Skiing adventure in Austria

Skiing adventure in Austria

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Take a trip to Berghotel Pointenhof where you can view the slopes right outside your window. Situated at the end of a skinny, two-way mountain road, Berghotel Pointenhof is just waiting to make all your cold-weather blues disappear.  The hotel is located in the tiny town of St. Johann in Tirol, Austria. With less than 10,000 inhabitants, this quaint town is bustling with one thing: people who want to quickly go from the top to the bottom of a mountain with slippery contraptions strapped to their feet. When you start your drive from the bottom of the mountain, you will pass numerous people walking along the road with skis slung over their backs and their eyes sparkling with the anticipation for a full day of heart-racing activity. Soon enough, you’ll be amongst this crowd soon enough.

Once the car is unloaded and everyone is dressed in their most ostentatious gear, you can ski down the mountain to buy your lift ticket. Once you have your ticket, the Jodlalm lift is right next to the hotel and ready to bring you to the next greatest slope, despite your level of expertise.  

The Kitzbüheler Horn area has the capability to make snow for 45 km runs when the natural white powder is in short supply and has a total of 60 km slopes. With 23 cable cars and lifts, you are sure to get to your ideal run without waiting too long. Once you’ve warmed up your legs and worked up an appetite, return to the hotel and enjoy some lunch al fresco while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Austrian Alps. Sausages and beer are in abundance, of course!

Spend the afternoon exploring more slopes without worrying about driving anywhere or packing up when you are done. Simply place your skis in the designated area inside the hotel and slide your boots onto the warming rack. Now, it’s time to relax! The Berghotel Pointenhof was remodeled in 2010 and has modern rooms, a restaurant, and a bar area. Heads up, smoking is allowed. If traveling with a group, the hotel offers rooms for four people, with one queen bed and a bunk bed. While not particularly spacious, these rooms with adequately supply you with everything you need: a comfy bed, bathroom and enough silence to get some much-needed sleep after a long day of rigorous activity. By far the best and most unexpected bonus feature is the heated floors.

Not a fan of downhill skiing but don’t want to feel left out? There’s a less costly and more leisurely option: cross-country skiing. With free parking and trails, cross-country skiing in St. Johann is the perfect alternative. Simply rent skis and boots from your local MWR Outdoor Recreation office and head to Koasastadion, St. Johann’s cross-country skiing center. Here you can find rentals, changing rooms with showers, a café and a sun terrace. This is an activity where you can enjoy quality time outside without mastering the art of the sport. Simply clip the front of your boots into your skis and start gliding across the snow in pre-made tracks. It’s too easy! The views alone are totally worth it, as you are surrounded by Austrian architecture and towering mountains. For more information about cross-country skiing at Kitzbüheler, visit their website.

When you’re done with your cross-country skiing adventure, walk to Baguette, a little coffee and pastry shop just down the road from where you parked. Treat yourself to a steaming cup of hot chocolate and donuts filled with delicious surprises. You did, after all, just burn a bunch of calories flailing your arms and falling on your bottom. Or was that just me? Regardless, donuts are always a good idea.

Pat yourself on the back and relax. You just had the pleasure of a delightful ski trip! You can worry about the traffic in the morning!

A few helpful hints when traveling to, and within, St. Johann in Tirol:

1.     Buy the vignette for Austria and stick it to your car window. The fine is 120 euro if you don’t, and the Austrian police do not care if you have the vignette sitting in your glove box.

2.     There is a main road in St. Johann in Tirol that is a two-way, until suddenly, it isn’t. The police will set up a nice little sting operation and hit you with a 35-euro ticket.

3.     Perhaps driving a Toyota 4Runner and trying to park in a space big enough for a Fiat is not the brightest idea. You are, of course, welcome to test this theory out on your own.

4.     Make sure you have euros on hand just in case you have the misfortune of not heeding my previous warnings. Also, almost everywhere we went only accepted cash.

5.     Last, but not least, wear your most outrageously colored ski gear. The brighter the better!

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