What makes the ultimate mountain home? For design-savvy, wellness-focused owners, a ski chalet is much more than simply a place to rest after a day of downhill thrills. They want a home that is as welcoming in summer as in winter, somewhere that is supremely comfortable for extended periods with family and friends – and will achieve dependable rental returns. So which features turn a good chalet into a truly special one?
First, there’s the design. Today’s buyers want Alpine style with a thoroughly modern twist, according to Jeremy Rollason, head of Savills Ski. “The trend over the past decade has been for increasingly high-tech homes, but with a traditional look. Clever architects and designers achieve this with the generous use of rustic materials such as aged wood and stone, while also incorporating state-of-the-art lighting and audiovisuals.”
In the Swiss resort of Verbier, the quality of the wood is paramount for anyone looking to let out their chalet. “Clients paying up to CHF30,000 [£26,500] a week expect a beautiful chocolate-box chalet with top-grade refurbished wood,” says Sophie Harben, rentals manager at Savills Verbier. A contemporary approach to layout is crucial, too: “Many of our chalets are upside-down, with open-plan living space on the top floor to maximise the views and light, while also providing wonderful double-height ceilings.”
Then there are the “extras”, the elements that make chalets truly luxurious: surround-sound cinemas, superb spas with hammams and steam rooms, wine cellars with tasting rooms, and dedicated party areas – as well as cosy corners in which to curl up with a book. In Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Savills is selling a modern chalet with an outdoor kitchen and an underground garage and workshop big enough for up to 10 cars. And one of the largest rental chalets in the French resort of Courchevel 1850 has eight en suite bedrooms and a nightclub in the basement.
Exposed wood remains key in French chalets, says Guy Murdoch, the French Alps manager for Savills Ski, but interior styles differ hugely between resorts. Buyers in Val d’Isère and Chamonix prefer a traditional Alpine style paired with modern technology, and focus on proximity to the piste and spectacular views, while in Megève they go for lavish furnishings: grand chandeliers and marble finishes.
“A cinema room is now required in most larger chalets, and since the pandemic we’ve seen increased demand for dedicated, well-equipped offices, not simply a bedroom doubling up,” says Murdoch. “There’s also demand for indoor and outdoor pools to enjoy year-round.”
And don’t forget the staff. “Rental clients in Verbier focus on proximity to the slopes, but then it is all about service, with a wish list that includes chefs, chalet hosts, nannies and ski guides,” says Harben. “We provide whatever they want to make their holiday complete.”
GUY MURDOCH, FRENCH ALPS MANAGER, SAVILLS SKI
+33 (0) 6 29 38 26 68
SOPHIE HARBEN, RENTALS MANAGER, SAVILLS VERBIER
+41 (0) 27 565 89 40
Pictures from top: a lake-view sauna is the new must-have in the Alps (Getty); the ultimate chalet has an open living space – perfect for entertaining (Alamy); chalet bedrooms should be grand but cosy with soft furnishings that nod to the mountain location (Getty); the best spaces have entertaining potential – as well as cosy corners to curl up with a book (Getty)