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Winter Wonderland: Expert Tips on Finding the Perfect Ski Chalet

What should a winter sports enthusiast searching for a ski chalet home consider? Luxury Defined seeks the advice of ski property specialists

Ski chalet properties have always been in high demand, but this has been accentuated by the pandemic, with both local and international clientele seeking the benefits of mountain living. “Homeowners and buyers are rethinking the way they live and work, a phenomenon accelerated by the increase and democratization of working from home. They are looking for a better quality of life, and an optimal balance between work and leisure activities,” says Maxime Dubus, managing director of Switzerland-based SPG One SA.

This sentiment is echoed by Marty Frank, founder of real estate agency Christie’s International Real Estate Summit Colorado. “Today, people are able to work from anywhere—people can now live in a ski resort and work from there too,” he says. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both Dubus and Frank report high demand for mountain property.

Location, location, location 

“Choose a resort that is easily accessible, close to highways, train stations or an airport. Then choose an attractive and quality resort,” advises Dubus. “Check the snow coverage of the area, the quality of the infrastructure, and the preservation of the natural environment,” he says.

Family on ski slope facing large mountain peak
Val Gardena is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a world-famous network of 12 ski areas in the Dolomites. Dolomiti Superski includes 16 ski resorts and covers a total of 746 miles (1,200 km) of slopes, making it the world’s biggest ski area. Getty Images.

Benoit Clerc of Agence Clerc adds: “If the nearby ski area is large and connected to others, it will be easier to rent your ski chalet should you so wish.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Alexander Benedetti, founder of Benedetti Real Service, points out that even if you are a beginner, the slopes nearby should not be too easy because, as a ski chalet owner, your skills are bound to improve. “The fun very often increases with the difficulty factor,” he says.

Homeowners and buyers are rethinking the way they live and work, a phenomenon accelerated by the increase and democratization of working from home. They are looking for a better quality of life—Maxime Dubus

Check the availability of restaurants, bars, and cafes too. “Apres ski, as well as the quality of the gastronomy, are very important, especially in the mountains when the days are short. It’s vital to be able to enjoy time with friends and family.”

Consider whether the resort has year-round appeal: there could be hiking, biking, and lake swimming on offer during the warmer months.

Mountain bikers with views of a lake and mountains
Mountain biking, climbing, white water rafting, and hiking—there’s plenty to keep you entertained during the warmer months in the mountains. Or take it easy, find a cafe, and simply enjoy the scenery. Getty Images.

Choosing your ski chalet

“Each buyer is unique,” notes Frank, although views and location remain top of most buyers’ wish lists. “Clients want an agent who listens and understands what type of property is right for them, whether that’s a slope-side home, somewhere tucked away in the trees, a Victorian place in town, or a lock-up-and-leave condo.”

There are some common threads to most searches. According to Dr. Benedetti, “Today’s discerning ski chalet buyers are looking for stunning architectural design, high-tech home automation, eco-friendly or historical construction, the best locations, stunning views, and lots of comfort. Log fires, saunas, and media rooms are in demand, together with fast internet connections.”

USA: Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone 

“This is where winter sports enthusiasts come to relax,” says Frank of the Colorado mountains. Frank recommends three areas: Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone, each offering something different. “Breckenridge is a natural town rather than a resort, with Victorian buildings up and down main street,” he says. Copper Mountain is a purpose-built resort suited to advanced skiers, while Keystone has a range of runs on offer.

Top tip: book a table for dinner at Rootstalk restaurant in Breckenridge—the chef and owner is a local whose seasonal menu is not to be missed. And, if you time it right, you can watch the sunset over Maggie Pond.

On the Market 

Double height lounge featuring a pool table, piano, and fireplace
Built in 2001, this Silverthorne home offers 7,455 square feet (683 sq m) of living space set in 4.8 acres (1.94 ha). There’s an outdoor pool, large great room, and lots of entertaining space.

This ranch-style home, 160 Hamilton Creek Trail, has sweeping views of the Gore and Tenmile Range from each of the six bedrooms. There are also seven baths, an outdoor pool, a theater room, and a six-car garage.

Large ski chalet located within woods
As breathtaking as its surroundings, and just four blocks from the gondola on Ajax mountain, this property is a vast 20,000-plus square feet (1,858 sq m), including a glass-walled suspended office, and a two-story cascading water wall.

As Good as it Gets is a truly unique ski-in property, built in 2020, and perhaps better described as a personal resort. It includes seven bedrooms, a full spa, a bowling alley, an outdoor tennis complex, two reflecting pools, and a five-car garage. 

Italy: Val Gardena and Alta Badia

“Val Gardena and Alta Badia are both beautiful locations in Italy’s South Tyrol, located in the heart of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site,” says Dr. Benedetti. Uncontrolled real estate development is not permitted here, and property is seen as a safe investment. “Prices have risen steadily over the past 50 years and there have never been any slumps, not even in times of crisis,” he says.

“Val Gardena/Gröden is a paradise for skierswhether you’re a beginner or experienced. For a few days each year, the Saslong ski slope in Val Gardena belongs to the world of elite skiing as they fight for places at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup,” says Dr. Benedetti. When it’s your turn to head into the mountains, you’ll have access to more than 310 miles (500 km) of slopes. And then there’s Alta Badia, which hosts the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, where ski stars compete on adrenaline-fueled courses.

Top tip: Take to the skies for the Sellaronda Ski Tour, a circular route around the Sella-Masif with views over the Dolomites. Then relax with a dinner reservation at Club Moritzno at the top of the Piz La Ila in Alta Badia.

On the Market 

Wooden-clad ski chalet apartment block with mountains behind
La Villa, located at an altitude of 4,701 feet (1,433 m) in the middle of Alta Badia, is at the center of international skiing events in December, and the famous 'Maratona dles Dolomites' cycling marathon starts here in the summer.

This ski-in apartment is located next to the Gran Risa ski slope and enjoys beautiful views. Featuring two bedrooms, two baths, and three balconies, there’s also a separate apartment, a sauna, and a Turkish bath. On the second floor, there’s an elevator and staircase too.

Switzerland: Verbier and Crans-Montana

“Verbier is a great place to live,” says Dubus. “The life of the village is punctuated by numerous events, such as the Verbier Festival for classical music, Xtreme Verbier for freeride enthusiasts, the Jumping International de Verbier for horseback riding fans, and the Verbier Art Summit for art lovers.” 

Boasting a vast ski area, Crans-Montana owes its reputation to the organized sports competitions that take place there, notably the Omega European Masters golf tournament, and the Ski World Cup. It’s popular with families, the majority of whom are Swiss.

Top tip: As well as skiing and snowboarding, indulge in year-round activities such as hiking, mountain biking and golf. And don’t forget to make time to relax in the wellness centers.

On the Market 

Wooden ski chalet with balconies in the snow
Set away from the road, Chalet Vieux-Bisse enjoys a view of the valley. Built as two apartments, the chalet is currently used as a single home. Reverting back to apartments would be straightforward as the layout is unchanged.

Built in 1961, the picturesque ski Chalet Vieux-Bisse has seven bedrooms and a private garden. The reception room has impressive south-facing views of the landscape. 

Ski chalet lounge with beams and views of the mountains
This large chalet, located in Les Briesses, is just a two-minute drive from the resort of Crans-Montana. The chalet benefits from a south-facing orientation.

Situated in Crans-Montana, the five-bedroom ski property Chalet Les Anglais was renovated in 2018. Benefiting from panoramic views of the alps, the sale includes a plot of land, which, with the right permissions, could be developed. 

France: La Clusaz

“La Clusaz is a friendly and traditional resort village in Haute-Savoie, which offers quality services. The ski slopes are accessible to all levels of skiers, and the villages offer many other activities throughout the year, plus endless beautiful alpine scenery,” says Clerc. 

La Clusaz has access to a large ski area, including five mountains, which provide varied skiing routes, including off-piste sections. You can also try cross-country skiing, trekking using snowshoes, and sledging. The area is close to Annecy and Geneva, which are useful as travel gateways and interesting to visit in their own right.

Top local tip: Book a table at La Ferme, located on the slopes of La Clusaz, overlooking the village. The Savoyard gastronomy on offer makes it well worth a visit. 

On the Market 

Wood-clad lounge area in a French ski chalet
La Clusaz offers 2,314 square-feet (215 sq m) of living space, set on land of 5,3829 square feet (5,000 sq m). The chalet has panoramic views of the Aravis mountain range.

Renovated chalet La Clusaz has panoramic mountain views, four bedrooms, three baths, a ski-room, a sauna, and an open fireplace. 

Banner image: Getty Images