Intelligent luxury for smart skiers at Les Domaines

THE new Alpine luxury is understated, contemporary elegance in a traditional-looking wood building, with lots of hand-crafted features and discreet state-of-the-art facilities. It is located in a small and original village – not a purpose-built concrete bunker.

These days, intelligent luxury means completely no-hassle holidays – you own your own property, but it is fully managed by professional hoteliers. When you are not there, it is rented out, earning its keep. When you’re there, it’s a fully-serviced home and always in perfect condition when you arrive, with no surprises like frozen water pipes on Christmas Eve. It’s a private experience with impeccable service and concierge service throughout the year.

It’s somewhere where you can drive the Range Rover with a ski box into the garage, and parking in a space wide enough so that the children can swing open the doors without chipping your paintwork. Crucially, it’s also a place that offers both winter skiing and a range of delicious mountain air summer holidays, such as golf, mountain hiking, mountain biking and lake swimming, fresh mountain meadow walks, and local mushroom or wild berry picking.

And when you’re de-stressing mid-week or just have a weekend, it means being just one hour from a major airport, with Les Domaines open 10 months of the year.

Of course, great food is key to completing the experience. Here, there are numerous options, from gourmet cuisine to an excellent brasserie. And to unwind – the intelligent traveller can relax in state-of-the-art spa facilities including a top-line gym, yoga/pilates studio, hammam, and swimming pool with a health bar. There is a range of health and well-being treatments specifically tailored to your personal needs, available in the SPA treatment menu.

Investment in intelligent luxury offers an enviable lifestyle that takes care of itself, knowing that your investment also supports the small local community.

And all this is in an intelligent building; completely up-to-date, eco-conscious, using entirely natural construction and finishes, with very low energy use, state-of-the-art systems controls, while still retaining old-fashioned wood burning fireplaces. This is Les Domaines.

Then there’s the skiing. Smart skiers want nothing less than ski-in ski-out, with access to a major ski area that has a range of skiing, from the utterly hopeless to the expert extreme skier. They also want a ski concierge to organise their skiing needs: from passes and equipment to lunch reservations at exclusive mountain restaurants. And it goes without saying, they want an après-ski sauna, steam room and massage; a heated swimming pool and their own hot tub on their balcony or terrace for romantic lounging.

Well, intelligent luxury for smart skiers is here at Les Domaines de Ferme de Montagne.

For years Ferme de Montagne, in the small original French village of Les Gets and only one hour from Geneva, has been one of the most sought after boutique ski hotels in the French Alps. A luxurious, below-the-radar bolt-hole renowned for its food and hospitality, it has been described by the Daily Telegraph as “the kind of chalet you would instantly book – if only you knew it existed” and as “one of our favourite hotels’ by Anneka Rice in the Mail on Sunday. With just eight rooms, however, demand often outstrips supply. And so now the Ferme’s owners are building 20 apartments next door in the same desirable style – the first serviced five-star apartments of their sort in France – called Les Domaines de Ferme de Montagne. Such is the demand to own a little bit of the Ferme’s experience that almost half of the apartments have already been sold. Those wanting to snap up their own slice of Savoyard luxury need to move fast.

Just an hour’s drive from Geneva International Airport – compared with three hours for Val d’Isere, Courchevel or Meribel - Les Domaines is perfect for weekend getaways, especially for UK-based owners.

To be completed for winter 2011-12, the apartments at Les Domaines offer the sort of luxury that will satisfy even the most jaded City worker. Ranging from studios, two bedrooms to enviable four bedroom penthouses, all with a roaring open fire, a private hot-tub on the balcony, designer furnishings, swish Italian kitchen equipment, and top-of-the-range audio-visual systems. Each apartment also has a private 500 bottle wine cellar within the main stone-vaulted cellar, independent private store room (with all your belongings carefully restored to your apartment when you are in residence), separate heated boot and ski storage (serviced and prepared prior to your return), as well as a proper-sized parking space in the underground garage.

It’s an ideal investment opportunity, as the tourism-encouraging French state provides tax breaks to owners for renting their apartments when they are not in residence themselves. Les Domaines will be managed by Ferme de Montagne, 5* hoteliers successfully established in the ski market for 10 years with a unique and loyal client base. They organise the rentals, administer the payments to the owners and take care of all aspects of French administration as well as maintenance of the property. Truly hassle free.

At the heart of the Ferme de Montagne experience is conviviality and superb food (“the best food in Les Gets” said Time Out). Executive chef Alan White will oversee the intimate fine-dining restaurant and casual brasserie, both with fireplaces. His cooking has been effusively praised in Live Magazine by Tom Parker Bowles, who said of his recent visit that he had one of the best dishes he had eaten all year, “superior to Tetsuya Wakuda’s signature dish – Tetsuya being arguably Australia’s greatest chef”.

Who you rub shoulders with and who you meet in this exclusive, clubby but laid-back establishment is all part of your memorable holiday experience. As one well-known TV personality confided: “I so love coming to stay here, I always meet such yummy people”. Meet at the double-height bar with leather sofas around an open fireplace, in the quiet panelled library, at the rustic table in the stone vaulted wine cellar around tapas and wine from your own private cellar, or at the bar of the private cinema Or even at the juice bar of the seriously good spa with its healthy menu, indoor pool, sauna, steam room/hammam, several beauty therapy rooms, yoga and pilates studio, and gym.

Of course, all the luxuries would be nothing without quality winter skiing for both experts and beginners, and the massive Portes du Soleil region crossing into Switzerland has that in spades, with excellent snowfall, runs for every level of skier, plus ski-in ski-out of the property right through the season.

The chance to own a five-star property just 63km from Geneva doesn’t come along very often, to say the least, and those lucky souls who have been enchanted by La Ferme are sure to be queuing up to pick up one of these sumptuous properties. Great food, wonderful, friendly hospitality and a fantastic investment too – it’s not a combination that you see too often. Discerning lovers of luxury and smart investment had better move fast.
Apartments are expected to be completed by winter 2011-12. Prices range from £475,000 up to £2,100,000 (€570,000 up to €2.4m). For more information please contact Peter Bevan, Director of Sales at Sotheby’s, 26A Conduit Street, W1S 2XY; tel: 0207 495 9580; fax: 0207 495 9589 or email peter.bevan @sothebysrealty.com. To stay at Ferme de Montagne phone 00 33 4 50 75 36 79.

EXCEPTIONAL FEATURES IN EACH APARTMENT INCLUDE:

• Lift access serving only 4 apartments per floo
• Magnificent hi-spec interior decor with designer furnishings, oak floors throughout, and exquisite wood panelling and finishes
• Living area with leather sofas around a wood burning fireplace
• A luxury Italian yacht-inspired kitchen
• Master bedroom with personal hot-tub on the balcony overlooking the snow
• En suite bathrooms with heated floors and mirrors
• Rain showers and capacious baths
• Children's bedroom with Orient Express style leather drop-down banquettes, or yacht cabin berths to make 4 berths
• Entry hall drying cupboard for coats
• State-of-the-art technology for audio-visual systems and high speed broadband
• High level security systems
• Private club screening room
• Private individual 500 bottle wine-cellar in the main stone vaulted wine cellar.
• Personal storage room - we clean and store your clothing until your next stay
• Heated boot and ski storage
• Spa with swimming pool, sauna, hammam, gym, pilates/yoga
studio and treatment rooms

WHAT MAKES LES DOMAINES SO SPECIAL?

• The first five-star Hotel Residence in France, with 24-hour concierge, superb cuisine by the best chef in the Alps, and the same relaxing, hospitable atmosphere as the famous Ferme de Montagne, widely regarded as one of the most luxurious boutique ski hotels in the Alps.
• 20 Beautifully designed apartments, all-wood construction in sympathy with the local Farmhouse style - built with natural finishes and materials; these are eco-conscious apartments with low-energy use.
• Exceptional features (see box) with access to gourmet and brasserie restaurants, bar, library, wine cellar, swimming pool, spa, and cinema.
• An ideal investment opportunity - Tourism-friendly French law gives tax breaks to owners renting their apartments out. Les Domaines managers organise the rentals, store then restore the owners' personal effects before and after rental use, and administer the payments to the owners.
• Fantastic skiing in the 650km Les Portes du Soleil ski domain, with more snow than many higher resorts and a season that lasts from December into April.
• Wonderful summer activities from June to October, including golf, mountain walking and hiking, mountain biking and lake swimming.