From the Alpine peaks that dominate well over half of the country to the hearty reliance on low-key but ever- friendly service, Austria is number one in Europe for old-fashioned style and smart hospitality.
Austrian property, too, offers a mix of modern homes with a delightfully old-school charm. Development is strictly monitored and new buildings, though often modern in design, are low-level and unobtrusive.
“In Austria, more so than in France or Switzerland, you still find many of the original families running hotels and restaurants,” says Branson Atterbury, of developers Kristall Spaces. “It’s common to find waitresses in traditional dirndls and waiters in lederhosen. It provides Alpine atmosphere, one of the main things visitors like.”
Property buyers also appreciate the combination of tradition with a modern infrastructure. Austria has spent more than £4.5 billion on its ski resorts in the past 15 years, adding snow machines, new lifts and world-class ski parks. “You get more bang for your buck in Austria,” continues Atterbury. “Even in top-dollar St Anton, property prices are less than half those in prime French or Swiss resorts, such as Courchevel.”
Off-plan homes in St Anton
St Anton in the Tyrol is one of the biggest names in the Alps, famous as the birthplace of modern skiing and much loved for its fabulous off-piste runs. It’s a charming, family-friendly ski town, popular with Britons for its 211 miles of slopes and within one hour of Innsbruck airport.
In upmarket Nasserein, 20 minutes’ walk from the centre of St Anton and with a regular free ski bus, Kristall Spaces is selling Mountain Spa Residences. This is an off-plan development of 28 one- to four-bedroom flats, in a sunny, quiet location facing south across the wooded mountainside, and close to five-star Hotel Tannenhof. The ski-out apartments will be in two four-storey buildings with a restaurant and wellness centre including indoor and outdoor pools. Fully furnished flats start from £400,000 for 506sq ft including underground parking. Annual maintenance charges start from £2,600.
Under Austria’s usual rules for ski resort homes, flats must be made available to rent when not in use and MW Hotels & Resorts has been appointed as the rental operator. Owner of the firm, Mark Chitty, is a huge St Anton fan. Through Mark Warner, the holiday firm he co-founded 40 years ago, he has owned and operated ski chalets in the resort since 1978 and is building himself a house on land beside Mountain Spa Residences.
“St Anton has a massive and challenging ski area including some of the best Alpine off-piste,” he says. “It is a lively village with plenty going on and many good shops and restaurants. The authorities have been keen to preserve St Anton and it hasn’t changed much over the years. People come for the skiing and for the atmospheric village life.”
Ski-in-and-out flats in high Kühtai
Quiet Kühtai, 40 minutes from Innsbruck, does not have St Anton’s well-trumpeted international reputation but can claim its own fame as Austria’s highest ski village. It sits in a sunny bowl at 2,020 metres (6,628 feet) with a correspondingly strong snow record and lengthy season.
Kristall Spaces is selling one- to three-bedroom flats at 2020 Residences in Kühtai. The 16 fully furnished properties cost from £162,300 for 646sq ft and range up to 970sq ft. Completion is planned for the start of the next ski season.
These are ski-in-and-out apartments with direct access to 30 miles of slopes. Kühtai gets around 150,000 overnight stays in winter and has several hotels and restaurants which also stay open in the summer season for hikers and mountain bikers.
Twenty minutes from St Anton and close to upmarket Lech, Arlberg Chalets, in the charming town of Wald am Arlberg, is a small development priced from £162,000 for one- to three-bedroom flats and from £341,200 for two- and three-bedroom chalets. The project is for sale though Pure International and — unusually for Austria — has no rental obligation.