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Domain: SkiWelt / Kitzbuhel Alps
Author: Ian Hopkinson
Date: 21st-28th January 2006
Our holiday: We're a thirtysomething couple who started ski-ing a few years ago, this is roughly our 8th week ski-ing. We were accompanied by my mum, a non-skier but frequent summer visitor to Westendorf.
Website : www.westendorf.com
Basics : Westendorf is in the Austrian Tirol, we flew from Birmingham to Innsbruck from which it is a 1.25 hour transfer by coach.
Lift system : Westendorf has a generally modern lift system with recent new lifts on the nursery slope (a four man chair) and a new gondola (KiWest) linking to the Kitzbuhel ski area. There is a short skibus ride to the linked SkiWelt area. There are a couple of old non-detachable lifts about. Overall pretty efficient.
The terrain : The Westendorf area is modest, and an intermediate skier could ski almost all of it thoroughly in a day â€“ there is only one short black run down from the Choralpe. The learners and day trippers are generally to be found on the Talkaser side of the area with the Gampen/Fleiding/KiWest side a bit quieter.
The link over to the Kitzbuhel ski area via the KiWest lift is really good, we got to the bottom of the new lift in about an 1.25 hour from the nursery slope at Westendorf - the buses to the Pengelstein I lift are every ~10 minutes until 11am and we never saw them crowded, it takes about 10 minutes to get to Pengelstein I. We reached Kitzbuhel (bottom of the Hahnenkamm lift) in about 2.5 hours. The run served by the KiWest lift itself is rather pleasant in itself - it's nominally a blue but it has a short, steep narrow section towards the end. I don't like the grossly overcrowded buses to SkiWelt from Westendorf (the first few of the day) and I'd prefer to head for Kitzbuhel over taking the bus to SkiWelt. Of the three areas I think I prefer Westendorf.
The Pengelstein I lift is a twin to the KiWest lift (i.e. brand new 8-man gondola), not sure why they didn't run the two lifts to some mutually compatible point in the valley. The Westendorf lift company don't seem to recognise fully the existence of the Kitzbuhel area - they don't keep any full piste maps of the area, nor do they appear to keep the bus timetable, but these are easy enough to get once you reach Pengelstein I.
The Westendorf, SkiWelt and Kitzbuhel areas all have different characters. Ski Welt is generally wide and rolling with vast motorway pistes up top, the Pengelstein/Kitzbuhel side of the Kitzbuhel area has a moorland feel to it, higher, wilder and windier. The Westendorf area is something in between, and a bit quieter than either of the other two areas.
The snow : V. nice snow, Western Austria has had stacks of snow this year and we got a small top up on the first day.
Off-piste : Canâ€™t comment on this
The resort : A pretty village with some old buildings, a couple of supermarkets, relatively modestly provided in ski shops. Mum tested the non-skier facilities; the tourist office offers a range of guided activities snow shoe walking, toboganning and langlaufing all at the cost of the rental equipment. Day trips to Innsbruck and Salzburg are possible and there is a short train ride to Kitzbuhel.
Food : Excellent restaurants all around the Westendorf domain, our particular favourites are the Choralpe which is accessed by an elderly one-man chairlift and is a bit quieter than some. The Fleiding Alm is a beautiful old building, not much room inside though. Brechhornhaus gets a bit busy. The main Talkaser restaurant is a bit factory canteen in scale but not unpleasant. In the village the CafÃ© Elizabeth has an excellent selection of large cakes.
Accommodation : We stayed at the Hotel Jakobwirt in the village center. A friendly place which weâ€™ve stayed in twice before. Mum has been going there for years.
Costs: Lift pass is â‚¬185 for 6days, including the Kitzbuhel area. Ski school â‚¬122 for 6*4 hours. We spent â‚¬15-â‚¬20 for a large and filling lunch. â‚¬79 for 6 days of â€˜Gold standard skis.
Conclusion: We love Westendorf! Personally I prefer the Westendorf area to SkiWelt and the Kitzbuhel ski area, during a week itâ€™s easy to spend a couple of days in each. Thereâ€™s also a fair amount for the non-downhill skier to do.
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