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Help me break free from French megaresorts

 Poster: A snowHead
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We (myself - competent on most pistes, dabble off-piste, mini_mg - also competent on most pistes, likes powder off the sides but still learning proper off-piste, mrs_mg - likely to not be able to ski) usually do one family trip a year to the Alps. Up till now, this has been to France - PdS (Ardent) twice, 3V (Reberty) twice, Les Coches once and La Rosiere once. Next year I want to try something different but there are so many possible options it's hard to know where to start...and we have some pretty specific needs so I hope SH can help me narrow my search.
Here goes.
-Accommodation needs to be pretty much on the piste. For complicated (health) reasons, mrs_mg often cannot walk far (100m in snow being too far) so for her to join in (watching piste-side, or just possibly skiing a little) true ski-in, ski-out matters a lot. For the same reason, a resort where you have to take a lift up to the ski area doesn't work so well - makes it hard for mini_mg and me to get back for lunch with mrs_mg.
-Catered - preferably a chalet, hotel might work. We don't want to cook on holiday. Also comfortable for someone staying in most of the time - a hotel room fails here.
-Scenic, from the accommodation. Mrs_mg will probably be in it most of the time, so a spectacular mountain view is a plus.
-Decent amount of pistes, with a reasonable proportion of reds & blacks. French mega-resorts are great for this; we love our scandi skiing too but the sense of travel just doesn't match up.
-Something to do for non-skiers would be a bonus, but not essential as long as there is a cafe or two by the slopes where mrs_mg can get a nice coffee.
-Budget not unlimited, but doesn't have to be bargain basement either (<£1000/person for accommodation & food; lift pass on top of that and we have our own kit).
-Must be week 7 (9 or 10 Feb 2019) due to school holiday restrictions.

I'm happy to DIY arrangements, and we can get to pretty much any of the usual airports (we almost always have to change from Gothenburg anyway); plane + train works well for us too. Where should I be looking? I'd love to try Austria but not sure which resorts would work. Not really considered Switzerland before (due to cost) but maybe I should, and the Dolomites too. I'd like to get a shortlist of 5-6 resorts that I can research in more detail during the silly season Happy
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@mgrolf, Firstly I don't think anywhere does ski in ski out quite like the French you can get it in a lot of other places but to nothing like the same extent. There is often such accommodation but it is fairly limited and books early.

The two places in Austria that I have been that have significant accommodation like that are Obertauern and Zauchensee, both have great skiing but you might find the extent a bit limited from your requirements.
The dolomites have great skiing that would suit you however in the two place I have been there was little ski in ski out , or close too it. The village I would investigate is Arrabba , however I don't know it well but in transiting it looked like there was accommodation close to the slopes and it has the bonus of having some of the best red/ black skiing on the Sella Ronda very close by. (Your Mrs will get a great cup of coffee in Italy too at decent prices)
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I was going to suggest Zauchensee too, though non skiing options are a bit limited, need to arrange transfer from Salzburg. One option would be Oberlech, it is car free, ski in, ski out. Access from Lech is by a short cable car, which runs well into the evening and presumably the various hotels and apartments organise getting baggage up and down (I guess it is actually possible to get vehicles to the place and that is used for guest arrivals and departures), fly into Zurich, train to St Anton, then taxi. ZŁrs would probably work, though accommodation is limited and expensive and not an awful lot to do if not skiing. There are certainly a good number of piste side hotels and apartments in Saalbach Hinterglemm, I cant recommend any personally but there are usually plenty of folk around here who might be able to, again transfer from Salzburg. Another place might be Serfaus / Fiss, I went once for a day a good while ago, always intended to go back but been distracted by other places. They are car free villages and a fair amount of piste side accommodation.
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Another vote for Oberlech. Even Lech would be a great option if you got a hotel close to the lifts. Note that catered chalets aren't common in Austria, you'll get a much bigger range of options if you look at hotels. The good news is that Austrian hotels usually have lovely large rooms so they're very pleasant places to stay in if you're not skiing.
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Thanks for the suggestions, I will take a look. Zurich is good for us, direct Swiss/Lufthansa flights so no ski carriage costs to worry about Happy.
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Oberlech is really nice I agree completely , quite pricey though.
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As I read through the OP Oberlech sprang to mind. We stayed there over Xmas/11 nights at Pension Bergmahder. Why would it suit?
1. Closest and easiest ski in ski in ski out Iíve ever stayed in. Out of garage walk 10 Steos ski down to a pommel. up and ski to main Lech area.
2. Accommodation is spacious apartments (only four I think) right on piste (so mrs m-g could watch you lot on the pommer right past her window or look across to mountains). Also Doris - the most friendly proprietor I have come across- provides all breakfasts and 60 per cent of evening meals. And Oberlech restaurants seem are 5-10 mins walk. Lech restaurants accessed by cable car runs until 1am. Think mrs m-g from the sound of it could deal with that.
3. Itís on the Alberg ski area. That is self explanatory. Having skief Mega French resorts (lots to like but lots not to like too in my opinion) and Arlberg . Iíd choose the latter every time.
4. Warth Schrochen easily accessed from Oberlech. Blues reds easy blacks quiet. St Anton access to if you want the more challenging blacks (and equivalent French crowd experience in case you missed it).
5. Kids - and maybe you- can toboggan in the evening down to sketch and back. A major evening event in Oberlech.

Writing this I want to go again Very Happy
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suec wrote:
As I read through the OP Oberlech sprang to mind. We stayed there over Xmas/11 nights at Pension Bergmahder. Why would it suit?
1. Closest and easiest ski in ski in ski out Iíve ever stayed in. Out of garage walk 10 steps ski down to a pommel. up and ski to main Lech area.
2. Accommodation is spacious apartments (only four I think) right on piste (so mrs m-g could watch you lot on the pommer right past her window or look across to mountains). Also Doris - the most friendly proprietor I have come across- provides all breakfasts and 60 per cent of evening meals. And Oberlech restaurants seem are 5-10 mins walk. Lech restaurants accessed by cable car runs until 1am. Think mrs m-g from the sound of it could deal with that.
3. Itís on the Alberg ski area. That is self explanatory. Having skief Mega French resorts (lots to like but lots not to like too in my opinion) and Arlberg . Iíd choose the latter every time.
4. Warth Schrochen easily accessed from Oberlech. Blues reds easy blacks quiet. St Anton access to if you want the more challenging blacks (and equivalent French crowd experience in case you missed it).
5. Kids - and maybe you- can toboggan in the evening down to sketch and back. A major evening event in Oberlech.

Writing this I want to go again Very Happy
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suec wrote:
suec wrote:
As I read through the OP Oberlech sprang to mind. We stayed there over Xmas/11 nights at Pension Bergmahder. Why would it suit?
1. Closest and easiest ski in ski in ski out Iíve ever stayed in. Out of garage walk 10 steps ski down to a pommel. up and ski to main Lech area.
2. Accommodation is spacious apartments (only four I think) right on piste (so mrs m-g could watch you lot on the pommer right past her window or look across to mountains). Also Doris - the most friendly proprietor I have come across- provides all breakfasts and 60 per cent of evening meals. And Oberlech restaurants seem are 5-10 mins walk. Lech restaurants accessed by cable car runs until 1am. Think mrs m-g from the sound of it could deal with that.
3. Itís on the Arlberg ski area. Having skies Mega French resorts (lots to like but lots not to like too in my opinion) and Arlberg . Iíd choose the latter every time.
4. Warth Schroken easily accessed from Oberlech. Blues reds easy blacks. Quiet. St Anton access to if you want the more challenging blacks (and equivalent French crowd experience in case you missed it).
5. Kids - and maybe you- can toboggan in the evening down to sketch and back. A major evening event in Oberlech.

Writing this I want to go again Very Happy
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I faced the same issue some years back.

Ischgl was great for skiing and apres ski We stayed half way between Ischgl and Galtur. Skibus from the door to the main lift. Shatzi bar !

Arraba in the Dolomites Good access to the Sella Ronda both directions and the Marmolada. We stayed in the Hotel Malita which is about is about 50 m from the lifts. No night life. Miles of great cruisy skiing.

Cervinia big ski area if you take the full pass. Gets closed down if windy. 20 km run Some hotels are ski in ski out others require industrial yomping. Check carefully before booking. I can't remember the hotel but if was ski in ski out with a view of the Horn. The hot chocolate was wicked good.

St Anton Lech Zurs Rendl. Loads of skiing We stayed in Zurs at the Hotel Arlberghaus best ski in ski out. Great Austrian hospitality from a family owned hotel.
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Much as I love Arabva not sure it would suit mrs..
But basically all posts say you can safely move away from French resorts. And (often) have a better time.... over to the Francophiles to persuade you to stay! Toofy Grin
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The challenge I think is finding a chalet accommodation arrangement to suit your wifeís daytime non-skiing activities and relaxation.
There are many hotels I think would be fine for that but chalet preference cuts down options significantly, especially in Italy.

Arabba and Corvara on the Sella Ronda would be good bases. Thereís also one possible I know of in San Cassiano. Proper ski in/out and very close to a major gondola for pedestrian access.

As others above have posted, the Arlberg area offers a few possibilities.

One area on France you havenít mentioned, which ticks most of your needs boxes, is Megeve, part of the Evasion Mont Blanc area. Difficult to find true ski in/out chalets but a few that may suit and a lovely town for the non-skier. I know you said a change from France but Megeve is not like the mega resorts you mentioned. It is though quite expensive.
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How does your wife feel about driving around resorts if you hired a car? I have had fairly similar criteria for the last few years because we have taken an elderly relative with us, and because for health reasons I can`t walk too far/ski too much. But we have always had a car with us and I don`t mind driving to meet skiers/pop into the village for coffee/lunch etc.

I found pretty good accommodation at Les Eucherts (La Rosiere) but you`ve done that. Arc 2000, but 1950 is probably even better (underground connections through the car parks mean you don`t always have to walk over the snow). Ste Foy (Chalet White Eden) but unless you really want to pursue the off piste the skiing may be a little limited, and my mad keen skiers chose to spend a day In VdI. Peisey Vallandry (Les Arcs) but as with all resorts you need to chose exactly where you stay with care.

I have also looked at Flaine, and VdI both of which appear to have whats required if you choose with care. The catered chalet concept is a particularly French thing but so long as bread/pastries are delivered every morning I am happy with self catering as you can always take in something after skiing or eat out (subject to your restrictions). I have used these people a couple of times http://www.chalet-altitude.com/en/ and found them very helpful. They were trailling apartments with the option to have certain meals sent in, though we only opted for breakfasts.

I have looked at Switzerland and Austria, Saalbach seems to have some very ski convenient accommodation but not the chalet thing. Others on here know a lot more about skiing outside of France these days than I do. Good luck and please let us know what you find.
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@mgrolf, so ski in and out isnít actually what you mean (evidenced by two trips to Ardent) which is never ski out and often not a great ski in either.

You really mean easy access to lifts and maybe easy access to limited slopes.

Which is important as true ski in and out usually means altitude, which often means compromising on other elements.

Iíd search on spas perhaps. Nothing wrong with hotels if thereís good lounging space?

Mileage is maybe your big thing. Iíd suggest MŁrren e.g. Hotels Eiger or Bellevue but your mileage requirement then involves a bit of a train journey across the valley.

Maybe somewhere like Wengen? Would the Mrs be happy on a train coming up to meet you, ski a little and watch?
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I would not have thought Muerren a great option as too much walking for Mrsg and you canít watch skiing from the village unless it has changed a lot in 30 years.

Kitzbuehel has some hotels on the mountain but I have no personal experience of those.

Oberlech definitely springs to mind and there are a number of good hotels overlooking pistes.
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@mgrolf, this hotel in Stuben. https://www.hubertushof-arlberg.at/en/

Something to do in the day - wellness centre, large comfortable seats inside and outside (inc rugs) for reading

Ski in/out - elevator to the piste!

Costs - make sure to ask for a ski package inc the lift passes.

Views - check
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@Gordyjh, hmmm, you canít watch much skiing I sípose. Walking surely an issue anywhere?
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@under a new name, the Ardent trips were our first and third, when Mrs_mg could still ski and was much fitter. I doubt we'd go back now, although what did work well there was that Mrs_mg could sit outside at one of the restaurants at Lindarets and watch. We were lucky with the weather both time (lots of sun, and it was easter); it might not be so good in February. Easy access to the lifts (vs true ski in ski out) could work, I think.

Chalet vs hotel, what we like/need is sitting space where Mrs_mg can feel comfortable (and not like people are staring at her wondering why she's not skiing) whilst doing various portable crafts. A chalet or apartment scores highly here; hotels are harder to predict so any specific recommendations for one with good lounges would be handy.
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rasmushof in Kitzbuhel? its at the foot of the slopes, so easy access into the town itself as well as the train station
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CaravanSkier wrote:
How does your wife feel about driving around resorts if you hired a car? I have had fairly similar criteria for the last few years because we have taken an elderly relative with us, and because for health reasons I can`t walk too far/ski too much. But we have always had a car with us and I don`t mind driving to meet skiers/pop into the village for coffee/lunch etc.

Sadly not such a good option for us. Mrs_mg also struggles with energy a lot of the time so she wouldn't want to be driving around.

For the same reason, anything that involves a bus to get to & from the slopes isn't great - that could be enough to prevent Mrs_mg from getting out at all, which is no fun. It rules out a lot of great places, I know, but we just have to live with that.
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@mgrolf, ok, that makes more sense.

Any of the nicer hotels Iíve been in always have loads of people not skiing.

Iím still thinking Swiss and spas.
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@mgrolf, That hotel I linked above has just such a lounge and a quiet area seperate to that



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@kitenski,
What's Stuben like in early Feb? I've been through it in Jan but not stayed there my impression is that it did not get much sun at that time of the year if your'e confined to resort but may be wrong.

PS On review I think that could be a problem with Zauchensee as well.
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@under a new name, I get the impression that Mrs_mg has mobility issues hence the OPís requirement for somewhere right by the slopes where she can watch and he/the youngíun can return for lunch. If I remember rightly, this place is right by/overlooking the slopes, has a spa and a good restaurant. I havenít stayed there but we always try to get there for a lunch when weíre in the Arlberg.

https://www.goldenerberg.co.uk/
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@Gordyjh, yes, I got that too and youíre right MŁrren isnít great for watching, and arguably getting around.
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@kitenski, I couldn't sit for long in a lounge like that - it is an assault on the eyes!

I'm sorry, I don't have any suggestions myself save, perhaps, for trying to find nice accommodation really close to the railway station in Wengen. The trains are so easy for getting around the beautiful Jungfrau domain and the opportunities for skiers and non-skiers to meet are legion.
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You could look at a family room in the cresta in oberlech. We have used these before when travelling with little person and grand parent. Gives good space, and ability to relax in privacy) and reasonably reasonable (for Oberlech).

I do think Oberlech meets a lot of your requirements. Most of the hotel's would be able to provide easy access to the cable car via the tunnels and their golf buggys.
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@mgrolf, Most of the larger Austrian hotels are set up not just for skiing but more for general "Wellness" holidays, with spas, massages, beauty treatments, gyms etc. Plenty of space for sitting around reading or whatever and often large sunny terraces (certainly those piste side). I would guess there would be fair numbers of folk not skiing for one reason or other so unlikely your wife would feel in any way unusual.
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@munich_irish, that would be my thinking too.
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Gordyjh wrote:


Kitzbuehel has some hotels on the mountain but I have no personal experience of those.



http://www.ehrenbachhoehe.at/?id=10&L=1 is one of those on the mountain at Kitzbuhel


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 28-04-18 19:21; edited 1 time in total
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@Hurtle, the Victoria Lauberhorn hotel is pretty close to it.
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mgrolf wrote:
CaravanSkier wrote:
How does your wife feel about driving around resorts if you hired a car? I have had fairly similar criteria for the last few years because we have taken an elderly relative with us, and because for health reasons I can`t walk too far/ski too much. But we have always had a car with us and I don`t mind driving to meet skiers/pop into the village for coffee/lunch etc.

Sadly not such a good option for us. Mrs_mg also struggles with energy a lot of the time so she wouldn't want to be driving around.

For the same reason, anything that involves a bus to get to & from the slopes isn't great - that could be enough to prevent Mrs_mg from getting out at all, which is no fun. It rules out a lot of great places, I know, but we just have to live with that.


In spite of having the car with us, at pretty much all of the places I have mentioned the accommodations we stayed at have been easily accessible by our skiers, popping back for lunch for example, and have had easy access to bars/restaurants, also with the requisite fabulous views. I mentioned driving around because it does add that extra dimension, not just for the person with some mobility restrictions but also for the keen skiers. I am happy for my husband and grown up sons to disappear for the odd whole day skiing whilst I luxuriate in a spar or rest up reading a good book knowing they are having a great time. In ski terms from the door for absolute ski ease, only White Eden at Ste Foy met that criteria for me. At most of the others though you could ski to and fro, there were a few meters, usually to, lifts that the family carried my skis or dropped me off by car before returning a very few minutes later to join me. Having someone with energy/mobility/health restrictions in a group is not that different from skiing with very small children, it just requires thought and planning. Full marks to you for researching all the possibilities!
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"whilst I luxuriate in a spar"

I'm not sure how much luxuriating I could do in a supermarket Toofy Grin
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@Dublinfella, @Gordyjh, thanks, enquiries sent, we'll see what they say.
@kitenski, what's Stuben like for access to the rest of the Arlberg ski area? It looks a little out on a limb on the piste map.

Mrs_mg is fully mobile but suffers from a lack of energy - sometimes even a couple of flights of stairs can be too much. It's very frustrating, especially since she learned to ski only a few years ago, loved it and now struggles to ski at all Sad. We do everything we can to make it possible and so she can still get the mountain experience; it does make location choices harder.
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Another thought - in addition to Oberlech I'd recommend Hinterglemm. If you get a hotel in the village centre then there is gondola access to both sides of the valley. Both gondolas have good mountain restaurants at the top and in Austria it's quite common for people to sit in the huts for hours at a time, just enjoying the view and an occasional drink/bite to eat. Good big skiing are for you too.
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@mgrolf, unfortunately I donĎt have any recommendations myself, but IĎd just like to share a thought that came to my mind when I saw the ashtrays on the tables in the lounge pictures @kitenski posted above.
In case Mrs_mg is a non-smoker it could be worth checking upfront if the common areas in your chosen accommodation are non-smoking. Especially in Austria where smoking is still allowed in bars etc. it could otherwise be quite unpleasant to spend much time there.
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@Simony, Don`t the rules in respect of smoking in bars in Austria change this May? I have turned by focus away from Austria the last few years because of smokey bars etc!

@Bergmeister, rolling eyes Laughing

ps don`t know how to stop the blue link?
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@Simony, there was supposed to have been a ban on smoking introduced in Austria from the 1st of May, similar to most other places. However as part of the coalition deal the new government has overturned the ban (basically the leader of the far right party likes smoking in bars......). However smoking can only take place in a separate room or in small bars (ie old fashioned small pubs). Any reasonable sized establishment will have a "smoking room" (many simply ban smoking altogether) which can easily be avoided as the rest of the place will be non smoking.
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I'd have thought Arabba or Alta Badia in the Dolomites might well work, and quite possibly Ortisei - or by reputation Folgarida/Madonna di Campiglio. Stunning scenery at valley level, snow sure to valley level thanks to very good snow making so some easy local skiing (probably less in Arabba).

As it's the more Austrian part of Italy the hotels have definitely got a strong "wellness/relaxation" theme and it's set up for fair weather only skiers as well.

The refugio at the top of the main Arabba gondola has quite a lounge vibe going on too - and is nowhere near as expensive as it looks.
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