Westendorf has long been part of the SkiWelt domain, but until relatively recently its local ski area had been physically separate from the main SkiWelt ski lift network, because its slopes are situated on the opposite side of the valley.
Previously, visitors had to rely on the ski-bus service in order to reach Westendorf from the closest link point at the nearby village of Brixen im Thale, but the installation of the fast gondola link from Brixen im Thale to the peak of Choralpe above Westendorf changed all that.
A further boost to Westendorf's standing as a viable base was the installation of the Ki-West gondola on the eastern flank of the Gampenkogel at the south-eastern edge of the Westendorf ski area, the base terminal of which is only a short ski-bus connection away from the Kitzbuhel-Kirchberg ski area.
Despite this enhanced status as a key link between these two great Austrian winter-sports realms, Westendorf's slopes still remain noticeably less busy than those of the central SkiWelt circuit, an important factor for many holidaymakers who prefer the more relaxing ambiance offered by this family-friendly and pretty resort.
It's not at all a sleepy backwater though, the resort's good snowpark and interesting freeride terrain draw a healthy number of younger visitors too, giving Westendorf an amiable apres-ski buzz.
Westendorf's beginners' slopes are located on the meadows at the south-eastern side of the village, just a short stroll from the village centre; the main ski lift here is a slow-speed 4-seater chairlift, making this one of the best equipped nursery slopes in the SkiWelt.
The principal access lift for the main ski slopes is the Alpenrosenbahn gondola based 400 metres to the south, an easy walk or quick ski-bus hop from the village.
This gondola rises to the summit of Talkaser at the heart of Westendorf's compact ski area, and its mid-station also gives access to easy blue and red runs back down to Westendorf, good for novices making their first forays out on to the main pistes, together with blue-grade links to a second gondola based further along the Windau Valley beyond Westendorf, which links to the summit of Choralpe directly above the village.
From Choralpe there's a terrific fall-line black run heading straight for Westendorf, alternatively, one of the best red runs in the region leads to Brixen im Thale for the link to the core SkiWelt circuit.
At the other end of Westendorf's ski area lies an enjoyable selection of blue and red runs around the peaks of Fleiding and Gampenkogel, the latter sector housing one of the SkiWelt's best snowparks, plus a long blue-grade descent into the Aschauer Valley where a ski-bus shuttle service connects with the Pengelstein gondola at the nearby hamlet of Skirast for the link into the Kitzbuhel-Kirchberg ski area.
Off the slopes and apres ski
The central quarter of Westendorf is a compact and attractive community of traditional Tyrolean buildings, clustered around a picturesque onion-domed church. The village is a perfect place for a leisurely stroll and a spot of bar hopping, although it's worth noting that some of the tourist accommodation is situated out in the scattered suburbs.
Westendorf village sits on a wide and level area of the valley though, so walking here isn't a chore; there are also a number of way-marked scenic walking trails along the valley and amongst the woods on the mountainsides. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also a popular way of travelling out to some of the more remote restaurants in the surrounding area.
Apres-ski activity is focused on Gerry's Inn and the Bruchstall bar in the central area around the base of the beginners' slopes, which also serves as the home-run route from the main slopes; it starts to get lively an hour or so before the lifts close and continues here and at a fair selection of venues around the village centre late into the evening; Kibo’s and the Wunderbar are usually the liveliest late-night haunts, the latter being the closest thing to a nightclub in Westendorf.
Bars and clubs