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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.

Zell am See — What Does It Have to Offer?

Nestled on the shores of the Zeller See and dominated by stunning peaks, Zell am See and its neighbouring resort of Kaprun offer some of the most spectacular scenery in Salzburgerland. Not to mention some of the most varied skiing options, with a season lasting ten months of the year. Whether you’re an expert skier or on holiday with young children, whether you want to party at night or have a relaxing time — Zell am See has what you need.

Winter sports in Zell am See

The town is surrounded by three mountains, the Schmittenhöhe, the Kitzsteinhorn and the Maiskogel, which between them offer everything from freestyle slopes to child-friendly pistes. The Kitzsteinhorn has the most challenging slopes to suit the experts, while the Maiskogel is more suitable as a place to take the kids. The Schmittenhöhe has a full range, from expert to easy.

Each of the mountains has a snow park. The Snowpark Kitzsteinhorn, at 2900 metres, includes Austria’s biggest superpipe, 160 metres long and 6 metres high, while the Schmittenhöhe boasts the world’s longest Funslope, packed full of obstacles. The MPark on the Maiskogel mainly caters for children to have fun, but it includes areas to challenge advanced skiers, too.

There’s a ski shuttle to take you to whichever mountain you want, which is free with a ski pass, and the area has many ski schools, if you feel the need to improve your skills.

Après-ski

The night-life of a ski resort is important too, of course. Pubs and bars both down in the town and on the slopes offer drinks, live music and a party atmosphere. These include the Schnapps Hans Alm-Bar, the biggest après-ski in the Alps, but there are many other choices to suit every taste.

Or maybe that isn’t your thing. If you’re more interested in a romantic evening — or just a quiet one — than partying until you drop, there are plenty of Gasthofs and mountain huts that offer local specialities like Kasnocken and Gluhwein while you can look down at the lights in the valley or across the lake.

And, if you’re looking for something completely different, there’s always the Ice Camp Kitzsteinhorn, an igloo complex high on the mountain that offers an Ice Bar and Ice Lounges for social events.

Salzburgerland

In the unlikely event that you can tear yourself away from the slopes for a day, there’s still plenty to do in the area, ranging from the museum of vintage cars in Kaprun to the sights of Salzburg itself — whether you’re more a fan of Mozart or of The Sound of Music.

Whatever you’re looking for in a winter holiday, Zell am See has everything you could want.

Cross-Country Skiing in Austria

cross country Austria
It’s hardly surprising that most people who come to the Austrian Alps in winter head straight for the slopes with their skis or snowboard. Hurtling downhill is certainly the most thrilling and fulfilling of all winter sports, but those who like variety might want to try some of the other options on offer, such as cross-country (or Nordic) skiing.

Cross-country skiing is often overlooked, but it has a lot to commend it. A more measured discipline, it combines endurance training and sustained exposure to the clear mountain air with a chance to appreciate the stunning Alpine scenery at high levels. As an added bonus, you can ski across country even when there’s not enough snow for the slopes.

Cross-country trails can be accessed from most resorts, usually with transport available to and from the start and finish, if necessary. Here is a small selection.

Sölden

Sölden has five varied trails of between 1 and 7 km, two rated as easy and the others as intermediate. The routes across Alpine meadows and through picturesque hamlets give great views of the stunning Őtztal scenery. You’ll also find access easy to longer trails of up to 50 km.

St Anton

St Anton has been building up its cross-country network and now has over 40 km of local trails, with individual routes ranging between 1.5 and 22 km. Most are rated as easy, with the St Christoph and Verwall trails as intermediate. The resort also offers floodlit cross-country skiing on a 2 km route between dawn and 8.30 am.

Ischgl

Eight trails wind through the beautiful Tyrolean mountainscapes around Ischgl, ranging from 1 to 18 km and rising as high as 2036 metres. All abilities are catered for, with everything from easy routes to some that are much more demanding.

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The mountains around Zell am See and Kaprun have 55 km of cross-country trails, some at high levels, catering for all abilities. A special offer here is the chance to ski the 6 km of the Tauern SPA Loipe at night, enjoying the snowscapes under starlight.

On all these routes, you can just turn up and ski them at your own time and pace, but most resorts will offer training courses in cross-country skiing. Some also offer taster sessions for the biathlon (skiing and shooting), whether you want to approach the discipline seriously or just enjoy being James Bond for the day.

You’ll want to spend most of your holiday on the slopes, of course. But perhaps it would be worth taking at least one day off to experience the pleasure of skiing across country.

Why Should I Invest in Austrian Ski Property?

kristall-spaces-austrian-property-zell-am-see-1024x677Investment in Austrian ski property has never been such a great deal. With a strong winter and summer tourism industry, rental yields are high and reliable, and ski property averages a 4% per annum capital growth.

In addition to the annual 1% VAT rebate, recent changes in Austria’s coalition government, especially the appointment of Hans Jörg Schelling as finance minister, look set to favour property investment with tax breaks and other incentives.

Austrian banks have shown considerable interest in foreign investment in property over the past year, and now they’re regularly offering finance of up to 55% for such investments. Their position has been strengthened by last month’s cut in interest rates by the European Central Bank, along with an energetic stimulus programme.

Are there any disadvantages?

One law does appear to go against the trend and discourage investment in buy-to-let holiday apartments. This is a recent court ruling which specifies that an apartment can only be let as a holiday home if all other residents in the building give written agreement. If even one objects, you may not be able to let.

This law hasn’t been properly tested, but it does make random investment in holiday apartments risky. On the other hand, the risk doesn’t apply to purpose-built buy-to-let ski apartments, since all units in the building will be specifically sold with the purpose of holiday rental. The answer is simply to make sure you’re investing in the right kind of property.

Suppose I can’t afford an apartment? Are there other options?

If you can’t raise the full cost of an apartment on your own, you might want to consider joining a property investment crowdfunding scheme such as the one offered by Kristall Spaces. Crowdfunding platforms are becoming popular across the buy-to-let property market, allowing individuals with modest sums to invest in a share of a property, receiving regular dividends from the income.

This model is being applied to ski property in Austrian resorts, too. Even a small participation in a ski property project in a resort like Sölden or Saalbach is likely to yield a good income, and may offer a way to have enough within a few years to buy a property outright.

As with all investments, it’s important to ensure you choose the right scheme. If you invest your money wisely, though, this offers one more route to benefit from the growing market of Austrian ski property.

Tax Breaks and Financial Benefits of Investing in Austrian Ski Resorts

Tax-BreaksThe traditional target for property investment in Austria, Switzerland and Germany has always been student accommodation or buy-to-let residential units. High prices, high management costs and recent tax changes have made this market less attractive, and Austrian investors are showing interest in a different target — ski holiday properties.

In recent years, planning restrictions have created a backlog of building projects in ski resorts, with the result that those which are built attract high demand and strong capital growth. And, at the same time, foreign investment in Austria has never been easier.

So what has happened in Austria to create this boom?

  • Recent governmental changes promise financial stability. In particular, the new finance minister, Hans Jörg Schelling, is likely to favour policies such as tax breaks for investors.
  • The European Central Bank has recently reduced the headline rate of interest, keeping the Euro Libor low.
  • The government is offering a savings loophole with a 1% per annum VAT rebate.
  • A court recently ruled that Austrian property could be bought by an SPV owned by non-EU citizens, which opens up the possibility of a future flight to safety.
  • In the past year, Austrian banks have changed their stance and are showing considerable interest in financing foreign buyers.
  • Austria’s bank secrecy act is stronger than Switzerland’s, giving investors peace of mind.

In spite of this, the price in Val d’Isère, on the other hand, the bottom end of the market for a similar unit would be around €380,000, while most are over €800,000. Switzerland is even more expensive, with few 2-bedroom apartments in Zermatt below €500,000, and Davos even more expensive. Prices of Austrian ski properties are still remarkably low. A 2-bedroom apartment in Sölden, for instance, can currently be bought for as little as €334,995, and similar apartments in Ischgl go as low as €323,400. This rises to only a little over €600,000 for penthouse apartments.

Austrian resorts can match or exceed these for quality, and investors have a unique opportunity to snap up valuable property at such low prices. It won’t be long before everyone else wakes up to this and the prices rise, offering a substantial return on your investment.

European Central Bank reduces rate of interest making Austrian property investment all the more attractive

In an effort to keep low inflation from derailing the Eurozone’s economy, the European Central Bank has surprised financial markets this September with a cut in interest rates and new stimulus plans.

Speaking at a press conference after the announcement of the rate cut, ECB president Mario Draghi said the Bank expected to see “a prolonged period of low inflation” and reiterated a pledge to keep rates low for the foreseeable future.  After the rate cut was announced, the Euro fell against the Dollar and Sterling making a purchase of property in Europe even more attractive.

kristall-spaces-Autrian-property-boost
The European Central Bank cut interest rates and announced a program to pump money into the economy and stimulate lending by buying bundles of bank loans.

It may not be a coincidence that we have seen a change in stance in the last 12 months by Austrian banks which have shown a high interest in financing up to 60% of the purchase price of ski property investments by foreign buyers.

If a potential investor is shrewd, they could secure a property now with Kristall Spaces at Spring 2014 prices with only a 1% fully-refundable reservation fee (no buyer’s commission fee) with the first 15% stage payment not due before the spring of 2015.

Furthermore, we have seen an apartment bought for €300k in our recently completed project in Zell am See be remarketed for €350k within 12 months and the buyer only paid 60% of the price before making the decision to sell.

That equates to a €50k uplift on a €180k capital investment in just 12 months.

Please get in contact with us today and find out how you could earn up to 15% IRR on one of our Austrian ski properties.

Five Unmissable Events in Austria This Winter

FIS Ski World Cup Opening

From the 24th to the 26th October, the Rettenbach Glacier above the resort of Sölden hosts the opening event of the FSI Ski World Cup, the Giant Slalom. Featuring the world’s top skiers, including reigning world champion Ted Ligety, the runs will be held in the Rettenbach’s state-of-the-art stadium. In between, there’ll be a full programme of processions, presentations and parties for everyone, both on the glacier and down in Sölden.

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening, 25. - 26.10.2014, RETTENBACH GLACIER.

Top of the Mountain Opening Concert with James Blunt

On Saturday 29th November, the annual Top of the Mountain opening concert welcomes singer-songwriter James Blunt. The free gigs marking the start and finish of the season at Ischgl have traditionally attracted stars such as Elton John, Robbie Williams and Mariah Carey, to be enjoyed by the winter sports enthusiasts who flock to the resort. This year Blunt, who is himself an enthusiastic skier, is including the date in his Moon Landing tour.

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International Hot Air Balloon Week

The “balloon village” of Filzmoos, in the shadow of the mighty mountain Bischofsmütze, is hosting the 36th International BP-Gas Balloon Trophy from the 10th to the 17th January. About forty balloon teams from all over the world will be taking part, flying over the high ranges and picturesque valleys of the district. In addition to the more formal races, the Sunday features a musical display of glowing, colourful balloons, while Wednesday is dedicated to the children.

hot-air-baloon

Valartis Bank Snow Polo World Cup

The 15th to the 18th January sees snow polo come to Kitzbühel for the 13th Valartis Bank Snow Polo World Cup. A modern variant of polo, this is an exciting, skilful game played across level, compacted snow, and its premier event sees top players and high society gather in the Tyrol in January. Matches are played on the Münichauer Wieser, with the striking Kitzbühler Horn in the background.

polo

International Hahnenkamm Race

From the 21st to the 25th January, Kitzbühel in Tyrol hosts the Hahnenkamm Race, a series of skiing races held since 1931 and for decades forming part of the World Cup. The event consists of the Super-G, the Slalom, and the Downhill on the Streif, widely considered the most demanding course on the World Cup circuit, including the 80m Mausefalle (mousetrap) jump near the top. The event will feature breathtaking speed and skills from the world’s top skiers.

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Kristall Spaces hands over Zell am See Apartments

Handover to the owners of apartments in the Zell am See Mark Warner Lake and Mountain Resort commenced at the end of May, ahead of the June deadline.

The transition was a smooth success and owners are absolutely thrilled with the finished look of their properties with one happy owner enthusing, “Our apartment is just beautiful.  The weather has been great and we’ve had a magical first trip. Thank you!”

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Mark Warner Hotels and Resorts has received an unprecedented amount of bookings for the development’s first summer season much to the delight of the owners.

This of course bodes well for the ski season commencing in December.

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Work continues over the coming days to finesse the communal areas on schedule to welcome the first of the rental market customers.

If you have interest in one of only two remaining apartments for sale in the Zell am See development, please contact us today for a buyer’s pack.

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News from the Mark Warner Lake & Mountain Resort in Zell am See

We are happy to present you the latest exterior-visuals of the Villa Menis, with the wonderful and beautiful designed penthouse on top.

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 Furthermore the first windows have been built in, as you can see them on the following pictures with their finished colour.

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We are also very excited to show you the newest interior graphics of the restaurant in the Mark Warner Lake & Mountain Resort.

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Best Austrian Resort for Cross-Border Skiing

For those looking for the best Austrian resort for skiing across borders, then duty-free Samnaun is the place to start.  Being part of one of the biggest ski areas in Austria, the 238km Silvretta Ski Arena, which boasts stunning scenery from mountainous views combined with a magnitude of ski runs. Making this all year-round tourist destination the perfect place to ski!

Samnaun is perfect for intermediate skiers and boarders. It is also linked to Ischgl which offers plenty of runs for intermediate skiers. In fact, it also has a new, very modern lift system and an après-ski scene which rivals that of St. Anton.

Both of these resorts are well integrated and 90 percent of the lift users ski across the border. The scenery is beautiful and most of the runs are based over 2,000m, offering wonderful views from the mountains. The Silvretta Ski Pass also takes visitors skiing in Galtur, Kappl and See.

Visitors can take what is known as the ‘duty-free run’, which leads down to Samnaun. It is great for elegant carving but is not as great for boarders, because it has a number of flat sections. Additionally, here skiers will find the Zeblas Waterfalls–but the less experienced skiers may want to bypass the falls as they can be quite tricky to pass.

The run is called the ‘duty-free run’ because Samnaun is the only duty-free area in Switzerland, so visitors will want to take note!
To rejoin the main ski area in Ischgl, take the

Double Decker Gondola

(this double decker gondola was the first one of its kind in the world!). From here, visitors can visit popular, and not too difficult, Alp Trida area. The runs from here back to Ischgl are all red and advised to be tackled by a more seasoned skier.

Finally, lunch on the border! Visitors will want to head to Paznauner Taya, A-6561 Ischgl. Simply ski down from the Palinkopf into Austria, and that is where the Paznauner Taya is found, right by the bottom station of the Hollspitzbahn. Everyone will enjoy taking a long lunch in this popular, lively area– and enjoy the people watching before hitting the slopes again!

Zeblas Waterfalls