Thehills are alive…with the sound of Euro-Pop! We love skiing and whilst we’re no pros we’re definitely better than Eddie the Eagle…
Destination Austria. Salzburg Airport, surprisingly warmer than London, we’re met by Neilson Rep Ryan – Joey Essex on skis. It’s all pretty quick and straight on to the coach, great stuff. Then it’s an hour sat on the coach waiting for the flight from Manchester to land. Not so good. The 2 hour journey into Niederau is spent with an extended family who are ‘Mad for it’. Thankfully the stunning view, which gets snowier with every mountain turn and an IPod on max, passes the time.
Hotel Austria offers a warm and cosy welcome. The décor is very traditional but still offers the luxuries of a heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room. The food, when booking half board (£485 per person for 7 nights – a steal in comparison to the French resorts) consists of a breakfast buffet, and a 4 course hearty evening meal is perfect after a day on the slopes. The hotel also has a ski hire shop and store in the basement but do be careful on the concrete stairs down to the lockers in your ski boots! No one needs a holiday injury.
Hotel Austria, sits at the base of the gondola station which cuts out any extra travelling. It’s perfect for beginner skiers, the slopes are ‘family friendly’ and are ideal for learning the basics and perfecting skills. Whilst Niederau has a few red and black runs, the slopes here will only keep the adventurous occupied for a day or two. The free ski-bus to Auffach, which stops directly outside the hotel, takes around 15 minutes. It gets super busy (people + skis + snowboards = cramped) so we’d recommend getting up a little earlier before the main rush, that way you also get the best slope conditions, win – win!
The bus passes through pretty villages with their ‘onion’ domed churches and traditional wooden houses which make it worth while. Auffach is the gateway to the recently joined Ski Jewel ski area, almost doubling in size, and brand new for the 2012/13 ski season giving you access to 47 lifts, 18km of Black runs and a whopping 78km of Red runs with 29 restaurants and bars scattered throughout. The lift pass cost £165 (6 days) and gives you full access to the 145km of piste. Ski Jewel is now one of the largest places to ski in the Austrian Tirol.
If skiing is not your thing, or your legs need a day off, you can book yourself on free snow-shoeing tours through the valley. At night you can enjoy flood-lit tobogganing (Cool Runnings anybody?) and horse drawn sleigh rides through the forest. Niederau is a small, quiet, snow covered town which comes to life at night. The après here is fun – ever seen the ‘Spice Girls’ singing into a tinsel covered toilet brush? Moving swiftly on…
Schnapps is a favourite here for locals and skiers alike, We tired cranberry, cherry, raspberry, hazelnut and erm, turnip which is apparently a Niederau delicacy. Every bar is within walking distance, we’re talking steps not feet, which is a good thing and they all have a fondness of terribly catchy euro-pop and don’t even get us started on Gangnam Style! The conditions in Austria were a skiers/snowboards dream, heavy snow every evening, and almost perfectly clear skies during the day. In a snowflake – Super skiing and amusing après, a shining jewel in Austria’s crown.
We booked with: www.neilson.co.uk