Over the last 30 yeras, my wife (who has been skiing since the age of 5 and taught me how to ski) and I have travelled to every major ski area in North America and Europe.
Yes, Utah may have the best quality snow; Zermatt may be quaint and romantic; Vail is superb; Val d'Isere has fabulous terrain; Whistler is good skiing and good value (but often bad weather); the Dolomites are vast and have great food; Trois Vallees can be good; but there is no question that the absolute greatest ski vacation in the known universe is had in the Arlberg region of Austria, specifically in Lech.
That's why we go every year for 2 weeks (first 2 weeks of March - when the weather is generally good, the snow is great and the days are long) and we've been visiting for over 20 years.
What makes this area the best is the vastness of terrain (hundreds of kilometers of perfectly groomed runs and hundreds of acres of off-piste skiing), the sheer physical beauty, the ultra-modern equipment, the rapid ascents to mountaintops and long descents, skiing from town to town, the fantastic food and lodging, the best ski school anywhere, skiing for every level of skier and something which loses in the translation called GEMUTLICHKEIT - a wonderful feeling of welcome, warmth, pleasure, perfection and hospitality.
The six towns that comprise the region are: St. Anton (the largest and closest feel to an American ski resort), Stuben (very small and good for the budget-minded), Zurs (tiny, quiet and exclusive), St. Christoph (very tiny with excellent food and lodging, but no action) Oberlech (which is a collection of many hotels and restaurants right on the mountain) and our favorite ... Lech. They are all interconnected and the same pass allows one to ski anywhere (plus another ski area down the valley called Sonnenkopf).
Lech is postcard perfect. Nestled in a gorgeous valley, it straddles a small river and has everything to offer skiers and nonskiers alike. The hotels and restaurants are generally fabulous. When we arrive every year (an easy 2 hour drive from Zurich or Munich), we feel like we are returning home !
The hotel we stay in (a secret for now, but I will review it seperately) is a family owned and run establishment (as are most of the hotels in Lech); it is a 5+ Star hotel, with the best location (ski-in, ski-out virtually - right in the centre of town), services and food. The family makes improvements annually and today it has become a center of unsurpassed hospitality, luxury, gastronomy and comfort. I cannot express in words how much we love it. Because this hotel is so magnificent, guests return every year; many of the guests have been coming the same time each year for decades and many even have been coming for generations. Each year, we are welcomed by the owners with hugs and kisses and when we enter the dining room the first night, we see all our aquaintances from previous years - that's how we know that all is in balance and is well with the universe.
If the best ski vacation is what you seek, this is the place for you.
Two VERY IMPORTANT pieces of advice: remember that you get what you pay for (especially lodging) and if it's your first time in the area, hire a guide for 2-3 days to show you around.
If you can afford my services and if you are there when I am, I am one of the best guides in the Arlberg; I even take locals to places they've never been to !
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