SEASON START & END: Open beginning of December to late April
CONNECTIONS: Lech Zürs am Arlberg is connected with Zug, Warth-Schröcken, Stuben, St. Anton and St. Christoph.
SKI ALTITUDE: 1304m-2800mm / Vertical Drop- 1400m
PISTE LENGTH: Total of 115km of piste / The connection with St. Anton increases the total to 300km of piste
PISTE LEVELS: 130km Beginner (blue) / 122 km Intermediate (red) / 50km Expert (black)
LIFTS: 87 (Cable cars-17 / Chair lift-43 / Drag lifts-27)
SNOW: The entire Arlberg is known for its snow reliability, up to 11 metres of natural snow fall here per year / 1080 snow cannons in total
LIFT TICKET 2022/23 Ski Pass: Adult 67 Euros – 1 day / 358 Euros – 6 days
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: 27km of trails
AIRPORT: Innsbruck 130km (1:30 hours) / Zurich 220km (2:20 hours) / Munich 320km (3:30km)
TRAIN: Nearest station is Langen am Arlberg station (15km to Lech) or St. Anton station (20km to Lech)
SKI FACTS: First ever heated seats in the world, in the Warth-Schröcken skiing area / Legendary 22km ski route ‘The White Ring’ in Lech Zürs am Arlberg / Heli-skiing from Kriegerhorn/Oberlech and from the Flexen Pass (Zürs) to Mehlsack or to Schneetal/Orgelscharte / Audi FIS Ski Worldcup 12th and 13th of November 2022
Lech was originally founded in the 14th century by Walsers migrating from Switzerland. It has a rich history of farming which it still has to this day. Lech sits in the Voralrberg region right next to the Tyrol region, with the Arlberg mountain range sitting between them. There are actually several villages in the area connected by roads and by ski piste. Oberlech is the closest and sits just above Lech as a beautiful collection of hotels and homes. Zug is further west and the mountains in this direction are known as little Canada. Further north is Warth, a little town where in 1894 father Johann Müller read about how Scandinavians were travelling around on skis. He ordered a pair of these skis from Scandinavia and proceeded to practise in secret, so that he could eventually visit all of his parishioners and fellow priests over the mountains. When he was discovered, half the locals allegedly thought he was in cahoots with the devil, the other half went home and made their own skis, and the rest is as they say history and Johann Müller is famed for bringing skiing to the Alps.
Further South is Zürs, a small village consisting of mostly hotels, and then Stuben where the famous Hannes Schneider was born who developed the Arlberg technique with the Stem Christie turn, the predecessor to the modern day Parallel turn, which spread throughout the Skiing world back in the early 20th Century. Further South is the small village St. Christoph up high at 1800m and then further south is St. Anton.
Lech is a beautiful village with stunning architecture and in my eyes the perfect size for a mountain village. There are a few shops but not too many with Strolz in the centre playing the part of the local Harvey Nichols. With many hotels and a total of 87 restaurants in the area, one is never stuck for choice of food.
We can recommend staying at the fabulous Hotel Gottard with their restaurants, bakery, cafe, brewery and bar; Clemens and Nicole will make you so welcome that you will never want to leave. The perfectly positioned Hotel Aurelio has fantastic views over Lech and if you want to experience staying in Zug we loved the Hotel Staefeli run by the Birk family, great design and fabulous food, make sure to visit Achtele their wine restaurant.
With a total of 300km pistes and 115km local pistes there is something for everyone. The lift system is modern with many new lifts having been installed over the last few years. For instance the Flexenbahn cable car opened in 2016 which now links the areas of Lech and Zürs with St. Christoph and St. Anton making it one of the largest ski areas in Austria on a par with some of the giant French ski areas. It has also reduced the buses between the two regions by 120 buses a day which can only be a good thing for the environment. The region tends to get a generous snowfall each year of up to about 11 metres. Due to its location the area tends to receive weather from several different directions, unlike some ski resorts that only receive snow from one aspect, so if it is snowing somewhere in the region, then chances are that Lech Zürs am Arlberg will be getting snow too.
The mountain restaurants are outstanding, with a huge variety of cuisine. Our favourite place to hang out for lunch or even just a coffee or a cocktail is Der Wolf.
Beginners can head round the back of the church to the handful of gentle blue pistes known as 218 Fluhen, far from the madding alpine crowds. Eventually, beginners can head to the lower slopes of Lech where there is a good collection of blue pistes.
Intermediates can pretty much enjoy most of the mountain area, heading up to the peaks to enjoy the views and the large selection of well groomed reds.
Whilst Lech and Zürs may only have one black piste, the area does have a total of 36 of ski routes which are unprepared, alternatively one can head over to Warth where there is a collection of fabulous black pistes.
– OFF PISTE –
There are about 200km of recognised backcountry routes of which the ‘Madloch route’ is the longest at 5.5km. It is the only region in Austria to offer heli skiing packages for four skiers and a guide. There are two peaks to heliski from, the ‘Mehlsack peak’ for experienced skiers, whilst ‘Schneetal-Orgelscharte’ is good for medium skiers.
Lech – Oberlech – Zürs
There are many flattering blue pistes lower down the mountain from Oberlech heading down to Lech. The Red pistes coming down from the Zuger Hoclicht peak are a lot of fun for carving on, and it is definitely worth checking out some of the quieter red pistes on the Trittkopf side of Zürs where you can really step on the gas. It is worth trying your hand at the ‘White Ring’, a 22km circular route that will have you ski a combined vertical descent of 5,500 metres. It has a cult status as a race and will have your legs burning by the end. The record is currently held by Markus Weiskopf at 44:10:75
Warth – Schrocken
Warth has a fabulous mix of pistes and to be honest I had overlooked this area on previous trips sadly. With the new lift connection it is easy to get to from Lech. When I visited it was very quite and reminded me of skiing back in the 80s when there were less skiers altogether on the mountain. Lots of longs pistes, lots of rollers and lots of fun to be had. Go ski in the ski tracks of Father Johann Müller and say a little thank you for his wayward antics.
ECOLOGY & SUSTAINABILITY
-The Vorarlberg company ‘illwerke vkw AG’ produces 100% hydropower, since 2020 Ski-Zurs_AG relies entirely on this renewable energy source
-By limiting the resort to 10,000 guest beds ensures quality tourism and lessens the footprint on the environment and conserves resources too.
-Locally sourced Wood Chips heat the four Biomass plants in Lech, Zug, Oberlech and Zurs and provide almost 100% heating to all the buildings in these areas. Thus saving 24,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.
-In 2018/19 Europe’s first fully electric ‘Green Garage’ for electric cars was built and Electric buses are now being put to the test in the area.
-Oberlech is ‘Traffic-Free’ with guests and goods being delivered by Electric vehicles via underground tunnels.
-High Altitude farming is a way of life here, no fertilisers are used on the slopes, so there are over 60 rare plants growing throughout the mountains. The grazing Scottish Highland cattle help graze the steep slopes which prevents avalanches in winter and cattle supply the local area with dairy produce and meat.
For more on the area please visit online.
Lech is located in the region of Vorarlberg, for more information on the region including other ski resorts such as Silvretta Montafon and Golm please visit their website online.
The Bespoke Black Book travelled with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle to get to the Austrian Alps. Book your trip with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from as little as £87 per vehicle (up to 9 passengers) each way for a Short Stay Saver ticket (valid for 5 calendar days) or £110 per vehicle (up to 9 passengers) for a Standard ticket (for any duration). Alternatively travel in style with one way £269 per vehicle (up to 9 passengers) for a Flexiplus ticket, turn up any time and get on the next available train, and access to the club lounge (for any duration). You can also take your pet from just £22 each way. For more information or to book see online at www.eurotunnel.com