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.

Shared enjoyment of the mountains can also 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 slopes 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 Kitzbühel


Kitzbühel - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaThe 16th century silver-mining town of Kitzbühel 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.

Take a leisurely stroll down the Vorderstadt (main street) and drop in at one of the many welcoming bars or cafés along the way.

Don’t be put off by the hair-raising reputation of the Hahnenkamm, either. Aside from its World Cup course, Kitzbühel isn’t scary at all.

Once you hop on a lift and leave the idyllic town behind, you’ll find the slopes are mostly easy-going – this is a big, diverse area which will suit intermediates skiers (with plenty still to offer for more advanced ability levels).

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

The Stubai Valley Is Pretty and Snowsure


Stubai - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaNeustift is the main community of the Stubaital, and is just a 15-minute drive from Innsbruck. Set beneath the Stubai Glacier, the village has expanded over the years but still retains its Tirolean centre with an ornately decorated church and more than 50 mountain inns.

There are four ski areas including the Stubai Glacier at the far end of the valley (one of the best for skiing in the Alps) which is reached by ski-bus from Neustift followed by gondolas, and is open almost year-round for skiing.

For a romantic dinner, try the restaurant in the Hotel Jagdhof. This is fresh local cuisine at its finest – lamb is sourced from a flock kept by one of the hotel’s directors, whilst wild game comes from the hotel’s own 3000-hectare game preserve. Delicious.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 
Felice Hardy is co-editor of ski information website Welove2ski.com.

 

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 austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.

OK! TAKE ME THERE NOW.

 



 Martina Jamnig on 18.11.2014  |   No comments

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



Tags: , ,
 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!



Tags: , , , , , ,
 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



Tags: ,
 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.



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 15.04.2013  |   No comments

Austria’s Different Slopes for Different Skiers – Part Two

by Jennifer Lewis

Following up from our earlier post about finding the right place for you, we have now selected another three top ski resorts which are best suited for a particular type of skier or snowboarder. Winter sports are big in Austria, and the country really does offer such a wide variety of different ski areas and levels of accommodation that pretty much any requirement can be met.

 

On a Budget

For the budget-conscious skiers and snowboarders out there, a week’s stay in Austria doesn’t have to cost the earth. In fact, there are some resorts where you can get very good value for money hotels and eat at reasonably priced restaurants, so you won’t have to always be checking the exchange rate to the Euro. If you decide to travel to Söll for your ski holiday, you should find yourself with a bit of extra travel money once you have got the essentials out the way. Why is it cheaper than neighbouring resorts? Well, it’s part of the SkiWelt and has the most hotels in the entire region, resulting in prices being better than elsewhere because of the competition. Also, it is sometimes deemed a less desirable resort because it is a 1km ski bus ride to the lifts. These two factors make finding a cheap hotel or chalet to stay in much easier. While skiing and snowboarding in Söll is not the best on offer in Austria, there is plenty of choice to keep even the most ardent skier or snowboarder happy. The SkiWelt area is the biggest connected ski area in Austria and consists of somewhere in the region of 250km of ski trails. There is something for everyone here, whether you want blue runs or black runs, so if you need to tighten your belt then Söll is the place for you.

 

Pushing your Limits

For ski and snowboard professionals looking for a resort where they can push their skills to the limit, Galtür provides the perfect venue. You might be surprised to hear that a resort with just 40 km of prepared pistes could offer such a challenge, but it is not on the groomed runs where skiers and snowboarders should put themselves to the test. The resort is located at a high altitude within the Silvretta Mountains, and offers some truly awesome off-piste opportunity, along with leg burning touring routes and expert only black runs. One of the great things about Galtür is its size. It just a small alpine village with a population of below 1000, and there are only 3 chair lifts and a gondola if you don’t count the small drag lifts. It all makes for a quiet scene where serious skiers and snowboarders can really get on with the business of carving through virgin snow or zip between the tress in mountain side forests. There is a particularly good route to try, called the Alp Trida, which takes you through a valley and into a small duty-free enclave called Sauman in Switzerland. If you really want to get the most out of your stay in Galtür, it is well worth hiring a guide. These guys will show you exactly where the best, most challenging routes on the mountain are, so that you can get on with pushing yourself to the limit.

 

The Best Snow

If you simply have to have the best snow while skiing or snowboarding in Austria, then your best bet is to head to one of the high altitude resorts. Sölden is one of these resorts, located at 1,350 meters, with lifts that take you to a top elevation of 3250 meters. There are three mountains to ride here, Tiefenbachkogel, Gaislachkogel, and Schwarze Scheinde, all of which stand tall at over 3000 meters. To add to that, there are also two glaciers conveniently liked into the well-connected ski area. All of this makes Sölden a great choice when it comes to choosing a resort with a great snow reliability record. With 34 lifts servicing the 134km of pistes, most of which are intermediate slopes, you might have to venture off-piste for a challenge, but you will surely find some untouched powder snow somewhere between the groomed runs.



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 02.04.2013  |   No comments

Austrian Adventure: Visit Ischgl

by Kar Cheung

For the average skier, the resorts of Austria hold endless amounts of appeal. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, an après-ski fan or a family man – there’s bound to be a resort to suit your personality as well as your budget.

 

If we had to pick a resort to visit before this season comes to a close, there’s one which stands out among the pretty villages and peaceful slopes. Located between the Silvretta and Verwall mountains, Ischgl greets visitors with the slogan “Relax, if you can….”. It is a place with a wild reputation, and thanks to tales of outrageous après-ski and celebrity concerts, it is in danger of being dismissed purely as a party town. It’s safe to say, we think Ischgl offers far more than just a lively bit of nightlife. If you’re sceptical, here are our reasons for viewing it as one of Austria’s very best…

 

It caters for all abilities
Unless you are an ultimate beginner, you’re likely to feel at home on the mountains. From the casual skiier to the real adventure seeker, the combination of well-kept runs and challenging off piste slopes are likely to keep everyone entertained for at least a week or two. Thanks to heavy investment in the resort, a lot of the lifts are fairly new, so if patience isn’t a particular virtue you possess, the high speed chairs and nifty gondolas are likely to further its modern appeal.

 

It’s budget friendly
Although Ischgl isn’t usually classed as a cheap resort (but then again, what is?) it’s not one of the most expensive either. In fact, if you’re a little smart about it, it is perfectly possible to enjoy a break here without spending over the odds. A great tip is to go with a group of people. That way, you might be able to split the cost of an already affordable chalet in order to reinvest the money left over in ski hire and the like. Alternatively, if you’d prefer hotel accommodation, try searching for cheap flights or even a package deal. There’s a range of decent accommodation available, and you might be surprised at the price range!

 

It guarantees snow
Don’t take our word for it… but thanks to its 2872m mountains, snow is (pretty much) a sure-fire thing in Ischgl. If you’ve ever been on a ski holiday to be met with nothing but ice and slushy conditions, you’ll know how disappointing it can be. But with endless amounts of real powder, and the artificial kind if all else fails, skiing is nothing but a dream here. For off-piste enthusiasts especially, this gives Ischgl a real edge above other resorts.

 

It’s surprising
If you’re under the aforementioned assumption that Ischgl is only suitable for rowdy groups of guys, you might be surprised at the reality. We’re not saying that wild nights out are uncommon; there is definitely a seedier side to the town’s bar scene. But there are also tamer and more traditional elements too. From the quiet romance of the classy hotel bars, to the lively yet wholesome fun of hotspots like Fire and Ice – if you do want to steer clear of late nights and the inevitable hangovers, there are suitable locations to spend time with friends or other halves.

 

If you’re thinking of booking a last minute Easter break, there are plenty of resorts in Austria that would be near perfect. But for all round fun and entertainment, we think Ischgl has the edge.

 

If you enjoyed this guest post, then go to Travelling Blogger for more!



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 21.03.2013  |   One comment

Austria’s Different Slopes for Different Skiers

by Jennifer Lewis

What is great for one person can be terrible for another, so choosing where you want to spend your precious time off in the snow needs some consideration. There are some great ski holiday deals leaving the UK out there, all you need to do it know which of the various ski resorts is right for you. With a couple of months left before the snow starts to melt for the summer, what better time to take a look at the many different ski resorts peppered across the Austrian Alps. Every resort is a little different, from ones with small village charm to others full of bustling bars and restaurants, but the one thing that they all have in common is the abundance of fresh air and picturesque scenery that comes hand in hand with being in the mountains. No matter what you are after out of a ski and snowboard holiday, you can find it here in Austria, so read on to find out which resort will suit you best.


Taking the Kids

If it’s a perfect family ski holiday you are after then Alpbach ticks pretty much all the boxes. A charming village ski resort full of traditional wooden chalets and a quaint village church, with a spattering of modest restaurants and bars to feed and water the visitors. The village still has its roots in farming, so it is not completely reliant on ski tourism, which is a good thing. Aside from the excellent skiing well-suited for beginners and intermediates, and the special children’s ski areas, children can join in all of the fun at Juppi Kid’s Club and give you a short break to spend with your other half. Tobogganing and indoor or outdoor ice skating are a couple of the other fun activities you can rely on to keep the kids entertained.

 

Weekend Warriors
If you can’t get the time off work for a full week of skiing, then why not treat yourself to a long weekend on the slopes. At many resorts it can be tough booking a hotel for less than a week, but in Innsbruck there is plenty of accommodation catering for the short stay skier. It is the perfect destination if you need to get your ski fix but are short on time. Being a large ‘ski resort’ city surrounded by mountains and having its own international airport means that you can be on the slopes just an hour or two after stepping off the plane. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to terrain here, with nine separate ski areas all coming together to form the enormous Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck. 90 lifts transport you around 300km of groomed pistes, and there are snow parks, half pipes and ski jumps to cater for snowboarders and freestyle skiers. Even if you stay close to the city centre, just take the free shuttle bus to any of the ski areas.

 

Après Ski a Priority
Often overlooked in favour of more famous resorts like St. Anton, Saalbach has a very much underrated après ski scene. If drinking and dancing is as much a part of your ski holiday as actual skiing is, then Saalbach’s après ski could be the one for you. The bars on the hillside provide convenient rest stops during the day, but by the end of the afternoon everyone is speeding down the slopes to cram inside of the bars and discos in the resort. By 4pm the good times are thoroughly underway. For the wildest time, head to Bauers Skialm and join the raucous masses revelling with their jugs of beer. If you need a break from the crazy partying here, head over to nearby Spitzbub and hang out with the slightly less drunk crowd this place attracts.



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 07.03.2013  |   No comments

Fresh on the Slopes at 30 (Pt 5) by Anna Blum

Day three


You can’t get more winter romance than a snow shoe hike. As part of the complimentary weekly activity program at Hotel Eschenhof, guests can join owner Herr Ortner on a morning trek up the mountain and through the wooded landscape, wearing the most nifty footwear I have ever seen (and believe me, I spend a formidable amount of time analyzing shoes). Originally designed by farmers as a means of reaching the pastures in winter, snow shoes are strapped under your boots with brackets that pop up to allow you to climb the slope and grips that get you firmly back down. What makes the experience so dreamy (ignoring the effect of the crisp morning air – ladies out to impress, take a pack of tissues) is that these shoes can take you off the beaten track, through landscapes completely untouched by skiers; a blurry Narnia at this time of day, quite simply stunning.

 

After such a mellow start, it was time to tackle the challenge of day three – would I get my skiing certificate? Thankfully there was no debate as to where I would take the final test – descending the blue slope by yourself – and Alfred drove straight to the practice area. Back on familiar grounds I was happy to hobble up the drag lift and (easy does it) tackle the descent. And so I got it, my skiing certificate, and it is with great pride that I will present it to anyone willing to take a look at home. I’m not saying that after such a short period I’ll be heading near the black slopes any time soon, but I do feel that in 3 days I have acquired the basics to follow up with some practice without an instructor. So for anyone toying with the idea of learning to ski at a later stage in life – it is possible, affordable and worth every shot.

 

Anna did the Learn to Ski in 3 Days programme in Bad Kleinkirchheim from 16th – 18th January 2013. A big thank you goes to the following for their immaculate organization and hospitality:

Bad Kleinkirchheim Tourist Board

Carinthia Info

Hotel Eschenhof

Ski- & Qualitätsskischule Brunner

Ski- & Sportschule Krainer



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 20.01.2013  |   No comments

Fresh on the Slopes at 30 (Pt 4) by Anna Blum

Day two

When Alfred said I was ready to head up the mountain, I really did hope he was right. Yet as the cable car swayed towards the Nockalm at almost 2000m, I was reminded of occasions when I have barely been able to get out of the cabin and walk, let alone “Pizza” over the edge. It had been snowing all night and the winds were up as we trudged towards the drag lift at the far end of the mountain top. Pro that I had been on the nursery slope, this was not a ride you grab hold of, but a dish you jam between the legs. Alfred shot ahead, confident I would follow; three dishes and a shove from the lift attendant later I joined him at the top. Everything I learnt on day one vanished as my legs refused to follow the skis and my upper body wanted nothing but to cling onto the mountain side above. “No problem, we were a step ahead of ourselves”, Alfred reassured as we travelled back down to the nursery slope; I’ve never been happier to be reunited with a bunch of screeching kids.

 

The afternoon was dedicated to cross-country skiing and I loved it from the minute it became clear that this winter sport takes place on the flat. The front of your boot is locked into narrower, lighter skis and you use longer sticks to push forwards with adrenaline-fuelled moments that include doing a duck walk up little bumps and whooshing down the other side. “That’s the black slope,” the instructor joked and I chuckled, secretly hoping he wouldn’t get talking to Alfred at the bar. Despite having a reputation as the sport that “retired” skiers acquire, I’m telling you that cross-country skiing is fab! It’s like jogging with double the distance coverage across landscapes that put Brockwell Park to shame, working 95% of the body without knackering your knees. If I was a door-to-door sales person, I’d flog it to you; if tomorrow I don’t get my Learn to Ski in 3 Days certificate, this feisty activity will be what gets me back to the slopes.

Anna is learning to ski in Bad Kleinkirchheim from 16th – 18th January 2013. Keep your eye on the Austria Blog to follow her progress and like Visit Austria on Facebook for the latest updates.



Tags: ,
 Anna Blum on 18.01.2013  |   No comments