St Anton: rock around the Valluga

18th January 2011, by Chris Gill

Charming and vibrant St Anton's centre   [(c)  Tourism St Anton]

Charming and vibrant St Anton's centre [(c) Tourism St Anton]

Take on St Anton for the weekend and you’ll need a serious rest when you return home. There’s nowhere quite like it to liven up a Saturday night – or every night for that matter, if you wish. Behind this charming Tirolean town is a vibrant, macho reputation. And the mountain will soon toughen you up if you’re used to gentle groomers.

Beers and lunches are cheaper than in France or Switzerland too, a big bonus for an energetic time in one of Europe’s classic resorts. As part of the Arlberg region, a traditionally snowy corner of Austria, outings to Lech-Zürs and tiny Stuben provide a change of scene.

The resort is handy from Innsbruck and boasts accommodation that includes (unusually for Austria) catered chalets, such as the Amalien Haus – where you can wind down in a convenient, modern property that short-stay specialist Flexiski operates. Bear in mind that St Anton is a resort where few hotels do short stays, although some rooms are available on request in low season.

Getting there

Innsbruck airport has fewer airline options but is the best arrival point, and an easy hour or so drive away. A-T-S can arrange shared transfers too. St Anton also benefits from a railway station, with frequent and direct trains from Innsbruck. Zurich and Friedrichschafen airports are further out, but fairly painless journeys. Zurich has a wider range of flight choice.

Staying there

St Anton’s pretty pedestrian centre is compact but the town sprawls along the valley. Opt to lodge near the action and Flexiski’s Amalien Haus is within staggering distance of the best bars and restaurants, neatly positioned on the high street. It caters to mid-week or weekend breaks, all season. Sunday departures start at £350 per person (based on two sharing) in March or £680pp for a Wednesday arrival (flights and transfers not included).

For a quieter spot there are B&B’s further out at Nasserein, for example, which also has lift access and is preferred by families. Check with Momentum or Flexiski if you are determined to find a hotel room; they have limited options. an Arlberg lift pass for three days starts at £103 (via Flexiski).

Skiing there

The slopes will set your pulse racing in this part of the Arlberg. If you’re up for a challenge, St Anton has plenty of them across three main areas. The Valluga naturally draws the experts with its powder bowls, steep reds and itineraries. There are long, testing blue runs too – including the infamously popular Steissbachtal, but novices beware: you really head here for the steeper stuff.

Underrated Rendl has provided us with excellent skiing, now better accessed from a newish gondola in town. The varied slopes are quieter, and the home run less frenetic than the Steissbachtal. Stop by the lovely Bifang Alm for a beer or meal on the way down. Or award yourself a classy lunch at the Verwall Stube in the Galzig sector, serious food after serious skiing.

Après-skiing there

In a word: energetic. The lure of the piste-side huts with rocking Europop tunes is at the heart of St Anton’s fun appeal. The infamous Mooserwirt can turn quiet individuals into extrovert party animals, and gets packed early. Nearby is the equally popular Krazy Kanguruh.

If you get past the après-ski – and many people don’t – there are plenty of places to move onto for nightlife, lively or subdued. The Underground on the Piste is a treasured favourite. For a quieter drink we’d pick the Kandahar or Jacksy’s. To eat you’ll find good value traditional meals at the Trödlerstube, elegant offerings at the village museum and relaxed dining at the Hazienda.

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