Every skier dreams of owning a property in a luxury mountain resort.
How much more satisfying would the skiing lifestyle be with the added prospect of direct door-to-lift service, convenient equipment storage and care, the ability to ski off the mountain and into a stunning residence with peak and valley views, and the perfect après ski environment either inside the home’s spacious entertainment areas or amid the nightlife of the surrounding alpine village?
Getting all this from a home is the gold standard in ski properties. But more and more, buyers are discovering they want their winter investment to be a destination beyond just when the snow is falling.
According to Tye Stockton, Founder and Real Estate Advisor at Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty in Vail, modern mountain residences should provide a retreat for the increasingly active off-seasons. “What we talk about a lot is that when you buy a ski home, you’ve actually just bought two vacation homes, because how you use it in the winter is entirely different than how you use it in the summer,” he says.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Stockton advises clients to figure out early how they’ll be using their property. If skiing is indeed the number one priority, a ski-in ski-out residence near the slopes will be at the top of the list. But more and more resorts are offering upscale services like ski concierges, ski storage and transportation that lessen the need for direct access to the ski runs. Buyers who know they will be using their homes year-round often seek more privacy and therefore homes farther removed from the bustle of the slopes. In this case they might look into joining a private ski club near the mountain, which, like a golf club, is a home away from home offering valet service and parking, storage, comfortable lounges with food and drink and a social network.
FIND THE RIGHT FIT
Obviously the quality of the skiing is a priority, but what is the character of the resort town? What happens off the mountain—the culture, shopping and dining—will be an equal part of the living experience. Pierre Hagmann, Associate Director of Sales for Cardis Sotheby’s International Realty in Geneva, Switzerland, says, “There are two different lifestyles during the winter months. The first life starts in the morning and ends at 4pm, and the second life starts late—and ends even later.”
Hagmann also recommends visiting the town or resort in the off months to get a feel for the vibrancy, the popular activities, the quality of hospitals and health centers, and generally how the full-time residents live. In other words, make sure there are no surprises. For American buyers heading into the spacious West, convenience and accessibility is another major factor. Selecting a market that features a nearby airport served by major airlines will make getting there less of a chore and thus more usable year round.
MAKE IT COMFORTABLE, AND CONVENIENT
In Europe, buyers typically seek homes in the resorts with which they’re most familiar—where they learned to ski when young, for instance, or where there’s a strong traditional expatriate contingent if the town is in another country. For American buyers heading into the spacious West, convenience and accessibility is another major factor. Selecting a market that features a nearby airport served by major airlines will make getting there less of a chore and thus more usable year round.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The home can be large, intimate, modern or rustic, but what buyers look for most frequently is a turnkey property. Having to finish, furnish or remodel adds unnecessary layers of expense and effort, and since these are usually second, third or fourth homes, having a residence that is move-in ready is a real luxury.
Look for ski homes with living spaces configured for all seasons. High ceilings, open kitchens and great rooms promote togetherness in winter, while large patios and balconies, exterior fireplaces or fire pits, and landscaped gardens can be ideal for entertaining while helping to maximize the outdoor summer experience.
Large windows, sliding doors and even entire glass wall systems that open are other features that can highlight the mountain views and reduce the barrier between home and nature.
EXPLORE THE SEASONS
Whereas winters are generally driven by a singular purpose—chasing snow—summer is more laid back and diverse.
Long days and moderate climates are perfect for golf, hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, kids’ day camps, farmers’ markets and jeep tours. “Summer used to be an afterthought,” says Stockton, “but the smart resorts are realizing they can capitalize on summer activities and are creating more entertainment options.”
Hagmann agrees: “Basically each resort showcases other sports and cultural activities to make sure they remain attractive throughout the year.” Many locations sponsor national and international events, including the Verbier Festival of classical music and the Omega European Masters golf tournament in Crans-Montana (both in Switzerland) or the Aspen Music Festival. The events and attendees it attracts is often a reflection of the resort’s personality.
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