With the 2014 ski season in full swing and weekly flights from Southampton Airport to Innsbruck with Inghams, you might be wondering which destination to pick. We asked Becky Horton from the Tirol Tourist Board for a tour around her top resorts in the Tirol region.
Best for families – Obergugl - Ötztal
Situated high at the end of the Ötztal, Obergurgl owes its place as one of Tirol’s top family resorts thanks to its snow-sure slopes, generous beginner pistes and welcoming ski instructors. Owing to the ultra-modern and high-speed lift system, parents are able to make the most of 110km perfectly groomed pistes. Head over to Hochgurgl on the ‘Top Express’ gondola, admire the view at the ‘Top Mountain Star’ restaurant at 3080m, enjoy the long valley run down and you still have time to get the gondola link back to Obergurgl to collect the children!
Best for beginners - St Johann – Kitzbüheler Alps
St Johann in the Kitzbüheler Alps is refreshingly unassuming, offers great value for money, enjoys a relaxed atmosphere and affectionate Tirolean hospitality. Beginners have been coming here for years to learn on the gentle nursery slopes and under the careful guidance of the reputable St Johann ski school, they progress quickly. The resort’s appeal isn’t restricted to beginners, its true strength lies in appealing to those wanting to take it easy. The Schneewinkel area pass covers over 170km of pistes, across several ski areas linked by ski bus and offer an eclectic mix of effortless blues and reds.
Best for everyone - Zillertal region
Ask most visitors to name some of the resorts in the Zillertal and Mayrhofen will be repeated time and time again. What may surprise most is that the Zillertal far exceeds its reputation with four skiing areas, including the First Zillertal skiing area with Kaltenbach and Hochfügen, the Zillertal Arena with Gerlos and Zell am Ziller, the Glacierworld Zillertal with Hintertux and, of course, Mayrhofen’s skiing area on the Ahorn and Penken. With access to 487km of pistes, the Zillertal Super Skipass covers all the ski areas in the Zillertal, offering slopes for beginners and timid improvers to adventurous intermediates and seasoned experts.
Best for advanced skiers - St. Anton
With challenging skiing, spectacular scenery, reliable snow, legendary après-ski and first-class cuisine, it is easy to see why St Anton is regarded as one of the best ski resorts in the world. Home to the oldest ski school in the world founded by Hannes Schneider in 1921, St Anton has nurtured skiing from its very beginnings. The whole Arlberg ski area covers 340 km of slopes and 200 kms off-piste run accessible by 94 cable-cars and lifts. Competent intermediates will get plenty of enjoyment on the wonderful reds around Rendl, the quieter north-facing slopes down to Stuben or exploring the ski routes in the Valluga bowls. Offering some of the world’s finest off-piste skiing, St Anton is the Holy Grail for expert skiers thanks to the sheer diversity and consistently high snowfall records.
Best for ski luxury - Kitzbühel
Regarded as one of the big names of the ski world, Kitzbühel’s fame is, in part, thanks to the most famous 3.3km stretch of snow in the world, the Streif. Taking place every January, the Hahnenkamm downhill race is the victory every Alpine skier dreams of and is one of the most fearsome on the ski circuit. With its strong skiing heritage spanning 120 years, the resort is one of the most cosmopolitan resorts in the Alps with a wonderful, cobbled old town, great hotels, award-winning restaurants, cosy cafés and trendy bars. There is great intermediate terrain but possibly Kitzbühel’s best kept secret is the amount of accessible off-piste terrain, a whopping 230km2/56800 acres of hidden routes and untracked backcountry.
Best for value - Ski Jewel Wildschönau
With easy flight access, a convenient transfer, good value accommodation and of course plenty of skiing for all abilities, the Wildschönau valley is an attractive destination choice in more ways than one. Stay in one of the charming ski resort villages of Niederau, Oberau and Auffach in the Wildschönau valley as a base to access the newly created ‘Ski Juwel’ skiing area. Now joined with the Alpbach valley, the new skiing area covers a total of 145km pistes and has become one of the Top Ten resorts in Tirol. Take your time to comfortably explore Niederau’s local slopes on the Markbachjoch, before heading to the wide, open and sunny slopes of Auffach and then over the side of the Schatzberg to ski Alpbach’s slopes.
Best for après ski - Ischgl
High in the Paznaun valley in the heart of the stunning Silvretta mountains, Ischgl is as famous for its extensive high altitude skiing and snowboarding opportunities as it is for its legendary après-ski and nightlife scene. By the Pardatschgrat chair, après-ski kicks off at ‘Niki’s Stadl’, whilst girls dance on the bar at the Hotel Elisabeth and the ‘Kuhstall’, in the centre of the village, keeps going until the early hours. Ischgl is certainly a contender for the après-ski capital of Europe the resort has mega venues such as the ‘Trofana Arena’, five bars on various levels, live shows and top DJs, and ‘Pacha’, the greatest club in the Alps, in the Designhotel Madlein.