The sparkling-white resorts of France, Austria, Canada and Switzerland are tempting the ski-set to the slopes

Great exchange rates and super-low mortgages in less-starry resorts are proving a big draw for snow-seeking holiday homes buyers
As early snowfalls arrive across the mountains, keen skiers and snowboarders will be planning their first downhill runs. France, Austria and Switzerland are Europe's main Alpine favourites for winter sports and holiday homes, with Canada also popular.

"Bigger resorts with established infrastructure are in favour," says Jeremy Rollason, of Alpine Homes. "For example, Chamonix and Méribel in France and Verbier in Switzerland combine challenging and varied skiing, good nightlife and easy accessibility." That's only part of the story, though.

Clever buyers can enjoy sizeable, snowsure slopes without paying top dollar by looking at less-starry resorts. The keys are easy accessibility, good altitude and pretty, authentic locations.
 
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From £156,000: Isatis in France has one- and two-bedroom apartments with access to a pool and spa facilities

France
"France is the world's number one tourist destination, which is good news for potential rental returns," says James Ross, of Erna Low Property. "This year, British buyers will find favourable exchange rates and low fixed mortgage rates of 2.8 per cent."

One hour from Geneva in prime Chamonix, Erna Low is selling Isatis, one- and two-bedroom apartments in a four-star managed development with a spa and pool. Chamonix is a year-round town, even more popular with summer climbers than winter skiers, and these leaseback homes provide guaranteed returns of up to four per cent. Prices start from £156,000 with completion in summer 2017.

Ross also tips low-key resorts such as Combloux near to Megève, Vars and La Toussuire. The latter is a family-friendly resort just over an hour from Chambéry, France's fourth largest ski area, yet is almost unknown in the UK.

La Toussuire is high at 5,700ft and provides good value. A season's ski pass is 131 per cent cheaper than in the prestigious Trois Vallées and property prices average about half of those in prime Méribel. In the village centre on the slopes, Le M has 160 off-plan studio to three-bedroom leaseback apartments priced from £121,000-£381,500, through Erna Low.
 
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From £195,500: one- to five-bedroom apartments in pretty Maria Alm in Austria, through Pure International

Austria
Buyers choose Austria because it provides good value, low entry prices and is popular year-round, says Paul Kleinekorte of Pure International. "Austria invests well in its ski lifts and resorts, has a strong snow record and is friendly and welcoming," he adds. New projects in the super-chic Tyrol include Arlberg Apartments in St Anton, priced from £241,400 for a one-bedroom apartment and up to £1.65 million for a five-bedroom penthouse. Innsbruck is within one hour by car or train.

Twenty minutes from upmarket Lech, Arlberg Chalets is nearing completion, with apartments and chalets from £146,000, also through Pure. Significantly, the development has no rental obligation for owners, a rarity in the Austrian Alps.



Canada
Canada's booming oil-rich economy means that domestic buyers snap up most ski homes, but with sterling back to 2006 levels against the Canadian dollar, British skiers should cast their eye across the Atlantic.

"Rental properties in the Canadian Rockies and Mont Tremblant are in hot demand," says Kleinekorte. "Some of our British buyers who invested there in 2005 to 2007 are making above seven per cent annual rental returns."

In British Columbia, Pure is selling properties at Kimberley with prices from £180,000 for three-bedroom chalets. At Kicking Horse, a centre for heli-skiing, three- and four-bedroom homes directly on the slopes start from £380,000.
 
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From £549,500: Les Chalets d’Adelaide in Switzerland has two- to four-bedroom apartments on the ski slopes

Switzerland
Switzerland's strong franc makes property pricey compared with euro-based economies, but it remains a perceived safe haven, with borrowing rates at historic lows of 1.2 per cent.

In the 15th-century village of Grimentz, two hours from Geneva, Mark Warner Property is launching Phase 2 of Les Chalets d'Adelaide. Two-to four-bedroom south-facing apartments on the ski slopes start from £549,500, about half the price of similar new-build homes in expensive Verbier.

Just one ski lift away from prized Verbier in La Tzoumaz, prices are even lower. Alpine Homes is selling 87 one- to three-bedroom apartments in the village centre priced from £202,000. 

These are ski-in and ski-out homes in the village centre with immediate access to Verbier and the whole Four Valleys.
  • Erna Low: ernalowproperty.co.uk
  • Pure International: pureintl.com
  • Alpine Homes: alpinehomesintl.com
  • Mark Warner Property: markwarnerproperty.com
  • Savills: savills.com 

 
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Playground to the stars 
Courchevel 1850 in the mighty Trois Vallées is a favourite with the wealthiest skiers and part of the world's largest ski region. The exclusive aerodrome buzzes all season with private planes as fur-clad Parisians and Russian oligarchs enjoy the 12 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Six Senses Residences opens this winter and is the largest residential project in Courchevel 1850 for a decade.

One- to three-bedroom apartments and five-bedroom penthouses based around a Six Senses Spa, reception, gym, sauna and indoor pool start from £1.1 million through Savills (savills.com; 020 7016 3740). 

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