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.

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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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Guide to the slopes of St Anton

St AntonSt Anton should have the title ‘Resort with most under-classified slopes’ because many of its blue runs should be classified as red. And on top of that, they have a number of red runs that should be classified as black.

However, none of St Anton’s runs are extremely steep, because their toughest runs are actually called ‘ski routes’ or ‘high alpine touring runs’. Touring runs, like Rendi and Stuben, are actually off-piste runs that do not appear on the piste maps of most resorts. For those who would like to discover these runs, they must hire a guide.

While the piste maps note that the ski routes are marked, they are also avalanche controlled but not groomed or patrolled.

These should be patrolled pistes, though, as several areas such as Schindler Spitze and Rendl, are very popular runs and they are treated like pistes. Some of these routes are actually groomed, but only sporadically.

St Anton

Large Linked St Anton Areas

St Anton’s slopes all fall into three main sectors, and two of these are linked.

St Anton’s major sector is just beneath the Valluga, which is accessed by the  gondola to Galzig, and then a cable car. The cable car will take skiers to Valluga Grat where they will have access to St Anton’s high, sunny bowls, as well as the long red/blue run to Alpe Rauz.

The run to Alpe Rauz and the high Valluga runs can only be accessed by riding the Schindlergrat triple chair.

Beyond this valley, skiers can head to the Kapall-Gampen sector, which is reachable by chairlift from central St Anton or by gondola from Nasserein.

Skiers who wish to go to Rendl should note that it is a separate mountain, which can be reached by a gondola from the centre of town. There are also a handful of lifts that serve the west-facing upper runs, and the north-facing piste to the valley.

Snow Volleyball Has Taken The Austrian Alps By Storm

1907976_737130112975229_9065532505984641856_n A popular new sport has emerged at ski resorts all over the Alps. It’s called “snow volleyball” and it’s becoming increasingly popular as time goes on. The rules are essentially the same as traditional volleyball, only it’s played at an altitude of 6,500 feet while the participants are surrounded by both snow and skiers.

Snow volleyball has been around in a casual capacity for years, though it has been picking up a huge amount of steam recently. Organisers of the Snow Volleyball Tour have expanded their lineup to include Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy. They hope that snow volleyball could soon become a competitive event played all over the world.

The St. Anton ski resort hosted the final stop on the Snow Volleyball Tour in early April, 2014. Instead of the cold and frosty atmosphere that one would expect from a ski resort at this time of year, the entire event looked like something you would be more likely to find on a sandy beach. Players were surrounded by both palm trees and cheerleaders, the same way they would be if they were competing in a beach volleyball tournament. The only major difference was that instead of a skimpy bikini or a fashionable swimsuit, players were wearing something a little heavier to protect themselves against the harsh winter weather.

Players who are having a great time with snow volleyball have talked at length about just how similar it is to the traditional game. Strategising is exactly the same as traditional volleyball. The way that you move through snow versus the way you move through sand, however, is completely different. This small but pivotal change is what makes snow volleyball a completely unique entity all unto itself, as well as a great deal of fun in general.

Snow volleyball has also been seen as a boost for tourism at the locations that have been participating in the tour. 50 teams participated in the events and they were surrounded by an estimated 15,000 cheering spectators. The Austrian volleyball association has already taken the necessary steps to recognise snow volleyball based on its popularity. Its rumored that the German and Swiss authorities are well on their way to making the same decision.

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What to do in St Anton in the summer?

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St Anton is a wonderful year round holiday destination, and there is plenty to do here in the summertime! From rafting to hiking to cycling and swimming, this area offers lots for the outdoorsy to enjoy.

There are a number of summer activities in St. Anton for children, too. They will love the beautiful nature settings, while you enjoy the safety of the area that they play in! The natural beauty of St. Anton is breathtaking. The views, and the heights, are amazing.

There are alpine meadows, gigantic mountain summits, plenty of peace and quiet, and lots of organised outdoor activities if you are so inclined to enjoy them. In fact, there are over 300 kilometers of hiking trails, plenty of rock climbing opportunities for the adventurous extreme sports lovers in your party, and even the “WunderWanderWeg”, which translates to the Wonder Hiking Route.

St. Anton also boasts a high ropes course (again, for the most adventurous in your group), cycle tours you can sign up for, and plenty of swimming on beautiful summer days.  There are many activities for both the young and old to participate in here http://www.stantonamarlberg.com/en/sommer/sport-aktiv/sports-activities.html

Families love St. Anton, because there is truly something for everyone.

No matter when you visit, there is always something new to find, too. When you holiday in the Arlberg area you will find new paths, wonders that you have never encountered before, views you have never seen before. Breathe the fresh air and immerse your senses in the gorgeous outdoors!

And if you love the area, why not look for property for sale in St Anton, Austria?  So that you will always have a place to stay during the holidays!  The area is beautiful year round, and purchasing your own homestead will give you plenty of reason to summer here!

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Best Austrian Resort for Cross-Border Skiing

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

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

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

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

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

Double Decker Gondola

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

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

Zeblas Waterfalls

 

Finding The Perfect Powder In St. Anton

St Anton

There’s so much rumour and hearsay about the best snow conditions at ski resorts that they’ve become modern-day fabled cities of gold like El Dorado. One resort that consistently stands out above the rest, however, is nestled in the Tyrolean Alps in the western tip of Austria. St. Anton am Arlberg, more commonly known as St. Anton, has a great reputation for skiing by day and partying by night, with emphasis on both quality and quantity of snow. More a traditional resort than a set of ski lodges, the dynamics of the town’s recreation scene make property investment in St Anton a good bet for year-round productivity rather than seasonal income.

Location provides the impetus for quality snowfall in St. Anton. It’s part of the highest hills in all of Austria, receiving snowfall from heavy clouds blown in on three sides from the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Baltic. With profound snowfall each winter, the Valluga basin gets global attention for its runs, often to the point where experts and professionals tackle the most difficult courses with glee. Verticals drop as far as one thousand meters on a single mountain side, where the sun doesn’t shine with enough duration or intensity to cause the deep, light, fluffy snow to become wet and heavy. British instructor Graham Austick runs a skiing school in St. Anton devoted to capitalising on the great powder.

Tourists and natives alike flock to St. Anton to ski, since the lift pass gets them on the main runs as well as nearby runs in Lech or Zurs (both of which are more forgiving to novice ski enthusiasts). Once the last light comes to a close, visitors flock to any one of the various bars and clubs that offer pulse-pounding music and drinks to skiers as well as instructors. Without traffic on the main street, everyone gets around on foot, from the buses heading to the slopes to the saunas that let you sweat away the day’s slopes.