Summer in the Alps: holiday homes close to mountains, lakes and national parks offer more than just skiing

The best Alpine resorts are good news for second-home owners, continuing to provide plenty of life long after the ski season ends.

In the summer when Europe’s school holiday months make the coast one big crush, sports enthusiasts head for the Alps and the endless opportunities there for hiking and biking. 

Of course, those with their own Alpine ski pad can extend the fun, taking extra breaks themselves — and maximising their income from summer rentals.

Homes in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland

Villars-sur-Ollon is 90 minutes from Geneva airport on a south-facing plateau above the Rhone Valley with beautiful views of Mont Blanc and the Dents du Midi. 

“Villars has year-round residents, many working in Montreux or even Geneva,” says Patrick Turrian, the local mayor. “In summer there’s the Montreux Jazz Festival, e-bikes or hiking, theatre and summer camps.”

Three highly acclaimed international schools with a total of 800 students add a further year-round buzz.

Villars has begun reinvesting in its infrastructure, spending £112 million adding lifts, hotels and a sports centre. A new cable car installed in 2016 extended the ski area to Les Diablerets and by 2025 a new train station and tunnel will transform the centre.

The buzz around Villars along with a six per cent price increase there last year saw Knight Frank place it top of its 2019 Ski Index.

For sale: in central Villars new-build Hedonia has 20 apartments, some duplexes, priced from £1,040,000 with underground parking for £56,000.

The attractive wood and stone buildings have fireplaces, balconies, private storage and expansive windows offering wonderful southwest mountain views. A three-bedroom apartment at La Residence at the top of Villars is £482,000. 

In neighbouring Gryon prices are half of those in Villars. Jodeli is a charming detached three-bedroom chalet, 200 years old in parts, with lovely views, for £740,000.

Holiday homes in the Dolomites, Italy

The dramatic, rugged Dolomites in northeast Italy include 15 massifs, each with peaks close to 10,000ft. They are a Unesco World Heritage Site with 10 National Parks — 95 per cent of the region is protected — and a strong infrastructure where summer visitors come to play golf, walk and climb. 

Villages such as Alta Badia, Arabba and Alpe di Siusi have year-round appeal and flats from £268,000, says Mark Lightfoot of SnowOnly.

All three are in the Dolomites Superski region, with 12 ski areas and 745 miles of slopes. Two hours from Verona airport in Pinzolo, Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti luxury wellness resort is being built beside a National Park.

A hotel with spas, saunas and pools is due to open in August along with 23 one- to three-bedroom residences to buy. 

For sale: a new one-bedroom flat of 764sq ft in Alta Badia is £340,000 and a two-bedroom flat in Arabba is £375,000, both through SnowOnly.

One- to three-bedroom flats at Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti start from £876,000 through Savills.

Bad Hofgastein — a pretty Austrian village

Pretty and family-friendly Bad Hofgastein village is on a sunny plateau in the Gastein Valley, an hour south of Salzburg, with mountain lakes, national parks and a good range of cultural and sporting events.

“The Gastein Valley has just created Austria’s first thermal swimming lakes, so even if the mountain lakes are too chilly there will always be somewhere to swim,” says Giles Gale of Alpine Property Finders.

“There are also two large thermal spas open year round.”

For sale: Haus Bergblick in Bad Hofgastein is now selling off-plan, with 15 one- to three-bedroom flats of 387sq ft to 1,087sq ft, priced from £142,000 to £437,000. Completion is due next year.

Owners must make their flats available to rent when they are not using them and the building will have full on-site management

Holiday homes in Chamonix’s ski resort

Ten minutes-drive from Chamonix, charming Servoz has new one to three-bedroom apartments due for completion in 2020

The two million annual visitors to the French ski resort of Chamonix are equally spread through summer and winter.

An hour from Geneva, Chamonix is an attractive and authentic Alpine town with exceptional hiking trails and mountains to climb including Mont Blanc, the world’s most-climbed peak, and Aiguille du Midi.

For sale: Servoz, a 10-minute drive from the centre of Chamonix, is the last “real undiscovered village in the Chamonix Valley” says Giles Gale of Alpine Property Finders, who is selling one- to three-bedroom flats there from £187,000.

The 27 compact 441sq ft to 840sq ft homes at Hameau de Reines are spread over three traditional-style buildings with completion due next year.

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