The opening of the Ski Season in Tyrolean Resorts

As holiday resorts that rely on sun and sea wind down towards the end of the season, ski resorts are gearing up for opening, if the season hasn’t already started.  Here’s some information about the season openings in three of the top resorts in Austria’s stunning Tyrol region.

Sölden – 10 October

Some of Sölden’s glacier runs are already open subject to daily snow conditions, with the lifts going up from 8 am till 3.30 pm and the last downward journey at 4 pm.  On the 10th  and 11th  October, the iconic Rettenbach Glacier opens with a celebration including free tests of top-branded ski and snowboarding equipment, not to mention a big party throughout the resort.  The offical Winter season starts on the 14th of November when more lifts will open.

One of Austria’s leading ski resorts, Sölden gives access to 146km of slopes for all levels of skiers, though it particularly suits the adventurous intermediate skier.  The Rettenbach regularly hosts the first event of the World Cup, the Giant Slalom, from the spectacular stadium on the glacier, giving holiday-makers the opportunity to rub shoulders with the world’s top skiers, whether on the glacier or at the resort’s lively après-ski scene.

Kühtai – 27 November

Although Kühtai’s higher slopes have snow to allow year-round skiing for die-hards and photoshoots, the season properly gets underway on the 27th November when all slopes and lifts open for the winter.  From then on, the lifts and pistes open at 9 am, with the pistes closing at 4 pm and the lifts a quarter of an hour later.

From Kühtai, you have access to 41 km of pistes slopes (80 km when you link to Oetz), consisting of blue, red, black and freestyle parks, offering everything from a safe environment for children to learn to real challenges for the experts, whether skiing or snowboarding.  The resort’s height, at 2,200m, means that you can always rely on good snow even on the bottom slopes from November right through to May.

St Anton – 4 December

St Anton has a justified reputation as a party resort with spectacular après-ski, that’s secondary to the main business of skiing.  The season kicks off on the 4th December with a three-day festival of skiing and music, with its highlight a concert on the 5th featuring 80s pop star Kim Wilde.

Properties in Austria - Kristall Spaces St Anton - Kim Wilde concert

Once the season is underway, St Anton’s 97 lifts and cable cars give access to 350km of managed pistes and 200km of challenging off-piste slopes.  There’s something for everyone.  Although the area is especially known for its expert-level slopes, it also offers some of the best children’s lessons in the Alps. And there’s always that lively après-ski scene in the evening.

Kristall Spaces has ski apartments for sale in all three resorts.  Contact us today in case you are visiting the area and would like to visit on of our developments.

Cross-Country Skiing in Austria

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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.

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.

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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.

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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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FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening 25 – 26.10.2014 Rettenbach Glacier

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening, 25. - 26.10.2014, RETTENBACH GLACIER.
As we head out of summer, the skiing season is drawing nearer.  The beautiful Austrian resort of Sölden is hosting major alpine sports events all winter, but the most important is the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on the Rettenbach Glacier, held on the weekend of the 25th and 26th October.

Featuring the most widely followed event of the Alpine Skiing programme, the Giant Slalom, the event will attract the world’s top skiers, such as reigning and multiple men’s champion Ted Ligety.

The stadium itself is a state-of-the-art venue, with seating for 1500 and many more standing places. It has full sanitary facilities, as well as accommodation for press and broadcasters. There’s no public parking at the stadium — parking is restricted to permit-holders on World Cup business — but parking is available at:

• Giggijoch (1000 cars in total)
• Gaislachkogl (980 cars and 18 buses in total)
• Tiefenbach Glacier (1100 cars and 40 buses in total)

All these locations offer a park-and-ride facility, with a shuttle bus to the stadium. Use of the bus is included in your entrance ticket, and it additionally calls at:

• Hotel Stefan
• Liebe Sonne
• Postplatz
• Sparkasse
• BP petrol station
• Pitze
• The turn-off to Innerwald

Admission is as little as €30.00 for the weekend if you stand, with reduced prices for young people and children under eight admitted free. If you prefer to watch from the comfort of a seat, that costs €45.00 per day for all ages.

The World Cup programme 2014

Friday 24/10/2014

13.00-16.00 FIS FORUM ALPINUM – Freizeit Arena Sölden
18.30 Women’s bib number drawing – Postplatz Square, Sölden centre
KRONE World Cup Party

Saturday 25/10/2014

9.30 1st run Women’s GSL – Rettenbach Glacier
12.45 2nd run Women’s GSL – Rettenbach Glacier
Flower Ceremony Women’s GSL – Rettenbach Glacier
O3 Party – Rettenbach Glacier
17.00 Parade of Fan Clubs – Sölden village centre
18.30 Official prize-giving ceremony – Women’s GSL – Postplatz Square, Sölden centre
18.45 Men’s bib number drawing – Postplatz Square – Sölden centre
KRONE World Cup Party
19.00 Race Party

Sunday 26/10/2014

9.30 1st run Men’s GSL – Rettenbach Glacier
12.45 2nd run Men’s GSL – Rettenbach Glacier
Flower and prize-giving ceremony – Rettenbach Glacier
O3 Party Glacier Party – Rettenbach Glacier
Awarding of the best Fan Clubs

All the local hotels are bound to fill up quickly, so make sure you get a booking in early and don’t miss out on the event of the season for Alpine Skiing.

Timmelsjoch open: high alpine road from Austria to Italy

Despite plenty of snow on the surrounding slopes, the Timmelsjoch opened to the public last week.

The Timmelsjoch is a dramatic pass road from Austria into Italy through a saddle between the Jochköpfl 3,141m and the Wurmkogl 3,082m peaks.

One of Europe’s highest paved roads, it is closed all winter because of snow and opens up between June and October allowing tourists (cars, motorbikes and cyclists – no lorries or trailers allowed) to travel in and out of the Ötztal valley (Tirol) to the Passeier Valley in the Italian province of Alto Adige.

To get there: follow the road out of Sölden and through Zwieselstein in the direction of Obergurgl. After a few minutes, take the turn for Hochgurgl and you are there.

Check out the video below of the opening day and the drive into Italy: snow, fog, tunnels and then blue sky …

Relax at the Freizeit Arena Solden

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At the Freizeit Arena Solden, you feel right at home! The arena is the ultimate place to relax and have fun. From their landscaped indoor pool and sauna parlor, to their fitness center and sports hall, Sölden’s multi-purpose Freizeit Arena is really the place for families!

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The arena offers you the perfect blend of healthy activities alongside deep relaxation. At the spa, take in an ‘Adventure Bath’, or enjoy an authentic Kelo log cabin sauna, a steam bath, or an inhalation bath. They also offer hot stone plates and a sanarium, a classic Finnish sauna.

This is the place to go after a day in the mountains of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl. Unwind after some outdoor activities, or use it as an alternative to the ski slopes; simply stay indoors and play on the tennis courts or enjoy the fitness center. Get your workout inside! At the recreation center you can participate in a wide range of sports, swimming and even some high-altitude training exercises.

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At the end of the day, the arena also has plenty of fun things to enjoy. Bowl a game or two, or have dinner. In fact, you can indulge in some amazing culinary delights at one of their restaurants, the “Al Dente”, a fine Italian restaurant, or the “Hacienda”, a Mexican restaurant.

Paragliding tandem flights in Solden

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Tandem paragliding is an adventurous activity, and one that you can enjoy this summer in Solden!  Tandem paragliding allows you to discover the world from above.  You will see it all, from a stunning bird’s eye view as you float effortlessly above the Ötztal valley.

Paragliding really gives one the feeling of free flight, it is like nothing you will have ever experienced before.

Take a tandem flight with Solden’s Parataxi, where their motto is “Fun for Two”. On your own, you would need to be a certified pilot, but with their tandem flights, you will fly with one of their certified drivers. This allows you to safely, and easily, experience that feeling of flying, with no past paragliding experience at all!

This is a wonderful way to explore the awesome beauty of the mountains. See nature from a bird’s eye view.

Tandem paragliding gives you both the freedom and fun of flying, whether you are the pilot or the passenger!

If you do have your certification, just a few steps and you will be off! But note that you do need to have proof of insurance to fly. But, even without experience, the certified instructors of Solden will take you up on a memorable flight. You will glide high above the picturesque Ötztaler Ache (the River Ötzt) surrounded by 3,000m snow-capped peaks. 

In the summer, you will take the GAISLACHKOGL Gondola to the middle station, where you can take off from an altitude of 2,500m. Talk about a great view!  Come make all of your dreams come true this summer in Solden!