Perfect snow and perfect stay in Alpine retreat

Tara O’Rourke learns to ski in the renowned Austrian resort of Lech Zürs
The exterior of Severins and its spectacular surroundings (photo: Michael Magulski)The exterior of Severins and its spectacular surroundings (photo: Michael Magulski)
The exterior of Severins and its spectacular surroundings (photo: Michael Magulski)

Aa a first-time skier, the picture-postcard village of Lech in Austria was everything I could have imagined a winter wonderland to be.

Towering mountains, pretty Alpine-style buildings and snow - lots and lots of snow.

But as our short, but luxurious, stay in the Alps continued, my seasoned snowboarder partner brought home to me just how special this place and our hotel Severin’s on its pristine slopes really are.

An Austrian wintry wonderlandAn Austrian wintry wonderland
An Austrian wintry wonderland

Keen to get to the slopes, we were whisked by the hotel’s private car to the ski hire outfitters Strolz in the village. This was the first of the experiences that left my other half open-mouthed: “This is like a Chanel boutique! It even has a huge chandelier,” he said. “I’m used to busy queues five rows deep, but this experience is amazing.”

Then, suitably set up with all the equipment we needed and, hopefully, looking stylish in our gear, I was met by my instructor for the day, Thorston, whose mission was to give me some beginner skills and inspire me to continue with this winter sport.

My lesson lasted four hours. And, as anyone who is learning to ski will tell you, your first experience will be of tiny tots whooshing past you at great speed with great skill as you inch your way along tentatively trying not to fall/crash into someone/or fly off piste. Sure enough we headed to ‘Kinderland’ where the kids (and lots of adults like me) were honing their skills.

But Thorston had faith in me. He put me through my paces with a target of being able to ski down from the ski hut in the middle of the slope. Mastering the rope tow was surprisingly easy.

The spa at Severins (photo:  Michael Magulski)The spa at Severins (photo:  Michael Magulski)
The spa at Severins (photo: Michael Magulski)

I’m glad to say there were no major ‘incidents’ and I found this new skill hard work but fun and so worth it. In fact, we made it to the top of the slope and Thorston and I were both thrilled with the progress. We celebrated with a well-earned hot chocolate and espresso.

Having this one-to-one lesson was the perfect way to start skiing at my age, let’s just say …. over 30, and I achieved a lot in a short amount of time.

Meanwhile, the snowboarder was revelling in what he described as the best snow he had ever experienced. He made full use of access to the whole mountain range making it possible to cover 50+km in total in one day over five hours. While I waited to meet up on the slope for a bite to eat with him I soaked up the enchanting view.

After a long, but fulfilling day we were both tired, but extremely happy, before making our way back to our abode for the night - the impossibly beautiful, nine-bedroom mountain retreat - Severin’s. Our chauffeur-driven car picked us up for the short, five-minute transfer to the hotel. We were now thoroughly spoiled for future trips of any kind!

Ski runs at Lech, Austria (photo: Michael Magulski)Ski runs at Lech, Austria (photo: Michael Magulski)
Ski runs at Lech, Austria (photo: Michael Magulski)

The room was opulent and cosy, in a 150-year-old building constructed with the original wood. But there’s nothing rustic about this stylish place with Italian furniture, huge soaking tubs and warming fireplaces to create the atmosphere. It feels like you are in the most luxurious log cabin with mountain views from every direction.

Breakfast was fresh and delicious and my favourite was the twice-baked Austrian sausage with eggs served by super staff members. Dinners are curated with the best of local produce.

It was hard to leave the hotel, but we found Lech a charming place to stroll around with shops and restaurants to discover. I’d recommend Hagen’s Village Butcher’s Shop where we enjoyed the beef tartare, veal schnitzel and pork chop.

On our second day there was, unfortunately, no skiing or snowboarding due to the weather. This was, however, no hardship as we eased our aching bones in the spa. The ‘waterfall’ was a great way to sort stiff muscles and there are three types of sauna, including infra red, to enjoy as well as a good-sized swimming pool.

The splendour of the scenery around SeverinsThe splendour of the scenery around Severins
The splendour of the scenery around Severins

That evening was the highlight of the trip with an Austrian evening created by head chef Thomas Koch. It was fine dining with an Austrian flavour. We enjoyed beef cheeks and onion soup with dumplings. For wine connoisseurs there are 3,000 bottles of wine to choose from out of the hotel cellar.

Our stay was all too short, but we were lucky enough to enjoy the best of the best in a snowy winter wonderland.

The ski stuff

This region is rated as one of the very best places to ski in the Alps with runs suitable for the most able and adventurous as well as beginners. It has its own micro-climate which means it gets more snow than almost anywhere else in Austria. There’s a long ski season here which runs from the beginning of December to the end of April.

There are 300 kms of spectacular downhill skiing, 200 kms of powder runs, 85 state-of-the-art lifts and cable cars.

For more information and up-to-date reports on the Lech Zürs am Arlberg region, visit www.lechzuers.com/en

Exquisite food at Severins (photo: Michael Kreyer Fotografie)Exquisite food at Severins (photo: Michael Kreyer Fotografie)
Exquisite food at Severins (photo: Michael Kreyer Fotografie)

Travel facts

Fly from the UK to Zurich or Innsbruck with airport transfers of around 1.5 to 2 hours to Lech. Nightly rates at Severin’s – The Alpine Retreat start from €690 (£590) for a Junior Suite on a B&B basis. For more information, visit www.severins-lech.at/en or see @severins.lech on Instagram