The countdown to powder ski days is officially on! It’s the time of year to start thinking about your next ski vacation. We just got a few inches of freshies in Telluride, CO & I’ve seen photos of snow in the Alps too. For those of us powder hounds & snow angels this means everything. If you have been dreaming about an alpine vacation in Austria, then basing out of St. Anton in the Tyrolean Alps just might be the dream trip for you.
Put a pin on your world map and start planning. Did you know that the Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe? This means they are vast and there is a spot on those ski hills with your name on it! St. Anton is connected via a vast lift system to the greater Arlberg area including Stuben and Lech. I stayed a few days in those areas too, but you can certainly base camp out of one of these towns and enjoy the entire Arlberg resort. I recommend at least a week-long visit to tour around. Staying in St. Christoph and Oberlech are also fabulous options I would highly recommend. Being the home of skiing as we know it, this area is well worth as long a stay as possible.
There is no greater time of the year for alpine chic than deep powder time. Even if you don’t ski, there is something magical about time spent in the mountains. It’s relaxing, invigorating and so beautiful. I spent a few days in St. Anton Austria this winter and wanted to get it on your radar too. Located in the Arlberg region of Austria, this is some of the most gorgeous terrain you will find anywhere both for on-piste terrain and backcountry touring. If you have never skied Austria then this would be a fantastic place to start. There are miles & miles of skiing, great shopping, beautiful hotels, delicious restaurants and a hopping Aprés scene and nightlife.
If you’ve always wanted to see charming Tyrolean architecture, beautiful chalets, guys in Lederhosen and girls in Dirndls then you will be in the right spot. If you want, you can wear this traditional dress as well. I love mine! It was generously given to me by my new Austrian friend Wilma…we enjoyed a girl’s night out together at the Museum Restaurant sipping heavenly wine, eating gorgeous alpine inspired cuisine and wearing our dirndls.
Where to unpack your bags is always very important, but I find even more so on a ski trip. You need great proximity to the slopes, an organized & efficient ski valet, plenty of delicious food and a very comfortable bed. A separate shower and tub to soak in is a great thing to look for too. It’s also nice to have a cozy great room with a fireplace. The great room is a fun place to snuggle up, have a glass of bubbly and people watch. A wellness center is also important to rub out sore muscles after a long day on the slopes. Most of the hotels and chalets include an aprés ski for hungry guests. Cakes, coffee, tea and other nibbles might be included in your stay. Definitely, a nice amenity when choosing a place to stay.
I was invited to stay at the Hotel Schwarzer Adler, a beautiful, classic 4-star property. I had one of the rooms that had recently been remodeled. It was spacious and very comfortable. I love the modern design with pine walls and contemporary furnishings. The common rooms in the hotel are more classic & traditional Tyrolean style, which is a nice twist. It seems that the hotel is remodeling in stages as the website photos images seem sparkly new.
The wellness center is roomy and beautiful with 3 floors space to spread out. There are two pools, indoor and outdoor. Make your way to the Sky Pool as soon as you get there, it’s heated, perched with great views and wonderful to soak in all weather. It looks like the hotel just renovated the entire wellness center, so do check out their website, it looks gorgeous! There are energy rooms, relaxation areas, plentiful spa services to offer guests the ultimate wellness retreat.
A few other hotels to consider: The Mooser Hote which is slope side (home of the ultimate Aprés Ski spot listed below) The Raffl’s St Antonerhof is a bit more whimsical and a full-service hotel. If you are traveling with a group you can also book a luxury rental property.
The shopping in St. Anton is very fun and sporty. It’s super easy to get around and also fun to stop at cafes and bars along the way. You will not find the usual array of luxury boutiques here, but there are some local favorites, especially if you are looking for ski clothes. The super fancy boutiques are just a car ride or ski tour away in Lech. My favorite place to buy ski clothes and streetwear in town was Jennewein with brands like designer Rossignol, Parajumpers and Goldbergh. Also, check out Alber Sport and Intersport.
The food in the Arlberg is traditional Austrian country comfort food. It’s important to take in a lot of calories when you have been skiing hard all day. Traditional Austrian foods are Bergkäse cheese & all kinds of high alpine farmhouse cheeses (they are delicious!), apple strudel, Sacher Tortes. Don’t worry if you can’t get to Austria just yet, all of these recipes and many more will be featured in my upcoming cookbook!
The Austrians love their meats, potatoes, and cheese (remember it’s the hearty mountain food epicenter here) There are many cuisines available to try as this is a region influenced by many others. You can find delicious Italian, French and German food too. There plenty of gastropubs, stubes and cafés to choose from. Simply wander the streets and the choices will be right there. Menus are posted outside for your convenience.
I also recommend for a very romantic evening, the restaurant in the hotel I stayed in the Schwartzer Adler. Their menu includes gorgeous plates paired with the finest wines. I enjoyed their 5-course menu which is the way to go if you want a memorable evening. If going this route, be sure to spend a few hours enjoying and relaxing into the cuisine. Their breakfasts are epic as well. There is so much to choose from, perfect to prep for a long day on the slopes.
A few restaurants I recommend you try for the true Austrian experience: Sonnbichel Stube (inside the Das Sonnbichl hotel), The Museum Restaurant (inside the History Museum, do also take the time to tour this place to learn about the history of skiing)
Don’t miss: Ski over to St. Christophe for a few hours and take a long lunch at Hospitz Alm. I went there two days in a row I loved it so much. The menu is amazing (mostly traditional Austrian) and the service is super friendly (very handsome!) and dressed in traditional Alps clothing. You can go for lunch, drinks or dinner. On sunny days sitting outdoors is the way to go, the views of the Alps and charming St. Christophe are amazing. I discovered one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes while here, called Krautfleckerl, this is a traditional noodle dish with caramelized onions, cabbage and lot of butter.
If you are a wine lover, then the Hospital Alm is without a doubt a stop for you! Their wine cellar located below the restaurant is among the largest in the world and they take great pride in the vintages they have collected throughout the years. Here’s a short video I made of our tour inside. You don’t want to miss this!
Aprés and Nightlife
The party scene in St. Anton is HUGE. There are many places you can find a party both on and off-piste. All you need to do is stroll around the village and you will find so many bars to suit any style. I love the hotel bars which are elegant and a bit more chill when all I want to do is relax.
The biggest & loudest party can be found at the Mooserwirt located alongside the ski hill right before you get to the base. This hot spot starts raging at 3:30pm and doesn’t stop until 8:00 pm. That’s a very long aprés friends! Remember you still have to ski down a short way afterwards…
Another fun event to check out is the “Schneetreiben” Ski Show held on Wednesday nights. It’s super festive, like July 4th with fireworks galore, except on the ski slopes. Here you will learn about the history of skiing and watch some of the best skiers in the region show off their skills.
As I talk about in these two posts Stuben and Lech the skiing in the Arlberg is world famous for so many reasons. If it’s your first day out on the slopes I highly recommend you hire a ski guide. They will answer all your questions and help to unravel the vast ski terrain options. This resort is way larger than what you find in the USA, so don’t be shy about hiring a guide for at least a day. If you are turing the backcountry then it is very important to take a guide. They will show you the in’s and outs of the Alps backcountry.
I had a great guide from Stanton Classic. There are many tour operators in the region, find the one that best suits the terrain you wish to ski. My greatest advice when choosing a ski guide is very honest about your ski level. You don’t want to end up bored and you certainly don’t want to end up somewhere you are too scared to get down. If you want to be in a group, make sure they speak English.
Unlike the American resorts, most of the Alps skiing is above tree line, this means you can lose all visibility quickly when a storm comes in. The best thing to do is not panic and try to get below the fog layer. If you are near a ski hut you can wait out the storm there. It’s always fun to have some cake and coffee watching the storm roll through. Remember in the mountains storms can blow in and out quickly, but do check the weather before you leave your hotel.