Austria represents the good-value choice in the Alps. The picturesque towns and villages in the quiet south may not have the stellar fame of French or Swiss resorts but they don't have the steep price tags either.
Southern Austria's growing popularity with British buyers is reflected in new three-times-a-week easyJet flights from Luton to Salzburg starting this December. Carinthia province, Austria's most southerly area, bordering Italy and Slovenia, also has an airport at Klagenfurt with Ryanair flights from Stansted making it an easy weekend destination.
It's the year-round appeal of Carinthia that brings visitors from across Europe. It doesn't have the high slopes of the Tyrol to the west but it has more than enough for families and intermediate skiers - including Austria's longest gondola lift, the four-mile Millennium Express at Nassfeld - and also packs in 100 lakes, making it a summer playground, too.
"Entry-level prices for Austria are well below those in France and Switzerland, with most of our buyers looking to spend around £303,700," says Jessica Delaney of Alpine Marketing. "People like Austria because it is family friendly, the cost of living is better than in other Alpine countries and rental potential is generally good."
Affordable lakeside living in Hallstatt
The Lakeside Chalets at Hallstatt, 60 minutes from Salzburg airport, are a group of 72 two- to four-bedroom chalets under construction beside a large lake. Hallstatt is a charming town and a Unesco World Heritage Site with a good collection of hotels, restaurants and shops. There are modest ski slopes five minutes away or a 20-minute drive takes you to Dachstein West with 100 miles of slopes. Forty-two properties have sold to buyers from Italy and Austria.
The chalets cost from £202,185 for 581sq ft to £361,000 for 1,593sq ft and have good views of the steep mountains that surround the town. Owners have to rent their properties for part of the year but receive a four per cent guaranteed return for five years with three weeks annual use, if they enter the on-site rental pool.
On the piste in Bad Kleinkirchheim
Buyers who want to be on the piste could consider Hölzern Chalets in Bad Kleinkirchheim, 95 minutes from Salzburg and 50 from Klagenfurt where an Italian developer has built four open-plan and well-finished detached chalets. The two- to four-bedroom freehold homes overlook the flower-filled town, renowned for its thermal spas, with good views across the ski slopes from their terraces and balconies. Prices range from £428,670 to £481,600 for 700sq ft to 1,150sq ft.
Top-end apartments in Velden
At the other end of the price scale, some of the most expensive property for sale in Carinthia is in Velden, a classy lakeside town one hour from the Italian border on the western shore of the region's largest lake, Worthersee. Velden is 20 minutes from Klagenfurt airport and a popular holiday destination with a casino, good shopping and smart hotels.
Smartest of all is Schloss Velden, a five-star hotel in a Renaissance château on the lake. Sharp-suited businessmen and elegant ladies lunch on trout caught from the clean freshwater lake, while wealthy families play in the indoor and outdoor pools and spa.
The hotel has 48 completed two-bedroom residences in seven low-level buildings all overlooking the lake and finished to the highest levels. Sleek Gaggenau kitchens, fully retractable floor-to-ceiling doors leading on to private terraces or balconies, and contemporary bathrooms make these highly desirable living spaces. A total of 41 are sold and occupied by buyers from Italy, Austria and Germany.
Residents have use of all hotel facilities and a private spa, gym, lounge and 24-hour concierge services. Prices, including furnishings and outdoor parking, start from £824,360 for a spacious 145sq ft with annual maintenance from £10,600.
* Alpine Marketing (alpinemarketing.com; 020 8455 5050).
* Schloss Velden Residences (residenzen schlossvelden.com/english; 0043 (0) 4274 52000).