Piste and harmony: A slice of ski heaven
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Piste and harmony: A slice of ski heaven

Charlotte Seligman travels to St Christoph, Austria for a fun family holiday in the mountains and on the slopes

Charlotte and her family happy in the snow
Charlotte and her family happy in the snow

Have you any idea how heavy ski boots are on your feet when you’re on the top of a mountain, dying for the loo and there’s a steep set of stairs between you and the toilet seat?

Very! So just imagine the relief (so to speak) when you arrive at said stairs and discover a slide that whizzes you right round the corner to the door of the ladies toilet in seconds?

Honestly, I’m not taking the piste!

The Hospiz Alm Hotel in St Christoph, Austria, is an absolute must visit. Apart from the slide down to the loo, I think it has to be one of the best eating places in the Alps. Huge chicken schnitzels, lashings of apple strudel and waiters dressed in traditional lederhosen (with toned, bare legs on show) – what more could a (nice) Jewish girl ask for?

St Christoph is a little slice of ski heaven. Small, refined, traditional. And with its location at 1,800m above sea level, it’s one of the highest ski resorts in the Alps, meaning you can avoid the half-term crowds in February and ski right in to early spring.

The region became famous in the 14th century after shepherd Heinrich Findelkind built a hospice as a shelter against the whims of nature.

Today, this pretty resort – far smaller than its neighbour St Anton – offers just a few hotels and inns. But that is its glorious appeal. Wherever you stay, the evenings are best whiled away in rustic lounges, a gin and tonic in hand, where you can sample hearty dishes, fine wines and laughter.

You’ll make new friends and maybe a few enemies should you accidentally steal someone else’s boots, like one of our party did! Nevertheless, you’ll return home full of happy memories.

The huge Arlberg ski area is really what you come to St Christoph for. The town is a one-of-a-kind location, set in an open snow bowl. A bit of a hidden gem as it’s still relatively unknown, the main draw is that you can literally ski to the back door, making it a fantastic choice for families.

It’s also just a short drive from bustling St Anton and cosmopolitan Zürs and Lech, so those who stay in St Christoph truly do get to experience the best of all worlds.

The vast ski area offers something for everyone – from beginners and children to advanced powder junkies. You’re only ever a few paces from the nursery slopes, so kids particularly enjoy their time. The race slalom at the end of the day makes for some perfect candid camera snaps – and not just for the kids!stchristoph_main

One of the best things about the resort is it’s virtually crowd free, so you pretty much feel like you’ve got your very own private ski lift just a few steps from your front door.

The St Christophbahn covered quad chairlift, in the centre of the village, takes you straight up into the heart of the St Anton side of the Arlberg. From there, lovely, wide blue runs head in to more exhilarating reds and, when you’ve caught your breath, you can tackle the vertical challenge of the black pistes. The views from the top are worth the butterflies in the tummy as you make your way down.

If you fancy a day on ≠the slopes of Lech and Zürs for a change, then hop on the ski bus for five or six Euros. It’s worth the 45-minute journey just for a mooch around the shops and a cup of coffee and some strudel.

Brand new for this winter are the four lifts that will link St Christoph and St Anton to Lech and Zürs. Skiers are set for a snow paradise as the Arlberg becomes the largest linked ski area in Austria.

There are, of course, many things that make for a wonderful ski holiday. Great snow, sunshine, fantastic open runs, good wine, hearty food, and oh did I mention the wine?stchristoph_ext_3

There’s also nothing like skiing to the back door of your hotel. That breathless last run of the day at maximum speed, knowing your slippers and a hot tea are waiting for you at the end of the piste, make all the weary limbs worth it.

And at the Chalet Hotel St Christoph you can forget schlepping your skis on your shoulder for hundreds of meters and the moans from the children because their feet hurt. This is the way to do it.

The wonder of the hotel – apart from its superb location (the Maiensee button lift starts just outside the back door and the main St Christoph chairlift is a two-minute walk up the hill) is the boot and ski hire shop in the basement. It means that on arrival day you can sort all your ski hire with little aggravation and still with hours to spare before you hit the slopes.

The facilities are perfect for a family setup. Well-appointed bedrooms (many with inter-connecting doors) and a large, residents’ only bar and comfy fireside lounge, complete with tons of board games, means the parents as well as the children are happy.

The large indoor swimming pool with mountain views and relaxing loungers on which to read and unwind after a great day’s skiing, topped by the table tennis and pool tables complete the alpine picture for the perfect mountain hotel.

Returning guests say that St Christoph has a certain fairy-tale charm that draws them back year after year and it’s easy to see why.

Family holidays are to be cherished and a week nestled away here in this small cosy Alpine town is one we won’t forget.

Factbox:

Charlotte was a guest of Inghams, which offers seven nights on a chalet catering basis at Chalet Hotel St Christoph, St. Anton am Arlberg, from £495 per person departing 9 December 2016. Price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. For details, visit inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 791 114. For more information on St Anton am Arlberg, see stantonamarlberg.com/en

 

 

 

 

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