Alps enjoy snowy start to 2016

Snow has finally fallen on the Alps, after a December that saw blue skies and disappointingly mild weather.

While some might have welcomed the warmer than usual temperatures, for skiers wanting to hit the slopes, they meant little fresh snow – bad news for what has become not just a popular season for tourists but also a key driver of economies and property investment.

The French and Swiss Alps enjoyed the biggest dusting of the white stuff, with the Dolomites and lower Austrian Alps experiencing fewer centimetres.

“The smile on the hotel owners [sic] face was as wide as the snowdrift in his car park. At last the snow had arrived in the Zillertal town of Fugen. At last his guest would be able to ski straight back for supper,” comments Johnny Morris, creative director of Telegraph Travel’s Ultratravel, who was in the Austrian Zillertal this week.

“Finally, after a sunny Christmas and a New Years eve when fireworks were nearly banned due the fire risk of the dry grass, a proper dump of snow had smothered the Austrian town.”

Fraser Wilkin, of weathertoski.co.uk, said the snowfall remained below average.

“In the big scheme of things it’s not much,” he told the newspaper. “Those resorts above 1,600 or 1,800m will be confident their season is safe, but you can never be absolutely sure. Lower down it’s still far from safe.”

Avoriaz and lower-down neighbour Morzine, for example, have seen vastly different levels of snow this season, as the temperatures are still too warm for the latter.

Fortunately for the property industry, though, investors have still been rushing to the slopes in the last year, with interest from buyers and prices both climbing in response.

Away from the prime end of the market, the weak euro has sent a flurry of enquiries from British buyers looking for affordable opportunities.

Richard Deans of MGM French properties told OPP.Today at the end of last year: “Today’s exchange rate means that a €450,000 property is now £55,000 cheaper than it was in March 2014 – a huge incentive for prospective purchasers.”

He also reported a “definite increase” in pre-season enquires across the Alps.

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