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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.