General advice about buying a small B & B, hotel or Gasthof in Austria.
Gasthof in Austria - Winter
Everyone dreams about buying a small B & B in the mountains and enjoying a great time on the ski slopes skiing on perfect powder snow under blue skies with their guests. You write to us all the time.
But get real and stop and think !
If you think it all through correctly and you have sufficient funds to invest and you are familiar with running a business - then it works. If you have to borrow too much and you follow the dream that you had, then you will come unstuck.
So what is the trend ?
In the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's the "Hills were alive with the sound of music" and all the Gasthofs, Pensions and B & B's were full both summer and winter.
That was - until the package holiday business took off and they invented cheap airlines with on-line booking, and long before the trans-alpine tunnels on the motorways were built. Holiday patterns have since changed significantly.
Congestion on the motorway ?
These days, apart from a few two-season resorts, the mountain valleys are relatively quiet in summer and some top International ski resorts are virtually closed down for the entire summer season.
People want to be certain of their summer sun and as it can rain in the mountains during any summer month so they choose to fly off to warmer climes and give Austria a miss. In high summer there are very long queues for the trans-alpine tunnels especially at weekends which can stretch for 50km ! This is to bypass Austria and reach the more or less guaranteed sunshine further south in Italy or Croatia.
Consequently, small hotels in two season resorts command a much higher price - as much as twice or three times as much - but the overnight room rates achievable are not two or three times as high or anything like it.
This means that you are dependent on say a 14 week ski season which, when the snow arrives late, can be even shorter and you are still looking at very high heating costs during winters that can last up to seven months in the mountains. The price of oil these days is astronomical. You might end up heating a whole hotel with only a couple of rooms occupied and the massive heating oil bill has to be paid from somewhere.
That is, of course, a somewhat pessimistic view but it is essential to look at the 'worst case scenario' before you embark on your new life.
Property for sale in the south east of Austria
For some time we have been trying to explain to potential buyers that not all Austrian tourism happens in the mountains - far from it. A property such as the one featured above, and currently for sale for 390,000€ (June 2012) lies in a beautiful situation in the far south east of Austria but it is close to one of the major spa resorts. These spas attract some 7.5 million International visitors a year who come for short breaks the whole year round. There is no high season and these spas are just as packed with visitors in November as they are in August - possibly more so. Five or six double rooms occupied most of the year is far more profitable than somewhere with a 14 week season possibly at best with massive heating bills. If you really need to ski - then close up for a couple of weeks as your guests will still be there when you return.
So what is the difference ? Spring comes early as the mountains are to the north and Autumn lingers long. Heating bills are a fraction of those in the mountains and there is year round trade. It is a beautiful region with vineyards, apple, pear, apricot, peach and elderberry orchards. Lots of visitors come here to buy wine from local vineyards as well as for walking, cycling and golf.
Steiermark - Food, wine and a laid-back lifestyle