Austria Inspection Trip
Written by Ski Adaptable ski trip consultant, Matt Connelly in January 2013
On 13th January 2013, I embarked upon an inspection trip to the Tirol region of Austria, somewhere I had never visited, yet is becoming increasingly popular with our school ski trip groups.
I landed at a snowy Salzburg Airport to a surprisingly mild -5 degrees and made the 1hr 20mns journey to my accommodation, the Hotel Kaiser in Kitzbühel. Upon arrival, the first thing that struck me was a warm welcome from the hotel manager Mike Dodemont. The Hotel Kaiser is a popular choice for our school ski groups so this was a good opportunity to see it in action. Mike Dodemont is English (as are most of the hotel staff) and has lived in Kitzbühel for 20 years.
The Hotel Kaiser is basic, but more than adequate for school groups with good onsite facilities, and above all clean. It is located on the main road into town, which after dumping my bags I walked along to reach the beautiful, historic central Kitzbühel in less than 10 minutes. Central Kitzbühel is stunning, cosmopolitan, stylish and above all extremely safe for school groups. After exploring the old town a little I decided I checked out the ski areas. Most beginners will start on the KitzbühelHorn lifts just a short walk from the Hotel Kaiser. However, with the impending famous Hahnenkamm ski race just 2 weeks away and the town already buzzing in anticipation, I decided the Hahnenkamm was a good place to start. The lift takes you from the town centre to the pistes in just five minutes, with breath-taking views over the Kitzbühel mountain range enroute.
At the top, I was greeted by a not overly busy ski area that was covered in beautiful snow in every direction. After I looked in awe as daring skiers tried their hand on the Hahnenkamm black run and a spot of lunch (just €6 for spag bol), I descended.
I then visited the fantastic AquaArena swimming pool, which is just €3.50 and sure to keep students occupied many an evening. I then visited the Mercedes SportPark, just a few streets away. This fantastic centre, in conjunction with the AquaArena is one of the reasons Kitzbühel works so well for school groups. Onsite is an Olympic size Ice Rink and also hosts Ice Hockey matches. In addition onsite is a climbing centre, bowling and curling. Pre-booking is advised in peak times.
The next day, after a heavy dumping of fresh snow overnight, we visited the Axamer Lizum ski area about 1hr from Kitzbühel. This is a twice former Olympic ski area (1964 & 1976), and as we climbed higher up the mountain road, I was amazed upon arrival at the hotels just how close they were to the pistes – this is ski-to-door if ever I had seen it. We first visited the Lizum Bergheim hotel, and were greeted by the welcoming Fritz who made us feel very welcome and showed us around the hotel. This charming hotel is a great option for groups who want a relaxing week, just 30m from the main ski lift and great onsite facilities including karaoke, DVD room, games machines and even ski hire in-house. After a coffee, we then made the short journey (about 50 metres) to the Olimpia Hotel which was built for the Innsbruck Winter Olympics. This is a much larger hotel than the Bergheim, and the hotel bustled with school ski trip groups. The welcoming and highly experienced hotel manager gave us a tour of the facilities, which include an onsite disco, large restaurant, games room and on-site ski hire...not to mention the ski lift and slopes right outside the back door! Each of these hotels offer something different in their atmosphere, but both offer ski-to-door, perfect onsite facilities for groups and fantastic hoteliers who deal almost exclusively with school and college groups. And the view is not bad either...
Skiing in Axamer Lizum, although not huge at 68km, is more than ample for most groups and he quality of skiing (upto 2340m) is fantastic for school groups. Apres ski is available in the town of Axams which is just down the road and includes bowling, ice skating, toboganning (from the hotel), swimming, and plenty of activities on offer in nearby Innsbruck.
Upon returning to Kitzbuhel, we visited the Noichl Jugendhotel, located in a picturesque location in Aurach, just a few minutes from the ski lifts of Jochburg and Kitzbuhel. Upon arrival, I could not help being taken by the charm of this traditional style chalet, no doubt helped by the blue sky backdrop. This superb chalet was very impressive, with excellent onsite facilities (including a party room), a welcoming and friendly hotelier, and a beautiful setting not far from ski lifts and Kitzbuhel – perfect for groups who want a quieter setting but still with plenty to do après ski wise.
Zell am See
On the final day, I visited the famous Zell am See ski area. Zell am See has an enviable reputation for being one of Europe’s top ski resorts, and rightly so. Upon arrival, Zell had a nice feel to it, and there is plenty on offer to keep groups busy both on and off the slopes. After a tour of the town centre and viewing some of the vast ski area, I visited the Haus Braunhilde approximately 15 minutes away. This charming chalet style accommodation is run by Claus, who greeted us with a big smile and a cake! The facilities are of a good standard, with simply furnished rooms (all but 2 ensuite), balconies overlooking the mountains and an onsite games room with pool table and disco. Ski hire is also onsite, making this an easy to manage option for groups wanting to ski Zell am See.
It was then time to return to the UK. This inspection trip to Austria allowed me to explore one of Ski Adaptable’s most popular ski destinations, and see some of the best resorts you will find anywhere for school ski trips.
Contact Ski Adaptable today to start organising your school ski trip to Austria