10 Minutes with... Andy Butterworth, Director of Kaluma Travel, Bespoke Alpine Travel Specialists
We talk life in the Austrian Alps, and helicoptering in caviar for clients, with Andy Butterworth, Director of Luxury Chalet Specialists, Kaluma Travel
Do you live in (or near) a ski resort?
Which is your favourite ski resort?
Very biased, I'd have to say St Anton and the whole Arlberg region. An outside answer would be Baquiera Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees for something truly different.
What is the most important characteristic in a ski buddy?
I love my off-piste skiing - so someone you trust and who knows the area/terrain very well. I'm also a very social skier - so someone who loves a long lunch in the same way that I do!!
Skier or Boarder?
If you could buy a ski property in any resort, which one would it be?
I already have two in St Anton. One to live in with my family and one as an investment. If I had to choose somewhere else, I would pick somewhere with a more “all year round” feel to it. Like Whistler in Canada, or Kitzbuhel in Austria, or Chamonix in France.
What does skiing/the mountains mean to you?
Big question. The mountains have been my home for nearly 20 years, so it means HOME. Skiing is fresh air, great views, freedom of the slopes and exercise
Which is your favourite season in the mountains?
Summer personally, Winter for business!
All-in-one or salopettes?
Fondue or raclette?
Neither - but raclette if under pressure.
Who would be your ideal ski/mountain companion?
I’ll be cheesy and say my wife as we would ski and have a long lunch together, which we rarely get to do. I've been lucky enough to ski with Olympic Downhill and Slalom Gold Medal winners and some famous extreme off piste skiers, but I would say choose my mates - my regular ski buddies. Unless Penelope Cruz wanted a ski guide for a day - then I would happily oblige...
Your favourite ski run/mountain walk?
So many to choose from! Ski Run - I cant remember the name of it, I don't even know if it had a name, but we did a Heli-Rando (ski touring with a helicopter) trip in Baquiera Beret and ended up on a long, long off-piste run down to a remote village, where we were picked up by skidoo. The views, the snow, the length of the run (literally 1.5hrs of skiing to get down) and the achievement afterwards made it epic.
Many people dream of moving to the mountains but you’ve made it a reality – how did you make it happen?
I was lucky I guess. I found a job I loved doing and kept on doing it. When it came to an end, we got the chance to start our own company and keep ourselves in the Alps a little longer. I jumped at the chance and I am still there now! Kaluma Travel was born 15 years ago, I lived in the Austrian Alps and my business partner Richard lived in the French Alps.
Describe your style in 3 words
Fun, relaxed, honest (my wife helped me with this one!!)
You are one of the founders of Kaluma Travel, so you know a good chalet when you see one. What are the 3 most important things to look for in a ski property?
Location, Luxury, Facilities
What are the 3 most important factors for good chalet design?
In my opinion:
1. Great entertaining spaces, chalets are all about social interaction.
2. Spacious bedrooms and bathrooms
3. Wellness faculties, like a hot tub, sauna, steam room, massage room.
And of course all finished to a high end spec with lovely soft furnishings!
Your absolute luxury in a ski chalet?
A private bar (!), like this one in the Eden Rock Chalet in St Anton.
Strangest request from a client?
Wow - this could be endless. We’ve couriered caviar and champagne from a guest's favourite restaurant to our chalet. We’ve had ovens blessed for certain religions. We’ve had guests who requested that everything in the chalet be white and white only. We’ve had specific instructions on how Christmas Trees should be decorated. We’ve had guests who have requested a fresh pineapple every day to “just sit on the bar” because “it looks nice”. We arranged a party where the guests wanted pure white horses paraded through the party location (at 2,000m of altitude). We had a family who insisted their dog sat with them at the dinner table and was served a plate of the same food at dinner time.
Environmental considerations are a hot topic now. Can a ski chalet be environmentally sustainable?
I don't know whether it can be completely sustainable, no. BUT there is so much you can do to help the environment, like recycling anything and everything that can be recycled (Austria is particularly good at this), using wood chip pellet heating (eco friendly), using all the organic producers and local farmers for produce etc…
Most important consideration when buying a property in the Austrian Alps?
The law and the costs. It's not cheap to purchase something over in Austria and there are several hoops to jump through legally. Worth checking it all out before you embark on the purchase process.
You are now a family man. What are the pros of bringing a family up in the Alps? And the cons?
Pros - the environment they live in is amazing. Outdoor life in the mountains, active, fresh clean air, skiing, biking, playing , healthy. The produce is usually local and fresh and organic. The healthcare, social care and schooling for children is amazing (until 6 to 7 yrs of age in Austria). Being brought up bilingual. A fun and friendly and safe environment.
Any tips for buyers looking to relocate their family to the Alps?
Knowledge is key and crucial to what they do and not many people know the Alps better then Kaluma.
If you are interested in any of the ski resorts Andy mentions, click here to read our Guides to Ski Resorts For Ski Property.
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Find out how to get a mortgage in the French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian Alps.
Read more about the best ski resort for your ski property purchase.
Get some tips on how to get the most out of your currency exchange.
Know what lies ahead with the purchase process our buying guides to property in Switzerland, France, Austria & Italy.