Lech Village. Photo Credit: Christoph Schoech
305 Km (linked with Zurs, Oberlech, St Christoph, St Anton and other Arlberg villages)
1,450 M – 2,811 M
Valluge II – 2,810 M
Blue 43, Red 40, Black 17.
Innsbruck 1.5 hrs
Friedrichshafen 1.5 hrs
Zurich 2.5 hrs
Ski school normally takes place at Oberlech above the main village. This area has a great snow record all season long and immaculately groomed, gentle slopes on which to perfect those first turns.
Children from age 3 can join kids clubs in the village and Ski School Oberlech offers lessons from 3½ years, but many opt for in-chalet childcare services that are widely available.
Lech is the perfect resort for the true luxury ski holiday connoisseur. There’s the unrivalled winter sports history that oozes from every corner of the resort; the exceptional dining and luxury ski chalet options; an exceptional snow record and its location in Austria largest ski areas, altogether a truly winning combination.
Austria is famous for its strict building regulations which have prevented the ugly concrete constructions that blight many of the great resorts of the Alps. In Lech however they’ve taken it up several notches and filled those traditional Tyrolean Alpine chalet-style buildings with great restaurants, designer boutiques, stylish hotels and of course superb designer chalets.
Lech and the Arlberg region were where downhill skiing really took off in the early years of the twentieth century. Although people had been enjoying the first winter mountain holidays in a few Swiss resorts like Davos, Grindelwald and St Moritz since the 1860s, they weren’t skiing downhill there, at least not in the modern sense. The Arlberg changed all that and drew wealthy British, Swiss and German sportsmen and women wanting to try the new sport is wonderful surroundings. The finest luxury chalets and hotels, gourmet restaurants and stylish boutiques sprung up to serve them, and over a century later, this winning concept remains unchanged.
Sitting at 1450 metres Lech is wonderful snow-sure and an intermediates paradise with plenty of wide groomed crusy pistes. It has always been one of Europe’s best with an unrivalled reputation for powder – the average snowfall totals here are double what they are at most ski areas in the French Alps for example.
The ski area has grown and grown, most recently with a 50 million euro connection, the Flexenbahn, between the formerly separate halves of the Arlberg region on the Lech/Zurs and St Anton /St Christoph sides and the Arlberg can now claim to be the biggest ski area in Austria, with 305km of groomed runs, and another 200km of marked freeriding trails.
Although the Arlberg region as a whole has a justified reputation for some of the most challenging terrain on earth, Lech is a little less hardcore than St Anton for skiers and there are plenty of beautifully groomed, easy runs to enjoy. What’s more the resort has invested in plenty of fast, comfortable lifts to get around the mountain between descents, adding to the pleasure. As an added bonus Lech ensures the number of skiers on the slopes each day is strictly limited, so they don’t get too crowded and there’s even a recommended route around the ski area to maximise your exposure to sunshine known as the White Ring. It’s all about enjoying yourself.
For first timers and children beginner central is the car-free hamlet of Oberlech above the main village where there are perfect nursery slopes and wonderful children’s play area. The various ski schools offer first lessons from age 3½ to 4½ years.
Lech’s apres ski scene does not reach the hedonistic heights of its neighbour St Anton, but it can be lively enough. The terrace bars of the hotels at Oberlech are a particular meeting point as the lifts close for the day.
There’s a good selection of bars down in the village, many hotel based and several night clubs open towards dawn – try the Archiv if you want to make a night of it.
Although most chalets and hotels have their own private transportation an effective bus service called ‘James’ runs around the village between 8pm and 3am.
Goldener Berg (+43 5583 22050) at Oberlech scores 15 points in the prestigious Gault Millau Guide and has a choice of two restaurants for lunch. We love the scrumptious grilled meats served at the Berggrill terrace while the Dirndlstübli is a great choice for regional specialities.
Kriegeralpe (+43 664 442 2697) a very pretty alpine restaurant with friendly service and famed for its delicious Austrian specialities, home cooked of course.
Balmalp (+43 5583 3312) is well placed at the top of the Zug lift on the famed White Ring circuit. It’s a more modern building but there are still great views from the terrace and some wonderful dishes to try.
Aurerlio’s (+43 5583 2214) score of 17/20 in the latest Gault Millau Guide underlines just what a temple of gastronomic excellence in the Alps it is. Go for the whole hog in the evening or enjoy a simpler menu on the terrace at lunch.
Fux (+43 5583 2992) – meaning fox – combines steakhouse and an Asian Fusion restaurant, both of which we found superb, as did the Gault Millau Guide’s food critics who scored it a very high 15/20. Try the red Thai curry.
Don Enzo Pizzeria & Trattoria (+43 5583 2225) is a good choice if you fancy a change from all that meat and cheese heavy Austrian cuisine. It’s the village’s only Italian run restaurant and whilst it isn’t in the Gault Millau guide, it does serve great pizza.
There’s a choice of 12 different ski schools in Lech.
Skischule Lech (+43 5583 2355; skischule-lech.com) is one of the world’s oldest, established in 1925, but still going stronger than ever with a wide choice of group and private lessons plus Kinderland for children 4.5 and up.
Skischule Oberlech (+43 5583 2007; skischule-oberlech.at) based up by the nursery slopes offers numerous tuition options right up to the opportunity to learn ski touring or heli-skiing.
Arlberg Free Moving (+43 664 35 62 650; arlberg-free-moving.com) offers Alpine skiing tuition but specialises in Telemark and cross country skiing. The school’s philosophy of balance with nature means they offer yoga classes too.
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