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Property off the beaten piste (2008-Nov-09) « Back to all news

The Sunday Business Post
Property off the beaten piste
Sunday, November 09, 2008 - By Diarmaid Condon

Looking for a bargain ski holiday home? There are a surprising number of resorts to choose from.

The Irish have fallen head over heels for skiing since the advent of our newfound wealth. Unfortunately much of that newfound wealth has now dissipated, but it is unlikely in the longer term that the Irish will wish to stay off the pistes for too long if they can avoid it.

In reality, if you have €200,000 or less to spend on a ski property you're not likely to make it to the top tier ski resorts - instead, you'll have to be a bit more creative. You may well find that you are a candidate for a property in some of the lesser known ski resorts in France or Austria, or some of those in up and coming central and eastern European (CEE) countries.

Cost of access will be a significant factor in any decision. The pistes may not be as long or as well groomed and the après ski won't be of the same quality, but if it's skiing you're after you can find plenty of it around Europe without breaking the bank.

Now is as good a time as any - buyers are very scarce on the ground and the opportunity is there to bargain hard with developers or individual sellers. You will need more cash than before though, as the amount you can borrow and rates on offer are not as good as they used to be.

If you're looking for individual owners who are anxious to sell and who may be willing to take an offer, then your best bet is websites that offer private sellers the chance to list properties such as www.MyOverseasProperty.ie, www.PrivateSeller.ie or www.OverseasCafe.com.

Pyrenees, France

The Pyrenees Orientales, on the French Spanish border, is one of the most accessible and affordable ski options for the Irish. Ryanair can take you within a 90 minute drive of the slopes, with access from Cork, Shannon and Dublin into either Gerona in Spain or Carcassonne in France. There are ten ski-resorts in the Roussillon region, all of which are around a ten minute drive from each other. The most developed of the resorts are Les Angles and Font Romeu. Les Angles has over 60 kilometres of slopes, and both towns have a selection of restaurants and shops as well as plenty of amenities such as ice rinks, swimming pools, cinemas, animal parks and lakes.

Formigueres is also worth a visit, as it is a very authentic, quaint French village. The area around the slopes is full of beautiful mature forests and the views are breathtaking. The area is not heavily advertised so you tend to get a local crowd, according to Suzanne O'Reilly of BidsInFrance.com.

In the Roussillon a full day's ski-pass with insurance costs about 30 euro, while boots and skis can be hired for 10 euro a day.

In les Angles, BidsInFrance.com has a well maintained studio apartment in the heart of the resort, with lake and mountain views from the balcony. The property is on the market for €50,000.

There is also a three-bed, two-bath chalet with a living room with a stone fireplace and French windows opening onto a terrace with great views. This property is on the market for €199,000.

In Formiqueres, there is a duplex-style apartment which will cater for four people. The property is in need of some redecoration and is going for €115,000 with private parking included.

Alps, France

Les Deux Alpes sits at the top of the Veneon Valley, in the heart of the Oisans. The region boasts world class ski runs and the largest ski-able glacier in Europe. Slopes vary from 1,300 to 3,600 metres, which make it a snow-sure resort.

The region has 76 runs over 200 kilometres, with 63 ski lifts, and occupies both sides of the valley. There are, unusually, two seasons because of the glacier, which contains eight runs. Passes are cheapest in early winter.

Access is either with Ryanair into Grenoble or via Lyon, which is 160 kilometres from the resort, with a transfer via Grenoble, which is 70 kilometres from the resort.

OverseasProperties.com currently has a hotel with a wooden chalet-style extension. The apartments have spacious balconies and terraces designed to provide an indoor/ outdoor transition. There will be a contemporary feel with wide-paned windows. Studios start from €90,000, with one-beds from €175,000 and two-beds from €145,000.

Slovakia

Slovakia has some of the highest mountain resorts in central Europe, rising to an altitude of 2,655metres, and eastern Slovakia's High and Low Tatra mountains can accommodate skiing for four or five months of the year. Skiing in Slovakia generally costs about half the price it does in the Alpine resorts.

The Lodge is a project being promoted by The Right Move Abroad. It is located in the village of Stratena, within the Slovak Paradise national park. This Unesco heritage site offers a range of attractions for its visitors including skiing, climbing, hiking, golf, horse riding, caving, fishing and camping.

This project is a refurbishment of a traditional ski lodge into high standard holiday apartments. There will be 14 apartments, a bar, breakfast room, sauna and aromatherapy room. It is surrounded by old trees and a stream, and there is a covered barbecue area.

Parking spaces are located in the gated back yard and the local ski-lift is 300 metres away. There are restaurants and pubs centred around the Dobsinska Ice Cave, the focal point of the area, 200 metres away.

The village has numerous guest houses, small restaurants and pubs, and the popular ski resort of Telgart is located four kilometres away. Prices start from €39,000.

David Stanley Redfern is currently promoting the Mlynky Wellness Spa, also in the Slovak Paradise national park. The development features an on-site spa and wellness facilities to provide a year round attraction to the hotel.

The project is on the doorstep of 600 metres of nursery slopes, and within five minutes of the Telgart ski lifts, which have nine downhill runs and 27 kilometres of cross-country skiing.

There are studio, one and two-bed apartments as well as two-bed mezzanine penthouses. All have views from the terrace, over the ski slope or across the countryside to the mountains. The price includes an option to spend 20 days free of charge each year.

This is an existing hotel with high year-round occupancy levels. Completion is in 2010 and mortgages of up to 80 per cent are available. The price for a 41 square metre studio is €73,792, a 56 square metre one-bed will set you back €101,031, while a 90.75 square metre two-bed costs €161,989.

Access to both developments is via Poprad Tatry airport, located 30 kilometres away, which is accessed via either Bratislava or Prague.

Bulgaria

Pamporovo is a modern ski resort in the heart of the Rhodopi mountain range in Bulgaria. The town contains a mixture of period and new build properties, but has not yet become over-developed. It is considered to have snow conditions similar to the Alps, as it is at an altitude of 1,650metres.

It is sheltered by the Pirin mountains, so there are virtually no stoppages during the snow season. There are a number of ski lifts directly into town so there are options for ski-in/ski out properties.

Pamporovo is the most southerly skiing resort in Europe and is the sunniest Bulgarian mountain resort. It is 240 kilometres from Sofia and 85 kilometres from Plovdiv. Access is generally via Sofia, but you can get flight only deals with Balkan Tours from Dublin and Belfast into Plovdiv for €350 return.

There is a major €55 million project underway called the Sports and Tourist Centre Perelik, which is extending the resort of Pamporovo by connecting it to the surrounding mountains. The project will include 24 new ski routes extending to 55 kilometres, as well as summer and winter facilities, and it is due for completion by 2014.

This extension will make Pamporovo part of one of the largest ski fields in Europe. Appreciating Assets is offering units in the Pamporovo Palace complex in the centre of Pamporovo. The complex, which opened for the winter season of 2006/2007, is located ten metres from the main lift station, with one entrance facing on to one of the ski runs. It is also 300 metres from the main town centre.

The complex includes 87 apartments (studios, one and two-bed units) with built areas of between 36 and 120 square metres. Facilities include a lobby bar, restaurant and bank. Studio prices start from €59,000 with one-beds from €103,000 and two-beds from €130,000.

Contacts Bids in France: 0033607421668,www.bidsinfrance.com Overseas Properties: 1800252004, www.overseasproperties.com The Right Move Abroad: 018666168, www.therightmoveabroad.com Appreciating Assets: 016392968, www.appreciatingassets.ie My Overseas Property: www.MyOverseasProperty.ie Private Seller: www.PrivateSeller.ie OverseasCafe: www.OverseasCafe.com.

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