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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.

24 June 2016: Why UK citizens will continue to buy property in Austria

After today’s unexpected referendum result to leave the EU, UK buyers are asking about the repercussions when buying property in Austria.  Below we have listed a few pointers which may help when deciding to invest in Austrian property.

2016 is still a good time to invest in Austria:  this year Austria will receive another record number of summer and winter tourists from inside and outside the EU which will drive local investment in tourism infrastructure and support growth in rental income by our fully-managed rental programme.  On the back of these positive numbers we predict the solid capital growth within the Austrian tourism property market to continue: 16.5% in the last 4 years versus a fall of 5.7% in France (source: Knight Frank, June 2016).

Austrian ski property prices outperform Switzerland & France

No real change for UK buyers in the short term: if Article 50 is triggered by the UK government, we predict no change for the following two years as we negotiate our exit and trading relationship with the EU.  Purchases before conclusion of the exit will not be affected retrospectively – once you are in Land Registry your ownership cannot be reversed.  UK buyers should always consider the Sterling / Euro exchange rate to ensure they negotiate a good deal when converting their currency but there are many outside factors which affect the exchange rate and we predict Sterling will strengthen once the uncertainty has been removed.

Non-EU citizens are already buying our Austrian properties: should a UK buyer’s status in Austria change once we have left the EU, non-EU citizens may buy Austrian properties through limited companies with a registered office inside the EU and there is no requirement for the shareholder to be a European citizen.  Furthermore, with 1.2m UK citizens living in EU member states and 2.9m EU citizens living inside the UK, we predict both the EU and UK governments will agree a fair deal for both sides without delay.

Tax:  the UK has an extensive network of international double tax treaties. The double tax treaty with Austria will remain unaffected.  To provide balanced and accurate advice to our clients, Kristall Spaces has negotiated a very reasonable tax package with an Austrian accountancy firm specialising in tourism rental properties.  UK buyers may engage the tax advisors at the time of purchase to ensure a seamless registration with the Austrian tax authorities and advise on local tax issues during the purchase and process VAT rebates and tax returns.

Mortgages: Austria has always welcomed British buyers who invest in their tourist destinations.   All Kristall Spaces apartments come with a rental obligation and the tax authorities waive the 20% VAT on the purchase price in return for your agreement to rent the property and support the growing numbers of visiting tourists to the resort (40million people per annum).  Your property is classified as a small business and the rental income may be used to service a mortgage with a local bank. Financing a part of your purchase in Euros and servicing the mortgage with Euro rental income acts as a ‘hedge’ against Sterling / Euro exchange rate fluctuations.

Property for sale in Austria - visitor numbers

About Kristall Spaces ski properties: we carefully choose our developments in high demand locations so they sell out fast (95% before construction is complete).  We have an international mix of owners from inside and outside of the EU who choose our ski apartments (average Price per sqm € 5,500 – except St Anton € 11,500) based on their affordability compared to Swiss and French resorts, access to high altitude slopes / glaciers and increasingly their dual season status (Oetz receives nearly as many visitors in summer as winter).

prices

Brexit and buying property in Austria

UK buyers looking to buy property in the Austrian Alps are asking lots of questions but not being put off by a potential Brexit.

According to a recent survey conducted by A Place in the Sun, 70% of Brits say that Britain leaving the EU would not prevent or even postpone their plans to purchase a second home in Europe.

The effect of a Brexit and the free movement of capital from the UK to the European Union is likely to be minimal for a number of reasons.

Here are some of the key questions and answers from UK buyers.

If I buy now and we Brexit, what happens with my ownership rights as non-EU citizens cannot personally buy in Austria?

This is not quite true. Non EU-citizens can buy property in Austria.

The right to buy or own property in the EU by a Brit is not going to be materially diminished, whatever happens.

Should we vote to leave the EU in June 2016 (40% probability according to HSBC and UBS) it will take at least two years for the exit to take effect, during which time you retain the same rights as any EU citizen.

Furthermore, there are 1 million Brits who own properties in the EU and lots of EU owners here, so it is extremely unlikely that the host countries will suddenly impose restrictions.

Swiss or Norwegians have not been penalised and there are lots of Americans, Russians and Chinese with property in Europe.

In any event, you can opt to buy property through a limited company which has a registered office inside the EU and it is no longer necessary for the shareholder or ultimate beneficiary to be a European citizen.

Will the double tax treaty with Austria still be in place if we Brexit or could I end up paying tax on my rental income twice and future capital gains etc?

A Brexit would have no impact on the UK’s extensive double tax treaty network, which is not based on EU membership.

The double tax treaties we have signed with EU countries will remain unaffected because the agreements to ensure people are not taxed twice on the same money are made individually with each country.

Should I buy now or wait in case we don’t Brexit and the exchange rate gets better? 

The Sterling / Euro exchange rate will see some fluctuation between now and June depending on the polls but the cost of a Brexit has been mostly factored into the equation by the large institutions.

For added security buyers can lock in today’s exchange rate for the next two years by paying a deposit of 5 to 10% now.  Our Forex partner can assist with this.

Should I take out an Austrian euro mortgage or a UK mortgage?

European banks have strong lending divisions that have created mortgage products aimed at UK buyers and these will continue even if Brexit happens.

Austria welcomes British buyers who invest in their tourist destinations and even after Brexit, a British buyer would find it easy to get a mortgage in Austria.

Kristall Spaces apartments come with a rental obligation when owners are not using the property and local tax authorities waive the 20% VAT on the purchase in return for your agreement to rent the property and support the growing numbers of visiting tourists to the resort (40million people per annum).

The status of a rental property means your apartment is classified as a going concern and the rental income in Euros can be used to pay down your Euro based mortgage, which acts as a hedge against any future exchange rate fluctuation.

Kristall Spaces has 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.

Still unsure or want to discuss other aspects with us?  Please contact us today.

New lift connections: St Anton and Lech make 350km of skiing

The Arlberg is already a world-class ski region, but it’s going to get even bigger and better.  Work has begun on 4 new lifts, due to be open by next winter, which will link up St Anton with Lech, creating Austria’s biggest interconnected ski area and one of the biggest in the world.

The New Lifts

€45m (£35m) are being invested in the project, which will see four new lifts:

  • Flexenbahn, linking Stuben near St Anton with Zürs on the Lech side, will be a gondola with a 10-person cabin and a capacity of 2,400 people per hour. The 6-minute journey will offer breathtaking views of the Arlberg Pass through panoramic windows and the return route will be a 1.8km piste that descends 562m
  • Trittkopfbahn I will lead from Zürs to an intermediate station, linking with the Flexenbahn
  • Trittkopfbahn II will offer an alternative route further up to a new station
  • Albonabahn II links with the Flexenbahn at Alpe Rauz, near Stuben

panokarte_flexenbahn

The Extended Area

The extended Arlberg ski area will have 350km of slopes and 87 lifts, with easy access to all parts of the region. Although it’s currently possible to ski from the St Anton side to the Lech side of the Arlberg, this is only open to expert skiers with a guide on challenging off-piste slopes. There’s also no easy return and so thankfully the number of daily bus trips between Zürs and Stuben/Alpe Rauz via the Flexengallery will be reduced by 120.

To celebrate, the Arlberg region has established a “Run of Fame” route from Warth, by way of Lech to St Anton, incorporating 65km of pistes with a total descent of 18,000m.  A “Hunt of Fame” race has been announced, though there are few details available at the moment.

World Class

The Arlberg is a major ski region, but this new series of connections makes it one of the largest in the world, overtaking the French regions of Val d’Isère/Tignes Espace Killy and Grand Massif. The new Arlberg’s exact size ranking is a little uncertain, since some of the claims of the larger ski areas around the world are disputed.

Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the Arlberg will now be in the top 10 if not top 5 ski areas world-wide. The exact opening dates of the new lifts has been uncertain, but recently it was suggested that they’ll be open to the public in November this year.

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.

 

Kristall Spaces sponsors the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017

Kristall Spaces is proud to announce that we are now an official sponsor of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, to be held in March 2017 in Austria, joining brands such as Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. We’re very excited to have the chance to contribute to a world-class event promoting the combination of winter sports, social responsibility and of course Austria.

Kristall Spaces sponsor - Special Olympics

The Special Olympics

Special Olympics International (SO) was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late President Kennedy, to open up sports competition at the highest level to people with intellectual disabilities. The first summer games in that year were followed by winter games in 1977, and the Special Olympics International was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1988 as part of the Olympics movement.

It’s continued to grow, and is now a truly worldwide movement. We at Kristall Spaces thoroughly applaud the opportunities it offers to often-marginalised people in all sports, although of course our particular passion is for winter sports.

The 2017 World Winter Games in Austria

It’s not surprising that Austria is a favourite host for the World Winter Games. Besides having world-class Alpine ski facilities and a comprehensive winter sports infrastructure, it’s one of the few countries where top skiers, skaters and snowboarders receive the kind of adulation normally reserved for footballers.

The Games, running from 14th – 25th March 2017, will be based in Graz, Schladming, Ramsau and Schladming-Rohrmoos, with 3,000 athletes from 110 countries taking part. They’ll incorporate all the iconic elements of the Olympics, including the torch and spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, at Schladming and Graz respectively. In between, the athletes will be competing in eight disciplines, including Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and snowboarding.

Before then, the Pre-Games 2016 will run from 10th – 15th January 2016 at Schladming, Ramsau and other venues. Though effectively a dress-rehearsal for the World Games, this is a significant event in its own right, with winter sports specialists from all over Austria and beyond competing. Featuring most of the events in the main games, the Pre-Games will be contested by 1,000 athletes, including delegations from countries like Qatar and Jordan that aren’t traditionally associated with winter sports.

The Wider Impact of the Games

The impact of the Special Olympics goes beyond the events, though. A schools programme, throughout Austria and beyond, has the aim of raising awareness of the potential of intellectually disabled athletes and developing inclusive sports in schools. SO also runs the Healthy Athletes programme, not only offering advanced healthcare for participants in the games, but also undertaking research and education on the special medical needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

Kirstall Spaces sponsor logo - Special Olympics

And, of course, Kristall Spaces will be joining other international sponsors of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in spreading the word about the event and the movement worldwide. We’d love to see you at Schladming on 14th March 2017 for the opening ceremony.

Perfect time to own and rent ski property in Austria

Official figures released by the Tirolean tourism office reported increased visitor stays in Tirol for the period November 2014 through end April 2015.

During this winter period, total arrivals (or guests) coming to Tirol totalled 5.6 million guests which is 4% increase year on year and these 5.6 million guests contributed 25.9 million overnight stays which is also up 2.1% year on year. Source: Tirol Werbung

Property for sale in Austria - visitor numbers

A key factor was the increased number of German visitors to the region. Whilst the German numbers increased by only 4.4%, this country provides half of all the tourist visits from all nations.

At the same time, guests from the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK all contributed to the growth in numbers and this is corroborated by Kristall Spaces’ own data when conferring with the operators of our previous and current developments: all apartment owners and their operating companies are seeing healthy rental returns.

Interestingly, Chinese visitors delivered a 55% growth year on year when it comes to total numbers of guests.

As predicted, Russian numbers have suffered and the statistics point to a 35% decrease in both guests and overnight stays.

Other nations posting increased visits were the Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic and Poland – Italy by as much as 10%.

What type of accommodation are they choosing increasingly?

Rented apartments – like the ones Kristall Spaces builds for ownership with a flexible rental and management model.

Another good reason to invest in Austrian property today.

Luxury apartments for sale in Oetz

Kristall Spaces will soon be announcing the sales and marketing phase of an exciting luxury apartment resort in Ötz, a bi-seasonal tourist destination in the Ötztal valley just 20 minutes from Innsbruck.

Highlights:

  • 45 one, two and three-bedroom luxury apartments
  • 500m² spa in sunny location
  • 100 metres from Acherkogelbahn (a new 8-man gondola ski lift)
  • Underground parking
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Managed by a renowned global, international operator
  • 2 rental models: flexi and fixed with guaranteed returns up to 5%
  • Construction begins in 2016 to be finished in 2017

Ötz is a dual-season tourist resort with approximately 400,000 overnight stays per annum.

The town has long been associated with winter and summer alpine sports and has a unique atmosphere that blends tourism, breath-taking nature and its own rich heritage, including museums and galleries.

It is the quintessential Tirolean setting.  Its late Gothic parish church is surrounded by some of Tirol’s finest scenery including the Piburger See (one of the most beautiful locations in Austria to picnic and swim), the Auer Klamm gorge and some of the highest waterfalls in Austria.

Apartments for sale in Oetz - Kristall Spaces
Oetz has one of the strongest summer seasons in Tirol.

It sits on the banks above the Ötztaler Ache river which runs all down the valley from Obergurgl and Sölden which boast some of Austria’s highest peaks including the Wildspitze 3,770m and two glacier skiing areas.  Once the snow retreats, there is even a high mountain pass that offers trips from Obergurgl over into the Passeier Valley and Merano in the province of Südtirol, Italy.

With so many summer and winter activities on offer plus its excellent transport connections (its own train station), Oetz represents a wonderful lifestyle investment as a rental property with free owner usage.

In winter, it offers many skiing possibilities: either walk 100 metres from your apartment to the new 8-seater gondola lift connecting to Hochoetz (30km of pistes, 11 lifts including 2 gondolas) or take a short bus ride up to Kühtai (41km pistes), Austria’s highest skiing village at 2,020 m.

Apartments for sale Oetz - Kristall Spaces
The Acherkogelbahn starts 100m from the apartments.

Or even try out some glacier skiing on the Rettenbach and Tiefenbachferner glaciers in Sölden.  Out of all these destinations, you can be sure to find top quality skiing and boarding conditions.

Then in summer, you will be awe-struck by the range and quality of activities that are available from rafting, canyoning, glacier safaris and high rope courses to mountainbiking, archery, climbing or simple relaxing and some of the finest wellness facilities in the world.

There are many options to participate in professionally guided and instructed classes and groups.  Many visitors are glowing in their references and testimonials about how well run these activities are run and how charming their Austrian hosts are.

If you’re looking for completely unrestrained excitement then take a look at Area 47 www.area47.at/en best described as where nature and the high-tech combine to produce an extraordinary experience for all.

Luxury apartments for sale in Oetz
The apartments are a 3-minute walk to the new 8-man Acherkogelbahn.
If you would like to know more about owning a luxury apartment in Oetz just 100 metres from the ski lift, then please Contact us today.

First impressions of Kühtai

The drive up to Kühtai reminded me of Maine in the States: snowy roads and a small river running by the roadside; but it was the sense of being in the wilderness that really fires the imagination. I expected a moose to run across the road at any moment and yet we were only 10 minutes from the Oetztal Bahnhof. No wonder those Habsburgs liked the hunting round here so much.

My host for the day was a Kühtai connoisseur (a Chemistry teacher from Innsbruck who was born on skis in Sölden and thanks to his Tirol ski pass can pick any of the top resorts for a day’s skiing when he fancies). He and his pals favour Kühtai because “the snow is the best” as soon as you come off the very first lift (no uphill trek needed to find quality pistes); the atmosphere is never showy and for the abiding fact that your personal space is never invaded. I distinctly recall following him down from the top of the Dreiseenbahn to the foot of the Gaiskogelift and not once did I adjust my line or speed to avoid other skiers. “So, it’s true what they say: it really does feel like being in your own private ski resort,” I thought to myself.

The snow was excellent too. We only started skiing at 2:00pm but it was still cold and smooth as we flew down the pistes. No slush or sudden moguls here or those annoying piles of snow where skiers have scraped all the loose snow into a mini snow drift leaving a sheet of ice as a run-up. In fact, the piste is so consistent that you will see various ski teams (US and Austrian) training by the side of the slope.

And hardly any snowboarders sat around in groups philosophising over Jägermeister and Limp Biscuit. They’re all in the K-Park: supposedly Austria’s biggest half pipe with a series of big air kickers and gnarly looking bits of metal sticking out for them to slide over or do whatever they do. I quite fancied one of enormous kickers – maybe I would pluck up the courage to have a go later in the day.

kuhtai jumps

We skied down into the snow bowl in which the resort is positioned surrounded by white peaks which mostly lead to nowhere. We had been skiing on the North facing slopes and so ventured across to the South side where the night skiing had been the night before. No queues anywhere by the way as I reminded myself that this was a Thursday afternoon in March, so still high season.

It was like being in our own ski resort: there were even fewer people on this side! The runs down from the Hochalterbahn were pretty much ours. And the views were spectacular as we chatted over a Weizenbeer looking back down into Kühtai.  I was now talking up trying one of those kickers: the ones were you have to be traveling at over 60kms to get enough speed to make it over the 6-metre lip between the end of the ramp and the landing so steep it looks like the start of a speed skiing course. The science teacher explained these facts. Also, that I was 43, not wearing a helmet and he didn’t fancy hanging out in Innsbruck hospital.

So, overall impressions were very, very good. I have skied in countless, medium sized resorts and I was trying to compare Kühtai but it’s unique. There is a lot skiing of here and the runs are really smooth and nicely pisted. No grim moguls waiting round the corner – just wide motorways. I loved the fact that I felt like I had the piste to myself and there is definitely a different tempo here compared to the bigger, more famous resorts. It’s more relaxed and yet it’s only 35 minutes from Innsbruck and that’s a major attraction if you are looking for an Austrian property: quick access to the airport means you can land and be on the slopes the same day like I did.  It’s also close to the hospital if you get carried away in the K-Park.