Our team arrived in Lech and Zürs at the beginning of December and it was the first time in the area for all of us. We had a range of experiences in our team – there was the ‘ancient’ seasonaire on their fifth season, we had the experienced skier but first time representative, and even those of us who were completely new to the world of skiing. We knew we were all about to learn a great deal. During our training we had the opportunity to quiz, question and sometimes mercilessly grill our colleagues who were ski representatives before us but nothing quite substitutes for first-hand experience. So armed with the answers to our questions we set off down the hill from St. Christoph, where we did our training, to the Vorarlberg region.
The first views of the area are stunning. As you leave the tunnel and turn the corner the valley opens up in front of you, with the picturesque village of Zürs located in the centre. Driving through we knew instantly what our colleagues at training had been talking about. The exclusivity, the pedigree, it all made sense. This was no block of concrete, purpose built for skiing. This was a village, well established and happy to welcome tourism to come and see their way of life and enjoy the area with them. Carrying on down the valley you turn the corner into Lech. Slightly larger than Zürs but with the same level of beauty and class – we realised why people had been telling us how lucky we were to be here.
The following day we set off to explore the villages and meet the hotels we would be working with throughout the year. If we had any concerns before we got there the hoteliers and owners immediately assuaged them. From the class and luxury of the Hotel Tannbergerhof, the Hotel Berghof, the Sporthotel Lorünser and of course the world famous Hotel Arlberg, to the unmitigated family-run charm of the Hotel Haldenhof, Haus Schrofenstein and the Hotel Erzberg. There was not one concern that those in charge of the hotels had anything other than the welfare and happiness of our guests at heart. Nothing changed when we went to visit the Hotel Sonnenburg in Oberlech, a true skiers’ hotel where the piste almost touches the front door. With excellent service and care from the staff there, we were very happy with our choices.
The town itself proved it was up for a laugh as well. Open-air aprés bars in the high street and a few places open until late (or early in some cases) this was really an area for everyone.
Finally, the true acid test, time to be up on the mountain. Just this year the ski lift link from St Christoph to Zürs opened, replacing the bus link of previous years, cementing the Arlberg’s position as Austria’s largest interlinked ski area. We had high hopes for the skiing that would be available to us. Once again we were not disappointed. Even at this early point in the season we could ski from Zürs to St. Anton. The only link not yet open was the one from Lech to Zürs but that was easily done with the free ski bus, which runs every 15 minutes. And with a great variety of runs in all the areas from long cruisy blues to some pretty exciting blacks and everything in-between, not including the 200km of ungroomed freeride runs to explore, we are all firmly looking forward to the season ahead.