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THe Home of Alpine Skiing

Briony Key faces her fears at one of St Anton’s most challenging and historical skiing resorts.

Place me in a resort where the snow’s dumping, and the wind’s howling and I’ll sit there tittering, talking myself out of time in the mountains. But this was my first visit to the home of Alpine skiing - St Anton am Arlberg - and I wasn’t going to miss out.

The words ‘challenging skiing’ had left me anxious, but there are times when you have to take fear in hand, and this was one of them! My ‘bravery’ is boosted by my ski instructor, Erich Schweiger, known as Naggy. He’s from these mountains, and if anyone could get me down them – he could!

Challenge

So, why do this? Well, St Anton has an energy you pick up on. Folks are up for challenging skiing, whether that’s the experts’ tipping off piste into often-perfect powder, or people like me, setting their own on-piste agenda.

We met couples, now 60, that had skied here since university. Some had even met here, and what brought them back time and time again was Naggy - their great off-piste instructor. They had known him since their first visit, and felt warmly welcomed each time they returned.

Ski area

The 305km resort is included in the Arlberg lift pass, which also covers the Lech, Oberlech, St Christoph, Stuben/Rau, Zürs and Warth Schröcken. It’s now part of the largest inter-connected ski area in Austria, as the E45 million Flexenbahn cable car now links Zürs to Stuben/Rauz.

The long season, from November to April, is appealing, as is the area’s fame for ski pioneers such as Hannes Schneider. And the easy one and a half hour transfer from Innsbruck that allows you to get to the resort quickly!

Inghams

Opting for a company-run trip also meant the usual faff of booking flights, transfers, where to stay, lift passes and kit hire was taken care of.

Our base, at Hotel Post, was also really convenient as it’s in the village centre, with shops, bars and restaurants all around. The hotel also has lots of in-house entertainment, with bars, restaurants and nightlife to sink back into after a day slope side, and it’s just a five-minute walk to the Galzig lift from the boot room, so not far to carry your skis and boards.

Apres ski

St Anton is famed for its buzzing, lively nightlife, and it was good to find that two of the main mountain après ski bars - Mooserwirt and the Krazy Kanguruh - can be skied down to, or accessed by bus and taxi.

Double world champion slalom racer Mario Matt has owned the Krazy Kanguruh since 2009, and it’s party central. Our group headed to the electric atmosphere of the Mooserwirt.

Then it was time to face the final slope back down town. It was all very good-natured, but with folks slipping and sliding everywhere, I’d recommend the bus back for those taking their first few turns on the slopes.

Food

St Anton is very easy on the eye, with steep valleys, pretty valley runs and stunning vistas. So it’s easy to keep skiing and boarding to see as much of the place as you can, which also builds up a good appetite.

Thankfully there’s a wide range of good restaurants to experience. We lunched in the village’s Sporthotel - ideal for steak lovers, then ventured over to St Christoph for a gourmet slope lunch at Hospiz Alm. This fine restaurant claims to have the world’s largest collection of Bordeaux wines, but we somehow managed to keep out of its cellar.

Culture

There’s also a Contemporary Art and Concert Hall in St Christoph, which has visiting art exhibitions and a regular classical music programme.

And it doesn’t come much better than a night at St Anton Museum, as you can enjoy fine dining here as you digest the region’s history. The museum is a great summary of life when times were hard, and highlights the incredible contribution local folks, like Hannes Schneider, made to skiing.

Ski history also comes under the spotlight at the weekly Wednesday ski show, The Snow Must Go On, which can be watched at the Karl Schranz Finish Area. In 45 minutes 150 actors/skiers showcase the development of skiing with 3D effects, impressive time-lapse performances and, like all good parties, fireworks. Admission is free, but you can also get VIP show lounge tickets from the tourist board, which sees you inside, cosy and treated to good mountain food and drink, for E30. I’d recommend it!

Fact box

  • Inghams offers seven nights at the 4* Hotel Post, St Anton on a half-board basis from £869 pp, including return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and transfers.
  • Six-day Arlberg Area Lift Passes can be pre-booked from £221 per adult (born 1953 - 1996).
  • Intermediate level adult ski/snowboard and boot hire (for six days) can be pre-booked from £191 per person.
  • Tuition is available to pre-book for three or six half-days (four hours per day) from £144 per person.

See www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 791 114.    
For information about St. Anton am Arlberg see www.stantonamarlberg.com
For information about Tirol see www.visittirol.co.uk

© TVB St Anton am Arlberg© TVB St Anton am Arlberg© TVB St Anton am ArlbergMooserWirtSt Anton© TVB St Anton am Arlberg