Need to know: resort updates
Arlberg, Austria Four new gondolas make it the largest ski area in Austria
Val d’isère, France New Solaise télécabine and beginner area
Villars, Switzerland to Les Diablerets
Zell am See, Austria New lift includes free wi-fi and heated seats
Courchevel, France New lift system and new hotels
Chamonix, France €477 million to be invested in new lifts over the next 27 years
a property, but he agrees that today’s buyers differ from those of yesteryear. ‘The boomers bought to ski and only to ski and they rarely rented their property out. Nowadays, everyone wants to rent out to cover running costs and they also want an active yearround season. The two go hand in hand.’
One of the main concerns of today’s ski-property buyers is liquidity—that is, the ability to sell the chalet or apartment on once their interest in the sport has faded—as well as the ability to maximise rental opportunities through both length of ski season and an established summer season.
Knight Frank’s latest research shows a noticeable correlation between resorts in which property values are growing and those that are renewing their ski infrastructure and investing heavily in the wider provision of non-ski activities. The French resorts of Val d’isère and Chamonix have been particularly active and both register price rises by an average of 6% and 5% respectively. Val d’isère’s decision to make the cable car free during the summer months is a major draw for walkers and mountain bikers. Furthermore, the resort has invested €16m to develop the Tête de Solaise area of the mountain, including replacing an old chairlift with a 10-person télécabine, with heated seats and onboard wi-fi, due to open this season.
‘However, the benchmark resort has to be Chamonix,’ believes Roddy. A truly year-round resort—with more visitors in summer than winter and millions of Euros going into new lifts, buses and pedestrianising parts of the town—it now has a Chanel boutique on the high street. ‘It used to be about beers and pickaxes, but now, there are a few more furs,’ adds Roddy. ‘Chamonix caters for everyone from toddlers to grandmothers and die-hard fitness freaks. We have buyers from all backgrounds and professions, including hedge funders, aristocrats and those from the Middle East looking for somewhere cooler to spend the summer.’ Compared to its ‘pretty sister’, Megève, prices are reasonable, too, with an average of €7,000 per sq m compared with €18,000 per sq m.
Another area with good rental income year round are the villages around Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’huez, recommends Heather Byrne of Leggett Immobilier (00 33 622 70 89 77). The project to upgrade facilities in Alpe d’huez