From the slopes to the spa
THERE are few more satisfying feelings in the world than sitting on a sunny terrace, surrounded by snow- capped peaks and sipping on a hot chocolate after skiing the longest run in eastern Europe. And there is only one resort in the world where you can achieve that feeling – Bad Hofgastein, in Austria.
The picturesque market town centres on a tree-lined park and offers a laid-back vibe with plenty of quaint cafes and restaurants, as well as a range of shops.
There are countless activities for skiers and non-skiers alike, including ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides through the surrounding forests, night-time tobogganing and the chance to visit the Alpentherme spa.
The Gastein valley sits above a natural hot spring, the water of which is famed for its healing properties.
30% off on our collection range and other selected fabrics. alternatively call 809887 and we will bring our samples to you for our friendly hassle free quote.
Contact: 01472 809887
Valid until: Saturday, July 13 2013
The hotels in Bad Hofgastein take wellbeing seriously and our lodgings for the week – the four-star Hotel Impuls Tirol – certainly helped us to relax.
Owned by artist Mag Christoph Weiermayer and his wife, the hotel combines traditional Austrian charm with modern design and the friendly staff. Each room is designed to incorporate intense splashes of colour and examples of Weiermayer's artwork.
We arrived at 9pm and expected to be served a simple snack as dinner had officially ended. Instead, we were greeted with a warm handshake and offered a glass of Prosecco before being served the first of five courses.
Food was truly exceptional throughout, with each evening meal including a salad buffet, starter, soup and then a choice of three main courses – fish, meat or vegetarian – followed by a dessert.
Two types of room are available at Impuls Tirol – traditional and impuls. We were in one of the recently renovated impuls rooms, which was has to be the most spacious I have ever seen in a ski resort.
As well as space for our ski clothing near the door, there was a huge, modern bathroom with a power shower and his and her sinks.
The bedroom itself featured Austrian twin beds so comfortable that we drifted off as soon as our heads hit the pillows, as well as a chaise longue, desk, wardrobes and a flatscreen TV. But the hotel's real piece de resistance is its spa facilities. As well as a thermal pool, filled with Gasteiner spring water, there is a new spa world with saunas, steam and relaxation rooms galore. The highlight for me was the indoor/ outdoor swimming pool, which offered the opportunity to swim lengths surrounded by snow or pummel those aching limbs on the many whirlpool jets inside.
Of course, we weren't in Austria to spend our whole time relaxing. There are four ski resorts here, all of which are linked by a complimentary bus network and covered by one lift pass.
After picking up our skis from Intersport Fleiss we were ready to hit the mountains. Picturesque, tree-lined runs were a joy to cruise down in Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein, while the smaller resort of Sport Gastein offered more challenging pistes.
My favourite runs of all were in Dorfgastein, where wide, beautifully groomed pistes were practically deserted.
We count ourselves as intermediates and there was plenty for us to enjoy here, but all abilities are catered for. The beginner slopes and ski school facilities are excellent, as are the off-piste opportunities for pros.
Our stay had combined adrenaline-packed adventure, blissful relaxation, fantastic accommodation and incredible food – what more can you ask for?
Crystal Ski (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk) offers a week's half-board at the Hotel Impuls, in Bad Hofgastein, from £684 per person, departing on January 11, 2014. Visit www.gastein.com and www.salzburgerland.com