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Austrian Arlberg
By Dee Dee McKinney
Photographs by Fred McKinney

The Arlberg, a state nestled high in the Austrian Alps, has been a mecca for skiers since the mid-18th century. There are five main villages which make up the Arlberg ski region: St. Anton, Lech, Zuers, St. Christof and Stuben.

Skiers looking for large "powder" fields will find the slopes--most of which are above timberline--hard to beat anywhere! The groomed and manicured slopes are immaculate.

But there's more. While many skiers consider the Arlberg to be the ski capital of Europe, the region offers ample opportunities to experience the age-old charms of Austria. The five villages of various sizes pepper the mountain valleys, offering comfortable accommodations in alpine Inns, excellent food in the restaurants and so many other activities that even dawn-to dusk skiers end up experiencing a compete ski vacation, not just an endless ski tour.

The villages are interconnected by ski lifts, trails, cable cars and mountain roads that offer taxi or ski bus access to each of the villages. Within 10 minutes, you can travel from the 300 year old village of Stuben, with its fewer than a hundred year-round residents and a handful of hotels and restaurants, to the world renowned mega resort of St. Anton.

Just over this awesome mountain ridge from St. Anton is the quaint and fashionable ski towns of Lech, Zürs and St. Christoph. Skiing with a Austrian mountain guide from St Anton allows access to a 4 passenger gondola to the top of the world famed Valuga mountain peak. From there, through steep descents, you can ski back to Zürs and Lech and even continue to Stuben and St. Christoph.

Zürs and Lech are known for their 4 and 5 star hotels, which many rich and famous seek out for their winter holidays. British, Monaco and Dutch royalty are often spotted either skiing or walking the narrow streets in these villages. Small restaurants and bars are found next to sparkling hotels. People in a variety of alpine dress mingle with those in fashionable skiwear.

At noon, everyone takes a break. Some shops close for the lunch hour. Visitors and locals alike bask in the surprising warm sunshine and lunch on grilled meats, hearty soups, cheeses, bread and local Austrian wines. Then for many it's back to the slopes until dusk. And that's when tourists experience the real thrill of being in a Austrian ski village! Hearty food is followed by beautiful alpine music and hours are spent sipping local spirits around roaring fireplaces and meeting people from virtually all parts of the world! Friendships are often developed within these settings that can continue and last a lifetime.

At the end of the day, skiers and vacationers reflect on their ski day with old and new friends and often do a final toast to being in their own Austrian Ski Village!

The Arlberg region offers 2-stat hotels and guest zimmers for modest budget minded skiers, to the elegance of famed 4 and 5 star hotels. Either way, everyone skis the same wonderful slopes and powder, all experiencing Austrian culture on a trip that makes lifetime memories!

For more information on Austria:

Austrian Tourist Office

More by Dee Dee McKinney

 *(click on thumbnail for larger image)




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Last modified: February 02, 2009    Copyright 2012-2018