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17 January: update on Kristall Spaces projects

The Austrian Alps are nicely covered with snow and as much 229cm in Sölden.  We at Kristall Spaces are busy handling dozens of enquiries each day and managing site visits for prospective EU and non EU based buyers.

We have 4 key projects with pricing & availability

St Anton apartment for sale – construction is underway and one of the buildings containing half the apartments has all the floors in place and the roof on.  It is possible to enter the building with one of our representatives and get a feel for the floor spaces and different views.  Of the 28 upper luxury apartments in this project, 14 are still available.  Voted Best Apartment in Austria & Europe.

Kühtai 2020 Residences – construction was completed last month. There are 5 apartments (out of 17) left but we expect them to sell in the next few months.  There are quite a few buyers who have reserved or are about to reserve in this development, the highest in Austria.  Come and look round one these fully furnished luxury apartments which are ready to occupy now.

Sölden – we will start construction after this ski season. 3 of the 8 apartments have been sold or reserved and there is good interest for the last 5.  It is easy to set up appointments in the Gasthof Zwieselstein where you can meet the developer and the Gstrein family who will manage the rental business of your apartment.

Mountain Lake Resort Ötztal – we have just finalised floor plans and pricing for this exciting dual season location. 100 metres from the ski lift and in a prime location to make the most of the Ötztal’s strong summer season facilities.  State of the art spa and choice of swimming pools for summer. Restaurant and bar on-site.  We already have 7 reservations!

Coming soon – new projects

We will soon release floor plans for Galtür (Ischgl) and Fieberbrunn, so keep your powder dry if you want your own apartment in one of these locations!

Galtür (Ischgl) – floor plans for Mountain Spa Resort Paznaun coming in February 2017.  We will update all our prospects with a newsletter.

Fieberbrunn – floor plans coming in February 2017 also.  Again, all our previous enquiring customers will receive a newsletter.

Karwendel – 28 leisure residences with no rental obligation although we provide a rental service if owners would like to rent their apartments.  Swimming lake & on-site wellness.  On-site brasserie restaurant & bar. 1 hour from Munich & 40 minutes from Mittenwald.

Register your interest 

Contact us today if you are interested in any of these locations and we will keep you updated with progress.

Austria shines in Savills report on Alpine properties

There are some useful data in this year’s Savills report on Alpine properties – here are the out-takes for buyers considering property in Austria.

Austrian ski property prices are 28% below other alpine countries but price growth is higher at 8%.  See the chart below.

austrian-ski-property-growth-savills-spotlight-alpine-property-market-2016-17

With ongoing infrastructure investment and growing international skier participation there is room for upward price movement in Austria.  Other sources (e.g. Tiroler Tagezeitung) recently highlighted a record first half in 2016 of apartment sales in Tirol with an average capital growth of 6.2% for the region.

Reassuring feedback then from separate sources on increasing asset values which will be sustained by careful town planning restrictions on over-development and therefore supply.

Austria is clearly more successful than France and Switzerland in developing its non-skiing attractions and summer tourism business which drives up rental yields, infrastructure investment and future resale values for Austrian property owners.

The report points to a 1.6% year-on-year decline in total ski visits to the top 8 global markets is reported (USA, France, Austria, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and Germany).

Austrian property investors need to be careful and review local tourism figures in isolation.

The Tirol region has delivered a >10% increase in visits in the first 6 months of 2016 clearly bucking the trend of competitor ski markets.

Innsbruck airport is increasing its inbound capacity for German passengers by 180% this year and introducing new routes from British Airways.  The Tirol Tourism board and the ski resorts are again forecasting a year-on-year growth in visitor numbers.

One successful strategy paying off for the Austrians is their focus on the millennial generation (age 20 to 35).  The successful Alpine resorts of the future will be the ones which innovate and draw new visitors with different activities throughout the year.

Examples include Kühtai which boasts Austria’s biggest half pipe and nearby Area 47, one of Europe’s largest extreme sport adventure parks which even has a wakeboard park at 812m above sea level and Mediterranean water temperatures to boot:

Ischgl is one of the biggest ski areas with the longest season continually ploughs lift profits back into its dizzying array of slick infrastructure and glitzy / urban amenities, including 3 Michelin star restaurants.  In Ischgl you can even ‘fly home’ down the valley with or without skis at 85kmh on a dual zip wire – 2km long and 50m high (total investment €2m):

Incredibly, family-friendly Oetz has just reported a 30% increase in lift sales this summer thanks to new investment in family amenities in the Hochoetz ski area.   Astonishingly, Oetz draws 45% of its annual visitors outside the winter season.  Oetz has 80km of its own skiing and tourists can access Sölden in 20 minutes with its 2 glaciers but it has all-year round tourism status – not just in the Summer but through to early Autumn when the Acherkogelbahn makes a brief pause before the Winter season starts again on 16 December.

Hochoetz’s new adventure playground, Widiversum – parents can even leave children in supervised groups and head higher into the mountains for the day:

Currency impact:

In the wake of the UK’s EU referendum and the weakening of sterling, Swiss Alpine property has become 8.6% more costly to GBP buyers (May to Sep 2016), while French or Austrian Alpine homes have become 7.6% more expensive.  Despite the Pound’s fall, there are still some determined UK buyers who want to buy their Austrian property now and get into Austrian Land Registry before Brexit is finalised.

For US Dollar, Euro and Swiss Franc buyers, the picture is unchanged and the customer base is very international including non EU buyers as well as increasing numbers of Germans, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavians.

Please read our FAQ about buying and owning an Austrian property or Contact us today with any questions.

Stanford University: hiking improves your mental state

Even without the snow, the Austrian Alps draw visitors from all over the world to hike through its stunning, majestic scenery.  The dual season of Oetz, for example, receives nearly as many tourists in summer as winter with the Acherkogelbahn starting up on 4 June and running through 9 October to whisk walkers up to 2,020m in just 8 minutes as a starting base to a choice of high alpine walks.

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We all know hiking is great exercise which provides plenty of physical benefits, but recent studies have suggested it can have positive mental effects, ranging from improving mental health to enhancing creative thinking.

Hiking to Improve Mental Health

A recent experiment at Stanford University has provided evidence that walking through natural surroundings produces a measurable reduction of “morbid rumination” — brooding to you and me. Gregory Bratman of School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences divided his volunteers into two groups, one of which was sent on a for 90-minute walk through countryside, the other for the same distance through an urban area.

While it’s not surprising that the first group felt more relaxed, questionnaires before and after the walk also showed that they saw a reduction in their morbid rumination, a state which, in more extreme forms, can lead to mental illness.  The second group showed no reduction, even though they’d walked the same distance.

Bratman went further, though, and examined changes in a part of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is known to control brooding. The volunteers who’d enjoyed the countryside walk had lower activity here after they’d finished, supporting the results of the questionnaire.

Other Mental Benefits of Hiking

Another study, this time by the University of British Columbia, demonstrated that aerobic exercise, such as hiking, increased the capacity of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is involved in memory forming, organising, and storing). This improves memory, both in the short term and by slowing down the loss of our memory power as we age.

At the other end of the life-span, a study by Frances E. Kup and Andrea Faber Taylor has shown that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) benefit from exposure to “green outdoor activities”. Their ability to concentrate improves, suggesting that this might also help anyone with attention problems.

A study by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer suggested that hiking through a natural environment also improves mental creativity. Volunteers who spent several days hiking in the countryside with no technology to distract them scored higher in creative exercises on their return than before they started.

All-Round Benefits

There’s still plenty more work to be done on these studies, such as determining the relative importance of the walking itself and the surroundings, as well as whether it enhances the effects or detracts to have company.

It seems clear, though, that hiking through beautiful scenery is good for us both physically and mentally. And you don’t find hiking more exhilarating nor scenery more sensational than Tirol.

Check out the following websites for hiking inspiration in Oetz and Galtür.

oetz summer walk

There’s something about the combination of the mind-blowing landscape and the good humour and generosity of the Tiroleans that’s irresistible to walkers, from beginners to tough mountain-hurdlers.

Buying & owning Austrian property FAQ

ZONING AND OWNERSHIP

What is a “tourist residence” and what restrictions can an owner expect?

When purchasing a property constructed on land zoned for touristic use you are obliged to rent the property within the framework of a tourism enterprise.  The enterprise is managed by an appointed Rental Management Company.

Why do the local authorities zone properties in this way?

The local government invests in infrastructure in the resort such as ski lifts and development of the ski area, which is financed by usage.  Therefore, it is important that owners do not leave their properties empty when not using it.

Does this mean I can’t use my own property?

No. For purposes of attaining optimum capacity and usage you are permitted to use your apartment within the framework of a tourism enterprise.

How do I rent my property to tourists?

We appoint professionals to provide rental and facility management services relating to the running and tourist operation of the property.  They maintain a booking and reservation system and accept bookings throughout the year.

Am I investing in a hotel?

No.  You will be officially recorded in the Land & Property Register as the owner of the freehold of your apartment.  You are not purchasing shares in a hotel. Furthermore, you will own a share of the land and the common areas in the property. This includes the wellness facility, technical rooms, ski and boot room, etc.

PURCHASE PROCESS – RESERVATIONS, PAYMENTS, COSTS AND HANDOVER.

I am keen on a particular apartment but worried another buyer could reserve it before I’ve had chance to go through all my queries.  What should I do?

To allow a prospective buyer time to go through all of the important questions that come up, we can reserve a unit for a period of one week with no obligation.

I’ve decided to move forward – how do I proceed?

The first stage is to sign a Purchase Offer (Kaufanbot) which is sent to you by email for signature.  A 1% deposit of the net purchase price is due upon signing as an ‘Earnest Money Payment’ and this may be refunded if the construction has not started according to the due date in the Agreement, or other special requirements are not met.

From whom am I purchasing the apartment?  Kristall Spaces?

No. Your Sale & Purchase agreement is with the development company which owns the land.  The Developer appoints VenturePlus AG and Kristall Spaces AG as experienced development consultants to assist with the delivery of the project.

Can I buy the property through a company in Austria?

Yes, many purchasers use a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The only requirement is that the SPV acquiring the property has to have a registered office inside the EU. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for the shareholder or ultimate beneficiary to be a European citizen.

What if I want to sell?

There are no restrictions on resale; you may sell your property at any time.

What happens if the Developer selling the apartments has financial problems part way through the development?

Buying property off-plan in Austria is extremely secure.  New-build chalets and apartments are paid for in stages and all payments are made to a lawyer and held in a Trustee Escrow account.  Stage payments are not released to the developer before an independent, court-appointed surveyor has inspected each construction stage and signed off the building progress for the Trustee.  Construction begins only after the financing bank has released funds for the development and the development is fully funded to completion.  Furthermore, the development is ‘ring-fenced’ and completely independent of any other commercial activities.

What is the schedule for the stage payments?

  • 15% at start of building works (including the ‘Earnest Payment’ of 1%) due within 14 days of both parties having signed the Sale and Purchase agreement
  • 35% on completion of the building shell and roof
  • 20% on completion of plumbing and electrical installations
  • 12% on completion of the facade & windows
  • 12% on completion of the property
  • 4% on hand over of keys
  • 2% after the developer provides a bank guarantee to the Trustee to cover any unforeseen defects.

Who drafts the contracts and handles the legal aspects of the purchase – what are the legal fees?

In Austria, a Trustee lawyer or Notary acts on behalf of both the purchaser and the vendor. Occasionally, the purchaser appoints his or her own solicitor for a second opinion – this is not necessary but may provide peace of mind. In this case, the purchaser’s solicitor will liaise directly with the Trustee. The legal fees are 3% of the gross purchase price.

Why are the legal fees so high?

The Trustee lawyer has more responsibility and employs more resources over a longer period for an ‘off-plan’ purchase compared to a typical re-sale transaction.  The role of the Trustee is to draft the Sale and Purchase Agreement, Rental Agreement, Contract of Administration, etc. in German and English and prepare all documents required to transfer legal ownership to the Purchaser.  The Trustee is obligated to offer impartial legal advice, collect stage payments and release funds to the Seller in accordance with the contract.  The Trustee acts for the Purchaser and the Seller during construction, engages an independent, court appointed, sworn witness to confirm building progress and concludes all aspects of the conveyance.

When and where do I sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement?

The Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) and all documents required to transfer legal ownership are drafted in German and English and signed by the Purchaser and Seller in the presence of a Notary Public.  The Purchaser will receive a copy of the SPA by post and is required to sign before a Notary Public (not a solicitor) in their country of residence. Once the Purchaser’s signature is witnessed the Notary Public sends the document to the Foreign Office to be apostilled. Most choose to sign at the Austrian embassy in their home country as they can also provide the apostille, thus speeding up the process.

What are the average purchase costs?

Purchase costs for buying a property in Austria are 7.6% of the gross purchase price.  The purchaser pays the Trustee fees after the SPA has been signed. Fees are calculated as follows:

  • Purchase Tax (Stamp Duty) is 3.5% of purchase price
  • Registration in the Land Registry is 1.1%
  • Trustee legal fees – 3% + VAT (VAT is refunded)
  • Court costs, administration fees – approximately 150 euros.

Do I pay agency fees?

No, Kristall Spaces does not charge any fees to the buyer.  Buyer’s fees can be as much 3%, so there is an instant saving when you buy through us.

Do you arrange finance?

Yes, once a Purchase Offer has been signed “subject to finance”.  Austrian banks will fund up to 55% of the purchase price with a loan period between 15 and 25 years.  Some banks may charge set-up fees and/or an appraisal fee of 0.5% in addition to a notary a fee of 1.5% for the amount of the mortgage to be registered in land registry.  If required, it is possible to add the mortgage related costs to your mortgage.  Variable interest rates are currently 2.5%.

Austrian mortgage agreements generally need to be signed at the bank in Austria.  Some buyers therefore time this to coincide with signing of the Sale and Purchase agreement.

Why do you not provide a fixed date for completion and handover?

We are obliged to make every effort to complete construction and hand over your apartment on time.  However, we are building in a high-alpine environment at the mercy of the weather with a short construction window of May to November.  Also, we are governed by the local laws, which often restrict construction during the tourism seasons.  We offer an estimated date for completion in the contract but no guarantees can be made.

Parking

Each apartment must be purchased with a minimum of one space.

Will Wi-Fi & Sat connections be provided to all parts of the development?

Internet by Ethernet cable and Wi-Fi is available in your apartment. Cable TV is available in each room.

Will there be any separate storage space for owner’s belongings such as ski equipment and clothing?

Yes, a minimum 2m² of storage per apartment is provided and included in the purchase price. Owners must provide their own personal padlock.

Please confirm the arrangements surrounding the use of the washing machine & tumble dryer.

The washing appliances are metered and for the use of the owners and their guests.  Alternatively, each apartment has the option to install the connections for a washer/dryer in one of the bathrooms if instructed during construction.

HANDOVER, SNAGGING AND BUILDING GUARANTEES

How do you hand over the apartment?

You will be contacted two weeks in advance with a date for the official handover of the apartments. If you cannot be there in person, the Trustee Lawyer and independent, court appointed surveyor will represent you.

What about snagging?

The developer provides a 3-year bank guarantee to cover unforeseen snagging defects.  A report will be produced documenting any snagging issues at the time of handover.  Any issues raised will be fixed within six weeks if the apartment is vacant.

Is the apartment delivered to the owner turnkey?

At the time of handover, the apartment will be fully fitted out with all contents and appliances included in the inventory and the design scheme chosen by the owner.

A full furniture pack including cutlery and crockery is included in the purchase price.  Everything required for rental is supplied with the apartment and is detailed in the Building and Furnishings specifications sheet you will receive prior to purchasing.

A choice of three high-quality design schemes for the apartments have been created and owners are invited to choose their preferred interiors.

Are there any building guarantees?

Yes, we negotiate bank guarantees with tradesmen for the following:

  • 10 years for the roof covering
  • 5 years for the mechanical systems (heating, electrics, lifts)
  • 5 years for the remaining works including the shell of the building
  • 2 years for electrical goods

Furthermore, Austrian Building Law allows for a 30-year Statute of Limitations for all hidden defects.

POST HANDOVER – RENTAL INCOME, CONDOMINIUM FEES (WEG) AND PERSONAL USAGE

What are WEG fees?

WEG fees are your condominium fees and owners are invoiced these monthly in advance by the Facility Management company.

What is the Facility Management Company’s role and who appoints them?

We appoint the Facility Management Company to represent the Condominium Owners Association before handover of the apartments.  The Facility Management Company will read the meters for water, electricity and heating on the handover date and appoint the caretaker, utility and maintenance providers, and ensure the building has full insurance coverage.

How much are the WEG charges and what do they include?

The total operating costs of the building are divided proportionately between the Condominium Owners Association (WEG) according to the size of each owner’s property.  These are payable monthly in advance.  Your share of communal service charges is determined by a court-appointed assessor based on the title document for each individual apartment, which is detailed in the Sale & Purchase Agreement.   The heating, water and electricity costs of running your individual apartment are metered in the owner’s name, so you can see exactly what you are using and paying monthly.

We generally estimate the fees to be EUR4 per m² of your apartment per month.   The estimate includes the following services:

  • Heating
  • Waste water
  • Electricity and lighting in the general areas
  • Refuse disposal
  • Building insurance
  • Caretaker services
  • Snow removal
  • Cleaning of common areas
  • Chimney sweep
  • Heating maintenance contract
  • Lift maintenance contract
  • Maintenance of common areas
  • Internet
  • Cable TV
  • Auditing costs
  • Sinking fund for future maintenance

At the end of the year, individual calculations will be made for each apartment according to actual usage.  If you have overpaid, you will be refunded and if you have underpaid you will be invoiced for the balance.

What is the Administrator’s role and who appoints them?

The Owner appoints the Administrator to carry out the following roles:

  • Reception and/or concierge services
  • Accommodation Administration and Management
  • Supervision of the wellness facility

The total Administration costs of the building are divided proportionately according to the size of each owner’s property.

What is the role of the Rental Operator?

The role of the rental operator is to market the apartments, maintain a booking system, handle guest deposits, organise check in/check out, keys, cleaning and fresh linen, oversee quality control within the apartments and the payment of tourist tax to the authorities.  They also publish the rental income and distribute it to the owners.  The accounts are audited annually for complete transparency.

What kind of rental income can I expect?

The rental yields vary depending on the apartment size, number of bedrooms and floor.  Please refer to the rental income projection document for guidelines.

How are the rental rates decided?

The rental operator compares rates of similar establishments within the resort, as well as information from the local tourist board regarding occupancy rates.  Rental rates are published annually in advance.

Who will do my accounting?

We have negotiated a very reasonable tax package with an Austrian accountancy firm specialising in tourism residences.  You can engage the tax advisors at the time of purchase.  They will register you for VAT in Austria, advise you on tax issues during the purchase process and handle your VAT and Tax returns in the future.

How does the local tax system work?

The local authority charges tax on the land of the building, a proportion of which will be paid directly by you, as a part owner of the freehold.  The Land tax is a nominal sum and the council will issue you an invoice annually.

Do I have to inform the rental operator when I want to use my apartment?

Yes, please inform the rental operator in writing, a minimum of 5 months before the start of the winter season.  In order to make a success of the rental scheme, the operator needs sufficient notice to market the apartments.

What about spontaneous visits?

The rental operator will always try to accommodate the owner assuming the apartment is not already booked.  This may result in you having to stay in an alternative apartment.

Do I have to pay to stay in my apartment? 

Owners may be obliged to pay a small administration charge during weeks of personal usage.

What if I want to spend several weeks in my apartment outside the main winter season?  Is this allowed? 

Yes, please inform the rental operator in writing 2 months before arrival. Occupancy rates are lower outside of the winter season and short-term visits are generally not a problem.

Last 2 apartments for sale in Galtür

The Silva Peak Residences in Galtür are getting very close to completion and handover in time for the first guests to arrive on Saturday 19 December.

Silva Peak Residences outside

Apartments 5 and 17 are under close consideration and should potential viewers need any reassurance then below is a selection of photographs from the interior of 17.  The quality of these apartments is impressive: from the spec of each unit to all the general areas such as the sauna and steam room.

Below is the enthralling view from the balcony in apartment 17 above the roof tops and up to the Predigberg which lies to the South East and looks down onto the Jamtal.

Silva Peak Residences 17 Predigberg

Here is the view to the Greiskogl with the church spire in the foreground.  This photo is taken from the master bedroom in apartment 17.

17 View Silva Peak Residences

And here is a photo of the high spec kitchen with all Miele appliances.  Apartment 17 is a 61m² luxury apartment with two double bedrooms, one with an ensuite bathroom with Hans Grohe units and shower.  There is a second communal bathroom which contains a large Hans Grohe bath.  The living area is open plan with kitchen and dining area and sofas, one of which is a large fold down double sofa bed.

Best of all is the view through the floor to ceiling windows which lead out onto the private balcony with a mesmerising view of the mountains.

The price is €432,305 which includes an underground parking space.

 

Amazing powder days in Galtür & Ischgl

Just back from the perfect family trip to Galtür.  Staying in the Hotel Marangun before it becomes the only collection of luxury apartments in Galtür by the end of December 2015.

We had 4 days in Galtür where the children were incredibly well looked after in the ski school.  I have never known a ski resort that is so well organised around the little ones.  For 15 Euros, they can be taken off for lunch at the Wirlerhof too.

This enabled the grown-ups to venture out for the occasional lunch on the mountain and to take advantage of the conditions.

We had everything in those 4 days: blazing sun, cold temperatures and lots of fresh snow.

Best run in Galtür: I can recommend the offpiste under the Birkhahnbahn through the powder.  A quick journey on the chairlift to the top and then almost straight off the piste and away from the other skiers.

This is real bird-nest skiing through the trees with snow that flies up in the face on the steeper, faster turns.  Very nice to see a pair of Birkhahn (Black Grouse) one morning too.

Birkhahnbahn-Galtür-apartments

Of the 4 days in Galtür, we had 3 mornings of powder skiing.  The last one was in beautiful sunshine with a dreamy view down the valley to Galtür.  Note the colour of sky, which here they call Paznaun blue.

Kristall-Spaces-Galtür-apartments

Although we had to share the deep snow with fairer weather powder skiers, we still found a few spots for our fresh tracks, which is what it’s all about.

For the last 3 days, we hopped on the bus and took the whole family down to Ischgl where we spent most of the time on the long blue runs from the top of Zeblasbahn down to bottom of the 23 where the Höllkar starts.  Easy enough for the whole family with a couple of powder opportunities to the side whilst the ladies chaperoned the Kinder down.

Then something amazing happened.  The children and the wives packed in at 3 … just as the clouds disappeared leaving a big blue.

Within the hour, we had made it to the top of the Piz Val Gronda: the mother of all cable cars and far away from the Idalp so it’s strangely quiet bar a few serious, ABS-wearing types with powder and touring skis (not sure the ice picks were necessary).

From the top, we had the last run down under the cable car and made turns under the blue sky through steep, untouched snow that had fallen over night.

Deep enough to control the speed of descent and long enough to make a few dozen turns without stopping.

All on our own too.

Ischgl or St. Anton?

The snowy paradise that is St Anton has long been a favourite destination among avid skiers. With its exceptional off-psite and second-to-none après ski, St Anton gaurantees a great ski break. However, despite being a skiing hotspot, St Anton does face stiff competition. Just 40 minutes down the road is the up-and-coming Ischgl, which offers a similar blend of a large ski area, great skiing and epic après ski. But can this new contender steal St Anton’s crown?  Let’s take a look…

Choice of Accommodation

St Anton steals an easy win here. The town offers a huge range of accommodation options, from small and basic guesthouses (which can be great value) to apartments, catered chalets and seriously impressive hotels, such as the new Mooser hotel.

By contrast, Ischgl’s hotel scene is much more focused on traditional hotels – there are a few self-catered apartments around, but almost nothing in the way of affordable guesthouses. This can mean that it ends up costing significantly more to stay in Ischgl.

Buying a property

Both places are difficult to buy an apartment in. Property in Ischgl is very expensive and rarely comes on the market, so if you are looking to buy it’s best to opt for an apartment in Galtür with its picturesque setting and family oriented ski area with over 40km of pistes. For a start, the prices are much more reasonable and you are only 10 minutes away on the free ski bus.

The same goes if you want to buy an apartment in St Anton – they are hard to come by and the demand is very high, plus there are additional land prices.

Snow quality

It’s a draw here – the two resorts are geographically near enough that if one gets hit with snow the other shouldn’t be too far behind.

It’s also worth noting that the village of Lech (part of the St Anton ski area) is routinely listed as the snowiest in the Alps.

Skiing – on piste

Ischgl just pips St Anton to the post here. The resort has an abundance of predominantly red runs, and if you’re a fan of skiing smooth motorways you can have an epic time just dashing around the mountain.

But that’s not to say St Anton is at all shabby on-piste though, especially when you consider the sheer scale of the ski area. It’s also fair to say that both St Anton and Ischgl suffer from a similar problem – the main runs back to the town centre can become horribly busy and cut up late in the afternoon.

Skiing – off piste

St Anton wins by a mile here. This resort is considered to be among the world’s greatest off piste destinations, which is one of the reasons why many serious skiers choose to base themselves there. Despite St Anton’s win, Ischgl also has some excellent off piste available when the conditions are right.

Après ski

Both Ischgl and St Anton are renowned for their lively après skis, but the two approach it in slightly different ways.

In St Anton, the focus is really on the ski-boots-on après ski scene, and in particular on two bars that are perched on the Galzig run back into St Anton – the Krazy Kangaruh and the Mooserwirt. Past 3.30pm things really get going, with 4 hours or so of stomping on the tables, guzzling down beers and singing along to cheesy Germanic pop anthems.

In Ischgl, the party is more focused in the town rather than up on the slopes. People ski down and head straight on to Niko’s Hexenkücke or the Hotel Elisabeth (complete with dancing girls in short Dirndls), but while the party is fun, it doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere as that at the Mooserwirt.

However Ischgl’s real strength lies in its nightlife. For those who have the energy to go out after the afternoon/early evening fun in the Mooserwirt or Krazy Kangaruh, the St Anton late night après ski can feel a little bit tame, and perhaps a bit of a disappointment.

Ischgl, on the other hand, boasts an exceptional nightlife. There is a branch of Pacha, the Ibizan superclub, replete with podium dancers and VIP lounge. There is are also a number of other locations (Posthorndl, Fire and Ice) that are substantially more sophisticated than anything in St Anton, plus two strip clubs – if you’re into that sort of thing.

So which is better?

Of course it is down to personal preference and what your priorities are in a ski trip. If you’re looking for sheer quality for skiing (especially off piste) St Anton is heaven for all those who live and breathe skiing.

Whereas, Ischgl’s greatest strength lies in its epic late night party scene. But this means that a lot of people at this resort are there for the clubs and so it tends to attract less serious skiers.

Go to both and decide for yourself – don’t be surprised if you end going back to each one again.

Top 5 Events in Ischgl this Winter

Ischgl is as well known for its party spirit as for its fantastic slopes and winter sports facilities. Every day’s an event in Ischgl, but there are highlights through the winter. Here are five of the top events.

New Year’s Eve

The party of the year, as always, the New Year will be seen in here with music and fireworks. The countdown will start at ten to midnight, and the stroke of twelve will be welcomed by the pealing of the Pummerin bells, followed by the Blue Danube. The end of Austria’s national waltz signals in the fireworks with a spectacular musical soundtrack, and the party will carry on through the night.

silvester-ischgl

Shapes in White

This January will see the 22nd annual snow sculpture contest in Ischgl. Between the 12th and the 16th, international artists will compete to produce the finest creation of snow. Each year has a theme, and this year it’s “talent shows” — whatever the artists choose to make of that. The top ten designs submitted to the jury will be created on the slopes above Ischgl over the four days of the contest, culminating in the awards ceremony on the 16th. The sculptures will then remain for skiers to enjoy, until they finally succumb to summer.

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Top of the Mountain Easter Concert

The second Top of the Mountain concert of the season will be held on the 5th April in the Silvretta Arena, high on the mountain above Ischgl. The artist hasn’t yet been announced, but the concerts always attract top international acts. Last Easter’s artist was Robbie Williams, while the opening concert in November featured James Blunt. The concert that closes the season will follow on the 2nd May.

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World Rookie Finals

The culmination of the Rookie Tour for the snowboarders of the future, this is the chance for up-and-coming performers to show their most spectacular moves from the 9th to the 11th April. Although there are no money prizes, there’s plenty at stake. The best snowboarders at the event can expect sponsorship deals, video shoots and a starting place on the TTR tour.

World Rookie Finals

Silvretta Trophäe

On the 18th April, the International Silvretta Trophy will take place on the slopes above Ischgl. A giant slalom from the Flimjochbahn mountain station to the Idalp, the course drops by 450 metres from top to bottom. If you feel brave enough, you can register to take part. Otherwise, you can watch the skiers negotiating the course, finishing at the Top of the Mountain concert stage. And, of course, you can enjoy the après-ski celebrations afterwards, which promise to be spectacular — as they always are at Ischgl.

Silvretta Trophäe

Galtür for Investment in Ski Apartments

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This is a perfect time to invest in ski property in Austria, and the new build by Venture Plus AG and Kristall Spaces in Galtür, just a few miles from Ischgl, offers the perfect location. Galtür is a lovely village, notable for being especially family friendly, but a free ten-minute bus-ride will take you into the heart of Ischgl, with its huge choice of slopes and lively night-life.

Galtür

Once described by Ernest Hemingway as “an alpine idyll”, Galtür is in the heart of the Silvretta group of mountains, many of which look down on the village from over three thousand metres. Its pistes are mostly intermediate level, though with state-of-the-art lifts and facilities, but it’s just a few minutes’ bus-ride from both Ischgl and Voralberg, where you can find two of the most challenging black pistes in Austria.

Galtür prides itself on being family friendly, and among its facilities is a guest kindergarten where you can safely leave your younger children while you ski.

In the summer, Galtür offers a wide range of activities, from hiking to white-water rafting, in its beautiful Alpine scenery.

Silvapark Galtür

In 2007, Galtür’s Silvapark was redesigned, and is now the only park of its kind in Europe. It has six distinct areas, geared for different levels of skill and ambition, ranging from children’s sectors where they can learn by having fun in the snow to a sector designed for expert freestylers and freeriders. In addition, the “High and Nordic” sector offers cross-country slopes and tours into the high mountains.

Food & drink

The mountains around Galtür are dotted with lovely Alpine lodges and mountain restaurants, such as Fluchthorn Alm, Weiberhimml and Panorama Tenne, which offer traditional décor and traditional food from Tirol. You have the choice of staying cosy inside or enjoying the majestic views from terraces.

But you don’t have to go into the mountains. There are plenty of restaurants, cafés and bars in and around the village, offering a staggering range of styles and cuisine, as well as entertainment for your après-ski. And, if even this choice isn’t enough, it’s only ten minutes up the road to get to Ischgl and all its facilities.

Silva Peak Residences

Construction is due to start in April on our Silva Park Residences, and they’ll be complete by next Christmas. Located in the middle of the village, the charming Galtür hotel Marangun will make way for the luxury apartments each with dedicated underground parking, lifts and intercom access, as well as furnishings and fittings by top designers. Servicing and marketing will be managed by the local Türtscher family, who have more than twenty-five years’ experience of managing hotels and guest houses.

With ski property like this in such a wonderful setting as Galtür, all investors need to do is sit back to watch the income rolling in and the value increase.

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James Blunt live in Ischgl

James Blunt officially opened the Winter Season in Ischgl on Saturday night, 29 November 2014.

He played with support and introduced his latest album, Moon Landing, and even played a brand new number before crowdsurfing and then giving his band the night off to play his “sad songs”, as he put it.

Meanwhile, the audience who had flocked from their Ischgl apartments and neighbouring resorts who numbered around 17,000 took advantage of the free entry with their ski pass.

The atmosphere was warm and family orientated as they shuffled around and enjoyed Austrian refreshments from various bars which had been set up.  One or two holding up their phones to the old classics like You’re Beautiful and Carry me Home.

Not bad for 88 Euros which comprised a two-day ski pass and entry to the concert.  The snow wasn’t the best but the organisers had done a good job to provide coverage on Ischgl’s vast ski area of nearly 240 kilometres.

Highlights of the day are in the video below in English and German.