Holiday Homes: Keith Perry seeks a bargain in the world’s first slow-food travel destination up in the Austrian alps

Keith Perry
Trattlers Hof Chalets

After the initial delight of buying a ski chalet, owners often face the hard reality of a fickle rental market and unexpected maintenance bills.

But with a guaranteed rental yield and hassle-free upkeep, a new leaseback development in southern Austria is promising to take the headache out of owning your own holiday home in the Alps.

Buyers with an eye for a bargain are already eschewing the big-name ski resorts such as Kitzbuhel, Lech and St Anton in favour of lesser-known areas, such as Carinthia, the southernmost region half an hour from the Italian border.

Offering spectacular mountain views, 1,270 lakes and traditional Alpine villages, this region is the world’s first slow-food travel destination, with locally produced cheeses, beers and artisan gins. Benefiting from 300 days of sun a year, this area has a good choice of family-run hotels and affordable restaurants.

Bad Kleinkirchheim is an ecologically conscious village that dates back to 1884 and was made famous by local ski legend Franz Klammer. It features two thermal spas and is just an 80 minutes drive from Ljubljana airport.

A new development, Trattlers Hof chalets, offers fourteen Carinthian-style ski-in ski-out chalets next to the Maibrunn piste, marketed in the UK by estate agent Savills.

There are two designs of detached chalet — 85sqm (with two bedrooms, two bathrooms) at €355,800 and 110sqm (with three bedrooms, three bathrooms) at €498,500, but a value added tax of 20 per cent of the purchase price is refunded. The sale includes all furniture and equipment, and the property is ready to rent (including cutlery and bed linen).

Each larch and stone-pine chalet will have a loggia with a hot tub, sauna, open fireplace, and panoramic windows from which to maximise its southwest position. It is due to be completed in December and one chalet has already been sold to a British family.

Inside Trattlers Hof chalets

Within the condominium-style ownership structure, owners have flexible usage — 15 weeks (or more) offset against a maximum possible return of 5 per cent a year — and the first three years are guaranteed a net return of 3 per cent.

Good management of such schemes is essential and the owners, the Forstnig family, have an impressive 132 years of hotel-ownership experience at the town’s Hotel Trattlerhof and nearby Einkehr restaurant.

Buyers agree to enter a 25-year lease agreement to rent out their properties to tourists, while upkeep and wear and tear on the properties will be taken care of by the management company.

Most new schemes in Austria have rental obligations that ensure properties in tourist areas do not sit empty (so-called cold beds) by requiring owners to make homes available for short-term lets for some of the year.

“We have already had lots of requests from our hotel guests to stay in the new chalets,” says developer Jacob Forstnig. “Buyers have been particularly attracted to the prices — at €3,000 to €4,000 a square metre, these are 30 per cent cheaper than properties in the Arlberg (the popular ski area that includes Lech and St Anton).”

Buyers will also have the option of hotel service at their chalets, too, including cleaning and a hotel breakfast.

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According to Jeremy Rollason, the managing director of Alpine Homes, an associate of Savills, Austrian ski resorts still offer value for money compared to their established Swiss and French counterparts. Austrian resorts are generally at lower altitude with shorter ski seasons readily marketing themselves as year-round destinations, in turn attracting a diverse visitor base.

The village of Bad Kleinkirchheim

These returns are typically 5 per cent net in Austria, considerably better than the 2.5 to 4 per cent net offered by French and Swiss schemes.

Forstnig says that the owners are likely to be skiers, but also golfers (there are two courses nearby), as well as four tennis courts and a fishing pond. “You won’t find the lively bars or flashy restaurants of Lech here, but you are not paying silly prices for decent meals either. People buying here prefer good value.”

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