ISCHGL’S NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR
7th February 2019 | Jane Peel, Paznaun Valley, Austria
Last modified on January 7th, 2020
It’s a short bus ride from Ischgl and is included in the area lift pass. So why don’t more people visit Kappl? PlanetSKI drops in.
The short answer: no idea.
Maybe it’s the ‘family-friendly’ image the resort in the Austrian Tirol promotes in its tourist guides.
Serious skiers and snowboarders – and those who are keen to avoid hordes of children on the slopes – are perhaps put off.
Big, big, mistake.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been more surprised when visiting a ski area for the first time.
Yes, it’s family-friendly, with lift-pass deals, cheap childcare packages and lots of children’s activities on top of snowsports.
But the kindergarten ski slopes are separated from the rest of the runs and are centred around the appropriately named Sunny Mountain Kids’ Area.
It’s also where the ski school meets and there’s plenty to keep the young ones occupied while waiting for their instructors.
It’s at the top of the Diasbahn gondola which is the route up the mountain from the bus stop, parking area and lift pass office on the main road running through the Paznaun valley.
But what excited me was what I found once our guide for the day led us away from the kids’ zone and onto the slopes above.
It’s early February and after a sustained cold spell – not to mention big snowfalls in January – the runs look to be in excellent condition.
With the sun shining down on the south-facing slopes and the temperatures creeping up above zero, it’s time to test out those pistes …
After a day skiing the busy – and in places narrow – slopes of Ischgl, the wide runs of Kappl are a revelation.
It feels spacious.
It feels empty.
It’s a surprise as there are just 42km of pistes here and 10 lifts.
By comparison, the Ischgl-Samnaun ski area has 239km and 45 lifts.
Kappl is perfect for having a good old blast.
The red and the black runs are so good we want to ski them again and again.
And we do.
It’s about quality not quantity.
And if you want a non-stop thigh-burner, there’s a top to bottom 9km red run.
There are spectacular views across the valley….
There are tree runs that also have spectacular views…..
Another big surprise in this ‘family’ resort is the off-piste.
We had no time to explore it but you can see it’s there – there’s plenty of it and it’s easily accessible from the lifts.
It’s good enough to host several freeride competitions.
In March 60 skiers and snowboarders aged 15 to 18 from 16 nations will take part in the Freeride Junior World Championship here.
It doesn’t take long for Kappl to get under my skin.
I think I’ve fallen a little bit in love with the place.
I can see why Kappl local, Stefanie Knoll, who works for the Paznaun-Ischgl tourist office, skis here whenever she can:
If you live in the UK, you’ll have to travel independently if you want to stay in Kappl.
No British tour operators come here.
But some do go to Ischgl.
You could do a lot worse than stay in the better known resort 8km (5 miles) up the Paznaun Valley as I did.
Ischgl has its own attractions.
It’s definitely an upmarket Austrian ski town.
It looks good and is partly traffic-free.
There’s the buzzing après ski, though the resort would be happy to lose its ‘Ibiza of the Alps’ rowdy party-town image.
It’s not doing badly in that respect.
There are as many sophisticated cocktail establishments as there are noisy dance-on-the-table bars.
Then there’s the gourmet food.
There are four restaurants in Ischgl with 3 toques from the prestigious Gault et Millau guide.
I’m told it’s a bit like having a couple of Michelin stars.
Now I have to admit that I have limited experience of eating multi-starred Michelin food, but I can say with certainty that the grub at chef Martin Sieberer’s 3 toque Paznaunerstube compares favourably.
Last but by no means least, there’s the skiing in Ischgl.
There’s a lot of it.
It’s high altitude by Austrian standards and has a long season.
The town sits at 1,400 metres but most of the skiing is above 2,000 metres.
Much is on north-facing slopes so the snow stays good.
The lifts across the whole Ischgl-Samnaun ski area are fast and efficient.
Samnaun is just over a mountain ridge from Ischgl and is in Switzerland so you can ski in both countries.
Samnaun is a duty-free Swiss resort.
It’s worth skiing over there, and I don’t mean for the shopping.
It’s a really pretty, gentle cruise.
So you can stay in Ischgl and have the best of both worlds.
Ski in Ischgl-Samnaun and my new favourite place, Kappl.
And that’s not all.
The Silvretta Arena area pass also covers the Paznaun valley resorts of See (15km from Ischgl) and Galtür (9km from Ischgl in the other direction).
They, too, can be reached by the free ski bus from Ischgl.
So much to ski, so little time.
It’s time to head back to the UK.
See and Galtür will have to wait until next time.
Now, where’s the PlanetSKI diary?
Watch a promotional video for Ischgl:
Package holiday – Inghams offers 7 nights’ half board at the 4-star superior Hotel Brigitte in Ischgl from £1,189 per person based on two sharing and departing 23rd March 2019. Price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck and airport transfers.
Independent travel – Fly easyJet (Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Bristol) or BA (Gatwick, Heathrow) to Innsbruck.
Lift passes – The Silvretta skipass, covering the four resorts of Ischgl, Galtür, Kappl and See is from €256.50 for 6 days. The Resort Options Pass is from €240 which gives four days in Ischgl and two in neighbouring resorts.