Give in to lure of a white winter

Traditionally, South Africans tend to be drawn to warm climates when it comes to acquiring leisure property.

However, a growing number of South African tourists are spending their holidays skiing in destinations such as France, Switzerland and Austria.

"While specific statistics are not available, it seems that outbound tour operators have noticed this trend," says Fabrice Orengo de Lamazière, consultant for Pam Golding Properties’ International & Projects Division.

"Recognising this, and in catering for those planning to take regular or annual trips to such destinations, we see an opportunity to bring to the local market products that offer the opportunity for South Africans to acquire a stake in luxury ski resorts in sought-after locations.

"In so doing, we have partnered with Athena Advisors, a company specialising for the past 10 years in marketing French ski resort properties to the UK market as well as other European countries.

Interestingly, in addition to the prime (northern) winter season between December and April, these resorts are also becoming popular for adventure sports activities during the (northern) summer between June and September.

We have handpicked some of the best properties in prime locations, and these brand new developments are sold on a sectional title ownership basis," he says. There are no restrictions on foreigners acquiring residential property in France.

Through its mortgage origination company, French Private Finance, Athena also provides finance solutions for up to 70% of the value of the property depending on lending criteria.

Orengo de Lamazière says the developers of these resorts have established agreements with management companies that offer rental income through renting the apartments to tourists.

"Depending on the number of weeks’ personal usage required by the owner (which varies per development, but is usually up to four weeks), these returns can be up to 4% per annum, particularly as growing interest in adventure sports, such as mounting biking, climbing and rafting, is extending the rental season into the summer months," he says.

In Flaine in the "Grand Massif" area — and within sight of the Mont-Blanc peak, which is the fourth largest winter sports region of the French Alps — Les Neiges d’Orion is one of the best value-for-money ski developments in France. Here prices start from €158,000 for a one bedroom apartment with rental returns of 4.1%.

This new development, which will blend traditional architecture with modern, high quality fixtures and fittings, also includes an indoor swimming pool and a spa. The development is scheduled for completion in 2014.

In Chatel, alongside Avoriaz 1800 in the "Porte du Soleil" area — the world’s largest internationally connected skiing region (with 650km of slopes) which connects the skiing regions of France and Switzerland — Grand Hermitage offers 33 luxury one-, two-and three-bedroom apartments. This development is located only one hour’s drive from Geneva and 600m from the heart of the village.

Priced from €220,000, the development offers rental income returns of 3.7%. This development will also be completed in 2014.

In Tignes, one of the ski resorts of Espace Killy, with 300km of pistes (ski runs) shared with Val d’Isère, Village Kalinga offers sound value with prices starting from €208,000. Comprising a total of 250 one-to five-bedroom units, to date 78 units have been put on the market.

The units are priced at up to €631,000 and phase one of the development, including the swimming pool, reception and other common facilities, is due for completion at the end of the year.

Orengo de Lamazière says: "Village Kalinga is an entire new super village which is rapidly taking shape, and which will consist of luxury residences, restaurants and shops.

In regard to the residential units, the developer offers a guaranteed rental yield for 11 years in this appealing four-star resort, which has extended ski lifts and pistes."

In Méribel, acknowledged by the Daily Telegraph as one of the best ski resorts in France, which forms part of the renowned Three Valleys with 600km of pistes and popular after-ski entertainment activities, Balcons de la Chapelle is the only new development in the heart of this year-round resort.

Here six apartments (with two, three or four bedrooms) and two chalets (three and four bedrooms) are marketed with bespoke interior design and fittings to the highest standards.
Priced from to €594,000, this development is situated close to a 5,000m² water sports arena, 18-hole golf course, endurance trail and numerous other leisure activities. Balcons de la Chapelle will be completed by the end of this year.

Orengo de Lamazière says that Pam Golding Properties has access to other ski properties handled by Athena Advisors, ranging from apartments in developments to luxury freehold chalets.

(Michelle Funke for BDLive)

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