Cosy Mountain N°54

December 29, 2022


Tomorrow, with the application of the ZAN law, the construction of new hotels will be almost impossible, in the mountains as elsewhere. It will therefore become imperative to rehabilitate and renovate the old... Like the hotel La Cachette. Eric Belluardo, co-founder of the Friendly hotels group, presents this model of the genre.

Eric Belluardo, the Friendly Hotels Group specializes in mountain hotels?

Yes, this winter we are opening the La Cachette hotel in Arc 1600. This is the third establishment taken over by the group since 2019, after Le Totem in Flaine and the Victoria Lodge in Val d'Isère.

Why did you choose La Cachette?

It is a hotel and a building emblematic of Les Arcs, both in terms of its history and its architecture. We wanted to give it back its historical and patrimonial character. The resort of Les Arcs is located in the commune of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, a commune that has opted for a policy of transition towards zero land artificialisation. Renovation is part of the climate and transition issues. For Friendly, it is obvious to use the existing square meters.

The location is also important?

Indeed, the site is located at the arrival of the funicular linking the Bourg-Saint-Maurice station to Arc 1600. This is the most "low-carbon" destination to go skiing, from many large cities (Paris, London, Brussels, Lyon...). The problem of the last kilometer is thus managed, with a comfortable journey (by funicular).

How did you adapt the building to the expectations of a 4* hotel?

We transformed a 3* club hotel that had not been renovated for 25 years. It was not possible to change the size of the rooms. In the smallest frames, the cabin rooms, we turned the bed facing the view and the headboard is used as a desk. These cells of 18 m2 are pleasing because of this originality and become more pleasant to live in. On the first floor, we created an extension by gaining space on the outside terrace, eliminating at the same time a glazed circulation corridor. The whole becomes a common place for the bar, the restaurant and the coworking space. For thermal comfort, many of the exterior joineries have been replaced. The work will be spread over several years for both economic and practical reasons, as the cantilevered façade is more difficult to access. The heating was already in a virtuous mode, thanks to the central biomass heating plant in Les Arcs (wood energy). We improved the hotel's acoustics: soundproofing the elevators, replacing landing doors... Each room is now equipped with a "save the planet" button, the little name given by Friendly Hôtel to the main switch.

At each stage of the work, you make sure to adopt an environmental approach?

Yes, it is an approach that is taken from start to finish, from the construction site to the operation of the hotel. 100% of the companies chosen for the work come from the region. Only one is not from the department, but from Grenoble. We opted for raw materials, such as larch wood or compressed hay. The curtains of the rooms come from the Arpin spinning mill, it's a budget certainly, but it was important to us and brings cachet. In the same idea, we opted for second-hand furniture (from the supplier Selency, specialized in antique furniture). For the operation, we use filtered water, we selected coffee machines with compostable capsules and we forbid tomatoes in winter as well as individual containers in the room... We can't do everything perfectly, but we have a vocation to progress.

During the renovation, did you keep any elements?

We tried to throw away as little as possible. Some of the furniture was reused to improve the staff rooms, some was sold. The night tables, sideboards and other lamps were quite successful. For the collection of waste, we called upon the Savoyard company Trialp.

In terms of decoration, what atmosphere did you want to give to this building designed by Charlotte Perriand?

We asked the Patriarche agency to modernize the space, bringing the mountains, nature and light into the building. The windows were enlarged. The lounge features the colors of the landscape, a cameo of green, gray and ochre. Guests gather around a new central fireplace. The floor, like that of all the common areas, is covered with contour lines, a motif borrowed from the IGN map of the territory. We didn't want a ski hotel, but a mountain hotel, because we will be open in winter and summer, with an extension from June to September.

Is a renovation project less expensive than new construction?

Contrary to popular belief, this is not the case. A renovation is more complex. From a technical point of view, there are constant discoveries. For example, we don't have two identical bathrooms. As for the economics of the project, we have respected the costs per room, and we obtain an economic balance very close to that of a new project.

December 1, 2022