Alpine Property Market

Saville’s, the London-based property services group, published its annual survey of the Alpine property market. It is an interesting read, and in tribute to the Economist’s Big Mac index publishes a Kakao index – how much is a hot chocolate.
Gstaad slopes
On this index Gstaad, St Moritz and Saas-Fee rate amongst the ten most expensive resorts in the Alps, but perhaps more surprisingly is that Switzerland isn’t consistently the most expensive. Indeed, on a number of criteria, Switzerland is not so expensive, although it languishes a distant fourth in terms of number of ski visits amongst the Alpine nations. However, it also boasts the best resorts in terms of season duration and snow conditions.

The report focuses on premium ski resorts and the prices are truly eye-watering. However, what interests me as a potential investor in the Swiss property market, is the spread of prices. A small village, with good transport links to a major ski area, provides properties at a tenth of the price of property in a resort like Verbier. The discerning Swiss property buyer can still find bargains. For those who have money to burn, however, a chalet in Verbier recently came on the market for a mere 45 million euros!

The full report from Saville’s is here.

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Where the Rich and Famous Ski

Patrick Thorne writes for InTheSnow (http://www.inthesnow.com/feature/skiing-tracks-rich-famous/) about some of the celebrities who ski.
St Moritz village from Corviglia
There are some interesting gems. Apparently Prince Charles took Princess Diana to learn to ski in Lichtenstein – presumably Malbun – to avoid the media expecting them at the Walserhof Hotel in Klosters, well known as a royal favourite. Prince Harry, it is claimed, prefers St Moritz, as does King Carl Gustav of Sweden. Charlie Chaplin was reputedly the first man to drive to St Moritz in the winter and Alfred Hitchcock kept a suite at the Palace Hotel for many years.
Gstaad Palace HotelSophia Loren, however, preferred Gstaad and the Gstaad Palace. David Niven was a near neighbour, choosing to winter in Chateau D’Oex.
I am not sure how many of the rich and famous actually ski at Davos during the World Economic Forum (21–24 January 2015), but you could do worse.
George Michael stayed at the Ferienart in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, 30 years ago to film the video for Last Christmas.

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Winter Ski Deals in Graubünden

I am a great fan of the winter sports resorts in Graubünden, and will be spending the Christmas period in the canton. It is probably the most complete ski and snowboard destination in the world, but it caters well for ever type of visitor – including the budget conscious.
Arosa ski resort
This season Graubünden once again has a range of excellent deals. The season starts on 18th October 2014 on the Diavolezza in the Engadine, which celebrates 150 years of winter tourism. On 22nd November, Corvatsch and Corviglia in St Moritz open. Progressively other resorts open, with Arosa, Samnaun, Flims Laax Falera and Davos Klosters opening in November.

A great deal for getting there is the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) offer, “Railhit 2 for 1” in which two people travelling together from Monday to Thursday only pay for one if they are hotel guests or in self-catering accommodation. The offer lasts from 8th December 2014 to 10th April 2014. RailHit is not valid on a handful of special services, including the pass associated with using the Preda-Bergün sledging slope.
Skiers in Davos on the Parsenn
For 35 SFr per person per day for visits of at least two nights, a ski pass is included with accommodation at participating hotels in and around St Moritz.

Arosa once again features the “Ski School Included” for youngsters staying in the resort, whereby lessons are available at no charge.

Now linked to Arosa, Lenzerheide gives you a free lift pass if you book a stay at any time between 28th of November to the 20th December.

Up until 21st December 2014 you also get a complimentary ski pass for slopes in Davos Klosters for every overnight stay in a partner hotel in the area. From 20th December until 6th April the resorts are also offering a local insider to accompany you and show you the best of the mountains. Remember also that Ski Club of Great Britain members still can ski or snowboard for free with a Ski Club representative.

More details on these and other offers are posted at the Graubünden Tourism website.

There are also the usual range of budget options if you are going to Graubunden, with some excellent hostels and budget hotels. Check out the Winter Sports Accommodation Guide.

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Late-season Skiing & Snowboarding

Ski Sunday abandons the season in February, the FIS World Cup season climaxes in March (this season at Lenzerheide, on 20th March) and most of the continent stows away skis and snowboards after Easter. So what for those who want to prolong the season? is there decent skiing anywhere through April and May?

The simple answer is yes. For many freeriders this is the best time of the year to tour, and for those who prefer to stick to the pistes or use lifts to get off-piste, there is still fresh snow. Essentially the very best places are high, so resorts with lifts to about 3000m are promising. The Aletsch Arena, Belalp, Val D’Annivers, and Lauchernalp are not well known but passes are relatively cheap, they are rarely crowded and make good destinations for families, beginners and for weekend escapes. All you have to do is get on the best site for sports gear on the internet, get the appurtenances, and start right away. Val D’Annivers is a little known gem, with Zinal in that area offering the most challenging off-piste and Chandolin the best pistes. Samnaun gives access to the huge Silvretta Arena which has all but the valley runs over 2000m and consistently has good snow conditions throughout April. The Jungfrau stays open until after Easter with good pistes still available down to Wengen, Mürren, Kleine Scheidegg and Holenstein through until mid-afternoon. Diovolezza in the Engadin, near Pontresina, is the highest valley run in Switzerland, with a bottom station above 2000m and lifts open until late May. Davos and Klosters should offer good skiing on the higher runs on the Parsenn until the lifts close on 1st May. The 4 Vallées (centred on Verbier), Flims/Laax and Les Diablerets have glaciers and stay open until early May this year, and Engelberg will stay open until the end of May – although I doubt the valley run will last quite that long. St Moritz, Saas-Fee and Zermatt offer the very best late season skiing, with Saas-Fee and Zermatt providing some limited glacier skiing right through the year. Once you decide on the place you are going, make sure you capture all the exciting moments. The best way to do that is using a drone. Don’t forget about radio, check this comparison to decide which one is better for you.

There are other things to do in the tail-end of the winter sports season in Switzerland. Over the week ending 20th March are the FIS World Cup at Lenzerheide, the Zinal Freeride contest and the Nissan Freeride World Tour 2010 in Verbier (on the Bec de Rosses). On 19th March the longest torch-lit downhill skiing procession in the world takes place down the 2000m, 12 km descent from Titlis to Engelberg – meeting point is at the Valley Station at 6pm with dinner on Mt Titlis at 9.30 pm.

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