It’s no secret that alpine homes offer a much-needed retreat from the hectic lives we lead. In a world that whips us between the demands of work, technology and family, we deserve a place that inspires us to unplug, unwind and connect with nature’s abundance.
A ski house should be exactly that: a sanctuary where the clocks run slow, family traditions stand the test of time and the details reflect our spirit. A tall order if there ever was one, but certainly worth the undertaking. Fortunately, there are plenty of gems waiting to be mined along the rolling hills of America’s favorite ski towns.
If you are looking to invest in your own slope-side retreat, there are many things worth considering. If you’re not sure where to start, a good place to begin is by examining the current state of alpine design and architecture.
According to experts in the field, modern is the name of the game with today’s mountain style. Clean lines, sexy interiors, indoor-outdoor concepts and sustainable materials are all hallmarks of the contemporary look that’s being sought after in ski homes from Lake Tahoe to Park City to Vail and beyond.
It’s not just new builds that aspire to be modern. Classic A-frames and log retreats are enjoying updates to offer a more rustic, contemporary feel. Red plaid, pinecones and antlers no long reign supreme as people are opting instead for clean, neutral tones and modern fixtures.
“We are seeing a contemporary and modern design approach for both new construction and renovation projects taking place in both Vail and Beaver Creek,” says Dan Fitchett, managing Broker of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in the Vail Valley. “Organic materials such as stone and wood are being combined with metal accents in order to bridge the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces. In addition, oversized windows are being used to capture the majestic views, while creative light sources are being implemented throughout the home.”
Things to consider before investing:
1. Does the home offer convenient access to a commercial and/or private airport?
2. What kind of access to slopes does the home offer? How important is that?
3. Are there amenities such as a pool, gym, golf, family programming?
4. Are there HOA or member dues?
5. Is the home rentable and for how much?
6. Does the look, feel and style of the home match your vision and lifestyle?
In addition to a more modern aesthetic, buyers are seeking authenticity. According to Jeff Hamilton with Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty in Lake Tahoe, “people want a home that feels uniquely their own and truly represents their lifestyle and who they are.”
For one Lake Tahoe homeowner, a modern home provided the ideal space to showcase a collection of western art and artifacts.
“I was on a trip to Boston when I toured the Museum of Fine Arts and saw how they had displayed collections of early American art and antiques. The artifacts against the white walls and white oak floors were a beautiful combination of old a new,” says the homeowner. “Once you start to think of the walls of a modern house being like the walls of a gallery, there is great freedom to blend the modern with the old.”
According to Tiffany Blake Fox with Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City, buyers are seeking properties that can weave a unique story and stand out among the traditional aesthetics. Patina metals, exposed rock and reclaimed materials are a few of the design elements that are being embraced for their ability to add sophistication without the pretense.
“We’re seeing a consistent trend of what I’d describe as ‘thoughtful and intentional design’ here in Park City. Home buyers are looking for properties that promote a natural flow, offer a smart use of space, and incorporate a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience.”
This sentiment is echoed by interior designer Scott Corridan. “We continue to find homeowners of mountain modern homes gravitating toward different combinations of natural wood and stone materials, seamless indoor-outdoor living spaces and an overall design that is warm and comfortable for the whole family to enjoy, live and grow.”
“Today’s mountain town buyers are also craving more relaxed spaces,” says Hamilton. “They want a place where they can unwind and kids and guests are allowed to touch things.”
According to Hamilton, buyers want access to experiences as much as they want access to the slopes. Fly fishing classes, snowcat rides, private concerts, kids’ camps and access to ski lifts, dining and beaches are a few examples of amenities that attract buyers who are willing to pay a premium for making the most of their downtime.
“Historically, being on the lake or having ski-in, ski-out access have been the most sought-after amenities,” says Hamilton. “In the last decade, however, Martis Camp; located at the base of Northstar, California and other gated communities with luxury amenities such as Lahontan, Schaffer’s Mill and Old Greenwood have given homebuyers more options.”
Another must-have? Ski locker rooms and mudrooms, which serve to effortlessly bridge the gap between indoor/outdoor living.
“Buyers are willing to pay a premium to have a space that allows for them to store equipment and easily participate in all four seasons of activities,” says Fox. By having a designated space to hang those soggy ski parkas and kick off those dusty hiking boots, more time can be enjoyed participating in life.
Another common thread among high-profile buyers in resort markets such as Lake Tahoe, Park City and Vail is a desire to blend in.
“With a laid back luxury lifestyle, mountain towns such as Lake Tahoe offer the unique distinction of being cherished for offering both privacy and anonymity,” says Hamilton.
Whether you are in search of a laid back slopeside condo or a grand alpine retreat, there’s much to consider when investing in a ski property. But no matter what your tastes, the perfect alpine retreat is out there waiting for you. You just have to get out there and find it.
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