Ischgl is a ski resort village in western Austria’s Paznaun Valley, easy to get to from Innsbruck and just a two-hour flight from London. Grey frosted forests and the Alps loom alongside the autobahn on the drive (1h 30m) to Ischgl. White snow crunches underfoot, covering like a blanket of peace as we drop off bags at the Hotel Post Ischgl, and head to Bründl opposite and Sport Adler to hire kit. From the balcony, I see pine trees as white snow falls against black sky across the picture-postcard town.
Dinner is several courses of fine dining – expect pansies and beetroot and foam with exceptional wines. It’s cold outside (-7°C) but it’s warm in bed… we don’t need the fleece blankets in this toasty hotel - it’s almost too warm with super comfy bedding.
A varied breakfast buffet sets you up for the day, looking out at blue skies, snow-topped lampposts and drifts of crisp white snow. The hotel has lockers in the basement with heated boot holders. Walking like an inelegant stormtrooper to the nearby Dorftunnel travelators, then gliding up in the Fimbar glass gondola to the various slopes.
I head straight to SkiSchule for a refresher ski lesson. A quiet click as boots lock into bindings, skis creak in the snow and then we’re off. Up on the button lift to practise techniques and follow the instructor. Snowploughs, zig-zags and then I confidently slide straight… to enjoy a drink at the Idalp Ice bar. Sat on a bench outside, music plays as I admire the impressive mountain view. Inside the wooden panelled restaurant has spag bol, sausage and chips, and a balcony overlooking blinding white snow.
The skiing is awesome in Austria and from Ishcgl you can ski into Switzerland or the duty-free town of Samnanun. With fantastic snow, brilliantly linked runs and circuits for all abilities and levels, It’s great for beginners with 21 blue runs. There are 340 km of skiing with 59 Red and 18 Black runs. The resort has snow cannons, well-maintained pistes, restaurants, tool kits, free phone chargers, lockers, snow fun parks, and efficient chair lifts with heated seats.
Proficient skiers can ski through powder snow to the valley almost to their hotel door but I take the peaceful gondola down. Gentle shushing of the skiers below, light fading, snow falling – it’s like being in a black-and-white movie.
Tonight’s dinner is livened up by some devilish creatures roaming the streets outside. I excitedly rush out to witness the spectacle. Hairy locals dressed as Krampus - with horns, masks, iron chains and loud bells on noisy tractors are an entertainingly scary sight. In early December, they scare children who've been naughty - and adults - I got whipped! The monsters accompany Saint Nicholas as he arrives at the Christmas market in the heart of town.
The hotel offers schedule suggestions including skiing to the smugglers’ Samnaun duty-free town, Silvretta High Alpine Road and the new wellness spa Silvretta Therme. Activities include tobogganing, Ice skating, curling and cross-country skiing, rent a MoonBike (an e-snow bike), or hike through the snow-covered landscape.
‘Relax… if you can’ is their mantra/motto… so after an uplifting morning on the slopes, I slope off to the spa. The Postillion spa has a sauna, steam bath, indoor and outdoor pool, massages and beauty treatments. A lovely swim in the heated outdoor pool at 32°C, with a view of snowy mountains and misty water, then relax, inhaling lemongrass in the steam room.
This evening we walk through the picturesque town dripping with glassy icicles to check out Silvretta Therme. Greeted by a frosty reception we head back to live music at Bar 67 lit by fragrant cinnamon candles at Hotel Post.
On the last day, after a morning snowploughing in the fresh air, I ski straight to the ice bar for a Lumumba (rum and hot chocolate). It’s warming, sat in glorious sunshine in layers of Northface jacket, M&S fleece, and Uniqlo Heattech thermals. I spy a beautiful husky in his fur coat and a cool little dog wearing sunglasses and an Ischgl sweater.
It’s sunny and -3°C in the quaint village. Snowy-tipped chimneys release smoke as a cable car glides overhead. A snowman’s smile twinkles below a pine tree, its branches weighted down with snow. Ischgl went from a smugglers' village to a renowned international winter sports resort. 10 award-winning restaurants with gastronomy chefs and innovative cuisine, and top-quality hospitality from 4 and 5-star hotels to family-friendly apartments. It is one of the largest connected cross-border ski areas in the Alps with guaranteed snow and a climate-neutral certificate. 90% of the Silvretta Arena is more than 2000 metres above sea level which means snow until May.
The Paznaun area (Ischgl, Galtür, Kappl and See) is a valley for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies as well as nature lovers and families. Ischgl has 239 km of perfectly groomed pistes, 45 mountain lifts, 1100 snow guns, 515 hectares of piste - a ski resort for active skiers and more casual winter sports enthusiasts. There are excellent mountain restaurants and nightlife for those who like to après-ski - it's the only ski resort with a Pacha nightclub.
Photos @Crystal McClory
It’s a long season from November to May with music events including a Top of the Mountain Closing Concert to celebrate the end of the ski season with a bang. Sounds in the Tyrolean Alps include Black Eyed Peas at the end of April 2024. (In the summer it’s great for mountain bike trails, trekking and hiking.)
Perfect for people who like lots of action and also those who like to take it easy...
Now, where’s the spa?
To book contact Abbotts Travel 134 George Lane, South Woodford, E18 1BA on 020 8989 9445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Inghams holidays to Ischgl include:
Flights, transfers and accommodation based on self-catering, half board, chalet catering, full board or all-inclusive. Optional add-ons include equipment hire, lift pass and tuition.
Accommodation ranges from budget-friendly properties to luxurious 4.5* hotels.
High-altitude skiing & guaranteed snow, part of the vast Silvretta Ski Arena.
Snow-sure skiing, with a state-of-the-art lift system and some seriously lively après-ski!
An Inghams rep is based in the resort. Resort altitude: 1,400 metres.
Pack: Pack a hip flask, pocket tissues and don’t forget your sunglasses, snood, fleece, heattech thermals and goggles!
Written by Crystal McClory