Thinking High And Long

By: Jim Barnaby
Those looking at overseas property investments in areas such as the Swiss Alps property may have a somewhat more complex choice to make than in days of yore. Where once it was a matter of finding attractive chalets in a snowy location for the winter, much has changed.

For one thing, the spectre of global warming has come to the fore. Figures from the Swiss Association of Winter Sports Resorts Property has shown that the winter season in the Alps has receded by 12 days since 1995. This means 12 days less when a skier or snowboarder may wish to rent out a buy-to-let property in a resort before taking to the slopes.

Worse still, the weather has become highly erratic. Steve Thomas, managing director of Alpine Property Investments, said that many people had been concerned about the wisdom of investing in Alpine resorts in the light of the winter of 2006-07, when the mild weather left low-lying resorts catastrophically short of snow.

Mr Thomas added: "The unpredictability of the snow in the different resorts around the world from year to year is currently leaving an open mind with the majority of ski property hunters as well on global warming."

The last two winters have shown this is a worldwide problem, not just an Alpine one, with the mild European winter of 2006-07 coinciding with record snowfall in North America and the situation reversing itself this year.



Many people had found an obvious solution, he stated: "Climate change has already become a factor in some clients' minds - approximately 15 per cent - when they are looking to purchase a ski property and these buyers are all looking to buy at altitude."

But buying high is not the only new concern. Investors are now not just looking for winter accommodation but places which are open all year round, partly for their own use, Mr Thomas noted, but partly because tourist boards were looking to develop year-round attractions. He gave the examples of Les Diablerets and Leysin in Canton Vaud in Switzerland as two locations whose family-friendly facilities had added to their appeal.

The advantages of such investments are obvious: A longer period in the year when tourists are in the area means longer periods when rental property is occupied. Furthermore, the presence of attractions other than winter sports means not everybody will vanish if global warming inflicts more mild winters.

Such diversification does not just happen in the Alps. In Scotland for example, the Nevis Range ski resort uses its world championship mountain biking track and cable cars to bring in tourists throughout the year, transporting cyclists to the top of the track and giving mountain climbers a major head start in Munro-bagging the 4,000 ft peaks of Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag. A similar cycling facility is planned for Glen Shee in the Cairngorms.

For investors in ski property in the Alps, therefore, looking either for high altitude locations where snow is guaranteed or diverse locations which are not wholly reliant on the weather appear to be the keys to success.

In today's world Property investment is an excellent investment option especially investment in UK

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