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PlanetSKI Postcard from St Johann

It is the latest resort we have visited on our extended stay in the Tirol. We’re examining the secrets of the Tirol and why it is such a special part of the Alps. Step forward St Johann.

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It doesn’t look much on the piste map.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The statistics are not exactly flattering.

The village is low at 659m and the skiing goes up to a rather modest 1,604m.

There are 19 lifts and just 43kms of slopes.

It is not linked to any other ski area (except by bus), and it’s not part of the nearby Ski Welt and Ski Juwel areas – we will be reporting on those areas over the next week or so on our travels round the Tirol.

But these facts entirely miss what St Johann offers.

It is an historical alpine gem in the heart of the Tirol.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

It’s one of those resorts where time slowly slips away, and the joy of simply sliding downhill on a pair of skis gets better and better with each turn.

The scenery is simply stunning.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The slopes are pretty much deserted.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Except at weekends, when the local Austrians arrive and the Germans flock across the nearby border.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The mountain restaurants offer all we could want at lunch – fabulous views and fabulous food.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St. Johann is in the Leukental Valley and is a bustling, wealthy trade hub which for many centuries benefited from the local mining industry.

The Celts were the first to mine copper in the area way back in the 4th century BC.

In the early modern age, well into the 18th century, the town was famous for its rich silver mines, which funded the building of the many magnificent old-town houses and the local church with its two spires.

See here for more about St Johann in the Tirol.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a 2-minute walk from the main lift.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

If you want a pampering boutique hotel where you can see and be seen, then look elsewhere.

If you want a genuine Austrian hotel at great value then look no further.

It is the real and authentic Austrian deal.

“St Johann is a cosy, family ski area which is well suited to beginners and intermediates though there are plenty of challenges on the slopes too,” said the hotel owner, Josef Grander.

The establishment has been in the family for three generations.

“We are well situated and easy to reach from Innsbruck and Salzburg airports.”

The hotel is used by the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski, that takes around 600 skiers and snowboarders a year to St Johann.

The lifts are owned by the Swedish company, Skistar.

It has invested in the lift system.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Though charm remains.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And charm is what St Johann is all about.

Authentic Austrian alpine charm.

The village itself is stunning.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

With some up-market shopping options.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

As it is Austria, there is some apres – it is not St Anton or Soelden, but there is fun to be had.

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And back at the Hotel Park too – cheesy or what!

Now we mentioned the stats on the skiing earlier.

But it would be remiss not to point out that within a short distance are the resorts of Kitzbühel and Fieberbrunn.

Both are around 10kms away and offer some extensive and challenging skiing.

If we were staying longer we would include a visit to both.

In our meanderings around the Tirol these past few weeks we have hit St Anton and the whole of the Arlberg in a single day.

It was fast and frantic.

Stuben, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Stuben, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

We have been at the SIGB Snow Tests in Kuhtai where, let’s just say, there is a bit of machismo around.

Next year’s skis are put through their passes by the great and the good of the UK ski trade who can be a competitive lot.

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Read about those exploits here:

Now it is time to unwind and there is no better place that currently springs to mind than St Johann.

Cheers!

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Update:

And it seems we are not the only ones to like St Johann judging by some comments on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

Feel free to add your views.

Caroline Fry – I enjoyed that virtual visit – thank you! I skied in Fieberbrunn about 15 years ago. Would love to see what it’s like now as I think a new lift has opened, connecting it to a bigger ski area?

Alison Milnes – First ever skiing abroad experience there. Went with school umpteen years ago and loved it  xx
 
Ian Colton – Worked there, loved it….nice atmosphere, livery piste and fantastic locals
 
Bartholomeus Krijnen – Yep, nice area. Too bad that they’ve shut down so many lifts…
 
Martin Dixon – Loved it, very busy on the main runs when I went. The brewery is a must lovely beer

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

St Johann, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

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