Winter holiday in the Alps in the ski resort

15. 10. 2015

Winter is coming and more people are reaching out to us to organize their holidays. Many of them are our frequent guests, who have become good friends, while others are planning their first trip to the mountains. Therefore, we want to tell you what is important to take in account when heading to the Alps, and how to enjoy downhill skiing or snowboarding.

When and where is it better to take a break in the winter Alps?

In the Alps there is a vast number of ski-runs (Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy). Austria alone has some 260 ski resorts. How to make a choice amongst such variety? First of all, it is worth considering what time of the year you are planning to go and whether the snow is guaranteed at this time. The availability of glaciers is one of the key snow guarantors. Even if you don’t choose a glacier resort, pay attention to the height or availability of higher resorts nearby.

In Austria, there are 8 major glacier resorts: Dachstein, Hintertux, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn-Kaprun, Mölltal, Pitztal, Stubaital, and of course Sölden. In Sölden there are 2 glaciers and 3 peaks of above 3000 m. Here, the winter season lasts from September to mid-May. This lets you feel free to make bookings and to not to worry about the snow’s availability before your arrival.

This is especially important for a family holiday, because you can take it during the autumn, winter and spring school holidays. For those who would like to choose a quieter time and go skiing on almost empty runs, we recommend that you come to us from the beginning of November to mid-December or in April, except for Easter Week.

© Виктор Малышев

How to choose suitable accommodation (hotel or apartment)?

Many people prefer to contact a travel agency and take one of the standard offers. But there is another option that is becoming increasingly popular – this is to find accommodation on your own via the Internet. In this case, you can choose the most suitable and profitable option for you from a large variety of offers, though it is true that this takes more time.

It’s not enough to see the hotel or apartment’s pictures, you need a good understanding of where it is located. There may be a steep and serpentine path going up there, and runs nearby that are not appropriate for your level. Sometimes you want someone to give you his or her advice. Exactly at these moments we can help you. After all, we are in the Alps all year round and know all the specifics of the area. We also collect feedback from our guests, from which we draw conclusions with which hotels and apartments it is worth working.

A good hotel has a swimming pool, sauna, SPA & delicious breakfasts and dinners waiting for you. On the other hand, an apartment has a more homely environment with a kitchen where you can cook familiar food for yourself. Many of the apartments also offer a traditional Austrian breakfast.

Which city is it better to fly to and how to get from the airport to the resort? Transfer, train or car rental?

When booking a flight, you often face another dilemma: to fly to a big airport or a smaller one, which is closer to the resort. The first option is usually more advantageous, but in this case you must think in advance whether there is a convenient and easy way to get to the ski resort. For example, from Sölden (Ötztal valley) almost at the same distance there are 3 big airports: Munich, Zurich and Salzburg The closest airport – Innsbruck is just in 80 km from Sölden, but it receives far fewer flights, and they are usually more expensive.

You have bought a ticket, and now you have to decide – how to get to the resort? There are 3 basic options:

  • to rent a car,
  • to go by public transport,
  • to book an individual transfer.

If you rent a car, you should make sure that there is insurance available, wheel chains and Vignette valid in Austrian highways. You can also use public transport. As for Sölden, trains to the valley go from all 4 cities, it is true there may be several changes. From the station to the resort you can go by bus or taxi. But the most comfortable option is a private transfer, of course. The driver will arrive at the airport just prior to your arrival, meet you with a sign, help to carry things and then take you directly to the hotel entrance. We work with several transfer companies, so we can make the most advantageous and convenient offers.

Is it worth taking a lesson with a snowboard or ski instructor?

Even for experienced skiers and snowboarders a lesson with an instructor can be very interesting and useful. You can try freeride, freestyle, learn running on hillocks and perfect your technique. But for beginners a lesson with an instructor is a mandatory part of the holiday in the mountains, because this affects your and other vacationers’ safety.

Being constantly on the Sölden slopes, we notice different situations with inexperienced skiers without instructors, sometimes comic and sometimes sad. Before even getting into the lift, you should clearly understand, whether or not you will be able to run down from where you are climbing to. Not all lifts can you bring back down, if suddenly you are afraid of the run. For example, the chair lifts only pick up and you will not be allowed to go down in the winter. Those who can not fully control their speed and down-run trajectory especially need lessons.

Thanks to your instructor, you can learn confident running in any conditions while having a lot of fun. In Sölden there is a possibility of booking individual or group lessons both for adults and children. To make your booking, please fill in a form or write to е-mail. If the result is important for you first of all, it is better to take individual lessons, so you will get the full attention of the instructor. But if you like to learn in the company of new people, and you would like to save money, you may join a group with an English / German-speaking instructor. Keep in mind that it’s better to book the instructor in advance, then you are more likely to get a good instructor in the time convenient for you.

What is to be done about equipment: to rent it or to bring your own with you, or maybe even purchase everything directly at the resort?

When you’re going to the mountains, you should think whether the skis that I have bought for skiing in the local hills would be suitable there. For example, one of the most frequent mistakes is buying soft skis with a small radius. During our lessons guests quickly upgrade their skills and realize that such skis on long steep runs behave in fits and starts.

At ski resorts prices are close to those in the city, but the choice is much better. Therefore, consider the option of buying everything you need on the day of your arrival. One of the key advantages is that you can first try the equipment in action and then make a purchase. In turn, we will prompt you with a choice, will advise and help you to translate your wishes into German, if necessary. We would especially like to mention that the pleasure of skiing depends on your selection of ski boots. In Sölden, they take this question professionally and will perfectly judge the outer and inner boot fit for your foot.

And as for those who do not like to go in vacation with a bag full of equipment, we will help them to make a rental with a 10% discount.

What a lift ticket (ski pass) do you need to buy?

In Sölden, as at other resorts, there is the chance to purchase various types of ski passes. This may be a one-time ticket which is valid within one day from a certain hour or a ski pass for beginners, which is suitable only for certain lifts. If you are determined to use every day for skiing, it is better to get a ski pass for all those days (for example, a ski pass for 6 days in Sölden in peak season costs 261 Euro), or you want to take a break in the middle of the week, then a ski pass 5 of 7 (5 days of skiing within 7 days), or 11 out of 14 will be good for you. For children aged from 4 to 7 years, the cost per day will be 2 Euros. The following discount rates for children aged from 8 to 14 and for youngsters aged from 15 to 19 years. In order to get the discount, you need to have the relevant document. Attention must also be paid as to whether it is possible with this ticket to go on skiing at other resorts. For example, in Sölden there is the possibility to take an extra day in Obergurgl.

After buying your ticket you are advised to photograph it with your phone. In the event of ski pass loss it could restored at the ticket counter, but only after the presentation of the check or the photo.

Where is it more convenient to store equipment during your stay at the resort?

Equipment, especially for skiing is fairly heavy, and in order to make it more pleasant to start and finish your day of skiing, it is better to think over where you will store your equipment and change your boots. Almost every hotel or apartment has its own store, but it is convenient to use it only if the hotel is not far from the lift or there is a shuttle that will take you back and forth daily. Another option is to use storage in one of the rentals near the ski-lift. In this case, you will have a cabinet or a specially designated area with boot dryer. You can change your boots there. The standard price per week is about 20-40 Euro, and it is definitely worth it.

You may still have some other questions or would like to share your experiences with us. Please leave us your comments and we will be happy to answer each.

Also, please keep following our news on Facebook and see how the Alps change throughout the seasons on Instagram. And of course, we will be happy to help you with planning your holiday in the Austrian Alps.

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