Savills 2018 Ski Report Overview
The ski industry as we know it is changing. Around a quarter of visitors to ski resorts are non-skiers, changing weather conditions mean even the highest resorts aren’t snow-sure and the key demographic of baby-boomers are leaving the slopes behind as they get older. So, what does this mean for the future of winter sports? Savills have recently released their 2018 Ski Report, and despite these challenges it shows that ski resorts are evolving and adapting to the changing needs of consumers. With 400 million annual ski visits worldwide, ski resorts are home to some of the world’s most desirable property, and ski property sales continue to increase. So, what are some issues that the Savills report focuses on?
- Conditions which were once an anomaly have now become the norm. From little snow to unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, skiers and boarders are having a tough time predicting when is best to hit the slopes. Since the 1970’s, the northern hemisphere has lost one million square miles of snowpack, and even if we manage to stop the change in conditions, much damage has already been done.
- Whilst high-altitude resorts are seeing more stable snow conditions than those that sit lower, all resorts have been making investments to counteract the increasingly unreliable winter seasons. Austria alone has invested over €1bn in new snowmaking technology and Tignes, one of the most snow-sure resorts with summer skiing on the glacier plans to invest €64 million on a 400m long indoor ski slope to guarantee skiing all year long.
- Most resorts have adopted a ‘green stance’ to limit any further impact on the environment and in an effort to continue to attract visitors despite weather conditions are diversifying into new activities and establishing strong summer seasons.
- Baby-boomers who have long been the key market of ski resorts are reaching their peak skiing age, so going forward it’s Gen Y (20-35 year olds) that ski resorts must focus on attracting, with Gen Z (under 19) following close behind.
- In order to attract this demographic, Music festivals have now become a major part of the ski season, with some of the biggest names in music coming to resorts such as Mayrhofen (Snowbombing), Avoriaz (Snowboxx), Les Deux Alpes (Rise) and Chamonix (Musilac).
- On the slopes, the most visible thing resorts are doing to attract younger skiers and boarders is the addition of large terrain parks (such as The Stash in Avoriaz). Terrain parks are an excellent indication of the propensity for younger visitors.
- The Eastern European & Asian markets currently provide 34% of the worlds skiers and it is quickly growing thanks to rising incomes. In China, income has increased by 154%, Poland by 72% and Slovakia by 37%, and these rising incomes are likely to increase ski visit participation, particularly in the Alps which attracts 43% of all global ski visits.
- Between 2006 and 2016, trips of 5 nights or less increased by 109%, and trips of 1-3 nights increased by 163%. Resorts close to airports or which have easy train access are the way forward. This is particularly important for ski-lovers who live in the UK, Germany or the Netherlands which offer limited domestic skiing as visitors from these countries are likely to buy a ski home internationally for shorter more frequent trips. See more about easy-access ski resorts here.
- Switzerland is the top country for prime alpine real estate this year, with 6 resorts demanding €20,000 + per square metre. A stable, low transaction market, shortage of new developments and low supply means premium pricing will continue to be supported in established ski resorts. In particular, the resorts of St Moritz, Verbier, Zermatt, Gstaad, Crans Montana and Grindelwald.
- “The volume of money being invested in infrastructure is testament to confidence in the future” Jeremy Rollason, Director of Savills Ski. As in recent years, investment in village infrastructure and non-skiing related activities is one of the main indicators of future success.
- Skiers have higher expectations when it comes to snow reliability, and resorts which invest in snow cannons, improving lifts and adding more telecabines are ensuring these expectations are met.
- With 25% of ski resort visitor’s non-skiers, many resorts are no creating off-mountain activities to cater to them. Many resorts now offer water parks, thermal spas, ice skating and educational experiences such as exhibitions and museums to keep visitors entertained off the hill as well.
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