It is a little further to drive than most Austrian resorts but the skiing at Skiarena Nassfeld is really fantastic and well worth those extra kms. Nassfeld is only a one hour transfer from Klagenfurt and can be arranged by the local tourist office or hotel of your choice.
Little wonder this resort is in the top four of ski regions of Carinthia and has a season which stretches from early December through to late April with an excellent snow record.
Skiarena Nassfeld is located in Carinthia (Kaernten) and is reached by taking the Salzburg/Villach motorway (toll route euro 9.50) and will take around 11/12 hours from Calais.
There are 30 modern lifts - which can move 39,000 skiers every hour - including five high-speed gondolas, three 6-seat chairs, four 4-seat chairs, together with 18 other lifts. In addition to this, skiers can enjoy 101km of downhill piste from altitudes in excess of 2000m.
Skiarena Nassfeld is regarded as one of the most modern winter sports centres in Austria with the longest cablecar in the Alps. At 6000m in length the "Millenium Express" climbs from the valley base station at Tropolach (610m) and rises to the top of the Madritsche mountain (1919m) in around 12 minutes. It offers good skiers the opportunity of the "Carnia" downhill run which stretches 7,6km. The lower third of the slope is floodlit every night between 19.00hrs and 21.00hrs making it the longest floodlit run in Europe!
If you prefer tobogganing at night, there is a floodlit course and once a month the resort stages a night-skiing party for guests. There are numerous other activities including ice skating on Lake Weissensee, the largest constantly frozen natural ice rink in Europe. It stretches 6,5sq.km and on it is staged ice golf, ice hockey and well as normal skating.
But for skiing, the resort offers some superb opportunities, either from Madritsche (1919m) or Gartnerkofel (2195m), Rudnigsattel (1945m) and Troghohe (2020m). One surprising aspect of Nassfeld is its closeness to Italy. In fact the border is around 500m from the village and by taking the "Passhohe" drag you can then ski down to the "old border post" no longer used as Austria and Italy are both Members of the EU!
The Editor stayed at the Hotel Sonnenalpe, an excellent 60-room modern hotel complete with underground car park so guests can park without worrying about snowfall or lower temperatures. The hotel is right on the slopes so you step out of the ski room direct onto the snow and ski down to the "Dreier" chair lift. Alternatively, just cross the road and take the 6-seater "Madritsche chair" which rises to the top of the mountain bearing the same name from where you can ski across to the small resort of Sonnleith and then take a chair which links to Mossern (1590m) and and climb on the "Rudnigsattelift" to 1945m.
Back at the Sonnenalpe Hotel which is run by Michael and Silke Pucher, you can enjoy a swim in the "world of water" indoor pool or take a dip in the outside swimming pool (heated to +35oC) and swim surrounded by heaps of snow. The Sonnenalpe Hotel also offers "sauna world" where you can relax after a hectic days skiing or enjoy a massage as the hotel employs fully qualified staff. The hotel is part of a 10-strong group of hotels (www.alpine-retreats.at) where the hoteliers are dedicated to delivering excellence. The Sonnenalpe is a family hotel where children of all ages are more than welcome.
The Hotel Sonnenalpe prides itself on quality of accommodation and its excellent restaurant and choice of foods. The chef de cuisine can prepare foods with a strong Italian influence when required. But the Sonnenalpe has one more delightful surprises for its guests. A wine cellar of 400 labels and prices with little added to the original "purchase price". So excellent choice, superb quality, and prices to suit the pocket! (see Editor's Choice Hotel)
Michael was born in Nassfeld and took over the Hotel Sonnenalpe in l992 which was built by his father in 1960 as Nassfeld was "launching itself" as a commercial ski centre. Michael's father was responsible for the first lift and now there are 30 modern lifts opening up 100km of great skiing. He is still very much involved in the uphill transport systems for Nassfeld.
Skiarena Nassfeld is represented in the Uk by Ski Solutions (020 7471 7742), or by contacting the local tourist office direct.
The 2006-07 season will open in early December and continue until mid April.