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James Elliott matched our request for Christmas perfectly in every way. The Hotel Elisabeth was good, well positioned and the staff were very helpful but they did get one of the room bookings wrong (no bath as booked) and moved us as soon as they could to a larger room with bath so not a real problem, and they were very apologetic about their mistake. This is a good hotel, and the food and transfers from/to Zurich were painless. The snow and sun also obliged so this was a bonus! Lech is a good resort for a short break skiing holiday.
Ski Solutions Expert & Skier
6 February 2013
This charming property, now run as a chalet hotel, is in an ideal position close to the centre of Lech and tremendously good value for money this winter.
This comfortable four star is a lovely informal chalet hotel ideal for families not wishing to pay over-the-top prices. Run by the Gafgo family for many years, it is now the daughter, Marion, who takes care of the guests and the welcome they receive is one of the friendliest in the Alps. Popular with many of our clients, it has a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere, good food and comfortable accommodation as well as being in a convenient location.
The Rufikopf gondola is just a 5 minute stroll along the river where you can explore the great blue and red runs leadings down to Zurs. The Elisabeth is in the ideal position for a ski holiday due to the ease of access to the main ski areas and around the rest of the resort.
The hotel is also located close to the main village centre offering guests the opportunity to experience a range of local bars and restaurants throughout your stay. The local nightlife is also situated close by allowing you to continue your holiday through the evening when the slopes are closed.
There is a great indoor pool as well as a spa area with sauna, steam bath and massage facilities for guests to enjoy after a long day's exploring on the slopes.
The Hotel Elisabeth features a total of 29 spacious bedrooms. There are twin, double and triple Austrian rooms all equipped with excellent facilities including en-suite bathrooms, satellite TV, Wi-Fi and many also have a separated living area, sofa beds and balcony.
Lech is one of the most exclusive ski resorts in the world (once claiming kings were guests and guests were kings) with a determination to give its customers the best at all times.
Lech, in the Austrian Arlberg region, is probably the most exclusive resort in the Alps - in every sense of the word. Not only does Lech's core clientele consist of the rich and the famous who reserve rooms in its many luxury hotels a year or so ahead, but the resort literally excludes other skiers when it considers its ski area to be full. Once 14,000 lift tickets have been sold for any given day, the tills are closed and illuminated signs are switched on on the motorways warning day-trip skiers not to bother coming to Lech. A policy of limiting lift ticket sales would be an anathema to most lift companies in the world. But Lech is confident of its own success and is therefore prepared to put the skiing comfort of its valued hotel guests ahead of a little extra revenue from day visitors. The policy obviously works, since Lech has an extraordinarily high proportion of guests who return faithfully year after year.
Lech gained another claim to fame as the resort where the ski scenes in the movie Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason were filmed. Although it's possible to watch the film without noticing exactly where the ski scenes are set, the resort's marketing department nevertheless made much of the association.
One other key reason for Lech’s astounding popularity is its snow record. It has its own micro-climate which means it gets more snow than almost anywhere else in Austria and can boast one of the best snow reliability records in the Alps. The season here runs from the beginning of December to the end of April.
Back in the fourteenth century, Lech's original settlers came from the Valais region of Switzerland and still today Lech can sometimes feel more like a part of Switzerland than Austria. Indeed, it is most easily reached via Zurich airport with an onward transfer either directly by road or by rail to the station at Langen-am-Arlberg, which is a 20 minute taxi ride along the impressive Flexen Pass (liable to be closed for hours or even days after a very heavy snowfall).
Situated in what in winter is usually a dead-end valley, Lech is a pretty and compact village where development has been carefully planned and monitored over the years. Although there are lots of hotels, some of them quite large, they have all been built in the chalet style and are therefore usually attractive and quite unobtrusive. Most of the action takes place around the main street which runs alongside the river Lech and is crossed by several bridges, one of them a quaint wooden covered construction and another modern one which improved access from the centre of the village to the start of the Schlegelkopf lifts. Cars are really unnecessary here and visitors are strongly discouraged from using them during their stay. An exemplary day-and-night free shuttle bus service effectively provides for all your transport needs.
Two hundred metres above Lech itself is the satellite of Oberlech. This is a car-free area which comprises a cluster of large four-star hotels. It is reached by a cable car from Lech, which runs till 1am, and luggage delivery and so on is done via a series of tunnels that connect the cable car station with the hotels. Some of the hotels can also be reached by road and there a bus service until the early hours. Oberlech is an ideal choice for families with young children as it has its own ski kindergarten.
Three kilometres down a side valley from Lech is the tranquil hamlet of Zug, where a few hotels are sited. On the main road towards the Flexen Pass lies Zürs, an enclave of four- and five-star hotels that comes alive mainly during for the four months of the winter season. Zürs is justly celebrated for being the highest of the Arlberg resorts and for having the best snow record in the area.
At the beginning of the season Lech has a tradition of hosting big Season Opening parties on the first weekend of each winter. These include various concerts and parties as well as a spectacular firework display. Later in the season, highlights from the nearby Summer Bregenz Opera Festival are staged at the foot of the slopes.
Lech also has a Wine and Spring Snow Festival with thematic tastings and gala dinners taking place in a variety of hotels and restaurants over a two-week period in late March and early April. Please contact us for further details.
Most chalet holidays and hotel holidays packaged by operators other than ourselves include in the price return charter flights and coach transfers to the resort. Many regional departure airports are also available. Please enquire for details. Additionally, many tour operators offer the option of rail travel to French resorts either by daytime or overnight Eurostar or overnight snowtrain.
For clients travelling on tailor-made holidays with Ski Solutions we are able to offer a wide range of scheduled flights from a variety of UK airports to suit personal preferences with such carriers as:
Swiss for Geneva or Zurich British Airways for Lyons, Grenoble, Geneva, Zurich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Turin or Venice British Midland for Lyons
There are several low-cost carriers which have widened the choice of departure points and destinations in particular from Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh which we are happy to book on your behalf as well as other scheduled airlines.
Easyjet for Geneva, Basle, Lyons, Grenoble, Turin, Milan or Venice Ryanair for Salzburg, Friedrichschafen, Grenoble or Turin as well as Globespan, bmibaby and Flybe.
Onward transfers to resorts are by hire car, taxi, train (Switzerland and Austria) or scheduled bus service as appropriate. For French resorts we are able to offer the popular daytime Eurostar service which runs weekly on Saturdays.
|Lower Depth:||10 cm||Piste Conditions:||Ski/board conditions are okay, more snow would be good|
|Upper Depth:||20 cm||Runs to Resort:||Closed|
|Fresh snow depth:||1 cm||Off-Piste:||Limited|
|Best Snowfall week||03-Dec-2012||24-Mar-2014||30-Mar-2015 (11%)|
|Best Base week||04-Feb-2013||03-Mar-2014||02-Feb-2015 (11%)|
NOT TOO CHALLENGING UNLESS YOU HEAD OFF-PISTE, BUT THERE IS PLENTY OF VERY AGREEABLE CRUISING TERRAIN. IMPRESSIVE INVESTMENT IN NEW LIFTS IN RECENT YEARS
The skiing in the Lech/Zurs area is not as extensive as one might imagine: there are only about 25 lifts in total, although the rolling carpet system of boarding does allow conventional chairlifts to run at higher-than-normal speeds and new high-speed lifts are being installed on a regular basis. Many of the comfortable chairlifts have heated seats and look as though they could have come from the Conran shop. The piste terrain is best suited to good intermediates. Advanced skiers may quickly become bored here unless they are using a guide to take advantage of the huge number of off-piste routes that this area affords. (Incidentally, this is one of the few places in Austria where heli-skiing is still not just permitted but actually encouraged: heli-ski descents are actually marked on the piste map.) There are good nursery slopes for beginners and there is a fun park for snowboarders.
The most amusing ski itinerary in Lech is known as "The Circuit". Unfortunately it can only be done in one direction, which means queues can occasionally form at bottleneck points in high season. You start by taking one or other of the Rufikopf cable cars (fitted not long ago with new state-of-the-art cabins) up to 2,362m, from where you work your way across via a sequence of nice cruising pistes and drag and chairlifts into the Hexenboden area above Zurs. You then drop down to Zurs itself (1,716m) and ski across one or other of the bridges over the road to take either the Seekopf or Zursersee high-speed chairlift. (If you want to slot in some more challenging skiing then before you take the Seekopf lift you can take the Zurs cable car up to Trittkopf (2,423m) and try some of the black runs beneath it.)
From the top of the Seekopf or Zursersee lift you then schuss down to the two-seater Madloch chairlift (alas still the site of a bottleneck queue at busy times). From the Madloch-Joch (2,438m) you then ski down an impressive long red ski-route, which is not groomed and can be rocky, to Zug (1,511m).
Then from Zug you take the chairlift (taking care to close the safety bar quickly, so that you are not catapulted into the river it crosses before the first pylon) up to Palmenalpe. From here you take a rope drag lift a short way along the ridge before dropping straight down to Oberlech and then Lech itself. Alternatively you can ski down to the high-speed Steinmahder chairlift and use it to give you access to a variety of good blue and red slopes above Oberlech. A good skier can easily get around the circuit in half a day, but if you do some extra runs and have a few stops it can take all day.
If you decide not to do the circuit, which only works in one direction, then you will probably start on the other side of the river Lech and use the Schlegelkopf lifts to get up to a point above Oberlech and then the six-seater high-speed lift to get up to Petersboden and so into the main Lech ski area. Improvements in the past few years mean that the Kreigerhornbahn lift is now a high-speed six-seater chairlift with a journey time of just four minutes and the Trittalp chairlift in Zurs is now a six-seater. The Steinmaher lift in Lech has been upgraded to become the Arlbergs first eight-seater and also has protective hoods and the Hasensprung lift is now a high-speed six-seater, again with hoods.
The Arlberg ski pass that you need to ski Lech also covers St Anton's ski area, but the two are not linked. (They probably could be without too much difficulty, but one senses that Lech would not like the hoards from St Anton rushing directly onto its slopes.) Nevertheless, it is probably worth taking at least one day of a week's holiday to ski St Anton's slopes. A postbus service will take you there (the journey time is 40 minutes) or to the nearer village of Stuben, whose lifts link into St Anton.
An ideal choice: this is one of europes great boarding centres.
Facilities for boarders include an 80-metre half-pipe, a fun park and a boarder-cross course full of tricky obstacles. The only frustration is that the gentle glacier slopes, which are ideal for learning, are served by boarder-unfriendly T-bars. Experts will enjoy the off-piste terrain, especially the powder, but the dangers of glacier skiing cannot be exaggerated and a guide should always be hired.
Vastly improved in recent years. The Lech/Zurs region used to be short of good quality, atmospheric mountain restaurants. (This is partly explained by the fact that in Zurs most hotels work on a full-board basis, so guests return to their hotels for lunch.) What few restaurants there were on the slopes were mostly self-service and offered indifferent food. However the situation has improved dramatically in the past few years.
Launched in 2007, the funkiest pre-lunch stop at the top of the Schlegelkopf chairlift is the Frozen ice-bar which has not only an outdoor ice-bar, but also an indoor ice-cave with chairs and benches hewn from ice. Veuve Cliquot is the drink of choice. The Seekopf above Zurs has always been one of the better mountain eating places this area. The new Balmalp, which opened on the site of the old Palmenalpe in 2007, is an impressive contemporary alpine building with stunning panoramic views. It has both a self-service and a service section but it is not the cosiest of alpine huts. The best option is often to lunch at one of the hotels at Oberlech, many of which have large sun terraces, but you need to book ahead in very high season. The Alte Goldener Berg chalet has a beautiful, discreet little terrace, does a first-rate Wiener Schnitzel and has a deeply impressive wine list. At the bar, some of the schnapps glasses have half-metre stems! The Burg Hotel does a schnitzel that is arguably superior as well as an up-market version of chicken-in-a-basket. It also has an impressive list of Austrian cuvees. The four-star Rote Wand at Zug is another good lunching option, either inside in winter or on the terrace in spring.
The newish Schneggarei, located just a few metres above the bottom station of the Schlegelkopfbahn, which means it is equally accessible to non-skiers, is built in the modern idiom of the traditional Arlberg style and serves hearty Austrian dishes. The quaint Rud-Alpe hut on the Schlegelkopf sector has a great sunny terrace and several dining rooms inside. The charming, rustic old Kriegeralpe is now open during the winter season, rather than just in the summer.
This pretty, stylish village makes an excellent choice for non-skiers.
Non-skiers will find they are in good company in Lech: many of the resorts winter visitors just come here to soak up the clean mountain air and the beautiful scenery, rather than to ski. This means the resort remains fairly lively during the daytime. There are some pretty walks along the valley floor, the shopping is good - especially in the striking Strolz ski and fashion store - and it is easy to get up the mountain for a lunch-time a rendezvous with skiers at Oberlech. Non-skiers are best advised to visit after the very end of January, when the main street, lined with ice-bars, gets the sun all day long.