If you’re looking for somewhere with snow-sure winters and picture-perfect Alpine summers, Liz Rowlinson recommends the top 10 four-season resorts.
This old farming village set in a high and open valley in the Vorarlberg really is the chocolate-box perfect Alpine village. With a 14th-century onion-domed church and a river meandering through its traditional centre, Lech-Zürs attracts wealthy Germans, for whom it’s an easy weekend escape, as well as a lively, young crowd who enjoy the outdoor ice bars serving Champagne or the après ski at the Hotel Krone next to the lifts.
New lift links to the Warth area have added just over 40 miles of pistes to the Arlberg ski area, but, in summer, there are music and art fairs (yes, it’s a ski town with an arts scene), farmer’s markets and a car rally.
‘Chalets with second-home status rarely come on to the market in Lech,’ says Tom Joyce of Pure International. ‘When they do, they’re about €18,000 to €22,000 per square metre.’ Pure are selling a rare new-build project of four seven-bedroom luxury chalets at €6.2 million upwards, managed by a five-star hotel, but with their own pool and spa. They promise good rental returns, but, for affordability, look to the nearby village of Wald am Arlberg, where apartments at start at €195,000 (both through PURE International 020–3695 4095; www.pureintl.com).
A traditional village bypassed by the valley traffic, Klosters couldn’t be more different from its metropolitan neighbour, Davos. Its discreet social scene has made it a favour- ite with the British royals—The Prince of Wales has two cable cars named after him. A great resort for intermediate skiers, it’s also very family oriented, with a superb children’s club operating in the summer holidays when 435 miles of walking trails are open, alongside a golf course, an adventure park and a classic mountain-biking route, the Swiss Bike Masters. ‘At 1,100m [3,610ft], it’s not a high resort, so the summer season is longer and the infrastructure is geared to year-round activity,’ explains Sascha Ginesta, Knight Frank’s associate in Klosters. He says overseas buyers (typically British, German or Dutch) tend to be residents and the best areas for chalets are Russna and Hofji. ‘Entry-level chalets are CHF3 million to CHF3.5 million [£2.02m–£2.36m] with prime examples at CHF7 million to CHF8 million [£4.7m–£m].’
KLOSTERS FOR SALE: CHF2.95m
A rare example of an apartment available for foreign buyers, this five-bedroom duplex within a traditional Graubünden chalet offers superb mountain views (£1.99m).
Knight Frank (020–7629 8171; www.knightfrank.com)
Big-name French resorts oozing old-world charm are rather thin on the ground but one really stands head and shoulders above the rest: Megeve. The medieval farming village that’s now a chic Alpine outpost of Paris has Michelin-starred restaurants, designer shopping and rustic-chic hotels around its 13th-century cobbled centre. Accessibility from Geneva is one attraction and year-round appeal is another; there’s Golf du Mont d’Arbois, lake-swimming at Combloux, climbing, canyoning or summer luge.
Families gravitate towards the Combloux area, where chalets offer larger gardens and magnificent views towards Mont Blanc, says Emmanuel Boan of Agence Boan, Knight Frank’s associate in Megeve. ‘There’s a demand for traditional properties, often with a contemporary finish and the core market remains between €500,000 and €2 million.’ In the sought-after Mont d’Arbois area, Knight Frank are selling an ideal family chalet with eight bedrooms and a south-west facing garden for €2.3 million (020– 7629 8171; www.knightfrank.com).
MEGEVE FOR SALE: €6.8m
New five-bedroom 330sq m chalet near the centre of Megeve offering a hammam,
indoor pool, wine cellar and garage.
John Taylor (00 33 4 50 54 71 06; www.john-taylor.com)
Just an hour from Innsbruck, this lovely traditional Austrian resort is often overlooked in favour of nearby Obergurgl, but it’s at the end of one of the most breathtaking wooded valley drives in the Tyrol and you’ll soon see it appear in the forthcoming James Bond film, Spectre.
It’s a strung-out resort with a lively party scene, refreshing sense of space and although two glaciers offer reliable snow, in summer, there are 186 miles of hiking trails and Europe’s largest outdoor adventure park, Area 47.
Second homes in the Tyrol typically come with rental obligations and an attractive new development in the resort offers an unusually simple 50/50 split of income between owner and the hotel management, including use of the spa and facilities.
Prices at the Courtyard Apartments start at €347,500 through Alpine Marketing (020–8455 0505; www.alpineskiproperty.com).
There are more charming Savoyard villages than you can throw a ski pole at, but many fall down when it comes to lively summer pursuits. Not so Morzine, with its lively cycling scene, 11 tennis courts, Europe’s highest waterpark, summer luge and riding, to name but a few activities.
New chairlifts up to Avoriaz have kept the skiers happy and this resort suits a growing number of buyers seeking to be within an hour of Geneva. ‘Like Les Gets and Chamonix, it’s getting some top-end chalets that simply didn’t exist there five years ago,’ says Knight Frank’s Matt Hodder-Williams.
Knight Frank have a good range of chalets starting at about €360,000 and Erna Low ski property have a selection of properties from two-bedroom apartments from €285,000 (www.ernalowproperty.co.uk; 020–7590 1624).
The picture-postcard town of Grindelwald is a fabulous family resort in the Bernese Oberland. Like Wengen, it’s an historic favourite with the British market, yet it attracts a younger demographic with its modern coffee shops, lively vinotecas and outdoor sports.
‘Children enjoy the great outdoors, with mountain-biking, indoor climbing, zip-lines, mini-golf and modern amenities, but it remains a really traditional place, where the lady in the cheese shop knows your name,’ says Beat Hartmann of agent Hartmann Singleton.
Mr Hartmann is selling a three-bedroom, 138sq m resale apartment with panoramic views of the Eiger from its third-floor balconies, for CHF1.7 million (£1.15m). It’s available to foreign buyers and an ideal base, next to the popular Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof (01845 597795; www.hartmannsingleton.com).
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
It’s been Italy’s most stylish resort since the 1950s and is as much about the cafe culture, shopping and Moncler-clad passeggiata as the skiing, so is wonderfully laidback. The cobbled, traffic-free Corso Italia is full of chic shops selling Bulgari and Gucci, antiques, art or jewellery and the tall campanile of the parish church is so typical of the Veneto.
Around the town, the craggy teeth of the Dolomites tinge pink at dawn and dusk—in the summer, the vie ferrate (climbing routes) and rifugi (mountain huts) attract those seeking more than a stroll.
‘Houses in the centre change hands for €15,000 to €22,000 per square metre or €10,000 to €18,000 on the outskirts of town,’ says Linda Travella of Casa Travella, also selling a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for €550,000 in the charming little ski town of San Candido, 121⁄2 miles from Cortina.
CORTINA FOR SALE: €2.4m
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom property in the centre of Cortina is in typical rustic style with beamed ceilings.
Casa Travella (01322 660988; www.casatravella.com)
Saint Martin de Belleville, France
With its authentic, all-year-round village feel, great range of restaurants and, most importantly, the easy access into the Les 3 Vallées ski area—the world’s largest— Saint Martin de Belleville is cementing its place among the most attractive places to own a ski property. During the summer months, the picturesque Savoyard village with a Baroque church at its hub erupts into a floral haven and welcomes mountain and road bikers, climbers and walkers. It’s a quieter —and more affordable—proposition to its Les 3 Vallées neighbours Courchevel and Méribel. ‘Expect to pay €200,000 for an apartment and about €1 million for a chalet, although in the neighbouring villages you can pick one up for €500,000,’ says Steve Pangli from Leggett Immobilier.
SAINT MARTIN DE BELLEVILLE FOR SALE: €636k
This compact three-bedroom chalet offers a large garden and boules pitch.
Leggett Immobilier (08700 115151; www.skifrenchproperty.com)
With its 15th-century chalets bedecked with geraniums, a traffic-free centre of narrow lanes and old hay barns burnt black by the sun, the Valais village of Grimentz really should be more popular. Go in summer for hiking, biking, paragliding, archery, fishing or even bungee-jumping or there’s golf at nearby Sion or Crans-Montana. Fabulous off-piste and uncrowded slopes make it worth a trip in winter, too.
Buy a new apartment on the slopes at the Volantis Residence from CHF331,000 (£223,240) or a new 102sq m three-bed- room chalet for CHF790,000 (£532,810) (through Investors in Property, 020–8905 5511; www.investorsinproperty.com).
A 165sq m three/four-bedroom (one of a trio of new chalets) for CHF1.5 million (£1.012m) through Hartmann Singleton makes it much cheaper than its Valais neighbour, Verbier.
If you like your mountain pursuits punctu- ated with architectural tours, Savoy wine tastings and weekly markets, then this might be the French ski town for you. Its location only an hour from Geneva means it’s great for weekend breaks and the ancient covered central square is the heart of the town come snow or sunshine.
‘Samoens dates back to medieval times and the many traditional-style bars and restaurants still give a feel of the “real” rural France. It’s not so much a ski resort with summer facilities, it’s more of a traditional village with access to 165 miles of slopes,’ says Simon Malster of Investors in Property.
Your money goes further than in Chamonix and at the Vallée Blanche, so a new-build scheme just outside the centre offers one-bedroom apartments for €238,000 or a chalet for about €1 million, through Investors in Property.
SAMOENS FOR SALE: €1.94m
This eight-bedroom, 550sq m traditional Savoyard chalet enjoys striking south-facing views across the
Giffre valley. A smaller mazot could be fitted for guests.
Home Hunts (020–8144 5501; www.home-hunts.com)