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Bansko Ski resort top for Investment in 2006!

The Bulgarian Ski resort of Bansko is set to be the hottest investment spot in Bulgaria in 2006. Located 160km south of the capital Sofia, 900m above sea level, at the gateway to the beautiful Pirin Mountains, Bansko is a charming medieval town. There are cobbled streets and timber framed stone houses, many shops and cultural monuments, and it is listed on the World Heritage site for its unique village centre.  It has around 150 cosy “mehana” (traditional restaurants), which serve local and international cuisine, and numerous bars, many providing live music making it the best après ski in Bulgaria. The cuisine is fresh and often locally produced and there are some excellent Bulgarian wines. With a three course meal costing as little as £5, which is half the price of many European resorts, it also gives fantastic value for money.

Bansko is already widely featured in the ski brochures, including Neilson, Thomson, Crystal and Balkan Ski. The resort is probably one of the sunniest and warmest resorts as it lies so far south in Bulgaria. Winter lasts for almost 6 months, with snow falling from early December. There are 14 ski runs from novice to expert, and a fun park and half pipe for snowboarders. Flights are readily available from most UK airports, and budget flights through Wizzair are already flying from Luton airport.

So what makes Bulgaria a great investment? Properties can still be picked up for as low as £25,000 and, with Bulgaria hoping to join the EU in 2007, prices are set to soar. Many experts have suggested that Bulgaria’s accession to the EU would be the final factor in opening the floodgates to a property boom similar to that enjoyed by Spain during the last 25 years. The local currency, the Bulgaria Leva (Lev) is set to change to the Euro in 2009, further adding to the investment potential.

Bansko is a candidate for the 2014 Winter Olympics and 400 Million Euro has already been invested in the resort over the last few years. The country aims to invest a further 7.3M Euro prior to the first round of selection, with $422 million to be provided for capital investment if the country is approved on the 1st round. Two golf courses are being built within 5 kilometres of Bansko, one of which is an 18 hole Ian Woosnam designed signature course. The resort already enjoys an all-year round season, with summer activities such as climbing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and horse riding taking place. The arrival of Golf to the area however is likely to improve and expand the summer season even further.

The Bulgarian resort of Bansko has also been voted Europe’s most improved ski resort in the first Great Skiing and Snowboarding Guide 2006 awards. “Best-developed ski resort in Eastern Europe, an attractive old town with a modern lift system and hotels of international standard”

Property owners currently enjoy a stable rental market supported by Greeks, Russians, Scandinavians and of course, the British and Irish. Bansko in particular will be expanding and improving heavily over the next few years. The current gondola system is already at capacity, and two new gondolas are in planning. The Ski runs will be expanded from 65km to around 200km, and the resort will be linked with neighbouring resorts such as Dobrinishte. Strict government guidelines however will ensure the development of the resort will be complimentary to the traditional architecture, preserving the character of the place.

The country also enjoys a stable legal framework, giving prospective investors peace of mind. Although foreigners cannot own land without setting up a limited company, apartments can still be bought safely without setting up a company, and investors own the “Construction right” over the land. Investors are also attracted by guaranteed rental schemes offered by developers, supported by the large tour operators which operate into the resort. Property management firms, furnishing companies and tour operators are all available in resort to support investors.

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