Hygge is a slightly crazy story, started on a whim, and a great family adventure.
It all started with a week of Christmas 2015 holidays when the weather was too good to go skiing, but not good enough to hike. A few real estate agency windows, and the idea was born: why not embark on a real estate project in the mountains? But in a real project, where you control all the aspects, where you don’t depend on third parties and intermediaries, where you can go to the end of your ideas, in short, where you define yourself the constraints of his freedom!!
Recharge your batteries, escape for a break by discovering the Pyrenees thanks to Chalet HYGGE
And above all the desire to create a place where you feel good, where you want to meet, to share moments suspended in time, to laugh together, to tease, to play, with the drunkenness of the immensity of the mountains in the background, as if curled up in a protective and warm cocoon. A place that is both elegant and functional, refined and refined, a place where you can pursue your ideas…
And then, fed up with these rabbit cages in impersonal buildings where at 9:00 p.m. the first neighbors bang on the walls, bellowing “Isn’t this noise over soon?”, where those below don’t smoke tobacco, and the smell goes through “we don’t know where”, where the bar of the click-clac hits the hills after a day’s skiing, where the potatoes take hours to cook because the hot plate is tired of heating up, or the smell of the squeegee is present for 3 days because the ventilation (what ventilation????), where at 02:00 a weird smell wakes you up “but why did you put your socks on the electric heater (the “toaster”)!!? ?”
We made a few visits in the new, and many in the old. Many in the old. And even in the very old. After 7 months of active research, rounds of agencies, blabla and even refused offers (in the old, very old property!!); finally a property stands out from the lot that makes us want, that allows us to project ourselves: ideal location, quality of the structure, character of the building, accessibility, spaces, it brings together and looks like what we want and can do. After a few adventures and a few surprises related to the pre-sales diagnosis, in December 2016, we became owners of the chalet… We arrived all four as a family, on Christmas Eve and spent our first New Year’s Eve there in “camping” mode, with the only fireplace to warm us – the heating having been cut months before – to sleep in our “extreme cold” sleeping bags on our inflatable mattresses. Our first raclette on a crate, on a moving blanket, on the floor, in front of the fireplace, remains anchored in our memories… It was nothing like the “Comfort” of today!!
2017: year of reflection, projection and … demolitions!! How to appropriate places, how to transform them? 3 levels, 255m² of floor space, what to do? Where ? Winter and spring holidays and weekends: we share, we exchange with friends, friends, family. We also demolish (there are fewer people than for the raclette)!! The bridges of May, the summer holidays and those of autumn serve us to pull out, break, dismantle, remove… To all 4, with Isabella, 12 years old, Edouard, 15 years old, the TITAN jackhammer from BricoDépôt bought (24kg, 45 Joules impact), it’s 35 tons of rubble that we will have removed with the shovel, and with the wheelbarrow: all the partitions in briquettes and plaster and all the concrete screeds and the tiles of the chalet… Not to mention the incalculable trips to the recycling center in the rain, the wind, the snow or the heat wave to remove the horrible paneling, the flowery wallpapers, the tapestries made of stinging old fabrics, the glass wool full of rats’ nests, the kitchens of the last century, shower trays and other earthenware, and all the charms piled up in every corner of the attic or the garage… And this anthology trip to the scrapyard with uncle GG, the man and a half, where we piled up in the pick-up and the trailer the oil-fired boiler, dozens of tubes in a steel, copper and lead pipes, rolls of copper wire, crates of old taps, cast iron bathtubs, and where, in a last effort, we hoisted those cursed cast iron radiators that weighed a ton (no, 182kg for the heaviest) to sell them for a pittance on the Bon Coin when they cost us an intervertebral disc… Fortunately, “papi Serge” lent us his studio cabin in the “Grand Pré” residence: he will have served as our “base camp” throughout the duration of the works!!
We said to ourselves that we could perhaps keep certain parts, but the more we progressed in the demolition, the more it became obvious that we would have to keep only the walls, the slabs and the cladding: all the rest would have to be replaced. ; what was done!! The heritage adventure was transformed into an entrepreneurial adventure: this is what had to be explained to the banks!!
All these moments of sweat, blood sometimes, going from tears to giggles in the same minute, from moments of discouragement to moments of mad desire, all these intense moments of life have allowed us to appropriate the place, to see clearer in the project, and to choose an architectural firm to accompany us… Here again, we did not do half measures: young women experienced in digital tools and able to show us their work remotely, who understood our ideas and could bring us some… Difficult to pass with local craftsmen accustomed to certain cacochymes having a storefront and working… on sketches!! Moreover, those who made “questionable” reflections were not retained!!
2018: work begins in March. Delivery expected in November. Despite our busy schedules, we try to be on site as often as possible and entrust the implementation to a local Project Manager. The schedule is hard to be fixed. From the summer, the first shifts take place and in the autumn it seems obvious that the reception will not be done this year. After a few stormy meetings, furniture and kitchens delivered and covered, an unscrupulous contractor who had to be picked up from his home “on his return from vacation”; delivery will not take place in 2018… But we have every intention of spending New Year’s Eve there: the said contractor (who took care of the plumbing/electricity lot) promises us that the hot water and the heating will be finished for Christmas; the heating engineer intervening on the 28th to “start” the heat pumps… In fact, he was unable to start the heat pumps that day, for many reasons, I remember in particular that the outward and return circuits had been set up upside down (he didn’t want to tell us everything so as not to overwhelm us). At 9:00 p.m., he finished repairing the leak in the bathtub for us, and with the hot and cold water pipes reversed, we could wash ourselves!! It will be necessary to heat with the stove!! Fortunately, in the bathroom alleys, the radiators are electric… It was Gillou and his little family who came to spend New Year’s Eve with us so as not to abandon us in our pain… After having warmed their hearts and souls , we talk about the choice of name for the chalet, which we still hadn’t decided on… Talking about what we were doing and wanted to do, he who often travels to Scandinavian countries, he told us that it was very hou-ga as a place… How? hygge? And here is the baptized chalet. It will be the “Hygge” chalet, and the names of the apartments are coming soon!!
The reception convened at the end of January 2019 is catastrophic. The list of reservations is endless and this same contractor abandons the site at the beginning of March, goes into liquidation in June… Begins the beginning of legal recourse and an evidence: winter 2019 is missed, it is necessary at all costs to save the summer and … finish the electricity and plumbing yourself. Banks don’t wait, and no craftsman wants to go behind incompetents…
2019: it is put on the market, at the end of March. In degraded and partial mode. But we have to get started, repay the loans, and start meeting and understanding our customers: what they are looking for, what they like. Comfort and Cozy are finished “hard” and “roughly”; Cocoon is not commendable: the paid-for custom shower screens have not been ordered… Among other things!! The home automation and the central vacuum do not work, the exterior lighting is not installed, the interior not finished, 72 points are open on the report of judicial expertise… But the Tourist Office, through its ” Club des Ambassadeurs” followed us and provided decisive assistance on the marketing aspects, and supported us throughout our project. A support that allowed us to hold on in the many difficult and desperate moments… Thanks to the photos of their photographer – partner, we were able to put our ads on Airbnb…
On April 10, with great emotion, we welcome Magali and David, our first customers. This is the first time that we have welcomed travelers to our home to make them feel at home. We are surprised that they do not see all the imperfections and details of these finishes that haunt us… In the end, things are going well, they seem very happy despite the bad weather. And our most faithful by the way since then: they have come 5 times since!! Today they are friends: like us, they loved St-Lary and fell in love with the chalet. Like us, they love the mountains, beautiful things, good things, simple, authentic and warm moments. They are happy with us: Magali, who is also an Airbnb host, shares her experience with us. Super interesting. David is benevolent, but not complacent: that’s what it takes to progress!!
Summer 2019, our friend Guillaume comes with his family to give us a hand with the electrical work: together we install the LED strips, the exterior lighting and help us list what remains to be done in electricity: the list is long, but we will get there!! During the summer, we are a little less than half full… The first uses show the countless electrical faults and the first plumbing leaks… 2019 will be a long year of debugging and finishing… Fortunately, Roger la science, le grand manitou of the “magneto” and master Ioda es-electrical panel is there to “go fishing” for defective cables, pass the needle in the right place, replace the 6 square with 16 square to avoid fire and choose the right one circuit breaker to “protect the coil”… No cheese au gratin in the dishes, and no red at the table: this is the secret of its 79-year-old form: now we know!!
Winter 2019/2020 is looking good: all the apartments are available for rent, we are full for Christmas / New Year and manage to rent full weeks for the winter holidays. That’s it, we are on the upward slope!!
Patatras, the COVID comes to question everything. Shutdown on March 16. Airbnb, our main rental provider, decides unilaterally to reimburse all travellers: it’s a bloodletting… The scissor effect: the outflow of credits, the absence of incoming rentals. The fight is bitter with the banks: we almost left our dream there… We are taking advantage of this period to pass the digital age and engage the top gear: software for management and automation of customer relations, creation of a presentation/reservation site, management of rates and availability in a multi-channel tool,… We must at all costs be able to free ourselves from large online travel agencies, and we choose to be accompanied by Superhote.
Summer 2020 is good: everyone wants to take a breath of fresh air in the mountains. Our top-of-the-range positioning is the right one: we are almost complete!! The off-season is gloomy: people are afraid to travel, and no cures this year…
The second wave hits the fall, another bad blow. The stations will not open: beyond misunderstanding, we are close to knockout. But thanks to our customers, we have held up: a large majority – and we thank them very much – understand that the mountains are not just about alpine skiing, and that meeting up with your tribe to spend a “hyggeligt” moment “, it is important !!
December 2020: the last electrical repairs / improvements are made. The electrical work is complete.
January 2021: the last plumbing defects are rectified. The plumbing work is finished.
Winter 2020/2021 is saved for us. Thank you dear customers!!
The third wave is hitting spring 2021. Hopefully we can have a decent summer 2021…
And soon, we promise: we will put pictures!!
Thanks for coming this far,