St Anton resort guide
St Anton has always been a great skiing resort, not to mention home to the best après-ski in the Alps. As the quality of the accommodation improves, not least with the addition of Artemis and the Arlberg Lodges, St Anton is adapting to appeal to a more upmarket clientele. The combination of fabulous and varied skiing, an enviable snow record, hearty Austrian and Tyrolean food and service combined with good value for money make it our staff and directors’ favourite resort – more of them ski here than in any of our other resorts. For anyone for whom skiing is not an obsession, you could happily spend most of your holiday at Well.com – St Anton’s superb Wellness centre before joining the skiers at the Mooserwirt or the Krazy Kanguruh for après ski. That said, there is plenty more to do including walking, rock climbing and a visit to the museum of skiing.
Resort facts and figures
Resort altitude: 1304m
Highest point: 2811m
Vertical drop: 1507m
Ski areas: The Arlberg ski pass covers St Anton, St Christoph, Lech and Zurs
Pistes: 250km (440km for the Arlberg of which 33% beginner/intermediate, 31% advanced, 36% expert)
Best for: Good and advanced skiers. Beginner areas on the lower slopes. The Rendl gondola has made the skiing for intermediates more accessible.
Skiing in St Anton
The village may be relatively low but don’t let this put you off. Many skiers think that altitude is everything and that ski life begins at 1800m but this is a misconception for a number of reasons:
- While the village is low, the skiing in the Arlberg is not – it has a good range of skiing from 1200 to nearly 3000m. Courchevel 1850 might sound higher than St Anton but its highest peak, La Saulire (2738m), is 73m lower than St Anton’s Valluga (2811m).
- Below 2000 metres, the terrain is grassy and pastoral – so a huge snow base isn’t needed to make the runs skiable. The higher resorts won’t tell you this, but above the tree line, well over a metre of snow is needed to cover the rocks. This is most important in the early season when there is less base – lower resorts are likely to have more runs open.
- Skiing in December, January and February can be bitterly cold, especially above 2000 metres. This is not much fun for adults and is even less fun for kids so the ability to ski a little lower, especially below the tree line and out of the wind is important.
- Snowfall in St Anton is determined primarily by weather systems from the East – Siberia and beyond. It usually gets the snow before resorts in the Western Alps and local weather systems mean that St Anton is frequently inundated by the white stuff, while surrounding areas and resorts are green with envy!
For novices, there are some good nursery areas but it is fair to say that for nervous skiers and those with only a few weeks’ experience, St Anton can be limiting. The central ski area around the Galzig and Gampen lifts is busy and the ski home can be challenging as the snow can be heavy on the lower slopes and they tend to get crowded at the end of the day. However, there is no shame in taking one of the bubble lifts back down – Galzig, Nasserein or Rendl – having enjoyed a reasonable choice of blue runs higher up. In reality it is because there is such a wealth of red and black runs that the gentle blues can seem few and far between. Many Austrians learn to become great skiers at St Anton so there is no reason why you should not.
The Rendl gondola opened last year has been a huge step forward in integrating a great ski area that used to be the seasonnaires’ best kept secret. Rendl has some nice blue runs for intermediates and a great place to sit in the sun at Rendl Beach (a restaurant!).
While other resorts boast fully integrated ski areas, to get the best of St Anton, you have to be prepared to work a little harder and get on the odd bus or train. If you are prepared to put the effort in, you will reap the benefits as other skiers will not bother going further afield than the Galzig and Kapall/Gampen areas and the smaller “satellite” areas of Zurs, Sonnenkopf, Stuben and little visited Pettneu will reward you with deserted ski slopes, down to earth and good value “locals only” restaurants and lifts without queues.
For good skiers, St Anton offers some of the best off piste terrain and conditions anywhere in the world. Without a guide, you will barely scratch the surface so we recommend Piste to Powder for off piste guiding and for the ultimate off piste experience, heliskiing is also available.
St Anton Village
St Anton is a charismatic village full of Alpine charm. There are no ugly apartment blocks here and the surrounding scenery is nothing short of spectacular. The village itself is full of atmosphere and is big enough to keep you occupied if skiing is not the be all and end all. It gets plenty of sun and at the bottom of the ski lifts, there are plenty of sun soaked terraces where you can enjoy a coffee or a gluhwein while observing the antics on the slopes. There are plenty of great restaurants and bars and because the village centre is largely pedestrianised it is a great place to go for a wander round the shops. If you are more used to skiing in France and Switzerland’s premier resorts, St Anton hits you like a breath of fresh air. The locals are friendly and seem genuinely pleased to see you and the restaurants and bars offer good value of a kind that was lost years ago elsewhere (mentioning no names!) Whether this will last remains to be seen so don’t miss out.
While plenty of resorts may claim to be the home of Alpine skiing, there is little doubt that St Anton is the home of après-ski. The home nation lead the way with dancing in ski boots, copious helpings of Schnapps, pitchers of beer and a great line in Eighties music. If St Anton is the Mecca of après-ski, the Mooserwirt is the sacred shrine and you will not want to miss this. Bathed in sun on the side of the last run home, you will hear it before you see it. It is also accessible by car so you won’t miss out if you are a non-skier or if the short ski home looks a little daunting. Once you have experienced the Mooserwirt, don’t forget to mix it up though as St Anton has plenty more to offer.
Of course, chalet holidays go with après-ski like Lennon and McCartney. Once you have crowned a great day’s skiing with a few hours of après and a soak in the hot tub, dressing for dinner may be low on your list of priorities and relaxing in your own home from home can have a lot of appeal.
There is almost no ski in/ski out accommodation in St Anton but we have a great setup which gets around this problem. When you are ready to go skiing, our drivers will drop you down to the ski shop, which has a spacious “check in” area where you leave your skis and ski boots, right at the base of the ski lift. As a result, you leave the chalet in a pair of trainers and your ski boots will be warm and dry and the ski lift is right outside the door. After skiing, you drop off your kit and have the option of going for a drink or some retail therapy unencumbered by skis or ski boots. Our drivers are only a phone call away to avoid you having to tackle any hills with weary legs.
There are a multitude of other villages in the Arlberg ski area, which can be visited on skis or by train or bus. Lech is the Arlberg’s glitzy answer to Courchevel or St Moritz and is a great place to go for lunch. Sonnenkopf, Stuben, Zurs and the wonderfully named Zug are small villages, which offer a really authentic Alpine experience away from the crowds.
St Anton insider tips
For anyone who breaks into a cold sweat at the idea of a 2 or more hour coach transfer, St Anton is ideal - only one hour’s drive from Innsbruck airport which is served by British Airways. There is also a train station in the village with direct mainline services from Innsbruck, Zurich and Munich.
The run from Valluga to Alpe Rauz is fabulous – Red 14 into Blue 17 is a non stop carving thriller!
For non skiers (and weary skiers!), the St Anton Wellness centre, the Well.com, is fantastic and beats the facilities in most other resorts hands down. It boasts an indoor swimming pool, paddling pool, outdoor pool, indoor and outdoor tennis, an ice rink, a superbly equipped gym as well as saunas, steam and massage rooms and tanning facilities.
The Arlberg Ski School is particularly good for young kids. With dedicated children’s zones, a focus on fun and lunch included, parents can leave children in great hands to enjoy their own mountain time.
Eating out and drinking in St Anton is great value compared to many other premier Alpine resorts and we think Austrian service and hospitality is the best in the Alps.
Do not miss out on St Anton’s legendary après-ski. Book one of our nannies for babysitting if needs be and finish a great day on the slopes with drinks at the Mooserwirt – arguably the best après-ski venue in the world!
We highly recommend the Museum, where the film “Chalet Girl” was set for supper one evening. Great food and wine in a stunning setting.
The wine and champagne tasting at Hospiz Alm in their cellar is fantastic and the slide down to the basement avoids the precarious walk down the stairs in ski boots.
The restaurant on the right as you go up the Nasserein bubble serves the most sublime ham hock. Our top tip is to share one between two (or even three!).
Be sure to try the local Goulash soup, which is served in probably every restaurant. It is the perfect rich, hearty remedy to warm you up and rejuvenate your legs after a cold morning’s skiing.
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