Whilst it is true that France receives the Lion’s share of the UK skiing market, Austria is making a steady comeback. Yes, many of the French resorts have the larger, higher, more snow-sure, and ski convenient ski resorts but Austria has the one thing the French just cannot do, après-ski. Couple that with the sense of tradition and owner managed accommodation and here we have what Snow Finders believe to be the best all round ski destination for many. Austria doesn’t generally have the highest of resorts but if you are looking for a mid-season ski holiday in January, February, or early March then these resorts come into their own. Okay, it may be that resorts such as Soll, Kitzbuhel, or Saalbach are suspect destinations prior to Christmas or at Easter but Austria has it`s share of snow-sure resorts such as St Anton, Obergurgl, Obertauern, Ischgl,Lech, and Solden, etc.
Whereas many of the French resorts were developed by corporates and on a grand sweeping scale the Austrian resorts have retained a sense of tradition with many of the hotels being family owned for generations and herein lies its appeal. Traditional resorts, traditional hotels, and a great sense of welcome. Austrian skiing provides a greater proportion of tree lined skiing rather than the lunar landscapes of its higher neighbours. The Germanic races too are much similar to the Brits in their liking for après-ski and so here you will see people of all ages drinking beer and schnapps whilst dancing on bar tables to a mixture of oompah-pah and cheesy Euro-rock alike. Resorts that rock include Ischgl, St Anton, Mayrhofen, Solden, Saalbach, Soll, and many many more.
Accommodation Options for Austria
Hotels offering half board and bed and breakfast are the main options throughout Austria. Self -catering is fairly hard to come by as are catered chalets.
Chalets in Austria only really exist in St Anton with a smattering across a few other resorts such as Lech, Ischgl, and Kitzbuhel. The catered chalet is a British ski holiday concept that is predominant in France and only just making its way into the Austrian market place. One of Snowfinders Biggest sellers since opening its doors is the Chalet Hotel Abendrot in Ischgl . The Chalet Hotel Alexandra in Lech has won a loyal following as it offers the most reasonable accommodation in Lech without breaking the bank . Over in St Anton there are a range of chalets such as the fantastic Chalet Inge or the wonderfully placed Chalet Murr . New to the market is the very successful Chalet Hotel Pinzgauerhof in the Saalbach-Hinterglemm ski domain.
These tend to be family run with the owners taking the highest interest in the well-being of their guests. Austrian hoteliers, in Snowfinders opinion, are the best in Europe and are very proud of their hotels and service. For a luxury 4 star plus option we recommend the Hotel Brigitte in Ischgl. A good 4 star option is the Hotel Schweizerhof in Kitzbuhel. Snowfinders have a very strong repeat clientele who go to the 4 star Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl in Obergurgl where the spa facilities are thought of highly. Lech’s Hotel Sandhof is a beautiful 4 star option in a great location and has the flexibility to offer short breaks outside of peak season. The Lux Alpinae in St Anton is an ultra-modern minimalistic hotel with superb food.
Although the Austrian resorts are not generally as high as its European counterparts one has to bear in mind that snow falls at lower elevations the further east one travels across the Alps. The Alps are banana shaped and the Austrian resorts are significantly further North than the French resorts. Some of the Austrian glaciated resorts can accumulate well over 500cm of snow by April. Some of these resorts make an ideal ski holiday destination for summer skiing such as Hintertux and Stubai. The season can still be as long if you select the right resort. Many resorts will open in early December and close in May but others will be safer skiing from January to March. Temperatures can vary tremendously depending on time of year, resort height, location, and prevailing winds.
Most Brits tend to fly into Innsbruck or Salzburg airports, the former has one of the most dramatic descents of any airport with a wonderful finale over the snow-capped mountains and then a dip into the valley. Another airport is the Corinthian based Klagenfurt but equally flying into Munich, Zurich or Friedrichshafen are useful for the Western Austrian ski resorts such as those in the Arlberg. Generally though the flexibility and availability of flights does not match those serving the French resorts. Rail travel from the UK is possible but will entail various changes and overnight travel. Many ski resorts have mainline stations such as St Anton but in essence very few choose this method of travel for Austria. Driving is quite easy once you have navigated the congested roads of the UK then the continent is a breeze. There are numerous different routes to take but Snowfinders have found it easy to cross France to the towns of Mulhouse/Basle and then cut across Switzerland in to Western Austria. An Alternative way is to take the German Autobahns from the Alsace region.