Arriving into Bad Gastein is like stepping into a Christmas card. Driving through this picturesque village as we head to our hotel, we see beautiful Belle Époque houses and quaint homes covered in a fresh blanket of snow (we were really lucky to have so much snow this late in the Season (mid April). Credited as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, with 5 houses and 80 rooms, the certified organic 4 star Hoteldorf Grüner Baum was to be our lush place of residence for the week. We were told Hotel Grüner Baum was one of the best hotels in Bad Gastein and it’s impossible not to agree with that statement. The Hotel is in one of Austria’s most scenic destinations. We were fortunate enough to be in the spa area so we could retire our tired legs after a day of skiing with a treatment, enjoy the sauna or steam room or simply have a relaxing swim in the swimming pool.
Whilst you can ski in a number of mountains nearby, we mostly travelled to Angertal which was perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers (having only been skiing twice before this was perfect place to hone skiing skills). We decided to get a little extra help and asked for private tuition on the first and last day to monitor progress and group lessons in-between courtesy of Schnee Sport Gastein. Tom our tutor was very encouraging and immediately took us on some reds, which helped build confidence pretty quickly, first day on skis and we even braved a black (or grey as some of the instructors liked to call it) not bad going for the first day – we earned ourselves our first gluhwein of the holiday (lunch treat to calm the nerves). For the next few days the group session was with Steve which further improved technique and we spent the final day on another private lesson this time with Walter Fischer in Sport Gastein which had six runs one gondola and one tbar (four red runs, one blue and one black). Sport Gastein is perfect for late season skiers with a 2650 altitude. It’s also where most intermediate and advanced skiers/snowboarders prefer to hang. Walter had a wealth of experience having been a skier for 48 years and a teaching career since 1989 – we knew we’d be in safe hands. Walter again was great and encouraging and told us “ your right side is your chocolate side” a great impression he used which meant we were better at the right turns than the lefts. He also gave us the confidence to do our second black on the trip – there was no challenging this one, this was most definitely black!
We hired our ski equipment from the friendly Top Rent store in Angertal. The shop also has a great range of skiwear if you are short on some apparel.
Bad Gastein has an array of fun activities, we wish we had more time to indulge, but we’re grateful for the few we were able to partake in;
– Torchlight walk is free for guests staying at the hotel, registration required.
– The horse-drawn sleigh departs from the Grüner Baum Hotel Village and travels through the National Park to the Prossau lodge and back again. This pleasant journey through a divine winter wonderland lasts approximately three hours. Price from €22 per person.
– Healing caves (Gastein Heilstollen) radon gallery is unique worldwide and activates the cell’s own repair systems. Taster session €30.
Our Hotel was half board and included evening meals all delicious and organic unlike some ski hotels which generally tend to offer really stodgy food. Despite the delicious food offerings we got cabin fever so ventured out for dinner on a few occasions visiting Ginger and Gin which as the name suggests specialises in ‘ginger and gin’. The food had ginger in some form or another and the bar had 147 different types of gins so is the perfect place for gin lovers. The building is a beautiful Belle Epoque Hotel/Casino and the exterior reminded us of the hotel in The Hotel Budapest movie. Our second visit out was to the Hotel Salzburger Hof as we had a craving for raclette, this place specialised in the alpine favourite along with fondue. Full of cheese we left shortly after dinner and passed out as soon as we got to our room – exhausted from skiing and our evening of cheesy treats.
Silver Bullet is the place everyone recommends in Bad Gastein, we visited on our last day and thoroughly enjoyed the live music courtesy of a Swedish band that’s was belting out some classics.
We travelled to the Gastein Valley in Austria as a guest of the Gastein and Salzburger Land Tourist offices and ski holiday specialists Crystal Ski from start to finish the team were helpful in guiding our journey as soon as we landed, from arranging transfers to regular visits to ensure we had everything we needed, ski passes, lift passes, local tips – including non-skiing activities, the best places to eat, weather reports and up-to-the-minute resort news making the trip a lot slicker.
Crystal Ski Holidays (www.crystalski.co.uk; 020 8939 0726) offers a week’s half board at the four-star Hotel Grűner Baum in Bad Gastein, Austria, from £789 per adult and from £234 per child (based sharing room) including flights from Gatwick and transfers departing on 16 January 2016. Direct flights available from all major UK airports.