Jasmine Harman and Jonnie Irwin on why a mountain bolt-hole can have the edge over a beach pad

Monday, February 01, 2010

Jasmine Harman and Jonnie Irwin on why a mountain bolt-hole can have the edge over a beach pad

Jasmine

When its wet and windy, dark and freezing, many of us start longing for a holiday home somewhere to soak up the sun, sea and sangria. Not many people would want to be somewhere even colder, but in my opinion they could be missing a trick! It sounds crazy, but a mountain bolt-hole has many advantages over a beach pad. In particular, it has year-round appeal, so would suit families with energetic kids who need more than the beach to keep them busy. So where to choose?

I think the Alps are hard to beat access is relatively easy and cheap, which is important if youll be visiting several times a year, or if you are travelling with kids. Longer journeys (for example, to the US) could be incredibly stressful and expensive! The Alps cross the borders of several countries, but a pad in France or Switzerland could cost you a small fortune. Youd be surprised by how expensive a poky studio fl at can be in some resorts!

I recommend crossing the border into Austria, where youll find your money stretches further. For example, a four-bed apartment close to Zell am See will cost you around 175,000 (159K) a cool half a million cheaper than a similar property somewhere exclusive like Courchevel.

One thing to consider about buying in Austria is that, for the most part, second homes there must be available for rental for between 130-150 days per year. Most holiday-home owners, however, rely on rental income. The average high season for rental in a beach resort lasts around 12 weeks, whereas in a mountain resort you could be looking at up to double that, giving you twice the earning power.

Financial incentives aside, Austria has plenty going for it. Ive enjoyed holidays in the Austrian Alps in summer and winter and have found the Austrian people combine the warmth and hospitality of their Italian neighbours, with the efficiency of their German neighbours. The food is hearty, the scenery is dazzling, and if you want to get friendly with the locals, head to the nearest spa it is the custom to go nude and considered unhygienic to wear your swimsuit!

Average temperatures of around 25C make Austria in summer sublime, and in winter there is usually good snow. Snow sports are obviously a highlight, but the rest of the year you can go hiking, mountain-biking, horse-riding, paragliding, bird-watching whatever fl oats your boat!


Jonnie


Jonnie IrwinWell, Jasmines covered most of what mountain holiday homes have to offer, but Ill have a go at adding something! For me, as soon as the weather gets colder, Im reading all of the snow reports to find out where the best snow is, and for the serious skier or snowboarder, that usually takes priority when looking at destinations. Many resorts throughout the Alps had fantastic snowfall last year, and I, for one, was lucky enough to enjoy Courchevel in one of its best weeks many of the seasonaires could remember.

But lets face it, holidaying in a top resort and being able to afford to buy real estate in one are two very different things for most of us. And with so much Russian money spilling into some of the top resorts, prices have become out of reach. I agree with Jasmine skiing and boarding in Austria offers a very different experience. From the hugely welcoming people to the towns, which retain much of their Tyrolean charm, it feels like a world away from some of its European counterparts.

Sure, its got its established resorts such as Kitzbhel, but places like St Anton are snapping at its heels with excellent snow records and some full-on aprs-ski. Last year I saw a guy literally dance out of his skis and go straight onto an open-air dance floor they love it!

There are still quieter areas, such as Rendl, which is accessed from the back of the town by a very long and slow antiquated cable car, but because of this, less people bother using it, but the conditions up there can be great. In my opinion, its little features like this that mean there still might be some capital growth in property here, as a new, faster lift is planned soon.

For young families in particular, big resorts can represent an unnecessary expense, since families are more concerned about spending time together in a safe and calm environment and I found just the place for this a couple of years ago. Filzmoos is a pretty little town just an hour or so from Salzburg. Because of the busy airport you can get frequent cheap flights there and its easy to hire a car. The skiing is a little limited, but if you have a hire car, there is more than enough within a 30-minute drive. And the real advantage is the sometimes deserted slopes and the much more affordable property prices.

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A Place In The Sun