Sample Austria’s finest skiing at Lech Zürs am Arlberg
Studded with lavish lodgings and set in an idyllic Alpine location, Lech-Zürs – 2 ski resorts just 4km apart, and connected by road, lifts and pistes – have been attracting international royals, many an A-lister, and seasoned winter sports professionals for years.
With 88 cable cars and lifts, 305km of ski runs and 200km of high, deep powder snow runs available there is something for everyone from beginner to the very advanced, though intermediate skiers are particularly well catered for – and many who find nearby St. Anton too taxing find something perfectly suited here. Unlike many of its luxury resort rivals across Europe Lech-Zürs remains true to its village roots, though there are plenty of exclusive hotels and restaurants that now dot the landscape. This, plus a daily limit of 40,000 ski passes so that things don’t get crowded, is a winning combination for many.
Last season saw the opening of the new Flexenbahn cableway making Arlberg Austria’s largest contiguous skiing area, and opening up an even better variety of runs. The 47 new cabins can transport up to 2,400 people per hour, and offer breathtaking views as they do into the Klostertal valley and towards the Arlberg pass and St. Christoph.
It isn’t just downhill skiing on offer, and there are excellent routes for cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking. If you prefer to sit back and relax opt for a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride. Afterwards head to the Tanzcafé Arlberg, where an evening inspired by a 1920s dance café can be yours to enjoy
Given the patrons who return year on year – it was a favourite of Princess Diana – there are understandably a number of smart places to stay. As would befit a resort that grew from a medieval town, an excellent option is Gasthof Rote Wand in Zug (Lech), which dates back to 1651. The sympathetically but thoroughly modernized original building, now Rote Wand Inn, connects to four more buildings by a famous underground tunnel, and despite its size the atmosphere is informal, though it does allow for amazing amenities including a spa complex, fitness studio, beauty and massage complex, six outdoor and indoor saunas – as well as an indoor and outdoor heated pool.
In the smaller Zürs, the family-run Zurserhof Hotel is a lavish and traditional option, with excellent food and great facilities for children. The basement ski room is ski-in ski-out and its spa is considered the best in the area. Stretching to 3,200 square metres over 5 floors, the highlight is the luxurious Aureus Spa on the 4th and 5th floors, reserved for guests over 16, with younger guests catered for in the family spa. There is also a large pool area and La Biosthetique hair spa to complete a full range of indulgent pampering.
This December Alpenrose Platz in Zürs will host a 2-day street food festival weekend, billed as the highest in the world, though if you prefer your food award-winning (and indoors) there is no shortage of options, including Griggeler Stuba at the Burg Vital Hotel in Oberlech or Zur Kanne at Hotel Montana.
With excellent skiing, elegant lodging, and acclaimed Austrian fare to savour, this winter make your way to Lech-Zürs for an indulgent, refined and understated getaway, set amid some of the Alps’ most beautiful winter landscapes.
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