This quiet little city has all the time discovered itself off the overwhelmed observe regardless of being solely an hour from Salzburg. However new lifts have built-in it into the attractive Hochkönig ski space and trendy accommodations are opening their doorways.
Maria Alm is an unassuming place but charmingly conventional, dominated by its church with its 76m needle-like steeple, the tallest in Salzburgerland and one of many pointiest in Austria. It was that a shuttle bus was wanted to get to the 120km of the Hochkönig ski space however the swift, silent 10-person Natrunbahn gondola, opened late 2018, connects city centre and mountain high.
Concerning the Hochkönig area
Hochkönig means Excessive King, and the mountain of the identical identify dominates the views from the ski slopes which run by a number of cities and villages, from Maria Alm at one finish to Muhlbach on the different, an ideal day on the market and again. The mountain, with a ridge that extends virtually so far as the snowboarding does offers a grand panorama even because the runs dart cosily amongst the timber.
Maria Alm is the largest place to remain; it’s not a significant resort (though now it has a direct hyperlink to the slopes that’s prone to change) however there are first rate, bars, eating places and accommodations.
The snowboarding at Maria Alm’s Natrunbahn
On the high of Maria Alm’s Natrunbahn you possibly can take the lengthy, fairly ski again down or head on the opposite approach to connect with the Hochkönig circuit. Down after which up, the snowboarding above Maria Alm reaches 1,900m at Aberg-Langeck the place a number of brief black pistes and varied off-piste choices present a problem in an space the place a lot of the snowboarding is sweet, intermediate fare.
The Hochkönig mountain at almost three,000m runs in a ridge parallel to the ski slopes as they head east, tree-lined runs that dart down first into Hintermoos and Hinterthal (a protracted pink from high to backside with the choice of switching to a black half approach). From there, runs jump over the Gabuhel peak, Austrian snowboarding as you all the time think about it, picturesque and protected for all of the household. And, whereas this is perhaps a largely unknown space, the lifts are all trendy.
From right here there are a lot extra ups and downs – as much as fabulous viewpoints and down by the timber – earlier than arriving on the farthest level, the little city of Muhlbach. And then you definitely get to do all of it in reverse, every little thing trying totally different. And it’s excellent for households with blue runs accessible almost all the way in which, save for a number of straightforward reds.
One other bonus is that Hochkönig is on the Ski Amade elevate move (named after Salzburg’s most well-known resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), which has 760km of pistes in 5 areas, together with the elegant spa city of Dangerous Gastein and the Dachstein glacier. Nowhere is greater than an hour aside and, given the brief drive from Salzburg, it’s an ideal area to return and discover a unique space every day at no added price.
Why go there?
The allure: The 120km of runs give loads of choices for all ranges however in a quieter, extra laid-back approach than better-known locations. As of but there aren’t any main British tour operators – and not one of the crowds.
The convenience: Maria Alm is simply 44km from Salzburg airport. There are various shuttle providers, it’s a straightforward drive in a rent automotive and a few journey corporations supply transfers.
A style of winter: Hilltop Gasthof Kronreith (a brief cab trip or a good stroll) has good trustworthy Austrian dinners – and a 1.5km toboggan trip down. A horse-drawn carriage takes you on a moonlit trip by beautiful surroundings. And there’s night time snowboarding in Maria Alm three days per week – one among many free provides on the Hochkönig Card, complimentary at most accommodations.
The place to eat on the slopes
Tom: Epitomising Maria Alm’s new boutique aptitude, up to date cowshed stylish, created by Tom Schwaiger, brother of Sepp, behind the city’s latest, coolest lodge, the Sepp. A primary-floor balcony space appears by the glass roof (which slides again on good days) and over the bar downstairs, lined with outdated chairlift seating. Posh nosh, too – I attempted the particular menu constructed round Jägermeister herb liqueur together with such gems as pear soup with a slice of pear in Jägermeister dip and a Jägermeister and pear puree cocktail.
Steinbockalm: Farther into Hochkönig, at Hinterthal, with unbelievable views. The place is a neat combine of recent and conventional, two rustic huts linked by a cool bar and lounge above which sits the terrace. Assume dishes like braised beef with creamed polenta, fried mushrooms and potato straw. Particular occasions embody Sushi Sunday, reside music, craft beer festivals and even a farmers’ market.
The X Issue: A Culinary Königstour is a time out on skis both guided or alone taking in six summits and assorted mountain huts. House Cooking provides you Alpine snacks, pancakes and different delicacies at 4 farms. Herb Enjoyment provides meals and pure secrets and techniques at 4 spots whereas Peak Enjoyment provides a four-course tasting menu break up across the peaks
Price range: There are a variety of small pensions right here, together with Pension Augenbrundl in a quiet countryside setting however a straightforward stroll to Maria Alm’s centre. Cosy rooms with balcony or terrace and hearty breakfasts. Doubles from €58, B&B.
Mid vary: Resort Sepp, new in late 2018, combines woody custom with up to date stylish and a contact of playfulness. Proprietor/architect Sepp Schwaiger is the mastermind. There’s a elevate with an inside clad within the steel panels from a type of outdated, upright cable automotive cabins –with a ‘window’ that exhibits movie of an actual mountain trip. The highest (third) ground is the guts: piles of teapots so you may make your individual cuppa, a cheery bar and a restaurant and included breakfast buffet till 1pm. On the terrace is an Airstream caravan transformed right into a sauna – it juts over the road with ‘Don’t Panic!’ painted beneath. Alongside is an open-air infinity swimming pool fed by a pure scorching spring. Doubles from €200, B&B.
The best way to get there
FLY: EasyJet has funds flights from London Gatwick to Salzburg 5 days per week together with flights from Luton, Liverpool, Bristol and Belfast.