Getting away from it all
Because my mother was a French ski champion, I have been going away on ski trips for as long as I can remember. I know all too well the disappointment of arriving somewhere only to realise the snow hasn’t fallen yet, or even worse, it has already completely melted. But this is never a concern when visiting Obertauern. It’s the highest ski area in Salzburgerland in Austria, with elevations up to 2,526 above sea level, and it can promise you one very important thing – great snow conditions from the beginning of November right up until the start of May. With Salzburg airport only an hour’s drive away, once you arrive in Obertauern itself you can enjoy your holiday without having to resort to hiring a car, as everything you could possibly need, including those slopes, are within minutes of walking.
HERE COME THE SLOPES
Boasting 100 km of pistes, about 20 lifts and 31 km of cross-country ski trails, you will not get bored exploring Obertauern’s ski area (obertauern.com). The resort can accommodate all levels, from beginners to experts, with a majority of blue and red slopes, which make it ideal for a family trip. The Austrian ski school can also tailor teaching from beginners to more confident skiers or snowboarders. Our ski guide Friedl, a 71-year-old Austrian, could fly down the slopes quicker than any of us, and helped us develop our technique. What makes Obertauern special is the varied alpine landscape. Each day you can head towards a new side of the valley, which will bring you different mountain views and make for some great pictures.
TICKET TO RIDE
If you think you’re an expert skier and want to challenge your limits, take the lift to the imposing Gamsleiten 2 piste. One of the steepest runs in Europe, this is the one for all of the adrenaline lovers. My legs turned to jelly when we reached the top of the slope, but you will never be more proud of yourself once you look back at what you have achieved when you get to the bottom.
The resort also happens to be the place where part of the film Help! was made. This makes it a Beatles-fan dream come true, as the whole town pays tribute to the English band, and there’s even a statue of them on one of the slopes. Local ski instructors were picked to be stunt doubles and appear in the film, and we were lucky enough to meet Gerhard Krings, a lovely man who played guitarist George Harrison.
ALL YOU NEED IS APRES SKI
The resort is packed with various ski huts for anyone wanting to relax with a tipple at the end of a busy day on the slopes, and some of them are right at the top of the mountains. For a more authentic feel, head to the Lürzer Alm, which serves local beers on its huge outdoor terrace, and it even has a toboggan to get down to the toilets on (very handy when you’re still in your ski boots!). If you fancy somewhere a bit more modern, check out the Cinderella bar – with fur throws and big fireplaces it’s the perfect place for a cocktail.
WHAT'S TO EAT?
If you’re looking for hearty dishes, try the wiener schnitzel (a veal escalope in breadcrumbs) or a plate of käsespätzle, the Austrian version of macaroni cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t forget to order the kaiserschmarrn, which takes its name from an emperor: the fluffly pancakes are ripped into pieces, roasted in a pan and served with apple or plum compote. It is definitely a royal treat.
I’M ONLY SLEEPING
The four-star Tauernglockl Hotel is in the perfect location at the bottom of the slopes, so you can enjoy their delicious breakfast buffet – with freshly baked bread, Austrian cheeses and cured meats – and then jump on your skis to be at the lift in a heartbeat. It’s also only a couple of minutes walk away from rest of the resort – a great advantage if you want to treat yourself to a nice chilled beer in the many après ski huts surrounding. The hotel even has its own sauna, but do remember that in Austrian culture, saunas are normally visited in the nude.
GET ME THERE!
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s half board stay at the four-star Hotel Tauernglockl in Obertauern, from £669 per person (based on two sharing) including flights from Gatwick to Salzburg and transfers (price given is for departure on 6 January 2018). Direct flights to Salzburg are also available from all major UK airports (crystalski.co.uk; 020 8610 3123).
Sunshine and snow – what more could you ever need? Get down with the Fab Four on the location for Help!.
Treat yourself to a plate of tasty kaiserschmarrn Warm up with a tipple on the outdoor terrace at Lürzer Alm
Want a winter wonderland? You’ll find white magic here
Hotel Taurnglockl puts you at the heart of the action