In August 2016 when A Place in The Sun told me I would be heading to Morzine to help a couple find a Summer getaway, I was intrigued. Why would anyone want to buy a Summer getaway in a ski-resort? Filming that week in Morzine highlighted to me just how marvellous this place was. The skies were blue, the temperature was in the mid-thirties, the scenery was spectacular and the variety of activities on offer surprised me; amazing mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, swimming, ice skating and even the Alpine French School offering year-round language courses and camps for adults and children. Morzine had such a buzz about it – I could completely see why my house hunters wanted to buy a holiday home there! And of course, their holiday home wasn’t just for the Summer months, they were planning on using it in the winter season too when they would be hitting the slopes. Literally the best of both worlds all in one place. In that week, Morzine captured my heart. After just an hour and fifteen minutes driving in the car, I arrived a Geneva Airport to fly home. An hour and ten minutes after that, I was collecting my luggage off the conveyer belt at Gatwick. Morzine was unbelievably accessible - could this place get any better?! As I walked though my front door, my husband Alex didn’t even have the chance to take my suitcase from me before I told him ‘I have viewed a Chalet, and I want us to try and find a way of to buy it”. In the six years of filming A Place in the Sun, he had NEVER witnessed me saying that. I was devastated when we were pipped to the post and someone else managed to buy that particular property before we could – but, I more than anyone know that’s the property game. You win some, you lose some. But on this one, I felt we had lost out big time…
Fast forward a year and a half and I couldn’t be happier because I was going back to Morzine. I would be filming a little weather report for the resort and also be properly introducing my children to skiing for the first time. Alex would be able to witness this picturesque town in the northern Alps for himself, and the children would be learning to ski with the British Alpine Ski School.
In the year and a half that had gone by since my first visit, some exciting new developments had popped up in the town, Les Chalets Joux Plane being one of them. The Alpine Penthouse; a luxurious four-bedroom duplex apartment within this development was the place I would call home for the week. Situated just 50 metres from the Pleney Ski Lift and the Town Square, I had recalled that in the Summer months the Town Square was alive with a free motorbike festival, fashion shows and live music. During our visit the town square was host to an ice rink and pretty carousel, both of which I knew would be a hit with my two.
On arrival, the Alpine Penthouse was stunning. With views of the slopes from every window and balcony, the interior was chic and stylish with a log burning fireplace suspended from the ceiling. We were greeted by Kath from Elevation Alps who literally couldn’t have done more for us. With a portfolio of luxury self-catered holiday rentals in Morzine, available throughout the year, Elevation Alps will also organise lift passes, transfers, equipment, cleaning services, grocery shopping and wine deliveries. You name it, they pretty much do it and the services are completely tailored to each clients’ requirements.
Before heading in to town to organise our ski equipment, we enjoyed a quick family lunch in a cosy and very popular restaurant in town called L’Etale. I knew the calories I had consumed eating the fondue would be burnt off after a few hours skiing and it was totally worth it! Although there is a choice of ski rental shops in the town, clients who book with Elevation Alps are given a 20% discount at FB Freeride and given that this particular rental shop is also at the foot of the Pleney lift it means you can leave your skis and boots in their boot room and put them on there each morning before taking the bubble lift up the mountain.
The skiing in Morzine is vast. Located in the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area which actually has 12 resorts in total (with Morzine being one of the main ones), there are over 650km of pistes spanning across France and Switzerland. Currently the area boasts 197 lifts serving 280 pistes catering for all abilities of skier. Alex and I have both been privileged enough to ski since we were children and I was one of the lucky (or mad) ones to get to take part in the first series of The Jump so we were really hoping that Rocco and Tahlia were going to love skiing as much as we do.
We had no idea how our children would take to slopes so decided a one hour private lesson for each of them every morning would be a good introduction. Jaz Lamb, the founder of BASS Ski School was an absolute delight. He had the patience of a Saint, Rocco and Tahlia adored him and what our children achieved with him in the space of five hours was beyond believable. Watching your two-year old and four-year old traverse across a mountain is somewhat of an emotional experience! Whilst the children were loving their new-found hobby, Alex and I explored the mountain with our ski guide Chris from New Generation. We stopped off to enjoy a well-deserved traditional French, hearty lunch at Vaffieu and let’s just say sitting in a deck chair, basking in the sunshine and listening to the music played by the DJ in this place is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
The conditions in Morzine were perfect and Alex and I were grateful of the amount of skiing we managed to do over the course of the week. We needed to exercise, especially since we had opted for a private chef to cater for us for four of our six days. Elevation Alps booked Damian who arrived every morning to make us a delicious breakfast. He delivered a cake for afternoon tea, cooked meals at an earlier time to suit our children and varied his even menu for us based on what we wanted. If we opted for a hearty lasagne he would make it, or if we chose more of an a-la-carte style menu he would happily oblige. Whatever he cooked it tasted and looked amazing. His dishes also used some really interesting flavours and ingredients which I thoroughly enjoyed trying.
Skiing isn’t skiing without a little bit of ‘Apres’ and there are certainly few good spots to try in Morzine. The Tremplin is a popular place to be at the end of the day. This hotel/restaurant/bar hosts live musicians who perform everyday between 4pm and 8pm in a bright red telecabine which acts as their stage. Situated at the bottom of the Pleney lift, it’s also a good spot to watch the torchlight descent of skiers and fireworks which the tourist board put on for free every Tuesday evening. In the middle of season the successful Rock the Piste festival takes place on the slopes throughout the Portes du Soleil. This high-altitude music festival sees it’s visitors dancing in ski boots. It has been attracting artists from all over the world since 2011 which is no surprise given its magical setting. If you want to break away from partying on the piste and enjoy a civilised and romantic meal, then L’Atelier next to the tourist office in the main square is a lovely choice. They offer a small but delicious menu and the food is beautifully presented albeit a bit on the pricey side.
Morzine has an extremely exciting future in store. There are plans to further improve the connections to the ‘snow sure’ higher resort of Avoriaz by way of a 3S technology cable-car. The first phase was completed in 2013, and the second phase from the Prodains stop to the centre of Morzine is due for completion in 2020. This in turn means Morzine will benefit from a new road network and the development of a new cultural centre. With all this happening it’s no surprise there will also be a few more luxury developments popping up, Le Mas de Joux Plane being one of them. In a prime location opposite the Pleney slopes in the centre of town this development of twenty apartments is due for completion by December 2019 and will also feature two penthouse suites complete with their own rooftop hot tub. I spoke with Paul Watts from Morzine Immobilier who was very helpful and inciteful on the market. He explained that on all their new builds hey literally hold the hand of the purchaser from start to finish, this includes assisting them with finishes and also helping with the interior design.
Unsurprisingly Alex shared my passion and agreed that Morzine is not only a great place to holiday it’s also a great place to invest. Elevation Alps made our whole experience in the resort even more enjoyable and we can’t wait to go back, even more so we now have two great little skiers to join us. We might not be on the property ladder in Morzine yet, but I really hope we can make it happen soon. We’ve already missed out once and I don’t want us to miss out again before it’s too late.