Lech ski resort
One of the best-known names in skiing, Lech has a long history as a snow holiday destination and a reputation for being one of the world’s most exclusive resorts.
Part of the large Arlberg ski area, it shares the region with equally famous St Anton. Both legitimately claim to be vitally important in the history of downhill skiing, which was invented in the area a little over a century ago by Hannes Schneider, before being exported across the continent and to North America and Japan.
Today, Lech is one of the world’s leading resorts, with both exceptionally good skiing and excellent resort infrastructure. It has an unrivalled 60 plus 4-star hotels as well as six 5-star options. These luxury hotels greatly outnumber the lower-rated hotels in the resort, underlying Lech’s upmarket nature.
If that’s still not exclusive enough, the smaller neighbouring village of Zürs could be the answer; several of Europe’s royal families return to holiday there year after year.
Lech is located in the Arlberg region of the Alps in northwest Austria’s Vorarlberg province, close to the Swiss border.
On the slopes
The giant Arlberg ski area is one of the world’s best-known ski areas and is divided into two main parts, the St Anton side and the Lech side, which are not connected by ski lifts. Advanced skiers can, however, ski from St Anton to Lech off-piste with a guide.
A third ‘sector’ of the Arlberg – representing around a fifth of the expanded total terrain – was added ahead of the 2013/14 season, connected via the Arlberg Jet gondola lift.
Beginners and intermediates should be spoilt for choice on the slopes, as 90% of the terrain in Lech itself is graded blue (easy) or red (intermediate) – with a relatively even division of the two. Beginners can also benefit from great nursery slopes and the resort’s century-old ski school’s long-established reputation for excellence. Meanwhile, intermediates have trails up to 5.7km (3.5 miles) in length to explore, both north and south facing.
Along with the 32km (20 miles) of black graded pistes, good skiers can use marked ski routes, which are ungroomed trails and make up about a third of the 350km (228 miles) of terrain in the whole area. Additionally, heli-skiing is another thrilling activity available locally.
The ski season runs from late November to early May and at the very start and end of the season ‘Snow Crystal’ weeks allow lift passes to be sold at half the regular rate. Unlike on the St Anton side, Lech limits the number of lift tickets sold at busy times to prevent overcrowding on the slopes.