Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tour du Mont Blanc New Bellevue refuge planning problems delay opening

Originally built at the end of the 19th Century the Hotel Bellevue was a popular with those seeking to conquer Mont Blanc, and as reported in the French press ‘frequented by the Victorian English or bourgeois bohemians in search of thrills’. A century later, Bellevue was no more than a ruin in a fantastic location.

The hotel is located above Les Houches at 1800 meters on the ridge linking the Bellevue telepherique with Col du Voza with a 360° view of the Chamonix Valley and the Val Montjoie & St Gervais. It is perfectly situated not only for those heading up or descending Mont Blanc but those looking for alternation accommodation for the Tour du Mont Blanc with its fantastic location.
Two brothers acquired the hotel some time ago, Olivier the former boss of lifts, and Yves, the hotelier of other establishments at altitude including the Hotel Prarion within the Les Houches Ski area. Their intention to reinstate this classic hotel providing accommodation and refreshments to mountaineers, Tour du Mont Blanc trekkers, day hikers and in winter linking in with the Les Houches ski area.
The renovation has been no easy task; demolition & re-building at 1800 meters the general logistics & cost of getting materials on & off site don’t bare thinking about. They had to make sure the building had the same volume, and the same outward appearance, this is a listed site so initial planning was fraught with restrictions and refusals… this is the Chamonix valley and nothing is normal or easy here! Despite this the Hotel Bellevue is reborn from the ashes, after 20 years a sleep.
A green approach meant hotel without heating! As well as maintaining its original look the brief was to build an exemplary hotel in terms of impact on the site and consumption of energy. The hotel "without heat" is based on a design concept with a very low power consumption, based on the use of passive heat of the sun (solar), geothermal (7 wells, 100 m deep have been constructed around the building), optimum insulation (triple-glazed windows, wall & roof insulation) and a ventilation system that regenerates the air "old" air. The buildings consumption will be reduced to 10% of similar size hotels in similar locations.

Due to open partially this winter and fully open summer 2011 planning problems have put pay to that. The brothers have failed to comply with the allowed building surface area (shon) and the permitted 586 m² has somehow been increased to 895 m² with out further permission. These problems will have to be resolved before they will be allowed to open & knowing the French system this could take some time.

Despite all of this the building is virtually complete and ready to go and with a bit of luck Mont Blanc Treks will be making use of this mountain refuge for our Tour du Mont Blanc treks in summer 2012. More info as it comes.

Mont Blanc Treks 2011

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