Hotel investment in the Alps heats up

Climate change is driving record transaction levels in high-altitude, luxury hotels

March 26, 2024

Long famed for its ski resorts, mountain towns in the French Alps have recently seen an uplift in investor interest.

The Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions alone have seen hotel transaction volumes double over the past two years, breaking records with more than €800 million ($875 million) of hotel deals closed, JLL data shows.

“Due to the warming climate, and limited new supply of ski resorts, more snow-sure locations at higher altitudes are commanding premium values,” says Matthieu Subit, JLL’s Vice President of Hotels and Hospitality for EMEA Capital Markets.

In fact, 80% of 2023 transactions in the Alps were located at, or above, 1800 meters. Prime resorts generated significant investor interest, with €235 million ($257 million) of hotel deals closed in the prestigiously exclusive area of Courchevel, accounting for 56% of all transactions in the region.

Institutional investors have been the most active participants, accounting for almost 60% of total deal volumes, including the acquisition of Club Med properties in Samoens and La Rosière in 2022, and the Club MMV La Plagne in 2023.

Subit says that it’s also been an unrivalled period for portfolio transactions, largely driven by the acquisition of brands like Lodge and Spa Mountain and the Temmos chain. “Major operators are seeing solid performance especially in the upscale segment, which is attracting a host of savvy investors,” he says.


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Targeting those with a taste for luxury

Surging investment demand is transforming the Alps hotel industry, especially when it comes to luxury. A deliberate shift in focus has seen room availability at the lower end of the scale decrease, while L’Agence Savoie Mont Blanc reported 4 and 5-star rooms increased by 4.4% over the same period.

Room nights in the top market segments have also risen, with 4-star and 5-star overnight stays up more than 17% between 2019 and 2023, according to INSEE, the national statistics bureau of France.

It’s being driven by several high-end hotel projects, including Hôtel VoulezVous Tignes le Lac, Chalet-Hôtel Le Kaya, Les Menuires and M Lodge, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville.

Meanwhile, the redevelopment of existing accommodations into sumptuous private chalets, such as La Solière, Iconic House and Ultima, further reinforces the growth of lavish accommodation in the region.

As a result, hotels in the French Alps are now typically achieving annual turnover similar to their Parisian counterparts, with establishments in the Northern Alps alone reporting a 40% increase in RevPAR since 2019.

Food is proving to be a major draw. Alongside 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, the mountains have seen restaurant concepts arrive from Paris including Bambini, Le Piaf and Annie Famose, enhancing the region’s appeal as a gourmet destination.

Consequently, there’s been a shift in typical guest profile.

“We’ve witnessed a significant increase of international guests drawn by the region’s stunning landscape, top-notch resorts and luxurious accommodations,” says Subit.

Traditionally, visitors have arrived from the UK (41% of overnight stays during 2022-2023), followed by the Americas and Belgium, according to L’Agence Savoie Mont Blanc. However, this is starting to change with a wider audience of elite global travelers hitting the slopes.

Most notably, L’Agence data shows visitors from the Middle East have increased by 37% while U.S. visitors are up 26%..

Diversification to drive future growth

With climate change and hotter winter weather impacting the length of the ski season, ski resorts and hoteliers are appealing to a wider consumer base by actively promoting the mountains as a year-round destination.

“Visitors looking for fresher climates who want to avoid the sometimes-stifling heat of more traditional vacation destinations, are increasingly seeing the Alps as an attractive summer option,” says Subit.

Hotel websites are emphasizing healthy warm weather pursuits such as yoga, hiking, watersports and cycling. Some ski lifts are open, and free, for hikers returning to towns on the valley floor. There are even new sports complexes popping up, such as Aqualudique Paradisio in La Plagne and Aquamotion in Courchevel, offering everything from waterslides, indoor surfing and spa treatments, to climbing walls.

It’s starting to pay dividends, with L’Agence Savoie Mont Blanc confirming a substantial average annual increase of 6.5% in 4-star and 5-star room nights during the summer season.

“With limited new ski resort supply, recent upscale transformation and wider diversification, the market is well-positioned for further growth,” says Subit. “In the coming years we expect activity in the core Alps region to remain dynamic, thanks to its enduring charm, strong fundamentals and good balance between risk and return.” 

Contact Matthieu Subit

Vice President of Hotels and Hospitality for EMEA Capital Markets

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