Do buy for me in Ar­gentina

For far-sighted Euro­peans, it pro­vides great sum­mer ski­ing — and much more. Laura Henderson finds homes for all sea­sons in South Amer­ica

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Home & Abroad -

Snow fell late this year in the Patag­o­nian re­sort of San Car­los de Bar­iloche, but it was worth the wait: a 3ft base and a fresh layer of pow­der overnight to top it off. Heaven for any skier but par­tic­u­larly for Euro­peans who can’t wait till Christ­mas.

“Late” means mid-July: Ar­gentina be­ing in the south­ern hemi­sphere, win­ter runs from July to Oc­to­ber, when most of us are still only dream­ing of snow­cov­ered pistes. In­vest­ing in a ski home south of the equa­tor may seem far-fetched, but up­graded, well­groomed re­sorts in the An­des now com­pare favourably with the finest fa­cil­i­ties in Europe and the United States. And San Car­los de Bar­iloche is Ar­gentina’s top moun­tain get­away, with a four-year, $8mil­lion (£3.9m) im­prove­ment plan de­liv­er­ing a sea­son-long, full house of hol­i­day­mak­ers, along with an in­flux of “long-haulers” into the lo­cal hous­ing mar­ket.

But it is not all about the snow, as Maria Reynolds of Reynolds Propiedade­s points out: Bar­iloche re­mains “open for busi­ness” all year round. “Hik­ing paths, rid­ing trails and fish­ing lakes at­tract an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent clien­tele,” she ex­plains, “while the de­val­ued peso, pegged against the dol­lar, is en­tic­ing for­eign prop­erty buy­ers to take the plunge, many off­set­ting their an­nual run­ning costs by tap­ping into the hol­i­day rentals mar­ket.” Lake-and-moun­tain real es­tate is a growth sec­tor, agrees Kevin Prior, sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of Obelisk In­ter­na­tional: “Buenos Aires has paved the way as a fash­ion­able buy-to-let lo­ca­tion, but the open coun­try is ac­quir­ing its own fan base – prop­erty buy­ers love it be­cause of the vast­ness and di­ver­sity.”

Prior’s pitch is per­sua­sive, given the num­ber of ex­pats grab­bing a foothold af­ter 2001, when Ar­gentina’s fi­nan­cial col­lapse ef­fec­tively put a two-thirds-off sign on ev­ery­thing. “One in three prop­erty trans­ac­tions in the cap­i­tal is now made by for­eign­ers,” he says. “Be­yond that, Ar­gentina’s ‘great out­doors’ is an un­spoilt play­ground for Euro­peans and Amer­i­cans. Real es­tate val­ues in touristy re­gions like Patag­o­nia are up by 60 per cent since 2004; it’s a good time to buy.”

Hang­ing off the south­ern lip of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bar­iloche’s St Moritz-style chalets, sparkling lakes and moun­tain scenery feel like a vaster ver­sion of the Alpine get­away. The sim­i­lar­i­ties arise from the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of his­tory. Ger­mans and Aus­tri­ans set­tled in this south­ern An­dean city dur­ing the 19th cen­tury, form­ing the ginger­bread­house/fon­due-ski cul­ture that re­mains.

The re­sult is a curious mix of Ar­gen­tine and Euro­pean cul­ture, which lo­cals en­joy as much as hol­i­day­mak­ers; tourist guides car­ry­ing them­selves with a swag­ger that comes from ex­plor­ing the great out­doors rather than spend­ing too long in the vis­i­tor bureau. Cruisy open bowls, tree-lined runs and off-piste trails cater to all lev­els, with chic bou­tiques and up­scale bistros de­liv­er­ing a lively après-ski scene.

“Cerro Cat­e­dral re­sort, 12 miles from Bar­iloche, has the con­ces­sion of the whole moun­tain,” ex­plains Peter Haller of Mai­son Buenos Aires, “while Cerro Chapelco (100 miles away) ap­peals to fam­i­lies, with groomed trails and a welle­quipped ski school.”

Top of the “most wanted” league are skiin, ski-out chalets, com­plete with Shak­er­style decor and log fires: “A 1,700 sq ft chalet will set you back around £90,000,” says Maria Reynolds. Grow­ing num­bers, how­ever, are suc­cumb­ing to turnkey al­ter­na­tives in re­sorts like the Are­lauquen Coun­try Club, just 15 min­utes from Bar­iloche cen­tre. The club sports an 18-hole golf course, polo field and ten­nis cen­tre. Bun­ga­lows there start from £70,000; larger two-storey vil­las with ex­posed beams and floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows sell for up­wards of £300,000. “You’ve also got a rental pool to tap into here,” she adds, “own­ers net­ting in the re­gion of £700 per week dur­ing ‘crunch time’ [July to Septem­ber].”

Bar­iloche’s sur­round­ing Lake Dis­trict – where the prov­inces of Neuquen and Rio Ne­gro kiss the Chilean border – strad­dles three dis­tinct cli­mate zones and of­fers its own four-sea­son fun; there, wa­ter­front prop­erty ranges from £60 to £80 per square me­tre. “Build­ing costs for good to high-end solid wood houses are be­tween £40 and £70 per square me­tre,” says Ms Reynolds, “and they last a life­time or two. But prop­erty choice is pretty vast, with a new wave of bou­tique prop­er­ties, re­built his­toric lodges ( es­tan­cias) and chalets ush­er­ing in Ar­gen­tines and out­siders. The Bustillo cor­ri­dor, from Bar­iloche to the vil­lage of Llao Llao, is set to boom in the next five years, as are the less ex­pen­sive com­mu­ni­ties of El Bol­son and Lago Puelo.”

Head to Lake Nahuel Huapi’s north­ern shore and you’ll be shar­ing your out­door kicks with Buenos Aires’ smart set. Since the 50-mile route from Bar­iloche was en­gi­neered a decade ago, the posh town of Villa La An­gos­tura has seen a pro­lif­er­a­tion

of lux­ury lake­side homes and lodges. New con­struc­tion is con­trolled by strict ar­chi­tec­tural codes, the cen­tral area ren­dered largely in cy­press, re­tain­ing an up­mar­ket, film-set feel. “In the Alps, you get the moun­tain views,” says in­vestor-in­wait­ing Is­abelle Logerot from north Lon­don, “but there’s a chalet ev­ery 50 feet. Here, it’s all wild open spa­ces and blue skies. It’s a real tonic.”

While Patag­o­nia has its own dis­tinct at­trac­tions, the Men­doza prov­ince, with its vine­yards and moun­tain ge­og­ra­phy, is es­tab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as the best re­gion for winer­ies and hold­ings; prices start from £40,000 for 30 acres of real es­tate. Close to the lofty 228,000-hectare ski re­sort of Las Leñas, the pro­vin­cial town of San Rafael has 100-acre, up-and-run­ning fin­cas for £400,000.

“You can play out­doors all year round here,” says Haller. “Take it easy in the sum­mer and day-trip to the slopes in win­ter.” Just a one-hour flight from Buenos Aires, Leñas is the sum­mer lo­ca­tion for free skiers the world over, he adds: “Ex­treme skiers love it, with lift-ac­ces­si­ble off-piste ter­rain as steep as you like. Most tourists are Ar­gen­tines, Brazil­ians and Amer­i­cans, but UK vis­i­tor num­bers are on the up.”

And the price tag? About £25,000 to £30,000 buys you a two-bed apart­ment, with di­rect ac­cess to the slopes: “July gets pretty busy with the school hol­i­days. Septem­ber to Oc­to­ber is bet­ter and there’s plenty of snow­fall. As for the views, see­ing is be­liev­ing.”

South­ern com­fort: the Lake Dis­trict of Ar­gentina re­sem­bles the Alps, right down to the ginger­bread ar­chi­tec­ture and ski cul­ture, but it is less de­vel­oped. Thanks in part to the favourable ex­change rate, Bri­tish buy­ers are snap­ping up sec­ond homes in...

ctionsc in­cludean 18-hole golf course

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