News from the snow
Saalbach Hinterglemm Austria
The second most popular destination in Austria (after the capital Vienna), Saalbach Hinterglemm offers some of the country's most exciting skiing and was the location for the 1991 Alpine World Championships. The resort was an Alpine village in its own right long before the advent of skiing. Saalbach is marginally the larger (and louder) of the two villages, originally 4km (two and a half miles) apart, which have grown so much that they now almost meet in the middle. The chalet style hotels at Saalbach with carved wooden balconies cluster around the custard-yellow church steeple. The resort is especially popular with the Dutch and German markets, At Hinterglemm the valley floor is broarder and the hotels larger, more up market and with the village itself more widely spead out. The two villages are neighbours and now marketed as one resort in the picturesque Glemmtal Valley, a 'dead end' valley which offers skiing on all sides and numerous access points to the slopes. It The altitude range is quite low and, given that many of the slopes are usually sunny, this could be detrimental, but fortunately local climatic conditions (and a good deal of snow making) help to maintain cover. All building in the area is in keeping with traditional architectural design (commonly known as 'Tyrolean' chalet style', although this is the neighbouring province of Salzburgerland). Despite the fact that much of the Saalbach Hinterglemm you see today has appeared since the 1960s, you wouldn't guess it to look at it. Only the abundance of slopeside accommodation and the 'user friendly' nature of both the ski area and the village, compared to many Austrian ski centres, give the game away.
Saalbach is the larger village in the duo with Hinterglemm which together make up Austria's second most popular tourist destination after Vienna. Excellent skiing for all standards and lively, noisy après-ski. Car free village centre.
There is something for all levels of skiers to enjoy here however. This is a good choice for beginners looking for a fun first holiday; the nursery slopes are by the villages so you're never far from a pit stop if you need one, and there are eight ski schools to choose from.
Intermediates will enjoy the vast ski area the most: with numerous access points to the skiing spread along the valley, including lifts from the village centres, it's extremely easy to get up and around. The resort has invested heavily in new lifts, including some six seater bubble chairs, so queuing is minimised. The north side of the valley is especially popular.
Experts head for the Schattberg X-press lift or the gondola to the north-facing Zwölferkogel which has a three kilometre (two mile) black mogul descent back down beneath the lift. Otherwise they can strike out in to the 100km (65 miles) of off-piste terrain in the company of a local guide.
The resort has a vast array of lift tickets on offer, although all cover all the lifts. Floodlighting was recently introduced on the trails below the Unterschwarzach lift in the resort centre so that skiers and boarders can continue throughout every evening. Cross country skiers have 12km (seven miles) of trails including a new high altitude trail of 1.7 km length up at 1800 metres on the sunny side of the Glemm Valley between Reiterkogel and Rosswaldhütte.
There is a lift link over to the pretty village of Leogang in the next valley.
Lift pass rates are generous for children, although they do pay from age six. The youth pass gives discounts to children right up to 18 years.
Most of the restaurants are based in the resort's many hotels and serve local fayre. The Alpenhotel has a number of bars, restaurants and dancing, dining options include 'Pipamex' which serves Mexican
For pizza, The Wallner is a popular choice and carnivores flock to Peter's Restaurant, also in Saalbach. The Bäckstättstall is arguably the best restaurant in Saalbach, in Hinterglemm it's the Heurigenstube.
The local 'Pinzgauer' specialities are home-made in the resort and are particularly popular in the mountain huts.
The ice bars outside the hotels are popular in to the early evening, then the dozens of bars and 15 or so night spots kick in. In Hinterglemm the Londoner is generally the liveliest venue and the Glemmerkeller is busy in to the night.
Saalbach has half a dozen places for dancing. The Alibi Bar and the ancient Zum Turn (a converted jail) are also usually buzzing.