Avoriaz, in the Haute-Savoie will officially celebrate its 40th birthday today but the ski resort had a difficult birth, almost going bankrupt until the intervention of Pierre et Vacances boss Gérard Brémond. It’s childhood was no less troubled. The ski resort was the dream of Olympic ski champion Jean Vuarnet. Native of Morzine he had built a cable car to the Avoriaz plateau in 1963 but had run out of money. He contacted Paris based builer Gérard Brémond who was only too happy to work in the mountains.
Brémond assembled a team of young architects including the Brilliant Jacques Labro but their ideas, for a car free resort and innovative architecture didn’t win favour with the financiers. A government official described the first of their buildings as a carbuncle and said the resort was too remote to be successful. In short the team were jokers. Brémond had to innovate to raise money. Initially he sold properties on plan before they were built but too many properties were empty outside of the holiday periods. He came up with the idea of leaseback. Owners would let a company manage the letting of their property when they didn’t need it. An idea that would form the basis of his highly successful Pierre and Vacances and would enable him to clear Avoriaz’ debts. Other innovations included a Fantasy Film festival which premiered of Stephen Spielberg’s film Duel.
Read more about Avoriaz’ History