St Anton am Arlberg, the Arlberg region is known as the cradle of skiing due to a man called Hannes Schneider. He won his first ski race when he was 13 and started the first ski school in the winter of 1921/22. He was the first to offer group tuition based on ability and taught his pupils the turning technique he developed known as the ‘Arlberg Technique’ and is now taught worldwide – transferring weight on the skis to change course.
From then until today, St Anton am Arlberg remains one of the best skiing destinations in the world, particularly for the quality of its snow and its slopes well into Spring. With this in mind, I drove up to the slope for a few days of “sunshine skiing!”
Day 1 in St Anton am Arlberg – Travel to St Anton am Arlberg and a Welcome Skishow
I arrived at Haus Adrian, a small family owned pension in St Anton am Arlberg, after a 3 hour road trip from Munich through the winding mountain roads with beautiful views at each turn.
I chose to drive as I live in Munich, however if you are travelling from further afield you have the choice of 6 airports all within a 3 hour drive which are well served by a number of airlines:
Innsbruck – Just over an hour
- Friedrichshafen – 1 hour 40
- Memmingen – 2 hours
- Zurich – 2 hours 15
- Munich – 3 hours
- Salzburg – 3 hours
The train station is in the centre of town making it an easy journey if you would prefer to sit back and watch the landscape change in front of your eyes as you leave the green fields behind and head into the snow capped mountains. For more detailed information on how to get to St Anton am Arlberg, check out the St Anton am Arlberg website.
That evening I met the organisers of the press trip, Anne and Miriam from the Tirol and St Anton am Arlberg Tourist Board with the other bloggers and journalists on the press trip in Raffl’s bar of the Tyrol hotel for welcome drinks.
Every Wednesday evening at 9pm the ski schools put on a 40 minute ski and light show in the World Cup Stadium which brings to life the history of skiing in the Arlberg area. It can be viewed for free at the bottom of the slope and for those who want to make an evening of it; you can have a buffet dinner in the show lounge with unlimited drinks for just 25 euros. The food was just what we needed to keep warm whilst watching the show in the crisp alpine night air – Mushroom soup, Viennese beef goulash with polenta, followed by a rich chocolate mousse for dessert (and the drinks definitely helped as well!)Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Ski Show-Schneetreiben
Day 2 in St Anton am Arlberg – A Guided Ski Tour, a Bomb-Proof Wine Cellar and Apres Ski!
The next morning I was woken by sunshine streaming in through the hotel room windows, the start to a beautiful spring skiing day. Breakfast was in the cosy breakfast room downstairs with a selection of cereal, yoghurt, cold meats, cheese, bread and pastries. To make the most of the fresh alpine air and work on my ski tan I had breakfast outside on the terrace.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria
After breakfast we met the rest of the group at the ski shop in the centre of town. Once everyone had their boots fitted and had been given their skis or snowboards we were met by our two ski guides for the duration of the trip, Christoph and Christoph from Skischule Arlberg. We all skied together for the first couple of runs, then split into two groups before meeting again at lunch.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Our Ski Group
The Arlberg ski area is made up of eight ski zones and has 350 km’s of pistes, with another 200 km’s for free-riders and 97 lifts. After many years of planning it was announced recently that a new cable car (Flexenbahn) will be built during the summer of 2016 ready for the 2016/17 winter season. This will mean that skiers can easily reach all resorts in the Arlberg area on skis and make Arlberg the largest ski area in Austria.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Hospiz Alm Restaurant and the slide!
Both groups met again for lunch at Hospiz Alm Restaurant in St Christoph. As it was blazing sunshine everyone had the same idea as us which was to sit outside and make the most of the spring sun. After a full morning of skiing we all tucked into local specialities such as Käsespätzle and Jansnbrett’l. The restaurant also caters for skiers with aching legs with a slide down to the toilets on the lower level!
After lunch we were given a tour of the wine cellar created by Adolf Werner in the basement of the Hospiz Alm restaurant. This was originally an atomic bunker and converted into a wine cellar in 1989. The coolness of the cellar was a refreshing contrast to the heat of the midday sun that we had basked in during our lunch.
There are 3500 large bottles of wine stored in the cellar, ranging in size from 3 to 18 litres, making this the largest privately owned collection of big bottles of wine. Up to 450 bottles are sold over the course of the winter season (December to April). Buyers can choose to drink their wine there and then, take it with them (probably not a great idea to try skiing with an 18 litre bottle of wine in your rucksack, even if you can manage to lift it) or continue to store it in the wine cellar. Bottles that have already been bought are signed by the owner and remain in the cellar until the owner finds the right occasion to drink them. The most expensive bottle of wine in the cellar is 12 litres and valued at 80,000 euros, the entire collection is worth 50 million euros!
All of the waiters in the restaurant have sommelier diplomas if you would like a wine recommendation to go with your meal and group wine tastings can be arranged in the wine cellar of Hospiz Alm upon request. Once a week there are wine tastings in Arlberg Hospiz Hotel in St Christoph for 90 euros per person.
That afternoon we skied backed across to St Anton in time for après ski at Mooserwirt, a popular après ski bar on the edge of the piste on the run home. We arrived around 4 pm and the music was already blaring out with the crowd spilling out onto the piste and skiers dancing on the tables in their ski boots to a mixture of chart hits and traditional Austrian schlage. It didn’t take many drinks before we were able to sweet talk the DJ into letting us squeeze through the DJ booth so we could dance on the balcony looking out over the crowds of people drinking and dancing on the terrace outside.
From here we were able to see the waiters and waitresses weaving their way through the crowd holding drink trays loaded with litres of beer and shots of Jagermeister.
As we stayed drinking and dancing at the Mooserwirt until it closed at 8pm, we were able to watch the antics of those who had left their skis outside and even though they were having problems standing upright, were determined to ski the short distance down the slope back into town. I’d left my snowboard in town for a service so unfortunately I couldn’t join in the drunken ski / slide down the slope back into town.
Day 3 in St Anton am Arlberg – Winter Via Ferrate and Dinner in the Museum
The advantage of après ski and drinking early was that we were all up bright and early the next morning for another full day of skiing. We split into 2 groups again, one group to ski on the piste and the other to do the Via Ferrate on Rendl mountain. This is Tyrol’s only winter via Ferrate and the experience and scenery makes it well worth the effort. To do this you need climbing experience as it is a difficult climb.
It runs from the Vordere Rendlspitze Peak at a height of 2,816 metres to the Rossfallscharte -2,732 metres. Approximately 80% of the route involves normal walking with some exposed sections and the remainder is rock climbing. You are attached to a fixed steel cable for the length of the route and it requires a high level of fitness as this is all done wearing ski or touring boots.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do the via Ferrate on this occasion as I had no previous climbing experience, however after some climbing in the summer months this will be on the To-Do-List for my next visit to St Anton.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Having a rest on the slopes!Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – View from the chairlift
The two groups met up for a late lunch at Arlberg Thaja above the village of St Christoph. It was renovated in summer 2015 and opened again this winter with a modern, spacious and welcoming decor. We sat on the terrace outside to soak up more of the sunshine and enjoyed a tasty lunch of spinach Schlutzkrapfen (spinach ravioli with cheese and walnut butter) and apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce.
After lunch we skied back into St Anton and I spent a couple of relaxing hours in the leisure centre in the middle of St Anton. Arlberg-well.com has an indoor and outdoor pool, whirl and massage bath, waterfall and children’s paddling pools. There is also a Fitness Centre and a sauna suite with Finnish, Kelo and Infrared saunas, Sanarium, steam bath and relaxation lounge.
That evening we had dinner at The Museum Restaurant just to the side of the ski slope. The museum was built in 1912 and it was bought by the municipality of St Anton am Arlberg and the Tourism Association in the 70’s to preserve the building. Today it houses a museum upstairs and a restaurant downstairs. It has also been used as a filming location, the 2011 film Chalet Girl starring Felicity Jones and Ed Westwick was filmed in St Anton and the outside of the museum was used as the setting for the chalet.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Museum – © Copyright TVB St. Anton am Arlberg
We were joined for dinner by Wilma Himmelfreundpointner the Deputy Director for the St Anton Am Arlberg tourist office who gave us a guided tour of the museum after a delicious dinner of warm goats cheese with paprika confit, a main course of herb crusted rack of lamb with mountain cheese polenta and courgette and thyme jus followed by crème brulee.
Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Wilma Himmelfreundpointner
We were very lucky to be given a tour of the museum by Wilma, as she is very knowledgeable about the history of the Arlberg and skiing in the area and enthusiastic about sharing this with others. The museum is open in the winter from 15.00 to 22.00 and in the summer from 12.00 to 22.00, and is well worth a visit when combined with a trip to the restaurant.
The Brotherhood of St Christoph am Arlberg was founded in 1386 by Heinrich Findlekind (also known as Heinrich von Kempten) to collect money to build a shelter on the Arlsbergpass to make the crossing safer for travelers in winter. Today it has more than 20,000 members and has given away more than 15 million euros to charity.
The Ski Club Arlberg was founded in 1901 by 8 friends and today has over 7,000 members from 56 different countries. Their members have included world famous athletes and promotes young skiers providing training in ski racing, freestyle skiing, telemark skiing, snowboarding and use of avalanche rescue equipment.
Day 4 in St Anton am Arlberg – A Final Vista and Final Farewell
This was the last day of the trip. We went up the Valluga lift to get some photos of the stunning scenery; the views that stretch to the mountains in the distance covered with sparkling white snow, a stark contrast against the brilliant blue sky.Two Monkeys Travel – St Anton am Arlberg, Austria – Valluga Lift
The top of Valluga 1 lift is the start of the famous Weisse Rausch or White Rush course. This takes place in April every year with up to 500 participants. Everyone starts at once so you can imagine how crowded the course is and how important it is to get ahead quickly. The course is 9km long and goes from a height of 2,657 metres to 1,306 metres with the quickest participants finishing the course in less than 8 minutes.
Lunch was at the new Himmeleck restaurant at the top of the Gampen and Nasserein lifts above St Anton. As I had to leave to drive back to Munich I had a quick lunch of Consommé mit Dreierlei Knodel , 3 different dumplings of spinach, beetroot and cheese in a thin beef stock, before skiing back into town and reluctantly missing what promised to a be a great afternoon of skiing in the spring sunshine.
St Anton am Arlberg caters for a variety of ski holidays – for a family trip you have great nursery slopes to learn on, for non skiers in the group there are a variety of shops and cafes in town as well as the well equipped fitness centre (see list below for more non skiing options). For the more adventurous skiers there is an abundance of off-piste opportunities and for those where the après ski is just as important as the skiing, St Anton is well known for the lively après ski scene. If you haven’t been to St Anton before it’s definitely worth a visit.
P.S. Here are a few Non-skiing options in St Anton am Arlberg:
- Tobogganing – There’s a 4 km toboggan run from the Gampenplateau to the valley which takes 10 to 15 minutes and leads you down more than 500 meters height difference.
- Tandem paraglide from Kapall (2,300 m) to St. Anton am Arlberg.
- Walking – enjoy a winter walk into the enchanting Verwall valley or to Nasserein and St. Jakob
- Ice skating or curling
- Tennis, squash, bowling, climbing and bouldering are all available in the sports centre
Horse-drawn sleigh ride through the romantic Verwall valley.
About the Author:
Jo Howe spent her early childhood in Malawi and Kenya with lots of family trips. Returned to the UK for school and university with a year in France in between, spending the summer by the beach in Moliets and the ski season learning to snowboard and working in Meribel. Since university, she have moved around the UK for work. Have spent the last 2 years living in Munich and working in Germany, France, Belgium and Italy making the most of being able to ski every weekend due to the proximity to the Austrian Alps and enjoying the warm summers in Munich.
Thank you so much to Becky Horton, Anne, Miriam and their team for arranging this incredible trip! For more information about Tirol www.visittirol.co.