Austria: Sensational Skiing

Austria’s Ski amadé is a sensory experience; a colourful explosion of blue sky, white snow and emerald green trees; interspersed with aromatic aromas of local cuisine and the silken taste of Austrian wine (their secret weapon!). It sharpens your senses – it’s chaotic, intoxicating, raw, in-your-face and utterly exciting.

Winter landscape in Grossarl, Austria

Like the perfectly groomed pistes which give you access to viewpoints such as the Kraftorte recovery point, where nature comes into focus and opens up unexpected perspectives inviting you to breathe in the views, enjoy the moment, recover and relax. Then there’s Königstour in the Hochkönig region – one of the most beautiful ski circuits in the Alps where you can stop and take in the surroundings at numerous locations. In Grossarl, there’s the Wilderer Platzl – a raised platform with a telescope – and a special children’s button lift and funslope with tunnels and a jump in Panoramaplateau. In Grossarltal, early-risers will have the pistes completely to themselves with ‘Skikeriki’ – early morning skiing followed by breakfast. Fans of high speed skiing can get their adrenaline rush on the Kreuzkogel’s WISBI slalom course and for athletes looking to recover between their activities, relax at the ski-in massage post at the Grafenberg mountain station in Wagrain. For those seeking a little peace and quiet, relaxation zones with panoramic views are found at various locations throughout Salzburgerland’s Ski amadé area.

• There are 80km of perfectly manicured slopes; five gondola lifts, two 6-seater chairlifts, three 4-seater lifts, two double chairlifts, six tow and beginners lifts, 23km blue ski runs, 49km red ski runs and 8km black ski runs.
• The resort is a member of ski amadé, Austria’s largest ski region – 760km of ski amadé pistes available to anyone wishing to venture further afield. A single ski pass gives you access to 360 pistes, and a free shuttle service takes you to the neighboring ski areas.
• There’s a snowboard fun park with halfpipe and snowboard runs.
• There are three skiing and snowboarding schools and one cross-country skiing school.
• Ski rental and sports equipment testing station.
• Snow is guaranteed from December until April.

Austria’s greatest ski paradise also has outstanding gastronomic pleasures, bringing together regional food with the skiing wine culture. Via Culinaria is a huge gastronomy initiative celebrating the exceptional culinary expertise of numerous ski huts/mountain restaurants and Austrian export quality wine www.salzburgerland.com.

TOP FIVE WINE APRES SKI PLACES:

Oberforsthof Alm, Alpendorf 12, 5600 St. Johann im Pongau
Grossarler Hof American Bar, Unterberg 112, 5611 Grossarl
Hofstadl, Hofgasse 232, A-5542 Flachau
Schüttalm, Stuhlwaldstraße 5, 5603 Kleinarl
Kühbergalm, Markt 59, 5602 Wagrain

ACCOMMODATION:

The hotel to call home for the duration of your stay is the 4 star-superior Grossarler Hof, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. Opening in 2009, it already has a host of awards and accolades. From the outside, it’s a traditional chalet-style hotel but the interiors are spacious and contemporary in native timbers, creating the typical cosy Austrian feeling with log fires, views from every window and two gourmet restaurants. The 49-rooms and family suites (all with balconies) are authentically decorated and spotlessly clean, with all the mod cons required for 21st century living. Be sure to ask for a view of the mountains.

Packages available:
• Two nights in the Grossarler Hof and one night at their tranquil Mooslehenalm Lodge, inclusive of breakfast, his-and-her wellness spa treatments and a private dining experience at the lodge (from €360) – available, subject to weather conditions from June to October only.
• A two night half board stay at Grossarler Hof inclusive private catch-and-release fly fishing instruction along the 17km long Ache River, with a picnic breakfast at the river’s crystal clear pond (from €293).
• To celebrate the lead up to Christmas (27 November to 20 December) the Grossarler Hof offer three-days of advent concerts, Christmas markets, a trip to the theatre and for youngsters there’s the Christmas post office and cookie making classes (€411).

WINTER SPORTS-PARKS:

Shuttleberg in Flachauwinkl-Kleinarl is the total winter sports park. Here, everyone gets their money’s worth. Every cableway and drag lift has at least two runs, two variant groomed pistes, freeride slopes and cross passages – that’s besides the permanent and well-groomed facilities, like the speed course and the family run.
Absolut Park, also in Flachauwinkl-Kleinarl, is one of the largest terrain parks in the Alps with superb freestyle facilities such as a kickerline, numerous rail and box features, a halfpipe, a superpipe and the special jib park.

OTHER THAN SKIING:

In Austria’s largest ski region, you can try out a whole range of unusual leisure activities. In addition to fantastic winter walks, you can take-off in a paraglider, challenge yourself at ice climbing up frozen waterfalls, detox and relax in therapeutic Radon Caves, or glide through the panoramic alpine landscape in a hot-air balloon.

About the author: Cindy-Lou Dale

Cindy-Lou Dale is a freelance writer who originates from a small farming community in Southern Africa, which possibly contributed to her adventurous spirit and led her to become an internationally acclaimed photojournalist. Her career has moved her around the world but currently she lives in a picture postcard village in England, surrounded by rolling green hills and ancient parish churches. Her work is featured in numerous international magazines, including TIME and National Geographic.


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