To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started

by Max Hardy

SkiWorkShop - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started

The ski season is here again and soon all of your friends will be sorting out their beanies and backpacks ready to brave the slopes on two planks.

Every year the snow reports come in, and every year you stay behind. Something always comes up, doesn’t it?. Your friends return with tales of Gluhwein and amazing food on the mountainside, horizons as far as the eye can see, and blasting out of that first lift like a World Cup winner in the starting gate. And what you really miss are the little things: the happy faces, the après-ski stories, flying down those black runs and dropping “hey, are you single?” in the lift queue, and sinking into a bubbling hot tub back at the chalet.

Sound familiar? Then it’s time you took a long hard look at those so-called ‘reasons’ that have stopped you heading to the Alps in recent years. Let me take you through them, show you why they can be easily dismissed, and then you’ll really have no option but to get cracking.

In other words: if you want to get back into skiing again but don’t know where to get started, I’ve got you covered. The truth is getting out there is easier than ever.


Reason 1: “It’s so expensive!”

Expensive? - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
When February half-term at a top resort in the Alps for a family of four comes in at over £4,000, it’s no surprise that the biggest obstacle keeping many of us from returning to the slopes is the price of the thing.

But whilst skiing is never going to be a cheap holiday, it needn’t cost a fortune. Sure, there’ll always be the loaded Martini-advert lookalikes willing to spend it big at the top resorts. But for the rest of us the good news is: tour operators are trying to offload some pretty fantastic deals. In fact there’s some great skiing to be had out there.

Here are some easy ways to get more for your Euro this season:



Whoever said the key to everything is patience clearly never stood elbow-to-elbow in a lift queue. It’s hard to say which is worse about a ski resort at capacity: the traffic jams in mountain restaurants, the crowded pistes, or paying top prices to boot.

February half-term is notorious – transport and accommodation will cost a fortune and the queues for lifts can be interminable. With some flexibility and careful planning, though, there’s a solution to overcoming these problems: go when it’s quieter.

The cheapest months to ski are early December (the start of the season), January (short days and snow storms), March and April (apart from the Easter weeks).

If you want to experience a world-class ski area, consider staying in a satellite village. It’ll be cheaper than the main resort and you can still ski the entire mountain. Places like Soll, Höpfgarten, Brixen and Ellmau, along Austria’s Orion’s Belt of skiing, offer easy cruising on pleasantly wooded slopes, and all come in at a super-low price point compared to the larger towns on the same lift pass.



If you’re inflexible about dates or resorts, monitor the online deals pages of your preferred ski holiday website with the assiduity of a Facebook addict. If hotel rooms and apartments are still unsold a couple of weeks before the departure date, you can reasonably expect tour operators to slash their prices.

The Ski Club of Great Britain and are two of the most indispensable resources when researching ski resorts, deals and current snow conditions.

If you’re piecing together your own deal, consider the hidden costs that are unique to a ski holiday. For example, there’s the special clothing and equipment you’ll need (more on that shortly), refresher ski lessons if your skills need brushing up, and a lift pass.

In fact, lift passes will be one of your major costs, and tour operators buy theirs in bulk. It’s often more cost-effective to buy your 6-day pass through them – call and ask if they have any surplus lift pass vouchers to sell.

The simplest solution in this area, though, is to just go inclusive. Find a package deal that includes the lot at a good price, and benefit from the bargaining power of a larger tour operator.

For example, packages offered as part of Austria’s Ski Again programme include flights, transfers, 7-night half-board accommodation, a 6-day lift pass and 6-day ski hire, plus a 16-hour small group refresher training course with a local instructor. You better believe it’d cost a lot more to purchase all these things on your own!

You can find more information about that Ski Again programme at the end of this article.



Now, you can’t skimp on water – especially at those high altitudes – but it also doesn’t make sense to spend £4 on a bottle you’ll probably gulp down in two minutes. Pack a small refillable water bottle, or even better wear a Camelbak, so you can stay hydrated while saving money.

The same goes for food – the most hardcore ski bums I know wouldn’t be seen dead in mountain restaurant. They pack their own lunch in the morning and eat it on the chairlift. Money saved + more ski time = a winning strategy.

Now, ski clothing. Got none of your own? Then borrow. It’s easy to spot the types who dress to impress and can’t really ski. Good skiers wear whatever works, no matter how mismatched. Start by recycling the things you already own: thermals, your waterproof winter jacket, and sunglasses. As for the things you don’t: borrow helmets, ski gloves, ski pants and goggles from friends. It’s the done thing.


Reason 2: “Don’t you need all your own gear?”

Ski Equipment - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
We’ve all been there: the ski hire boots that were near impossible to get into, that crushed your feet, smelled like cheese and a sweaty Danny DeVito. The ski edges that were blunt with poles so old and so bent that you vowed never again to hire ski equipment.

But that was then. Now, with ski hire shops offering the very best in high-quality equipment and airlines charging for sports equipment, it really makes you think twice before splashing out on brand new ski gear.

Charges made by airlines vary, but some add as much as £54 return for one piece of sports equipment. That’s a fair chunk on top of the cost of your holiday just to take those Atomic Redsters you’re ogling right now along for the ride. Plus there’s always the chance that they’ll arrive damaged, or not at all. Once at the airport you’ll have to lug them to the transfer bus, too.

Considering some ski shops charge as little as £65 for ski and boot hire per week, travelling with skis does seem like a great deal of effort.

Another thing to bear in mind is snow conditions. It only takes a small rock to butcher your cherished skis or board, and, unlike hire shops, you probably won’t have the state-of-the-art tools to repair them which means forking out yet more money to have them fixed.

Meanwhile, Inghams says that: ‘provided you take every precaution to safeguard hired equipment, the Inghams insurance policy covers you for all loss or damage.’ So, unless you throw your skis under a snow machine, it’s pretty smooth sailing.


Reason 3: “I’ve been away for too long.”

It's Never Too Late - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
Forget dodgy knees and broken wrists. The one thing that a doctor can’t fix is the one thing that’s kept many of us away for so long: lack of confidence.

You’re too old to go back.

You’ve been thinking it. Pictured, even, speeding down the mountainside like a wrecking ball, knocking people over like fancy-jacketed bowling pins.

You won’t remember anything.

You’ll struggle to keep up.

If anything, the opposite is true. Most of the changes in ski design share a common goal, and that is: to make turning easier. Take the most recent development, the rocker. The easiest way to think about it is to imagine the legs of your grandmother’s rocking chair. As the tips and tails come up on both sides, so now does the modern recreational ski, with a manoeuvrability that is so much lighter.

It was an innovation originally intended only for experts, as rocker skis and snowboards offer superior float in soft or deep snow. But manufacturer K2 soon realised that for a less experienced skier, having some rocker in the tip and the tail made the ski easier to start to turn and release from turns and minimises the risk of catching an edge by pulling the tip up to skim over a surface – inspiring confidence.

Developments like these are just some of the reasons why skiing is constantly becoming simpler, less physical, and more effortless than ever.

But in any case, superbly groomed slopes, true mountain charm and a side dish of tobogganing, snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides mean you can take it all at your own pace.



Because it’s all about being free in the mountains. “There used to be a pressure to get in as many runs as possible,” says Petra Hutter-Tillian from the Ski Instructors Association Salzburg. “Nowadays the focus is on fun, absorbing the fresh air and the peace and calm.”

And when you get right down to it, carving up the slopes certainly beats lunging at the gym. The proper squatted posture and all the moving you do on that downhill ski will help to tone your lower body muscles, particularly the glutes and thighs. Then there’s the 400 odd calories you’re burning – more than a regular session on the treadmill.

When your workouts have become stagnant, or your results have reached a plateau over time, the fastest way to shake up a regimen is to challenge your body in a new way.

So don’t stay behind. Make this the year that you join your friends for an après-ski Gluhwein on the mountainside, fly down those black runs and relax in a Jacuzzi back in the resort.

It’s never too late to go back to skiing again.

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 20.01.2015  |   No comments

Late Christmas Presents in Montafon

Jean Massad Skiing (c) Chris Loerkeby Matt Clark

It was a strange start to the ski season in the Northern Alps. A late October snowfall gave way to worryingly warm and sunny weather through November and December, and snow panic was starting to set in. Constant refreshing of resort reports yielded no hope, ski forums were filled with threads of despair as the Christmas holiday weeks approached, and a state of weary resignation permeated the air. Some resorts managed limited openings, and we scrambled to track the limited amounts of piste-side powder available, but things weren’t looking good. We headed back to our various homes for Christmas, praying that things would look better on our return…


Praise be to the bearded one in red: Santa delivered our presents in the end! Shortly after Christmas Frau Holle’s beautiful white bounty began to fall like benison upon the heads of the faithful, and winter was back on track. As the LUEX Snow Travel team re-convened in our Top Secret Alpine HQ, we were astounded at the depths of snow lying on what just a few weeks before were verdant green fields and pine forests: Vorarlberg was right in the firing line of the storm, and scored big time. Giggling like children, we made plans to meet for first lifts, and went to bed.


The next morning we met up at St Gallenkirch in Austria’s Montafon valley, one of Europe’s lesser-known freeride gems, and headed straight for the Garfrescha lift. Diving off the piste and into the pow was a revelation: this wasn’t typical dense alpine snow; it was more akin to the cold smoke of dreams that’s normally the preserve of the powder paradise Hokkaido: dry and light, billowing into clouds at the slightest disturbance, and well over 40cms of it. With exclamations of disbelief (“OH MY GOD!” was a common theme), shouts of pure glee and more than a few expletives, we threw ourselves downhill in an orgy of faceshots, pillows and pure snow-gluttony. What a way to start the New Year!


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 Anna Blum on 15.01.2015  |   No comments

Off the Map Treasures: Austria’s Top 5 Off-Piste Spots

by Loulou Baylis 

The Snow Gods have smiled upon Austria. This winter season has proved slow-starting. With sparse snowfall in France and other parts of the Alps, Austria is one of the only snow-sure destinations. Thanks to many of the resorts being at a particularly high altitude, there’s no snow “panic” over whether there’ll be enough white stuff to cover all the mountain. While this means that the pistes may be busy with snow-hunting holiday-makers, there’s always off-piste for those of a gem-hunting disposition. Why stick to the piste when the whole mountain is your playground?

With many of the locals displaying ABS bags and freeride bindings, you’d be in safe hands hiring a guide to find the mountain’s hidden treasures. We also recommend checking out a skiing or snowboarding buying guide to make sure that you have the right skis or board for hitting the backcountry, as well as the correct safety equipment. Here, we expose our favourite off-piste spots for powder-hounds and adventurous riders alike.


FieberbrunnTirol’s Best Kept Secret: Fieberbrunn

If backcountry freeriding is what you’re after, there’s no better place to head to than the only place in Austria to hold the prestigious and extreme Freeride World Tour 2014: Fieberbrunn. The legendary Wildseeloder mountain is the venue for the world’s top off-piste riders, and is tribute to the high level of off-piste terrain that Fieberbrunn has to offer. However, if you’re testing off-piste riding for the first time, this resort holds the gentle terrain as well as the challenging, and all easily accessible from the lifts.

Although it’s often overlooked amongst its better known neighbours of Kitzbühel, Saalbach and Scheffau, Fieberbrunn is nestled between them with fresh powder waiting to be tracked. The locals have named Fieberbrunn a “Schneeloch” (snow hole), capturing all of the fresh snow when the heavens open. This “snow pocket” means that Fieberbrunn collects nearly 50% more snow than Kitzbühel over a season. It’s no surprise then that Fieberbrunn has been termed Tirol’s best kept secret.

Our top tip: ride the “Wildsee Runde” for an off-piste route you won’t forget!


SöldenMind the Gaps: Sölden

How many other resorts do you know with three mountain peaks over 3,000m, two glaciers and off-piste aplenty? If you prefer to ski the off-piste next to the piste, then Sölden offers a terrific powder trail that runs to the right of t-bar-34. Another parallel run is to the side of run-36 from the top of the Rettenbach gondola. However, as with any off-piste adventures, it’s highly recommended getting a guide to avoid those crevasses and cliffs, particularly in the steeper off-piste areas such as Wasserkar. The Sölden Freeride Centre offer guided tours to find the spots that Sölden likes to hide.

Our top tip: Sölden is peppered with difficult terrain so check your line / route carefully. Helicopters regularly have to rescue people who are unprepared, and a single fair is a cool 500 euros!


IschglPowder over Party: Ischgl

With most of the resort above 2000m, Ischgl is not the resort for those looking for powder through the tree lines. Yet, there is fun, steep powder-filled terrain to be had. Forget Ischgl’s reputation as being most prominent for partying, even though this does ensure that most people are too hungover to attempt first tracks on a bluebird morning. The off-piste potential is huge thanks to the likes of the Palinkopf and Pardatschgrat areas.

Even just heading up on one of Ischgl’s lifts, there is an endless sight of powder bowls and untracked terrain. Some of Ischgl’s “off-piste” are in fact recognised ski routes, but are unpatrolled and best attempted with a guide, such as beneath the Hollenspitz area. We recommend Skischule for your guiding needs.

Our top tip: Head to the Piz Val Gronda cable car that opened last year. With runs of 700 vertical metres, this dedicated freeride area always offers fresh tracks.


GaltürGood Things Come in Small Packages: Galtür

With only 40km of pisted terrain, it’s no surprise that skiers and snowboarders head here for an off-piste challenge. With the small village’s population of below 1000, Galtür is also the place to head to for escaping the crowds. There are only 3 chairlifts and a gondola, encouraging you to find the powder without relying on the pisted terrain. Located at high altitude, this is a resort that will offer some of the best powder, untouched and ready for those first tracks.

Our top tip: For those fresh powder days, the Ballunspitze run is a must!


St. Anton am ArlbergFreeriding before Après: St. Anton

St. Anton am Arlberg may be known for its legendary après, but before the crowds hit the Jäger, there’s plenty of powder to be found: all 200km of off-piste trails! Yet, St.Anton’s status as a freeriding Mecca is not such a well-kept secret, so it’s worth being up early in order to ensure that it’s you making the first tracks. Kapall is where the guys in the know start their day, but there’s always the mid station of Valluga Grat, via the Galzing cable car, for long unpisted runs. If you can afford it, St. Anton is also the only place in Austria where you can heli-board.

Wherever you start, your off-piste riding will most certainly involve deep virgin snow, powder bowls and fun tree lines that are hard to beat. This is a resort that encourages you to venture beyond the piste markers, and for good reason.

Our top tip: Invest in an off-piste technique refresher lesson with the experts at Piste to Powder.


Loulou Baylis is an avid skier, having spent three seasons in Tignes in the French Alps. She’s now based in London, where she combines her love of skiing with that of writing on the new ski and snowboard magazine Style Altitude.


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 Anna Blum on 06.01.2015  |   One comment

Why You Should Go Skiing in Austria This Season

Thinking about dusting off your ski jacket for a trip to the slopes this year? You’ve tried the same half dozen purpose-built resorts that everyone in the UK goes to, but there has to be more to ski holidays than that, right?

There is!

For example, a recent study of UK skiers and boarders rated five Austrian destinations in the top ten ski resorts anywhere in the world. And yet the country only makes up 28% of winter sports holidays taken by Brits each year.

If you’d consider trying somewhere new this year to reawaken your passion for the slopes, then there’s never been a better time to book a trip to the Austrian Alps. And that’s just the tip of it… there are a ton of very good reasons people choose to visit.

Here are some of them…
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 Martina Jamnig on 16.12.2014  |   No comments

The Mouthwatering Dishes No Austrian Ski Trip Should Be Without

by Nicola Swales

The Mouthwatering Dishes No Austrian Ski Trip Should Be Without

‘…Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple Strudels / Doorbells and sleigh bells and Schnitzel with noodles…’ go the lyrics from My Favourite Things in the famous film, The Sound of Music.

If you’ve visited the country before – ski holiday or otherwise – then it’s really unsurprising that the most well-known song from that most famous of films about Austria references food. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Eating out here is one of the absolute highlights of any first-time trip.

And let’s face it: when you’re on a ski holiday, what you eat is important. Not only do meal times become major social events that punctuate the day, but you’re also likely to be eating in restaurants much more than usual. Factor in the extra energy you’re going to need to slide down a mountain all day compared to what you’d be doing at home, and it quickly becomes clear that local cuisine ought to be something we consider very carefully before booking a trip.

Yet bizarrely, when we talk about ski resorts the factors we focus on are usually the beauty of the scenery, the quality of the snow and the value for money. All three are important of course, but if you take into account nothing else then you’re inadvertently narrowing your viewpoint to ensure you only ever discover a narrow cross section of places.

If you’re considering heading back to the slopes this year, and you agree that mountain lunches and dinners out are a big part of the experience, then read on to find out why Austria should be on your shortlist.


What’s So Special About Austrian Grub?

Distinguished by its unique mix of flavours and textures, meats and cheeses as well as delicious pastries, authentic Austrian cuisine is strongly influenced by its neighbouring countries – most notably Hungary, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. Some recipes have been passed down for over six centuries, with most dishes today influenced by the peasant cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Traditional dishes originating from this era are heavily potato-based (potatoes saved the population from famine) but veal was also a common, cheap option during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph and is still a well-loved ingredient today.

If you enjoy a good hearty meal, you’re going to love some of the dishes below. Just be sure to come with a big appetite!


Wiener Schnitzel Is Well-Known and Rightly So

Wiener Schnitzel - Best Mountain Food in Austria
In spite of its name, Austria’s signature dish was most likely first served at a table in Rome rather than Vienna. According to legend, this breaded deep-fried Schnitzel originated from the Italian Piccata Milanese in the 12th century. It was supposedly introduced to the people of Vienna as the favourite meal of General Radetzky after suppressing the revolution in Milan.

It should be made from fine veal (aus feinem Kalbfleisch), although a more budget (and less tasty) option is made using pork cutlets (Schweineschnitzel). Every Austrian knows that the perfect Wiener Schnitzel tastes buttery on the outside and ‘zart und saftig‘ (tender and juicy) inside.

If you want to see how the pros do it, look no further than The Sound of Music’s very own von Trapp family. Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August – the real-life great-grandchildren of Captain and Baroness Maria von Trapp – recently filmed themselves making their family’s own Wiener Schnitzel recipe at home.


You’ll Find No Better Value Than Goulash Soup

Goulash Soup - Best Mountain Food in Austria
Traditionally, any good Austrian housewife’s repertoire would include this wholesome meal in a soup. Recipes vary wherever you go, but generally you can expect a stew of meat and vegetables – such as onion, tomatoes and potatoes – seasoned with paprika and other spices.

With origins that date back over 1200 years to medieval Hungary, goulash in all its forms holds a deep cultural significance in many countries – from Austria to Albania – where the former empire once stood. The word ‘Goulasch‘ comes from the Hungarian word for cowboy or herdsman, ‘gulyás‘. In the past, Magyar herdsman would butcher the feebler cows on cattle drives and make a stew from them.

This is a meal designed by necessity to fuel these herdsmen as they marched across Europe to cattle markets in major cities like Vienna. So it’s really no wonder that today it continues to be a much appreciated winter warmer for cold skiers at lunchtime. It’s one of the cheapest – yet most filling – mountain lunches you’ll find anywhere.


Tiroler Gröstl: A Real Alpine Filler

Tiroler Gröstl - Best Mountain Food in Austria
Made up of bacon, onion, potatoes and often served with a fried egg, for hundreds of years this has been Austria’s tastiest way to use up yesterday’s leftovers. Order it mid-morning after a night of dancing and Schnaps when there’s skiing to be done, and thank me later.

It also makes an excellent mountain lunch, especially when combined with Kaiserschmarrn for pudding (more on that in a moment). If you fancy trying your own, there’s a great recipe for homemade Tiroler Gröstl here.

If that’s not for you, this part of Europe is also famous for its sausages. Order Ein Paar Wurstl – a couple of joined-together frankfurters – served with mustard, ketchup, and chips if you must. A safe choice, maybe, but streets ahead of the sausage and chips you’d get back home.


That Covers Savoury, But What About Dessert?

Linzertorte - Best Mountain Food in Austria
The tradition of desserts is a huge one amongst Austrians – some of the finest puddings in the world originate from the region. The cakes alone – from Sachertorte to Linser Torte, the oldest known cake in human history – are worthy of their own short guide.

I’ll focus on desserts you’re more likely to find in mountain restaurants here, but be sure to put a visit to a traditional cafe with decent cake selection high on your to-do list whilst visiting.


Apfelstrudel Is the Undisputed Champion

Apfelstrudel - Best Mountain Food in Austria
The headline act in an array of awesome desserts is, of course, the Apfelstrudel. Literally meaning ‘apple whirlpool’, the best ones have flaky pastry containing a generous and moist apple mix that contains cinnamon, cloves, nuts and raisins.

People have been enjoying it for centuries – although it is difficult to establish a specific date, the oldest known Strudel recipe dates back to 1696. The handwritten recipe is in Vienna’s National Library, and it gives instructions for making a milk-cream Strudel.

But don’t limit yourself and forget the more minor celebrities in the Strudel world: Mohnstrudel (poppy seed), Quarkstrudel (curd) and Nussstrudel (walnut) are also worth a taste!


Pancake Fans Will Love Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn - Best Mountain Food in Austria
This is my favourite Austrian pudding – in fact one of my favourite puddings in the world! The delicious sweet pancakes are torn into bite-sized chunks and served with icing sugar and stewed fruit.

Kaiser means ‘emperor’ and Schmarrn means ‘mess’ or ‘nonsense’ and, according to late 19th-century history, originates from a visit to the kitchens of Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace by Kaiser Franz Joseph.

There are several stories of how it came about. One involves the emperor entering the palace kitchen and upon seeing a clearly ruined pancake angrily asking the chef: ‘What is this nonsense (diese Schmarrn)?’

To which the chef, thinking quickly, replied, ‘This is my new pudding, we will name it Kaiserschmarrn!’ The emperor soon became extremely fond of this dish, as are thousands of hungry skiers in mountain restaurants today.


Salzburger Nockerl Is a Mountain Speciality

Salzburger Nockerl - Best Mountain Food in Austria
This is Salzburg’s own dish that can be sampled in mountain restaurants throughout Salzburgerland. Made from three sweet dumplings that are decorated with icing sugar to look like snow, the dish represents the three hills above Salzburg which surround the city centre.

The dish was allegedly invented by Salome Alt, the mistress of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau in the early 17th century. So adored by the people of Salzburg, they even feature in a song as part of an operetta, where the sugary dumplings are praised as ‘Süß wie die Liebe und zart wie ein Kuss‘ (sweet as love and tender as a kiss).

Another dumpling dessert worthy of your attention is Germknödel, originating from Viennese and Bohemian cuisine. It’s a favourite amongst children – but that doesn’t mean it has to be ruled out for adults with a sweet tooth! You’ll usually see them served with vanilla sauce or with poppy seeds and melted butter. They’re fairly heavy though – so don’t expect to do much skiing after lunch…

Nicola Swales is a teacher, contributor on, and food blogger on her own website


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 06.12.2014  |   No comments

Revealed: The 10 Most Romantic Ski Resorts in the Austrian Alps

by Felice Hardy

Most Romantic Resorts in Austria

There are all sorts of reasons why you might be considering a trip to the Alps this season. If you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder, you’ll need little encouragement – the sheer delight of flying down a mountainside with the wind in you hair is its own reward.

But that’s not the key factor for everyone. For parents, it can be a great way to keep children busy and grinning ear-to-ear in a healthy and active way. Others love nothing more than taking in a mighty mountain panorama on the sun terrace of a mountain restaurant, piping-hot gluhwein in hand.

Several ski resorts are also reporting that couples who’ve stopped heading to the slopes in recent winters are increasingly reigniting their passion for the mountains – and perhaps for each other – by taking up skiing or snowboarding again.

It’s not a new idea: shared enjoyment of the slopes can bring couples closer together. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Only the most cold-hearted would fail to be seduced by log fires, stunning scenery, great food, and the constant exhilaration of carving down the hill all on a daily basis.

Depending on what you’re looking for, there’ll be dozens of amazing ski destinations that fit the bill. But if romance is the name of the game and you want an Alpine setting that fits, there’s really only one option: Austria.


Why Austria Is the Answer for a Romantic Ski Break

Explore the rolling pastures and pine forests of regions like Tirol and Salzburgerland, and you’ll find the place is dotted with chocolate box villages set against a backdrop of snowy peaks. The architecture, too, is magnificent: traditional chalets are invariably constructed from local timber and decorated with intricate heart-shaped fretwork.

When you step inside each mountain chalet – be it a simple bed and breakfast pension or a five-star hotel – and you’ll regularly find a spotless interior with a warming log fire or antique tiled stove, wood-panelled walls, hand-painted furniture and home cooking.

There are very few places in the world that offer all this, and certainly nowhere that delivers it with the consistency of Austrian skiing.

So where, exactly, should you go? Look no further than my personal shortlist of Austria’s most beautiful villages, and the top ten romantic resorts for the winter.


For Medieval Splendour, Try St Johann

St Johann - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaThe 16th century silver-mining town of St Johann in Tirol is one of the most gorgeous ski towns in the Alps. The traffic-free centre has cobblestone streets and pastel-painted buildings decorated with delicate frescoes.

The centre of this pretty but unpretentious Tirolean village is full of old coaching inns, offering plenty of quiet spots to hole yourself up in with a glühwein after a hard day of skiing.

Once you hop on a lift and leave the idyllic village behind, you’ll find the slopes are mostly easy-going – the snowsure side of Kitzbüheler Horn has 60km of pistes which will suit intermediates skiers (with plenty still to offer for more advanced ability levels). A toboggan run, ice-skating rink, and indoor pool at Panorama Badewelt (with a 62-metre water chute) mean non-skiing couples have plenty of entertaining ways to fill the day.

Those in search of large lift systems and dozens of bars or restaurants will be more at home in nearby Kitzbuhel, but what St Johann lacks in scale it more than makes up for in understated charm.


Alpbach Is a Perfect, Pocket-Sized Village

Alpbach - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaAlpbach is a small sunny settlement that is regularly voted the prettiest village in Austria. A green and white 17th-century church surrounded by wooden chalets and two medieval inns dominate the centre.

In the early 1970s the resort resolved not to go down the commercial route taken by some of its rivals. As a result it remains an unspoilt village where farming carries on outside the ski season.

However, the skiing certainly isn’t limited: a couple of years ago Alpbach linked up with Auffach in the Wildschönau to form the giant Ski Juwel area.

The nightlife is quiet and laid-back, and this is one of the factors (as well as its undeniable beauty) that makes it a excellent destination for couples looking for a romantic escape.


You’ll Find Lakeside Beauty in Zell am See

Zell am See - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaZell am See was first established by a monastic order in the eighth century and was of great commercial importance in medieval times. The stately old buildings have been transformed over the years into hotels, boutiques and villas that are dotted along the shore of the beautiful Lake Zell.

There are several top ski resorts around the world near lakes, but Lake Zell is surely one of the most scenic – if not the most. As you’d expect in a lakeside resort with a busy summer season as well as a winter one, there are some lovely hotels – including five-star Hotel Salzburgerhof, and four-star Romantikhotel Zell am See which has rooms with panoramic views of the lake. Skiing is substantial – backed up by a snow-sure glacier on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun.


The Heart of Family Skiing: Obergurgl

Obergurgl - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaObergurgl is where I learnt to ski and it will always have a special place in my heart. The first time I fell in love I was seven years old and his name was Walter; he was my ski instructor in Obergurgl and at 25 seemed ancient.

My heart broke when I had to fly home without him. Next year I was back again, but by then Walter had moved on to Squaw Valley and Pepi swiftly replaced him in my affections.

I returned 30 years later to find that the resort had grown, but remained the same charming village set around an onion-domed church, with a handful of shops and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Because the village is set at the end of a valley it doesn’t attract day-trippers or weekenders, so the pistes remain blissfully uncrowded and you never have to queue for a lift.


It’s Ischgl for Couples That Like to Party

Ischgl - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaAn unorthodox choice in a list of ski resorts characterised by their quiet charm, Ischgl is for couples that would sooner dance together into the wee hours than curl up close by a log fire.

This is the birthplace of the mountainside music festival, a badge Ischgl has worn with honour since 1994 when Elton John opened the season, and continues today with the Top of the Mountain Festival. Past concerts have featured Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Sting, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, The Killers, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, The Scissor Sisters, The Killers, and – last year – Robbie Williams.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is therefore a resort full of the 20-somethings you’ll find in other resorts that carry a ‘party town’ reputation. The largely upmarket accommodation and smattering of Michelin-starred restaurants means the typical Ischgl-goer is at least ten years older than that.

The skiing’s not half bad, either. 45 frequently-upgraded lifts serve 235km of slopes which, especially after a big night at Pacha beneath Hotel Madlein, are regularly free of crowds.

If you like largely intermediate skiing with dramatically long runs and you love to party, I can think of no better place in Europe for a ski holiday than Ischgl.


Innsbruck Doubles as a Romantic City Break

Innsbruck - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaThe colourful old city of Innsbruck is always associated with Emperor Maximilian I who ruled here in the 16th century and built the city’s iconic landmark, the Goldenes Dachl – or golden roof.

The city has its own international airport, which is surrounded by towering mountains on either side of the valley. You can ski locally in Igls – the setting for the Men’s Downhill of the 1976 Winter Olympics which was won by Austrian legend Franz Klammer. Snowboarders head for Axamer Lizum, which is set 1000m above the city and is as close to purpose-built as you will find in Austria.

With some lovely architecture – not least the grand Habsburg palace and baroque cathedral – Innsbruck is very different to the other locations on the list simply because it’s a city. To that end, the options for restaurants and non-skiing activities far exceed equivalent ski resorts. Which makes Innsbruck a great fit for anyone who considers skiing or boarding to be only a secondary interest.


Royal Flavour: Lech and Zürs

Lech Zurs - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaFrom the late Princess Diana, the Jordanian and Dutch royal families and Princess Caroline of Monaco to Boris Becker and Vladamir Putin, Lech and its neighbour Zürs are a favourite of royals and celebrities. The two villages are quiet hideaways and very smart indeed, so it’s really no wonder that they have such a history of rich and famous clientele.

The traditional village of Lech – which also served as a film location for Bridget Jones’ Diary 2 – lies on the banks of a river, with a large collection of lavish four- and five-star hotels. It’s an ideal base for people who prefer a flattering piste to a tricky challenge. If you want something more testing, head over to St Anton, which is on the same lift pass.


Steep and Deep Lovers Should Go to St Anton

St Anton - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaSt Anton is the place for couples who are excellent skiers, as they will be tested to their limits. Beginners might find St Anton’s ski area intimidating, with the exception of party animals who are mainly here for the nightlife.

The world-famous resort is at the heart of the Arlberg area and the village is a blend of old and new, with a pedestrian zone lined with shops, bars, cafés and traditional hotels.

There are lots of romantic places to go while you’re here, including the Underground On The Piste bar which has live music and lots of atmosphere, and The Museum restaurant where you eat in front of the fireplace in what feels like someone’s large private home.


Sumptuous and Sophisticated: Seefeld

Seefeld - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaSeefeld is a stylish and sophisticated town with an attractive pedestrian main street a bit like a small Innsbruck or Kitzbühel. Plush hotels with gourmet restaurants, a casino, and an impressive health centre attract visitors who don’t necessarily come here to ski downhill.

Which makes it a great option if you’d prefer a winter wonderland experience to an intense week of skiing. You can wrap up warm for a romantic sleigh ride, walk along some of the many mountain paths, or try Seefeld’s raison d’être: cross-country skiing on the 279km of trails.

Several hotels have a great spa setup too, so if you fancy chilling out with your feet up or going for a couples massage then this is a fine place to do it.


Wildschönau Is a Wild and Beautiful Valley

Wildschoenau - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaI once spent a month in the Wildschönau, which is a quiet valley containing four classically-pretty villages – Niederau, Oberau, Auffach and Thierbach. The largest village is Niederau, with its chalet-style hotels and attractive tree-lined slopes.

I’ve always thought the most attractive village is tiny Oberau, which has a treat in the form of the 12th-century Tirolean inn, Gasthof Kellerwirt. The inn has belonged to the same family for six generations, serves excellent food and holds wine tastings in its cellar.

There’s plenty to offer on the slopes, too. Auffach was recently linked with Alpbach in the neighbouring valley to form the Ski Juwel area, doubling the size of the accessible terrain. Considering Wildschönau is just 45 minutes from Innsbruck by car, there’s a lot to like about this valley.

Felice Hardy is co-editor of ski information website


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 26.11.2014  |   One comment

October Skitouring in the Arlberg

by Matt Clark

Chris Loerke & Matt Clark (c) Tom Fichtel

Chris Loerke & Matt Clark (c) Tom Fichtel

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons in Austria. It’s a quiet and peaceful pause between the summer tourism season and the madness of the winter season, yet equally a time of change of excitement; you can feel and smell the approach of winter, and the very air seems pregnant with the potential of a fresh new season.


The first significant snow of winter 14/15 fell across Austria on 24th October. The build up to the storm was fraught with anxiety, at least in the LUEX Snow Travel office: the various snow forecasting websites continually switched expected amounts and locations up and down, east and west… Would we score, or not? On Tuesday things got serious, and the Austrian police issued a severe weather warning… On Wednesday morning the first flakes began to fall, as clouds shrouded the mountains and winds howled around the peaks. We all went to bed early on Thursday night. Read More

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 Anna Blum on 07.11.2014  |   No comments

Luxury Chalets in the Austrian Alps

Chalets Montafon (c) ÖW EbersbergDrying the ski gear by the fireplace in a freezing mountain hut or setting off on a half-day hike to source dinner could be classed as romantic, but if you like a few creature comforts on your hard-earned holidays then a chalet stay can still be an option in Austria! We present you with a selection of quirky and luxurious lodgings across the Austrian Alps that offer everything from ski boot warmers to food delivery at unbeatable prices.


For sweeping slopes with guaranteed snow in winter and sunny trails leading to glistening lakes in summer, head to Carinthia. Traditional Alpine huts, comfortable hunting lodges and generous chalets form the exclusive Almdorf Seinerzeit, including a rustic restaurant, wine cellar, swimming pool and spa. Right by the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve, one of Austria’s beautiful national parks, the scenery and attentive chalet staff make guests feel like they have found a secret haven.


INNs HOLZ Chalet Village is located in the Bohemian Forest of Upper Austria. A special focus was placed on the materials used for the 11 chalets, with traditional loden and cloth playing the main role alongside wood. Each chalet has its own Finnish sauna and outdoor area, and guests can also use the wellness area of the INNs HOLZ Hotel.


45km south of Salzburg you’ll find the Wood Ridge Luxury Chalets. These luxurious Canadian-style log cabins offer plenty of comforts such as a whirlpoorl on the terrace, private sauna and daily breakfast basket. For larger groups visiting the SalzburgerLand region Alpin Chalets are ideal, sleeping up to 30 on a self-catering or fully catered basis.


Those looking for an authentic mountain experience will love the Hüttendorf Pruggern in Styria. Next to the summer hiking trails and winter slopes, the self-catering chalets are modernly equipped, but guests can still pay a visit to the on-site shop that sells farmers’ produce and freshly baked goods.


Tirol is one of our favourite holiday destinations, so why not avoid the hotel crowds and give your holiday a unique twist? The Biohotel Stanglwirt in Going takes bookings for its newly renovated Hüttling Moos. Up to 60 people can be hosted in this 5-star cabin, fully serviced with an own cook and butler. In nearby Kirchberg you can stay at the Maierl-Alm and Chalets, where you can enjoy goodies including your own panorama sauna and ski boot warmer.


We end our selection at the height of luxury in Vorarlberg. The 5-star Hotel Bentleys House has 3 chalets, stylishly equipped and providing full board with a personal butler service. Located at an altitude of 1720m, not only the service but also the stunning views of Lech Zürs will have you on a high!

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 Anna Blum on 03.01.2014  |   No comments

An Austrian Winter Taster

Winter and the Austrians; it’s a loving relationship, a blend of subtle joys and laugh out loud fun.

Whether your idea of winter is fast, fun and free-spirited, or one with a more relaxing approach, Austria is unsurpassable in its ski and snowboarding opportunities, family-friendly resorts, genuine culture of hospitality and a foodie scene that stretches from valley to mountain top. British visitors will also appreciate the outstanding value for money that winter holidays in Austria bring, whether booking an attractive package or deciding on a self-chosen itinerary.

We shared our excitement about the winter season that lies ahead with guests from the UK and surprised them with a pre-winter taster at Bishops Square, London. A red and white buzzer in the middle of the square, an Austrian winter landscape “waiting in the wings”, and plenty of snow. Would someone dare push the buzzer?

Have a look what happened here

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 Anna Blum on 08.11.2013  |   No comments

No need to pack the skis away early in Austria

by Jennifer Lewis

Even though it may feel like summer is finally arriving, some diehard skiers might still be wishing they were back on the slopes. If you haven’t managed to make it skiing this season or you just want to go back and get some more, Austria has a fantastic selection of late opening ski resorts.

If you aren’t quite ready to store the skis away yet then you could find yourself taking a last minute ski holiday in Austria and visiting one of the high altitude resorts still offering quality skiing. The partying doesn’t stop just because the season is slowing down either. Many resorts have end of season parties and festivals that will make your late season visit extra special.

Altitude equals great skiing late season

Skiing is possible well into May at a few of the Austrian ski resorts. The season at Zell am See-Kaprun may end officially on 14th April, but lift passes then become valid for the so-called Glacier Spring. The snow conditions up on the glaciers above the resort offer excellent late skiing and summer doesn’t officially begin here until 21st May. Another May option is Obertauern – a high altitude resort of 1750 metres that normally stays open until early May.

There are plenty of skiers bordering on the obsessive who are happy to put themselves out there for most of the season, as long as they don’t receive too many knocks and spills on the ice. The more time you spend on the slopes, the greater the possibility of injury, unless you stick to safe skiing advice. If you are addicted to skiing and want to go back for second, third or fourth helpings every season then you would do well to ensure you are covered. Make sure you compare life insurance, personal injury and travel insurance to get the best possible quote. The Stubai Valley might offer you some encouragement to keep your insurance up to date because they have some of the highest slopes in Austria and it doesn’t actually close. The season never ends here and if the snow plays ball you can ski right through the summer if you really can’t let go.

Soak up the end of season party atmosphere

The skiing will go on late into April in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and the season will end in style with some traditional Austrian festivities. The resorts here come in at nearly 2000 metres so you can look forward to some pretty good snow conditions. Off the slopes they will be entertaining their late visitors with some Austrian music and traditional food served in mountain huts across the resort.

The lively resort of Sölden has a well-earned party reputation and it also offers summer skiing, so it’s attractive for a lot of reasons. If you are into your music this resort attracts some big DJ acts to liven the party scene after a long day on the slopes and the end of April sees the Maxx Mountain Festival. This resort has you covered for snow, music and partying practically all year round.

Late closing resort Lech Zürs am Arlberg currently has some pretty good snow conditions that look set to continue well into April and the resort of Ischgl is offering great late snow and a little more in the way of entertainment. Ischgl is renowned for booking world famous gigs to round off the season and this year Deep Purple are braving the cold to play at their Top of the Mountain Concert on 30th April. If you like your snow served with a bit of heavy metal then Ischgl could be the resort for your last hurrah.

When everyone else is packing up their skis and heading home you could be just arriving to start another week on the slopes by hitting some of the late opening Austrian resorts. Austria has a diverse mix of resorts to choose from and the fact that so many of them stay open late and even into the summer is a major attraction for late skiing enthusiasts. If you haven’t quite had enough then Austria has plenty to keep you entertained both on and off the slopes. You don’t need to let go of the snow just yet.

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 Anna Blum on 15.04.2013  |   No comments