Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

First Resort; (1)Polo, Golf, Michelin-Starred Dining and a Great Nightlife. No Wonder Buyers Are Back in Megeve, Says Cathy Hawker(2)HOMES & PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

First Resort; (1)Polo, Golf, Michelin-Starred Dining and a Great Nightlife. No Wonder Buyers Are Back in Megeve, Says Cathy Hawker(2)HOMES & PROPERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: CATHY HAWKER

LONG ago, before Courchevel held the title of chicest resort in France, Megeve attracted the Euro in-crowd. Baroness Maurice de Rothschild is credited with discovering the small Haute-Savoie village after the First World War, when she tired of St Moritz in Switzerland. She created its first luxury hotel, the Palace Mont d'Arbois, and celebrities and European royals soon followed. By the 1950s it was the place to ski and be seen, a stylish Alpine resort well positioned between Italy, Lake Annecy and Geneva.

Today, Megeve faces stiff competition from higher and bigger resorts, but it remains more mink coat than Gore-Tex jacket. The central square of the medieval village is lined with attractive chalets and shops, with discreet signs for the likes of Hermes and Gucci. Skiing is only a small part of the resort's appeal, with winter polo, summer golf and Michelin-starred restaurants attracting today's jet set. There are 5,000 permanent residents, mainly French, who, according to Larry Levene of Swiss-based Alpine Homes, love the year-around appeal.

"Megeve is an exclusive, accessible and incredibly pretty resort," says Levene. "Buyers here will not have skiing as their top priority, but will be looking for a sophisticated, traditional destination with plenty of activities and a great nightlife."

Levene has found a fabulous site for Balcons de Megeve, his first project outside Switzerland.

A steep three-minute climb from the heart of the village, past the newly renovated outdoor ice rink, takes you to the premier enclave of Mont d'Arbois, with 12 old churches and a reassuringly wealthy hush. Here, on a gently sloping plot beside an easy ski run, Alpine Homes will build 17 three- and four-bedroom apartments in typical Savoyard style.

When completed by December 2008, Balcons de Megeve will provide southerly views over trees and a distant stream towards the Mont Blanc massif. Nearby chalets sell for several million pounds. "To find a site of this quality in the heart of Megeve is like striking oil," says Jeremy Rollason of UK selling agent Savills.

"Development land of this calibre rarely comes up in this prestigious resort." Prices at Balcons de Megeve reflect both this exclusivity and the high-spec build that is planned. Three-bedroom apartments of 1,012sq ft start at [pounds sterling]1.1 million and four-bedroom duplex apartments of 1,539sq ft are [pounds sterling]1.6 million.

Megeve imposes strict planning restrictions and the slopes up towards Mont d'Arbois are particularly well protected. Most property for sale will be in existing buildings, such as the newly launched complex L'Etoile de Megeve.

Irish property investment company Midelin Investments and established luxury builder Grosset Janin are refurbishing the chalets to create 16 apartments and two tiny chalets. …

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