Friday, March 06, 2009

Utah's Zermatt -- Gemutlich Whole Ownership Resort near Deer Valley at Fraction of Cost

On a Utah ski trip last week, I was introduced to Zermatt. Nope, I was not teleported magically to Switzerland. Zermatt is a 2 1/2 year old, 4-diamond, full-service ersatz Alps resort with 150 hotel rooms and spa plus 2-BR condos and 24 townhomes (minimum of 3 BR each) on the other side of the Deer Valley ski area. It is only an hour from the Salt Lake City airport but a world away from Park City/Deer Valley in terms of mood, people and prices.

Located in Midway, Utah, Zermatt has a lederhosen look and an apple-cheeked, eager-to-please staff. Lift a phone and the switchboard operator says: "Guten tag!" The atmosphere is centuries removed from the sophisticated, contemporary chic of its neighbors over the mountain (although it must be said that the Deer Valley and Park City work force is typically just as courteous.)

However, while Zermatt is only a 15-minute drive from Deer Valley's Jordanelle gondola, it is not in Deer Valley. Thus real estate is seriously cheaper. Broker Drew Fuller, son of Zermatt's developer, told me resales of "studio" hotel room condos are available for $175,000.

As is true everywhere, sales are suffering from the awful economy, with a few short sales of 2-BR villas in the low $300,000 range, said Fuller. There are 1800+ square-foot townhomes available in the mid-$600,000 range. In Deer Valley, that price tag on that kind of space could be for fractionals, not whole-ownership units.

Zermatt owners who are in financial difficulty are "trying to get the banks to work with them," Fuller said. He is nevertheless hopeful that "this is a property that will rebound very quickly" once the economy starts to climb out of cellar, whenever that may be.

Zermatt's high seasons actually are spring/summer/fall, especially for Utahans, and it is big on conventions and meetings. All in all, it offers an intriguing alternative to Park City/Deer Valley glitter.

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