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: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss