Engel & Völkers presents the five most exclusive ski resorts worldwide in its latest Ski Ranking.* The highest prices for ski properties are currently found in the Rocky Mountains in the US state of Colorado: Aspen leads the ranking list as the highest priced resort, followed by neighbouring Vail. Third place is shared by St. Moritz and Gstaad in Switzerland, making them the most exclusive ski regions in the Alps. Kitzbühel in Austria and Whistler in British Columbia, Canada, also rank in the Top 5. “Premium properties in ski regions are among the most sought-after second homes, as well as the most desirable investment properties. They make excellent long-term investment opportunities, especially when the financial markets are volatile, as an effective hedge against inflation – as well as providing a retreat throughout the ski season and beyond,” says Florian Hofer, Managing Director of Engel & Völkers Kitzbühel.
Properties in premium locations offer both a high quality of life and stable valuations. They serve as crisis-proof investments and for many High Net Worth Individuals are an important way of protecting their assets from inflation. This also applies to ski properties in prime locations, which have proven to be excellent long-term capital investments. In the world’s most exclusive ski resorts, the demand for real estate exceeds the limited supply – a fact that is reflected in the consistently high sales prices. The reason for this, besides their stability in value, is also the new potential for remote working and year-round use, which has increased the appeal of owning a ski property for many buyers. “In the last two years we have seen a growing wish among clients to reside in their property outside of the traditional ski season and to work from here too. The use of the holiday property as both primary and secondary residence partly merges smoothly into each other,” says Barbara Jost, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers St. Moritz. Exclusive chalets and apartments that offer privacy as well as high quality equipment are in especially high demand. Many ski destinations are adapting their facilities and amenities in line with shifting needs and are offering a greater variety of leisure and recreation options for the summer months too, from sporting activities like hiking, golfing and cycling to culinary venues and cultural events.
The highest prices for ski properties in the world are found in Aspen: In prime locations here, apartments and chalets sell for up to 76,000 euros (approx. 80,700 US dollars) per square metre. Besides the high-priced centre of Aspen, premium buyers are increasingly looking to the nearby resort towns of Snowmass Village, Basalt and Carbondale. National buyers account for some 95 percent of the demand, while only 5 percent can be attributed to foreign buyers. Of this international clientele, the highest share comes from Great Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. US buyers are primarily from California, Texas, New York and Colorado. “Many clients opt to buy a ski property as they are drawn by the all-round package of ski resort, restaurants, shopping and other recreational pursuits, as well as the high potential for appreciation in value,” says Summer Berg, Managing Director of Engel & Völkers Aspen.
With top prices per square metre of 72,000 euros (approx. 76,500 US dollars), nearby Vail is currently the second most expensive location for ski real estate in the world. Similar to Aspen, the local real estate market is strongly dominated by national demand, which accounts for around 80 percent of purchase activity. Buyers here originate for the most part from the US East Coast, Texas or California. Foreign buyers account for just 20 percent of transactions. They come primarily from Mexico and Germany. The best locations here include Vail Village and neighbouring Beaver Creek Village.
In Europe, the highest prices for real estate are being registered in St. Moritz and Gstaad. The Swiss ski resorts command prices of up to 60,000 euros (approx. 59,200 Swiss francs / 63,700 US dollars) per square metre, making them the most expensive regions for ski real estate in the entire Alps. St. Moritz has a predominantly national clientele, with this domestic group accounting for around 70 percent of buyer activity, while only some 30 percent of transactions involve buyers based abroad. The majority of these clients originate from Germany and Italy as well as from all over Europe. Properties in St. Moritz Village are in particularly strong demand, just as they are in the neighbouring villages of Celerina, Pontresina, Sils im Engadin and Silvaplana-Surlej. In Gstaad, on the other hand, around 60 percent of buyers are from abroad – and from Germany, the UK and France in particular. Swiss buyers account for 40 percent of real estate transactions. Besides the centre of Gstaad, the best locations here include Saanen, Rougemont and Lauenen. “Large detached chalets raised up on a hillside plot or with a mountain panorama are especially sought after. It is very rare for such premium homes to come onto the market however,” says Marie Di Carlo, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers Gstaad.
St. Moritz and Gstaad are followed by Kitzbühel, with prices per square metre of as much as 26,000 euros (approx. 27,600 US dollars). Around half of the property acquisitions are made by Austrians. In addition, buyers from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands or Great Britain are also interested in a ski property in order to relocate their main residence to Tyrol. Top locations here include the centre of Kitzbühel, Lebenberg, Bichlalm, and locations in the “Sonnenseite” area and on the Hahnenkamm mountainside. Premium homes in Aurach-Kochau just outside Kitzbühel are also in high demand.
Canada’s most exclusive ski resort is Whistler in British Columbia. With prices per square metre of up to 25,000 euros (approx. 36,000 Canadian dollars / 26,600 US dollars) for homes in prime locations, it is the fifth most expensive ski resort in the world. The current share of international buyers is far below the ratio of national buyers – Engel & Völkers recorded just 15 percent in 2022, primarily from the USA and Hong Kong. Canadian buyers account for around 85 percent of market activity. “The proportion of buyers relocating their primary place of residence to Whistler is increasing all the time – as people look for a main home where they can work remotely and enjoy the unique natural surroundings all year round,” said Maggi Thornhill, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Whistler.
Engel & Völkers forecasts that the high property prices in the world’s most exclusive ski resorts are set to remain consistently high. Due to the crisis-proof nature of real estate, coupled with a lack of attractive investment alternatives, demand for premium properties will remain stable in the coming year. “Geopolitical developments are likely to have little impact on the level of demand, as the majority of buyers in these top locations are extremely equity-rich and much less likely to be reliant on any mortgage financing. This illustrates the enormous resilience of this segment,” notes Josh Lautenberg, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Vail.
*This ranking takes into consideration the top prices per square meter for residential properties in countries where Engel & Völkers is represented. All prices quoted in CHF, USD and CAD have been calculated in the base of the current exchange rate with the Euro.