St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
St. Anton am Arlberg is a large resort located at the heart of the Arlberg ski region in western Austria. The site hosted the Alpine World Skiing Championships in 2001 and is perhaps most notable for its provision of slopes for expert and professional skiers.
St. Anton has a wide variety of Après-ski facilities making it very popular with socialites and serious skiers alike. The site is linked by cable car and bus to the nearby St. Christoph, Zürs, Stuben and Lech ski resorts, but the appropriate ski-pass must be purchased beforehand.
How to Get There
Flights to Innsbruck Kranebitten Airport are available from many British holiday providers, with Dublin, Heathrow, Glasgow and Gatwick all operating flights to Austria. St. Anton is around 64 miles away from Innsbruck by rail, and car hire is available at many European airports. Unfortunately, due to the low frequency of flights from some of the smaller airports (Cardiff and Dublin especially), skiers may want to consider a detour to Zürich, Munich in Germany or even Milan in northern Italy.
The Arlberg Express shuttle provides both a taxi and limousine service from Zürich airport to the St. Anton resort. This service operates in winter only. Please be aware that the owners of conventional motor vehicles will be required to pay a toll in order to travel on some of the larger Austrian roads. The Arlberg Pass tunnel, for example, costs around €8.50 each way.
If driving from Zurich yourself, the 125 mile journey will take about 2-3 hours. If driving from Innsbruck, you should go via Imst and Landeck to reach the resort.
The town of Langen near St. Anton has a Eurocity train station providing direct access to many major European cities including Munich, Innsbruck, Brussels and Paris. The Orient Express also passes through St. Anton during the off-season.
A regular bus service operates between St. Anton and the nearby town of Zürs, but motorists wanting to get further afield can use the Arlberg schnellstraße (motorway) that runs to the south of the site.
Who the Resort Caters for
St. Anton am Arlberg is not a quiet place and family groups may feel uncomfortable with the rowdy nightlife. Winter holiday specialist Ski Europe describes the resort as being ideal for the “hard-drinking, disco-loving, keen-for-action holiday maker who can stand the pace of getting to bed late and being up for the first lift”.
The Après-ski facilities include 18 restaurants, 19 discos and bars and 15 cafés. The Times newspaper ranked St. Anton’s ‘Krazy Kangaruh’ bar number one on their list of the ten best Après-ski bars in the world.
The resort caters primarily for expert skiers, which means that the slopes are often steep and under-groomed, and beginners may struggle to find a home on the crowded slopes. St. Anton has a snow park built especially for snowboarders and a team of highly experienced coaches to help timid skiers tackle the tougher courses. The resort does cater for children, but the busy slopes and hectic nightlife may prove to be a hindrance to their ski-schooling.
What Accommodation the Resort Offers
The Arlberg ski region offers almost 9,000 beds in five different resorts. Hotels and chalets are available throughout the year. A typical chalet costs between €700 and €900, and provides up to ten people with en-suite facilities, a lounge-dining room and a sauna. Two people sharing a room can expect a half-board service with complimentary wine provided.
Hotels are often the cheaper option but they can be situated up to a kilometre from the St. Anton site proper. Shuttle buses are provided to ferry holidaymakers to and from the resort, but for those hoping to make use of Après-ski areas without having to worry about the journey home it may be wiser to consider renting a chalet within the St. Anton complex. Hotels are better suited to families with children and offer a half-board service.
Further information on the hotels at the St. Anton resort is available from the specialist winter holiday company Europe Mountains. Skiers hoping to book a chalet for their trip should consider visiting the St. Anton Chalets website.
St. Anton is divided into a number of different areas. New skiers should hone their skills at one of the nursery slopes on offer, while more seasoned athletes should test their mettle in the Rendl and Galzig areas. The latter area is one of the most popular slopes at the resort and can become busy towards the evening. Nervous skiers may want to make the trip to the nearby Zürs or St. Christoph resorts.
The resort offers both on and off-piste runs for experienced skiers. There are 114 miles of off-piste slopes at St. Anton, each with a variety of powder bowls, trails through the woods and several long, steep slopes that run from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the valley. Skiers may need to hire a guide before they are allowed to tackle some of the more dangerous slopes, including the Valluga and the Sonnenkopf trails.
There are 158 individual pistes available in the Arlberg ski region. The St. Anton resort alone has 161 miles of groomed slopes. Unfortunately, the site is south-facing and receives strong afternoon sun meaning that the slopes are not always in the best condition. The resort utilises fifty-three natural snow cannons to keep the slopes fresh.
Overall, St. Anton provides excellent slopes for skiers of all levels of competence but offers only standard facilities for those taking their first steps. Children may feel more at home on the toboggan run that begins in the early evening than on the slopes proper.
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The St. Anton am Arlberg ski season begins in December and runs until the following May.