Gastein and Grossarl are a pair of beautiful and really completely different winter locations barely an hour’s drive from the divine easy-to-access Austrian metropolis of Salzburg and its airport with common flights. And they’re house to 3 ski areas, all very shut collectively.
Unhealthy Gastein/Unhealthy Hofgastein
Gastein is the large one, linking the traditional spa city of Unhealthy Gastein (all grand belle epoque buildings together with a waterfall thundering into the gorge that cuts by way of the center) and Unhealthy Hofgastein (extra trendy and busier however nonetheless with Austrian allure).
Proper on the finish of the valley, alongside a slender highway, between river and rocky wall, is Sportgastein; no city only a lone ski space with the valley’s highest pistes.
Close to the valley’s entrance is the little village of Dorfgastein, quieter but with slopes bounding over to the Grossarl valley and the picturesque village of Grossarl, with its bundle of upmarket lodges. All are on the Ski Amade carry go which covers 760km of piste throughout 5 neighbouring areas.
There’s 200km of pistes throughout the three ski areas, all only some minutes aside by free bus. The Unhealthy Gastein/Unhealthy Hofgastein space has runs throughout a number of peaks reaching 2,251m, excessive (and snowsure) in comparison with many Austrian resorts.
The snowboarding is superb, principally easy-going reds with a number of blues, the occasional black and plenty of off-piste, a lot of it by way of the bushes, and with common views over city and valley.
Good intermediates will love Unhealthy Hofgastein’s H1, a twisting 10km run from high to city. This season catch the clanky outdated funicular up from the Hof – already the Schlossalmbahn gondola, with its futuristic base station, is rising on the town and from December 2018 will head straight for the summit.
Sportgastein is smaller however extra dramatic with Ski Amade’s excessive level, 2,686km Kreuzkogel, with 360-degree views, however is equally good for intermediates with loads of tree-lined runs.
Dorfgastein/Grossarl, which itself tops 2,000m, is relaxed and family-friendly however with loads of snowboarding for all ranges. A clean piste dashes down the ridge that divides the 2 valleys giving pretty views in every route and you may simply ski both manner, with gondolas again up. Meals is phenomenal in all three areas with a set of Ski-Toque huts, mountain eating places providing signature dishes from high Austrian cooks.
All three resorts are a pleasant mixture of historic and trendy. Unhealthy Gastein options the mighty Felsentherme, an unlimited complicated combining custom with modern stylish, with large year-round open-air swimming pools.
It’s a captivating city with its rocky chasm, spray flying up from the falls – over which the zipline experience is irresistible. Within the basement of a former five-star resort (now flats) is Ginger’n’Gin, a stylish spot that mixes an unlimited gin menu (strive the Hidden Gem Austrian gin from a schnapps maker) with oriental delicacies.
Unhealthy Hofgastein options the Alpentherme, an enormous trendy pure scorching water spa complicated with an outside swimming pool, within the center.
For a standard dinner, together with accordion music, knee-slapping dances by males in leather-based shorts and schnapps quaffing, nowhere beats the Bellevue Alm up on the slopes; you are taking a rickety single-seat chairlift up – and toboggan down.
Grossarl is completely different once more, understated and complicated – a nighttime sleigh experience by way of the quiet streets has a beguiling allure, stopping beneath the star-lit sky to knock again the motive force’s home-made schnapps.
The place to remain
Unhealthy Hofgastein is probably the most central resort for snowboarding all three areas. One of many greatest (but nonetheless fairly) lodges, the Osterreichischer Hof, even has a subterranean hall to the Alpentherme (main from its personal not inconsiderable spa and pool space).
Grossarl is beautiful in its quiet manner, nowhere extra so than the luxurious Grossarler Hof reverse the lifts, a palace-sized resort in chalet fashion, a part of Area of interest Locations, a set devoted to uniting understated class and sustainable tourism.
A waterwheel turns as you enter and the divine bar is a world of wooden saved from outdated famhouses mixed with glowing crimson chairs. To 1 facet what seems to be a farmer’s hut is definitely a darkish, discreet annex to the primary eating space with its trendy tackle custom. Deer soup anybody? Chocolate treats with poppy seeds?
In the event you do two issues…
Take breakfast on the high of Sportgastein: on lengthy legs, trying like a creature from Conflict of the Worlds, is a 1970s steel dodecahedron, which as soon as was a lifties’ lookout.
Now you possibly can e book a breakfast (max 15 individuals) with glowing wine and early carry entry – a wealth of meats, cheeses and poo with a mountain man whizzing up scrambled eggs on a tiny scorching plate. €45 however an unforgettable deal with. And from March the height boasts the Alps’ highest farmers’ market.
Go ski touring (sliding uphill on particular skis then snowboarding down). Most Grossarl lodges (together with the Grossarler Hof) are in a programme that provides a free day’s guiding (snowshoeing too). Merely lease skis and boots, (prices about £25). We had been ferried to the Ellmau facet valley then spent the morning hypnotically transferring up by way of bushes and dappled daylight to a abandoned mountainside the place we sat and ate our lunch (all a part of the deal from the resort) and contemplated the fantastic thing about our twin valleys.
Crystal Ski affords seven nights on the Osterreichischer Hof from £811pp, half-board, together with flights and transfers. The Grossarler Hof affords a four-night Amadé Ski Finale break, April Four-Eight, from €640pp (two sharing) together with four-day carry go, breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. Transfers, by way of the vacationer workplace, from £25pp, a technique.
Extra info: salzburgerland.com, gastein.com, grossarltal.data