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|Resort: Bad Hofgastein
Domain: Ski Amade - a whole bunch of Austrian resorts that you can ski on the same pass 860kms in all. Local area is Gastein Valley with 200kms of pistes.
Date: 17 to 24 March 2007
Our holiday: Looking for something different with a bit of luxury thrown in to make up for the rotten 2007 snow season, booked last minute to make sure we had a resort with some snow!
Website : The resort www.gastein.com/en-gastein-bad_hofgastein.htm
The skiing www.skigastein.com
The Spa www.alpentherme.com
Basics : The town is just over an hour from Salzburg airport, we travelled with Crystal and ThomsonFly....Crystal were excellent which is a complete surprise! Saltzburg was one of the most horrible airports I've ever had the misfortune to use!
Lift system : A mixture of lifts, up on the mountain mostly chairs and t-bars with gondolas up from the valley (funicular in Bad H itself). Most of the lifts are quick an efficient, many of the chairs have been fitted with weather bubbles. It was very late season and there wasn't one queue all week anywhere on the mountain.
The terrain : The Gastein valley consists of four seperate ski areas, Dorfgastein and SportGastein reached from Bad Hofgastein by bus and Bad Gastein which is lift linked to Bad Hofgastein via Angertal. We loved the skiing in the area, none of it was very steep, the blacks here would likely count as reds in most French resorts. That said, the runs were very interesting to ski with great variation and some lovely long tiring runs available. We particularly liked the H1/H2 run down from Schlossalm in Bad Hof, B11 and B20 down to Angertal in Bad G and Red3 from the Kreuzkogel in Dorfgastein. Despite the Ski Amade pass we didn't venture further afield....for one thing the snow in Gasteinertal was fantastic and there's enough skiing to keep you pretty busy for the full week, for another you'd need a car to go exploring which we didn't have.
Each of the four areas has a different character: Dorfgastein is mainly tree lined runs and an excellent place to head to in bad weather; Sportgastein is high open and exposed, it closes in bad weather and you need to check the reports before heading up there. Bad Hof and Bad G are more similar both have a mixture of tree lined and exposed pistes, in Bad Hof the tree lined runs are below mid-station so weren't open for this holiday, in Bad G they were open right down to the valley and good fun too!
To get between the areas you need to use the local buses, our experience was that they were efficient and on time and we had no problems at all getting around. Between resorts they ran half hourly and the town buses linking the hotels to the lift station ran every five or ten minutes.
The snow : Couldn't have been better! We picked Bad Hof because the snow reports before we went were good. The first day skiing in blazing sunshine proved the reports right, even at this late date and after a horrid season all the runs down to mid-station had great cover and would have been good for the week. Second day dumped over a metre of fresh snow and it snowed on and off all week culminatiing in another couple of feet just before we left.....we had a blinding time playing in the fluffy stuff then blasting down very well groomed pistes before having another play in the fluff before coming home.
Off-piste : Looked fantastic....but as always our timing was off, avalance risk was very high because of the heavy snowfall so off-piste was limited. There was certainly plenty to take advantage of, particularly up at the Sportgastein area, but as Mr HH found himself in a heap up to his chest when playing on piste we didn't really need to go off!!
The resort : Bad Hofgastein is not a ski station as such, it's a valley town with access to good skiing. At times, as it's late season, we felt very odd walking through town in our ski gear when everyone else was dress normally! The majority of hotels are Kurhotels for Austrians coming to take the healthy waters and apres ski is very limited....it's hard to find a bar to drink in at all! Everyone seemed to eat early and go to bed....very little night time excitement. The main feature of the town, other than skiing, is the AlpenTherme centre....a huge water complex with bubbly pools, flumes, relaxation beds and indoor/outdoor swimming....a lovely place to relax the aching muscles.
Food : We didn't have a bad meal anywhere on the mountain, I can highly recommend the following: Aeroplanhutte just above the mid-station of the Schlossalmbahn, the Waldgasthof (or some such?) on the righthand side of B20 on the schuss back down to Angertal and the hutte just above the bottom of lift 39 that I can't remember the name of. Didn't eat out in town so have no idea what the restaurants are like there. We frequented the Sky Bar for our apres ski drinks....a glass box perched three floors up on top of the AlpenTherme....fantastic views out across the mountains and the town, not the liveliest of spots (we were often there on our own) but a nice place to end the day.
Accommodation : We stayed in the Hotel Osterreichisher Hof, excellent food, excellent room, althogether excellent! It was up in the town centre but we didn't mind hopping on the bus in the mornings. Only two niggles: the hotel bar has been taken over by the restaurant so there's no cosy spot for a pre dinner drink; in common with everywhere else you are expected to eat early...last service in the restaurant was 8:15 and the waiters started pacing and looking stressed if you were still sitting there approaching 9pm which was a bit too early for us.
Costs: We paid ¬£350 for the holiday last minute (including an upgraded room supplement). Lift pass was 182 euros for a seven day pass (we were lucky enough to be able to ski on our last morning!), 3 euros deposit for the hands free card. Glass of wine and a pint of weissebeer in the Sky Bar came to 6 euros and two mains and two drinks about 20 euros up on the mountain. All in all a great value place to visit.
Conclusion: If you want ski in/ski out with a huge lift linked area and great apres ski don't go to Bad Hof. If you want somewhere with a different character and great skiing and don't mind the odd bus ride it's great....we'll be going back.
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