Ski properties: Buying off-piste

You can find ski properties at affordable prices – if you head away from the big resorts, says Laura Latham

Anyone who's watched resorts such as Aspen and Courcheval become playgrounds for the wealthy might think ski property is out of their reach. However, away from the most popular destinations, you'll find homes that are still affordable in more authentic surroundings.

Take Chamonix, in France, for example. More than 435 miles of pistes and high-altitude skiing has made the town sought after and property prices have soared. Ten miles away, however, is Vallorcine, a little-known village that is about to become very big.

Having identified a need for smaller, family-orientated ski destinations, the local council recently installed the first lift linking the pretty village to the expansive pistes of the Mont Blanc domaine. It then invited select developers to create high quality residential projects. Patrick Remme was one of those approached and his apartment complex, L'Ours Blue, is about to complete, with phase two launching soon.

Two-bedroom luxury apartments start from £232,000 and are larger and of higher spec than traditional French ski properties. "We designed the apartments to suit the village ambience," says Remme. "Everything is done on a scale that will allow the resort to function without damaging its rural charm."

The same can be said of Valtournenche, at the foot of the Matterhorn in Italy's Aosta Valley. The resort has retained much of its appeal and is close to Cervinia, a better-known purpose-built resort with access to over 185 miles of pistes.

"Valtourneche is a pretty village with ski runs directly joining the main pistes between Cervinia and Zermatt," says Italian property specialist Gemma Knowles. "It's also much nicer than Cervinia, which isn't that attractive."

Because the village isn't large or well known, properties aren't easy to find. However, Knowles has some small-scale new and renovation projects, with prices starting at around £150,000.

Another option is Aosta, an attractive town 20 minutes from Cervinia and Courmayer, with cable car access to the smaller ski area of Pila, which has around 40 miles of pistes. Here it's possible to pick up nice apartments from around £130,000. "Aosta is a lovely town," says Knowles. "It's a good alternative if you want somewhere with nice shops and culture that has easy access to skiing."

Authenticity is also the reason Breckenridge, a former mining town in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, is gaining fans. It's not as glitzy as neighbouring Aspen and Vail, which attract plenty of celebrities happy to pay several million for second homes. As a result, it's possible to find two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom cabins from around £150,000, with higher specification developments from around £300,000. "Breckenridge is one of the highest resorts in the world and is snow sure, plus within a 30-mile radius you have the entire Vail Valley ski area," says John Black of Robson Barnes. "The benefit of Breckenridge over other resorts is that it has retained its traditional feel and community, yet prices aren't on the same scale as Vail and Aspen."

Robson Barnes: 020-7801 2900, www.robsonbarnes.com

GK Italian Property: 020-7993 2967, www.italianskiproperty.com

Erna Low: 020-7590 1624, www.ernalowproperty.co.uk

Ski chalets: Buyer's guide

* French ski property is often sold via the government-endorsed leaseback system, which offers tax breaks and guaranteed rental income.

* Ski resorts above 1800m are considered snow sure, which means they generally get snow each winter.

* For better rental prospects look for resorts that offer glacier skiing through summer and also have good walking and cycling trails.

* Purpose-built resorts may have better piste access but are often deserted out of season, unlike traditional communities.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...