In the 1970s, China announced an opening-up of its economy to foreign investment. Now, forty years on, it’s the West which is opening its doors to the Chinese market. With the Winter Olympics coming up in 2020, China has seen an exponential growth in its skiing population – and many of them prefer to ski abroad.
This presents an immense opportunity for anyone selling or letting a ski home in Europe or North America to tap into this growing demographic. SnowOnly has recently partnered with China’s leading outbound property investment portal, Juwai.com, to offer joint listings and reach a monthly audience of more than 3.1 million Chinese buyers.
Chinese buyers and renters do typically have different requirements to European ones, whether its in terms of language barriers, the length of stay, or the expectation of a more varied stay that involves more than just skiing. This means resorts do need to put in some work to open up to this hugely exciting market – so which resorts have got ahead of the curve?
St Anton am Arlberg
The cradle of Alpine skiing, St Anton am Arlberg got ahead of the game early on by inviting China’s national skiing team to train on its slopes. As Wilma Himmelfreundpointner, the Marketing Director of the resort, told the China Daily, ‘Hosting China's national team was certainly a great platform to promote St. Anton as well as the sport itself. It is a clear acknowledgement of our high standards of infrastructure and our pistes in Alpine skiing. We certainly hope this can be viewed as a strong statement to attract more Chinese visitors to our resort.’
The traditional Tyrolean style of the village, plus its extensive après-ski scene – including Arlberg 1800, the largest wine cellar in Europe, and the elegant mountain-top restaurant Verwallstube. Further investment has only expanded the potential of the resort, such as the €45 million project to complete the cable car network between Lech-Zürs and Stuben/Rauz.
Zermatt is one of the major resorts taking part in the Swiss Tourism Office’s strategy to attract Chinese skiers, and has been marketing in the country for over ten years. Its round-the-year skiing, and the iconic backdrop of the Matterhorn help to make it a popular choice.
Other outreach efforts include hiring Mandarin-speaking instructors and setting up the ‘Swiss Pass’. This offers travel throughout the country, so it’s ideal for attracting those holiday tenants who just want a short stay on the slopes and want to explore the country a bit more. No wonder that the number of Chinese arrivals has been steadily increasing for the past five years.
Grindelwald is another resort that has availed itself of the offer of Chinese-speaking ski instructors. Remembering that most Chinese skiers are beginners, it is a huge plus for anyone looking for a resort with the potential to attract more and more Chinese visitors.
Grindelwald’s dual seasonality, with its excellent golf course to enjoy in summer, and its easy accessibility from Zurich and Geneva Airports with their long-haul flights makes it further appealing to this new demographic of skiers.
St. Moritz has also been stepping up its marketing efforts, with a strong presence on Chinese social media platforms like Weibo and Wechat. Announcements in Chinese at the train stations, an increase in Chinese products in local supermarkets and a growing number of Chinese restaurants all make settling into St Moritz a lot easier.
Plus, 20% of its slopes are beginner-friendly, at 42km. A further 79km is suitable for intermediate skiers. Gourmet restaurants like The K – and the world’s largest whiskey bar – help to provide a suitably impressive après-ski experience.
Seizing the opportunity of Chinese buyers
If you’re looking to invest in a property with potential to let to Chinese buyers in these resorts, then make sure to download your free country buying guides. They explain how to purchase in your chosen country, from the buying process to the legal aspects and raising finance.