A Delightful Skiing Valley Offering Numerous Pistes To Suit All Levels
When winter sportspersons get into the swim, they may not have their skis under control or they are taking a holiday in Gastein. Because one not only enjoys après-ski in an alpine hut but also at the Salzburg winter sports centre with the three communities of Dorfgastein, Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein: connoisseurs head straight from the run for a last stop at one of the two top Gastein thermal spas.
The Gasteinertal is an Austrian Valley offering so much diversity of winter sports that it is little wonder more and more British skiers are heading for this winter paradise. With 44 lifts and over 200km of downhill skiing throughout the 20km-long valley, the choice of run and location of the various starting points is considerable.
An added bonus is that the Gastein Valley is part of the Salzburgerland "Ski Amade" which means your lift pass is valid for use at 25 different ski villages offering a total of 860 different downhill pistes and no fewer than 270 ski lifts.
The Gastein Valley is just one hour by car or bus from Salzburg and there are regular train services via Bischofshofen. There are regular flights by Ryan Air from the UK into Salzburg airport. By car from Calais the journey to Salzburg is 10/11 hours and then via the Tauern autobahn (A10) to Bischofshofen, then the B311 and B167 into the Gastein Valley.
There are five extensive skiing areas within the valley with the top station at 2,700m and pistes to suit every level of skier. The longest downhill runs are the Schlossalm-Hohe Scharte Nord and the Fulseck which are both approximately 8km from top down to the valley.
There is constant modernisation of the lift systems and to ensure good coverage of the "white stuff"; almost 12 million euros have been spent on "snow-sure" facilities and other improvements during the summer.
New two winter seasons ago was the "Angertal Ski Centre" above Hof Badgastein, improved at a cost of 10 million euros including new builings housing a restaurant, ski school and ski rental and a special area for young children.
You can enjoy floodlit skiing, floodlit tobogganing down a 2.5km track from bellevue-Alm at Bad Gastein, swimming in the thermal baths a Hof Badgastein, curling, indoor horse riding, a visit to the famous castle at Klammstein (first documented in 1272) or a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the forest from Bad Gastein to a "dreamy" mountain hostellery at 1300m height on a jorney which takes an hour to complete. While the horses are rested, fed and watered in readiness for the return "downhill" journey, guests can enjoy a schnapps, beer and a variety of home-cooked meats with all the trimmings!
The healing and beneficial effect of the Gastein thermal waters has been known far beyond Austria’s borders for hundreds of years. Formed by water and rocks, the Gastein Rock Thermal Spa mediates a unique atmosphere with its outstanding architecture. A million litres of thermal water from 17 springs feed the thermal-spa pools. The Alpen Therme in Bad Hofgastein is considered Europe’s most modern alpine recreation- and health facility: six adventure- and health areas and a sauna sphere with its own bathing lake offer wellness pleasure of a special kind. Ski-run specialists find all that a heart could desire in these two top thermal spas: from enchanting outdoor pools, which steam mystically in the heart of a snowy winter landscape, to the most various saunas, steam baths and relaxing massages. Tired winter sportspersons also gather strength for the next day in Gastein’s healing tunnel at air temperatures from 37.5 to 41.5°C, humidity between 70 and almost 100 percent and a healing radon-content in the air.
The Gastein Valley ranges in altitude from 830m to 2686m with five extensive ski areas including a link across to Grossarl in the next valley. There is the World Championship run at Graukogel and the high alpine area of Sportgastein and the gondola link to Kreuzkogel (2686m). There are 38 mountain restaurants with a funicular, one cable car, ten gondolas, three 6-seater chairs, seven 4-seat chairs, seven 2-seat chairs and 15 drag lifts throughout the valley.
The longest slope is the Stubnerkogel-Angertal at 8km, closely followed by Schlossalm-Hohe Scharte Nord at 7.8km in length.&pic&
Every Wednesday evening until 2100hrs there is floodlit sking on the Bucheban ski field in Bad Gastein.
Fewer than 15,000 people live in the Gastein Valley yet more than 2.3million visitors come for holidays. The British account for around three per cent of the total - but the number is growing with one of the main UK tour operators being Crystal.
There are hotels and guest houses to suit all pockets and tastes. One hotel strongly recommended by the Editor, especially if you enjoy being pampered! - is the Hotel Europaischerhof at the top end of the valley just below Bad Gastein. This is the "Editor's Tip" as the 120 bedroomed hotel offers guests a large indoor heated swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and 6-course evening meal and a breakfast buffet, afternoon coffee and cake, a hairdressers, sauna, massage, "keller" restaurant with dancing, and a host of other excellent facilities including a free hotel bus service to the various lift stations. The hotel also stocks the latest skis and boots for hire with the chance to purchase at the end of your stay!
A 7-night half board ski package with a 5-day lift ticket is from 853 euros (591.70 pounds). The hotel's e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Director of Tourism in the Valley is Mr Martin Zeppezauer who is keen to see the number of guests from the UK increasing. He believes the continuing re-investment in modern lifts, snow-making equipment, and the vast choice of skiing in the valley will prove attractive to British guests. This, combined with the thermal baths complex which was recently refurbished at a cost of 25 million euros to make it one of the most modern thermal and leisure facilities in europe, is yet another indication of the determination of the Valley authorities to "lure" visitors. .
Hof Badgastein is the main village and has excellent shops and the thermal baths complex. There is the funicular link to Kitzstein followed by the cablecar link to Schlossalm (2050m). On the slopes are the numerous chair and drag lifts and you can ski across to Skicentrum Angertal (1175m) which in turn offers links across to Stubnerkogel (2246m) above Bad Gastein.
The resort of Bad Gastein has long historical connections with romantic buildings, still luxurious, and in the centre is the famous waterfalls and the casino, together with the "Felsenbad" thermal baths and famous mineral springs. Above Bad Gastein are the skiing slopes of Graukogel (2492m) and the Sportgastein ski area (1590m - 2686m) to Kreuzkogel.
All in all, a fantastic valley offering more than we have space for here but log onto the Gastein website for more info.