Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aguille Grive Hotel - what's happened?

Conditions at Les Arcs don't get much better than they were today - another 5 or 6 cm of snow last night to top up yesterdays 50cm 'dump', and the sun making its presence felt despite the fresh cold air. But where is everybody? The place is deserted, I hardly saw anyone at all during my 3 hours on skis (most welcome first outing since Boxing Day!). There seems to be something about the 2nd week of January - conditions are always good but we can't seem to attract anyone to come here. Maybe it's the dip between too much Christmas spending and the arrival of the January pay slip.

The new Aguille Grive hotel
One the way back from a bit of delerium between the trees at Vallandry I thought I'd have a look at the new Aiguille Grive Hotel and Restaurant, built on the site of the popular former eponymous establishment by the same proprietors. It's a hugely ambitious and striking project, with 5  separate 'chalets' linked by an invisible corridor to a large main building. Beautifully clad in local larch and pine, it has been designed and built to the highest 'eco-standards' by a trendy firm of Paris architects. However the best thing is that it is clearly an Arcadien design, updating and echoing the best of Les Arcs highly-distinctive architectural style.

But once again - no one around! The hotel and restaurant was scheduled to open on 15th December, but judging by the piles of plaster-board inside and unfinished concrete structures outside it still has rather a long way to go before it anyone is going to'enjoy the dream holiday', as the marketing website  proposes. I'm trying to find out why things haven't gone to plan: any information gratefully received.

Building the old Aguille Grive in 1957
It's a shame the marketing material for the hotel makes no mention of the old Aiguille Grive restuarant. This was almost certainly  Les Arcs very first development, constructed in 1957 on the ruins of an old shepherd's hut. It was built by the wealthy aunt of Robert Blanc (the co-founder of Les Arcs), Claudia.  She was shrewd enough to recognise that something extraordinary was going to happen in the mountains above her native village of Hauteville-Gondon, although at that stage plans for Les Arcs were barely more than gossip and pipe-dreaming.  Other locals soon started to cotton on to idea of 'white gold', and soon a 500m long second-hand drag-lift was erected in the Grand Meleze field above (roughly were the Arc 1800 piste of the same name runs today) by a farmer called Achille Gonguet.  Yvon and Robert Blanc starting organising skiing lessons soon after, and the rest, as they say, is history.... (more of which you'll discover in future blogs).

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