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.

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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!

Ice Q, the new source of culinary pleasures on Gaislachkogl peak

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Last December, the Bergbahnen Sölden Lift Company opened Ice Q, which was a new, innovative restaurant on the Gaislachkogl.

The Gaislachkogl is the area’s number one ski mountain, providing a huge number of skiers and boarder to enjoy the new Ice Q.

Why the buzz?  This new restaurant provides amazing culinary pleasures, amusing the palate in unique ways.  The restaurant features aesthetically pleasing modern architecture, with all materials sourced locally.  Additionally, the menu features a number of gourmet specialties.

Construction of Ice Q took six months, from June to December 2013.  It is an outstanding restaurant with wonderful service, gourmet alpine cuisine and an extensive wine list.

Ice Q offers 94 seats inside along with 34 seats on the terrace and a rooftop terrace with some amazing views.

Obermoser Architects built this innovative new restaurant along with three mountain gondola stations. Guests will enjoy the glass facades which open onto the picturesque Ötztal mountains.  Seated inside this new building, you feel like you are sat outside: the windows are so transparent, they fit seamlessly into the natural setting.

Aqua Dome Solden Austria

Aqua Dome

Known as one of the great resort spas in all of Europe, the Solden Aqua Dome offers unparalleled comfort and relaxation for anyone looking to get away from the winter cold or the summer heat. You wouldn’t think that the snow-capped mountains contain thermal spas, but the lava-heated water rushes up through the pipeline to bubble right around your shoulders to toes. From the interior of the bedrock, these healing waters come up to the surface heights of Solden, Austria, helping visitors to experience one of the great rejuvenating powers of the world.

Lodged in the beautiful Otzal Mountains, the Solden Aqua Dome rises from the valley to project pillars of steam in the winter months and crystal-blue waters in the summer months. The ornate rings of glass and steel frame the pools while allowing high quality light to stream through. There’s three outdoor pools, each one projected upon stilts to rise from the surrounding area, as well as two indoor pools surrounded by coloured canopies and decorate interiors.

Fire up your holiday vacation with the heat of the sauna. Known as the “Gletschergluhen”, this massive indoor steam bath allows you to sweat out every iota of stress in your body, then immerse yourself back into the cold water to feel refreshed and up for the next challenge. It’s not just a one-sauna experience, however, since the Solden Aqua Dome includes a loft sauna, a hay barn sauna, and the ravine sauna.

Aqua-Dome-in-Tyrol-Austria_Beautiful-view_1629Once you’ve finished heating up in the warm pools or cooling off in the temperate pools, put your body through a new physical test with the Gipfelstrum fitness centre within the spa centre. The personal trainers help you to get to new levels in your workout, by taking on training equipment just like the types used by professional athletes, or taking classes in aerobics or spinning to feel better. Once you’re done, have a diagnostic on your fitness level ran to see how you compare to the professionals who make millions on the grass or track or ice or snow.

With the day done, it’s time to relax and make your inner beauty shine. The beauty programs and care treatments available at the spa help you to look and feel like the prime of your life. Whether you want exclusive products, expert advice, or a litany of treatments that emphasize your well-being, you can find it all at the Aqua Dome in Solden.

Guest journalist writes about Sölden, Tirol

It was with some trepidation that I agreed to go skiing – after all I’m a beach holiday type of girl and I imagined dire scenarios of shivering in the snow, sliding down the mountains on my bottom in comedy Bridget Jones style.

However, when my husband showed me photographs of the Austrian apartment we’d be staying in, in Zwieselstein, perfectly placed between two major ski resorts, Hochgurgl and Sölden, in the Tirol region of Austria, I was halfway to being convinced.

The mountain views from the balcony were absolutely stunning. We arrived on Saturday evening and went to dinner at the Hotel Neue Post.

By the time I was tucking into the Wiener Schnitzel, one of many Austrian specialities and a glass of extremely palatable Grüner Veltliner, I was warming to this holiday.

We hit the slopes in Hochgurgl, on Sunday morning and by then I was converted.  If nothing else, the wide blue skies and the awe inspiring views were incredible.  I sat on the terrace of the Hotel Hochgurgl, sipping a fresh orange juice before girding my loins to put on my skis.

But I needn’t have worried at all, there are a plethora of wide blue runs in Hochgurgl and as I inched my way down, I realised that while skiing for the winter Olympics might be a little tricky, cruising down at your own speed is surprisingly easy to achieve.

I’m still no expert at skiing, but what with the mountain air, the sunshine and all that exercise (not just sliding down on my bottom), I’ve never returned from a trip abroad, with quite such a good post-holiday glow!

I’ll certainly be heading back to Tirol next year for more of the same.

by Melanie Fallowfield