Success stories

Chalissima SA: Old materials for new builds

Luxury chalets made of wood that is hundreds of years old are the specialty of Chalissima SA, based in Verbier. On their hunt for the best raw material, Chalissima’s scouts travel the length and breadth of the Alps. When the time was right to set up a subsidiary in the USA near the mountains of Colorado, Chalissima sought support from S-GE.

Chalissima chalet in a snowy setting

Chalissima is a joint venture by three successful, long-established companies from western Switzerland. The architects at G. Comina SA plan and prepare, while the carpenters and joiners at Besson Charpente build and erect, and the specialists at Fernand Cretton & Cie SA refine and finish. This combined expertise gives rise to unique holiday homes in a class of their own. Chalissima’s “Chalet Les Mésanges”, for example, consists of one main and one adjoining building for guests, and comprises 1,200 square meters of living space spread over 21 rooms. The “Chalet Amarante”, on the other hand, boasts 18 rooms with 900 square meters of floor space.

Combining traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology

The main feature these buildings share is the nature of their material: The wood used is between 200 and 350 years old, generally pine, oak or larch, and comes originally from the alpine areas of Switzerland, Italy and Austria. To find it, Chalissima seeks high and low for old huts and barns bearing the patina developed over centuries, dismantles them, and takes the healthy antique wood to a warehouse that now comprises several thousand cubic meters. In the planning and construction of its chalets, Chalissima combines cutting-edge technology with traditional craftsmanship. This approach demands experienced specialists and requires a great deal of manual work, particularly for the interior. No detail is left up to chance, ensuring the result is a genuine Swiss chalet that meets the exacting requirements of its residents.

The Swiss chalet as a successful export

In addition to the central alpine region of Europe, Chalissima has also identified potential demand for these upmarket holiday homes in the USA, more precisely the mountains of Colorado, home to famous and popular ski resorts such as Aspen and Breckenridge. There’s no shortage of upmarket holiday homes in the Colorado Mountains, but luxury Swiss chalets made of antique wood are harder to come by. In order to get to know the new market better and to assess the potential for orders, S-GE and the offshoot of the Swiss Business Hub USA in San Francisco organized a detailed fact-finding mission in Colorado for Chalissima’s senior management team. Trade Commissioner Christoph Besmer paved the way by contacting architects, housebuilders and real estate specialists operating in the segment of luxury holiday homes in the Colorado Mountains in advance of the trip, and thus set up meetings for the Chalissima management. The combined group spent four days in the area, and ultimately Chalissima decided to set up a subsidiary in the USA. This is based in Glenwood Springs, approximately 60 kilometers as the crow flies from Aspen, and is headed up by its Swiss manager Bertrand Vaudan:

“Since we operate in the high-end luxury real estate market, it quickly became clear that Aspen is the right location for us.” Chalissima’s US subsidiary was launched in June 2016 and can look back on an intensive start phase. “Setting up a company in the USA is relatively easy”, says Bertrand Vaudan. “The actual work begins afterwards, particularly the logistics for importing wood from Switzerland and recruiting and appointing qualified employees locally.”

S-GE points the way

According to Bertrand Vaudan, the support from S-GE and the Swiss Business Hub USA really helped to ensure a successful launch in the USA:

“We met our first customers during one of the meetings organized by Christoph Besmer. Without S-GE and the Swiss Business Hub, it would have been difficult to find out where to go and whom to visit. They targeted the right people and locations right from the beginning.”

Are you also hoping to gain a foothold in the American market?

Our consultant for North America, Annina Bosshard, and the Swiss Business Hub USA will be happy to support and advise you with the initial investigations.

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