News from the snow
Mayrhofen has a long standing place in the upper ranks of the world's winter sports resorts, blessed as it is with extensive ski areas. The town's location in the wide and flat bottomed Ziller Valley adds to its appeal, as the Valley is famous for the classical beauty of the surrounding mountains. The buildings in the town are almost all of traditional Tyrolean chalet design (albeit on a giant scale in some cases) giving the resort itself a natural ambience and a picturesque image in common with its surroundings. The water flowing in to the water fountain and through the hotel taps comes direct from the mountain springs above. One of the best equipped mountain resorts in Austria and one of the few towns in the province (although with a population of less than 4000), Mayrhofen covers 178 square kilometres and is the third largest community in the world famous Tyrol. Popular as a climbing and walking area for over 100 years, the town began as 'Meierhof' an estate belonging to the Archbishops of Salzburg and first mentioned in 1200 AD. It was not granted market town status until 1969, but three years later was granted the Flag of the European Council because of its partnership with towns and villages in neighbouring countries. Today this flag waving is proven correct by the fact that only 7% of Mayrhofen's clientele arrives from other parts of Austria, with nearly 50% making the short drive over the border from Germany, nearly 20% arriving from the UK and 9% from the Netherlands.
One of Austria's top resorts and the third largest community in the Tyrol, but it has managed to retain the ambience and architectural integrity of a traditional Tyrolean village. The skiing takes place on two separate mountains, the larger of which is reached by the impressive Penken cable car. The local ski area is extensive, but the Super Zillertal pass increases the maximum to more than 639km.
The Ahorn area is popular with beginners as it has almost exclusively easy slopes around the top and a chance to relax at the White Lounge. However the famous 5km (3 miles) long Ahorn Valley Run does run down this mountain. Beginners will also find key areas at the summit of the Penken to be the domain of learner skiers.
Mayrhofen's skiing is classic country for intermediate standard skiers who will enjoy endless opportunities on the Penken, including long trails down to neighbouring Finkenberg. Better skiers will spend most of their time on the Penken, with the popular Devil's Run on the linked Horberg mountain. Head for the Knorren side first thing in the morning as thats the first spot to get the sunshine.
The new Zillertal 3000 partnership with neighbouring Finkenberg, Eggalm and Rastkogel open up still more extensive possibilities and there are popular itineraries around the area.
Another option is to take the bus to other resorts on the Zillertaler Super Skipass which opens up over 649km (405 miles) of trails and 160 lifts, including the guaranteed snow trails of the Hintertux glacier. The bus is free to Pass holders. The resort has four ski schools employing around 150 instructors, many English speaking.
Depending on the age of the children, entertainments include winter hikes, puppet shows and horse drawn sleigh rides. Even the tourist office has a special children's counter where small gifts are handed out, along with a birthday surprise (when applicable) and all relevant information.
All of the ski schools have children's ski kindergartens and competition between the four of them helps to maintain high standards.
More unusual options for an Austrian resort include Chinese and Mexican restaurants and there are a couple of Italian places serving pizza and pasta.
The ‘Ice Bar’ at the Hotel Strass and ‘Nikki’s Schirmbar’ are top spots for the afternoon, whilst ‘Scotland Yard’ and ‘Brücke’s Schlüssel Alm’ are the best to take you late into the night. One of the hippest spots in the Alps, is the ‘White Lounge’, part of the Igloo Village, located in the middle of the Ahorn ski area at 2000m. Every Tuesday is party night with live DJ spinning the decks at the big Igloo Party. After a night of stylish partying there is no need to hail a cab home...or a cable-car for that matter as by night the White Lounge turns into one of the most exclusive overnight accommodation venues.
At Europahaus music concerts of all types from pop, through jazz to classical are staged. Bowling rinks are open at the Hotel Neuhaus and at the Keghelbahn.
One of the mountain's hot spots for boarders is the Gerent ridge, beautifully described as "slightly incalculable" by the 'in crowd' (who tend to congregate in the Scotland Yard pub at the end of the day). Otherwise the Penken offers wide open cruising terrain. The Vans Penken Park is at the 'Hintertrett' and has been regularly extrended.
All the rental shops have boards and all the ski schools have snowboarding tuition on offer, but Action Club Zillertal and Mountain Sport may appeal more if you already know the basics. Both offer all the OTHER winter action sports.