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.

A_big_1tann_wi_106_langlaufenTirolZell am See

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.

Events in Kühtai This Winter

The highest ski resort in Austria (sometimes claimed to be the highest in the world), Kühtai has beautiful scenery, excellent slopes and a quiet, laid-back atmosphere that belies the fact its close proximity to Innsbruck.

Kühtai offers wonderful skiing and snowboarding all winter and spectacular mountain hiking in the summer. There are also special events to enjoy during the winter, both in Kühtai itself and in nearby villages.

SAAC Basic CampsSAAC Basic Camps

On the 6th and 7th December, the SAAC offers a free two-day avalanche camp offering advice and practice for skiers and snowboarders wanting to go off-piste. Enthusiasts over 14 can learn how to be safe on the slopes and enjoy a day on the mountain with expert trainers.

MARMOT Women’s Winter Camp

From the 15th to the 18th January, MARMOT runs a winter camp for women only. This event caters for anyone from complete beginners to experienced skiers wanting to expand their skills. Besides practice on the mountain with expert guides, the camp offers training on a range of safety issues, from avalanches to nutrition.

MARMOT Women's Winter Camp

Children's Snow-Festival austria kuhtaiChildren’s Snow-Festival

Just a few miles up the road from Kühtai, Hochoetz holds a snow-festival for children on the 6th February. The day will be packed with colourful carnival events, fun on the slopes and snow animation, to thrill children of all ages.

Guest Ski Competition with Snow-Festival

Even closer than Hochoetz, Ochsengarten offers guest ski competitions on both 27th February and 20th March. Each race starts at 2pm and is followed by an evening snow-festival, featuring the awards ceremony, live music and fireworks.

One to Watch For

In January and February this year, Channel 4’s celebrity ski show The Jump was filmed in the Innsbruck area, with several events held in Kühtai. It was announced last month that Channel 4 has commissioned a second series for this winter. Although no details have yet been given, there could well be a return to Kühtai, allowing visitors to watch celebrities compete and perhaps even meet them. Watch this space for more information.

Channel 4 The Jump

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.

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.

James-Blunt-web_3024353b

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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Benefits of investing in Kühtai real estate

Located high in the Tyrol, Kühtai boasts an elevation of 2,020 metres, making it a prime destination for winter and extreme sports of all varieties.

The population of this small Tirolean village is only a few dozen residents during the off-season, however, during the holiday period, its numbers swell exponentially as those in the know seek the best early and late season skiing.

Investing in Kühtai

A common concern often voiced when investing in a ski resort such as Kühtai from afar is the logistics that such an investment can entail.

With about 65 million visitors travelling to Austria each winter, there is strong demand for locations like Kühtai, especially with its proximity to Innsbrück  airport (35 minutes), ski and ski out accommodation and high altitude summer training camp, fuelling high occupancy rates throughout the year.

Finding The Right Stuff: Testing The New Skis For Next Season

Martin Bell Ski test in Kuhtai

Just like F1 drivers need to make sure their tyres can hold up under the power of their vehicle and the tight turns of a course, so too do skiers need to know that their equipment will be able to handle the intensity of a winter on the slopes.  Each year, the Snowsport Industries of Great Britain (or SIGB) hosts a testing session in the Austrian resort town of Kühtai, two kilometres above sea level.  Two dozen different ski runs flow in and out of this village, making it a perfect spot to test out equipment, while also providing property investment in Kühtai with ample opportunity for solid returns.  This serves as the third year that Kühtai has served as the testing grounds for SIGB and each year has proven the wisdom of hosting the tests in the city.  For a week prior to the ski equipment testing, Kühtai has reaped twenty-five centimetres of snow, with another 50 set to fall over the next ten days.

Who will be headlining the testing runs?  Martin Bell, who holds the distinction of the highest placement by a male Briton in the UK’s Olympic history, helps to run through the process along with skiing racer Edward Drake, freeskiing professional Peter Seight, and the co-director for the British Alpine and Snowboard School Becci Malthouse.  In addition to these professionals, a dozen trainers and instructors were on hand to see the runs through.

Testing out new skis may seem like a dream come true for many enthusiasts, but these pros need to go through as many as 14 different pairs in the span of a single day in order to determine the qualities of the equipment.  Skis are graded on everything from flexibility on long turns to the response on hairpin turns, and the testers give general performance reviews upon finishing the course.  No less than 764 pairs of skis will get a workout (a total value of over £300,000 worth of equipment) from brands like K2 and Salomon.  The results of the ski tests will be published in the Telegraph as well as Ski and Snowboard Magazine.

A rise in interest for Austrian resorts, especially Kühtai

Thanks to “The Jump”, a new reality TV programme in which celebrities compete in winter sport disciplines, there has been a recent upsurge in enquiries for Kühtai as a holiday destination.

The 12 participants including 5-times Olympic Gold Medal Winner Sir Steve Redgrave, Melinda Messenger, Marcus Brigstocke & Amy Childs took part in the different challenges ranging from speed skiing to ski jumping and the 2-man bobsleigh.

Graham Bell, Eddie the Eagle and Britain’s Gold medal winning Winter Olympic athlete Amy William were all on standby to coach the competitors.

Kühtai was an obvious choice for the staging of the event.

It is less than 40 minutes from Innsbruck and its airport which is served by Easyjet and many international carriers. Also, the pistes are uncrowded and at over 2,020m there is always lots of snow.