Its been quite a ski week, in the much talked about LECH ZÜRS AM ARLBERG!
Before I get into my experiences Here’s Lech in a nutshell for all the speedy readers:
- One of europe’s glitziest, best ski resorts. Isolated with old town charm.
- Closest airports: Zurich (2.5 hrs), Innsbruck (1hr) and Munich 2.5hrs).
- Ski Alberg: 5 alberg regions (Lech, Zurs, Stuben, St. Anton & At. Christoph)
- Over 50 restaurants in Lech alone some with Michelin stars. Must try
- Don Enzo Pizzeria
- Goldener Berg hotel, Oberlech
- Hus Nr. 8
- For apres ski- pfferkorns, hotel Krone.
- Stayed at hotel Theodul
- Limited shopping. Must visit Strolz on main street.
- Try para skiing and horse sleigh rides
We are here in the 1st week of March and the weather is beautiful, plenty of sunshine and good ski conditions, especially in the mornings. Our ski team is thrilled to reunite after a year. We start the day at 8:00am with breakfast and usually are on the slopes by 9:30. We spend all day skiing with a short drink break at 11:00 and lunch on the slopes at 1. The second half of the ski day is more taxing as the snow conditions get slushy and bumpy. We end at around 4:30pm and spend the evenings either at après ski or the spa/sauna. Dinner is at 7:30pm where we have a massive table just to ourselves, which is followed by a night of drinking and chatting for some, partying for others and “early to bed” for the rest.
Our hotel, Theodul, is excellent and very homely, typically designed as an alpine ski hotel. The rooms were spacey for a ski resort, clean and well planned, each with a deck overlooking the mountains. The spa is well equipped, with all the amenities you’d except at a top spa. Unfortunately, it only opens at 4 and you must book a massage ahead of time, as there are no masseuses on site. The food at the hotel is also fantastic, with a head chef who is also a Para skiing instructor! The generous breakfast spread has a large selection of meats, breads and cheeses. There’s no lunch served at the hotel but they have free soup, tea, coffee and cakes in the afternoon, which are also delicious. We eat dinner at our hotel every night, at the main dining room, which serves an innovative and sumptuous 3-4 course meal daily. It is included in the price of the room.
We started the week by skiing in Oberlech on day1. Our group’s collective comfortable ski level is red. We have some fantastic skiers that make skiing a black look like a cake walk. I am unfortunately not one of them. The slopes in Oberlech are simple mainly blues and reds. The views are pretty, but the highlight of the area is definitely the restaurants and the food. We went to the restaurant at the GoldenerBerg Hotel, which not only has great food and table service, but also has a beautiful sit out terrace overlooking the mountains. For “gourmet skiers” like me, it is immensely satisfying to have a meal that is appealing to your taste buds as well as your senses, during a day of rigorous exercise. I recommend the goat cheese salad and the roast chicken with garlic dip both of which are lip-smacking good.
On day 2 we went to Zurs by cable car. The views here are stunning!! The slopes were also beautiful and easy, again mostly blues and red. We stopped for lunch at the Enzian Hotel restaurant on the slopes. The food was good (I tried the wiener schnitzel) but not as good as the previous day’s lunch. Again we sat on a sit out terrace and sipped on beers, which was great. The table service however, was horrible. The food took forever and the waitresses weren’t interested in making sure the guests were satisfied. Other than that it was a good ski day with stunning vistas. 4 brave individuals from our group also hung out at the red bull ice bar & tried para sking from Oberlech, in the second half of the day, and swore it was a must try experience. I wasn’t one of them 🙂
On day 3 we made our way to the St. Anton & St. Christoph ski system. it felt like we were on top of the world. This location is a favorite with the Prince of Wales and his family and it’s easy to see why. Great restaurants, exceptionally spectacular views, ski elite crowd and super skiing. Since the systems are so popular the buses to and fro were terribly crowded as were the restaurants. We had lunch at Ulmer Hutte, which had average food, but had friendly staff and quick table service. Unfortunately however, the visibility in the second half of the day was horrendous and I had a serious fall. That pretty much ended the “ski” week for me. I’ve since spent 3 days sitting in the hotel with a neck brace, owing to whiplash from the fall, and watched movies and blogged. Thankfully nothing is seriously broken but I am scheduled for an MRI when I return in to Mumbai . sigh!
So thanks to my injury, I’ve had a lot of time to wander the town. I walked around visited some shops, the church, and even had lunch at 2 great stand alone restaurants. The Don Enzo pizzeria serves excellent authentic wood oven pizza, delicious pasta & wine. Hus Nr. 8 is a little cottage on the main street that serves gourmet traditional Austrian food. Try the seafood variation platter and end with the Austrian pancakes or apple strudel with vanilla sauce, both are delicious. Now that I feel familiar with the place, I also start to notice everything else around me. For example, I noticed our group probably has the only Asians in the town. We get strange/ curious/ fascinated looks while we ski, eat, shop or just walk around. Another thing I observed was that although Lech is used to so many tourists, most of them are German or Austrian. Official numbers record that they account for almost 50% of the hotel occupations in the season. So, without making any broad sweeping statements, I find the hospitality in Lech rather disappointing, if you don’t speak German! Restaurants and hotels are not happy to entertain special requests, as they often don’t understand you and therefore come across as rude and short. Employment is seasonal so its not like the staff plans on sticking around forever and it shows in their demeanor. My favorite observation so far though, is that there are 2 kinds of skiers here. The ones that truly come to indulge in the sport (people like us) and the others, who here for a completely different purpose- they are “slope candy”. I quite enjoy watching them. They are clearly good skiers but aren’t really here to ski. Owing to Lech’s reputation for elite ski socializing they are here for the frills and skiing is just a happy bi-product. You’re sure to run into gorgeous, blonde haired, blue-eyed guys and girls, on and off the slopes. With their “Ralph-Lauren-preppy-meets-Prada-chic” look and perfectly blowed-out hair, they can easily distract you from your rigorous ski plan. The interesting après ski haunts, including hookah bars, bar-clubs and even an ice bar (everything inside is made of ice), are filled with them. Their ski attire is also interesting. Until this trip I have never seen men ski in, what can best be described as, variations of dinner jackets and women ski in Gucci ski suits, which look less like ski suits and more like something that was just used on the runway. Regardless they are an interesting bunch and make great subjects for people watching!
Overall it’s been a good holiday week, aside from the fact that I couldn’t ski for most of it. We also watched the Lech night fire show which displayed skier’s techniques while they held torches, and skied in formations. It was quite interesting. Yesterday was our last group dinner before we separated to go home to our respective countries. Hopefully when we reconvene next year everyone will be there- the 11 Indians, the 14 Sweeds and the 3 Germans. I cant believe what started as 5 couples on a holiday 25 years ago, has now become a tradition including the next generation, 28 people strong and counting… I will miss our fun bunch… But spirits are still high as today it’s onward to Zurich for my husband and me, and I am looking forward to exploring a new city…
Photo credits: all the photos in the articles on Lech are credited to my friends and family…. especially Natasha Mehta, Farshid Cooper, Purnima Sheth and Nilesh Mehta. Lots of love to all of you.