6,060.
"Valmorel is a dual-season resort with a good village atmosphere," says Antoine Pereira of MGM. "It has a strong snow record providing good skiing between trees in winter and hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking in summer."
Le St Jacques, linked to Valmorel in the Tarentaise Valley, has 27 off-plan one- to four-bedroom apartments of 495sq ft to 755sq ft, priced from £166,560 through Erna Low.
CONTACTS AND FACTFILE
Valmorel: villas-chalets.clubmed.com; 020 7590 1624 or 020 7016 3740
MGM: mgm-immobilier.fr; 020 7494 0706
Erna Low: ernalowproperty.co.uk; 020 7590 1624
VAT: prices exclude VAT under French leaseback scheme.
Maintenance: annual maintenance at Club Med starts from €5,000 (£4,000).