Investors back Alpine hotels

Investors are clamouring to acquire mountain resort hotels in the Alps. Europe's highest resorts are much in demand, as climate change means those at lower altitudes suffer from less reliable winter snowfall

Alpine ski resorts are seeing a growth in interest from hotel investors, with transaction volumes doubling over the last two years. According to research by agent JLL, more than EUR800m of hotels have been sold across the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions alone over the last two years.

The increased attention is said to be down to a combination of limited supply, and changing weather patterns. As resorts at lower altitudes in the European mountain range see less snow during a typical winter season, so demand increases for skiing and winter sports holidays at higher altitudes. At the same time, development of new hotels and resorts is restricted for environmental reasons, making existing high altitude resort properties more attractive.

Seeking snow confidence

“More snow-sure locations at higher altitudes are commanding premium values, said Matthieu Subit, vice president of hotels and hospitality for EMEA capital markets at JLL. “Major operators are seeing solid performance especially in the upscale segment, which is attracting a host of savvy investors.”

JLL reports that 80% of Alpine hotel transactions were at 1800m or above, during 2023. One hotspot is Courcheval, where more than EUR325m of hotels changed hands. Institutional investors are actively buying and account for around 60% of deal volume, liking major assets such as Club Med properties: their hotels in Samoens and La Rosiere were both sold in 2022.

Resorts acquired

The Alps have also seen significant investment at the resort level. US group Vail Resorts has expanded into Europe, in 2022 spending USD155m on a 55% stake in the Andermatt-Sedrun resort in central Switzerland. In late 2023, the group agreed to buy a second Swiss resort, Crans-Montana, acquiring lifts, supporting mountain operations, ski school and 11 resort restaurants.

Joining the new investors in the Alps has been Monte-Carlo SBM, which owns and operates a portfolio in Monte Carlo. It bought the 78 room Palace des Neiges hotel in Courcheval, France, with plans for a refurbishment of the luxury property prior to relaunching it.

Also in France, in the resort of Serre Chevalier, investor La Française Real Estate Managers recently acquired a development project that will deliver a four star hotel with 164 suites. The project is expected to open in late 2025, and has been forward leased to operator MMV, a subsidiary of Compagnie des Alpes.

Elsewhere, in the Jungfrau ski area, late 2023 saw investor 123IM agree to back a renovation by Assas Hotels, of the 80 room Alpine Hotel Wengen, shifting the tired four star property up a gear. The remodelling is planned to start at the end of the 2023/4 ski season, and will be completed ahead of the winter 2024/5 season. Also active in Wengen is investor Beaumier, which is working through refurbishments of three properties acquired from Wengen Classic Hotels – the Silberhorn, Belvedere and Wengener Hof.