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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Ischgl

Country: Austria

Domain: Tirol / Silveretta

Author: Deliaskis

Date: January 2006

Our holiday: I organised a group of 9 intermediates and above (8 skiers, 1 boarder), plus one non-skier

Website : www.ischgl.com is the tourist office website, www.ischgl.at is also similar.

Basics : Ischgl lies in the Paznaun valley in the west of the Austrian Tirol close to the border with Switzerland (the skiing is cross-border). The nearest ‘well-known’ resort is probably St Anton. Convenient airports are Innsbruck (1.5 hours in a taxi (very good value Little Angel ), Friedrichshafen (1.5 hours in a taxi, and Munich and Zurich are also both feasible, although longer transfers. We flew into Innsbruck with Austrian and then took taxis to resort. Via public transport the nearest train station is Landeck im Arlberg and a post bus runs up the valley, but this is not very regular and the last one is about 7pm.

Lift system : Ischgl was in the DMS&S magazine last year quoted as having one of the most modern, fast and efficient lift systems in the whole of Europe. It is almost exclusively chairs (most of them high-speed), the only draglift we found was one that was to help skiers along a flatish section so not actually used for uplift per se. Access to the area is via one of the three gondolas which leave the various points of town. No queues to speak of the week we were there, apart from at skischool time getting out of town in the morning, but these were easily avoided.

The terrain : The lifts access over 200km of piste, and plenty of off-piste so there is plenty to be going on with for a week. We had a mixed group including mile-hungry piste-bashers, off-piste powder hounds and middle intermediate cruisers, and we were all still discovering new pistes on the last day of our holiday snowHead . Most of the skiing is above 2000m but there are a number of pistes which run down into town so ski-in accommodation is possible. These pistes are nice to ski in their own right unlike some resorts where the runs back to town are only skied at the end of the day when you absolutely have to. From the Idalp plateau and above the landscape is treeless (difficult in bad weather), and below the plateau, the skiing is treelined so better for bad weather and also very pretty.

There is a long run over to Switzerland away from the lifts which is quite dramatic, running between rock faces in dolomite style. This does have a long flat section at the bottom though which kind of ruined our morning Mad !

The terrain offered so much variety that it was suitable for all standards, with some great blacks from dramatic high lifts and plenty of cruising for the relaxed skier. Although, total beginners probably wouldn’t get the most out of the admittedly expensive liftpass.

The snow : Loads and loads of it, right down to the village. Piste conditions and grooming were exemplary.

Off-piste : There is plenty of off-piste, either from the plateau or through the wooded areas. Two in our group spent a lot of time off-piste and loved it.

The resort : The resort itself is quite big by Austrian village standards and very high spec with a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets (although real ‘budget’ accommodation is not very easy to find). It is not yet very well-known amongst british skiers and the majority of guests are German, Austrian and Dutch.

Despite its size, Ischgl does feel traditional in terms of building style and atmosphere. The centre is pedestrianised and there is an underground moving walkway linking one side of the village to the other. Apres ski is reputedly amongst the best in the alps - the village does rock with skiers (mostly still in skiboots) until the morning so night owls should find plenty to amuse them.

We had one non-skier with us and would say there isn’t a lot to do in the day, although there is a leisure centre with pool and treatments, and it’s easy to get up to Idalp to meet skiers for lunch.

Food : There are plenty of restaurants in the village, from pizzerias to traditional Austrian, to general alpine cuisine, to quite modern styles so something for all tastes. The ‘Salz & Pfeffer’ restaurant by the lift station is quite modern in style and very popular. On the mountain there are a couple of excellent pizza restaurants as well as the usual self-service affairs. Eating on the swiss side is very expensive and therefore not recommended - expect to add about 50% to the cost of everything.

Accommodation : We stayed at the Tanzer B&B which was just outside the centre of town. We skied back to the door and had a five minute walk in the morning. The B&B was excellent with all modern facilities and a wellness room including sauna etc.

Costs: Ischgl isn’t as cheap as some Austrian resorts, and as an example, we paid EUR45 per night for B&B (about £30). The standard of accommodation and the location was worth it though, but you won’t pick up any EUR20 a night bargains here. Ischgl is in general a very high spec resort and so isn’t cheap. However, we never paid more than EUR29 each for an evening meal which usually included three courses and more wine than I care to remember, so that’s actually quite good value.

Conclusion: I loved the place - very high standard of accommodation and facilities and masses of skiing, with not very many brits.

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