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PlanetSKI Goes Back in Time in Alpbach

The resort in the Tirol is like a time capsule, but with a few modern twists.  We were only in the resort for 24-hours but would like to return for so much more. Check out our take on an historic resort in the Alps where time simply stands still.

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Alpbach is part of the Ski Juwel area in the Tirol that comprises the main resorts of Alpbach and Auffach, plus the smaller one of Niederau and several other areas for cross-country.

It simply oozes Austrian alpine charm.

It reminded me of Murren in Switzerland.

This is the local bank:

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

This is my hotel, Hotel Zur Post, that has been welcoming guests for over 100 years:

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

It is like walking and skiing through a living alpine architecture museum.

We’ll look at the fabulous architecture in this part of the Alps and the strict planning rules later – first the skiing.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There are two distinct areas – Wildschonau and Alpbachtal.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There are 113km of slopes with 46 lifts.

It claims to be the tenth largest area in Austria but it is a spread-out affair.

90% of the pistes are covered by snowmaking.

Alpbachtal is the first area as you approach from down in the valley and it offers a mix of long and wide reds and blues.

With some lovely paths snaking through the trees.

It is mainly for intermediate skiers and snowboarders.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There’s a good sized freeride area, which would have been great if conditions allowed.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And plenty of attractions for the next generation of skiers.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Earlier this winter at the end of December the kids’ fun run, pictured above, had 800 people go through it.

In a week?

In a day?

No, in a morning.

And PlanetSKI enjoyed it too on our visit:

 

Talking of numbers, it was a blissfully quiet day on the slopes mid-week in mid-March on our visit, but at the height of the season the area of Alpbachtal alone sees around 7,000 people per day.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The Germans are the main visitors followed by the Brits.

The Germans come for short stays, the Brits somewhat longer.

And they have been coming for a while.

The Alpbach Visitors Ski Club was set up by the British in 1968 and is still going strong.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Like the resort of St Johann that we have just passed through the area has a long standing affection with the British.

And don’t forget to check out our rolling blog of our time in the Tirol as we approach Week Four.

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The other main area in the Ski Juwel is Wildschonau.

It is similar, with a couple of black slopes and a fabulous 1,000m+ decent down to the village of Auffach.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

From there it is a short bus ride to Niederau.

An area I visited back in 2013 when the resorts in the area linked up to become the Ski Juwel:

Now what about the buildings?

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

All have to meet the very strict local planning rules.

Even if you just want to make a few external changes.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The pit-stop huts are of a different quality.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And some of the lift stations, often ugly concrete affairs in other resorts, have wooden coverings here.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And in town:

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

24-hours in Alpbach was not enough.

It is a ski area where you do not want to be looking at the clock.

Rather time needs to slip away in order for you to appreciate its charms.

But a word of warning if you like a Schnapps.

If you ask a barman for a local Schnapps this is likely what you will get – a Krautinger Schanapps.

It is made from turnips and is one of the most foul-tasting drinks I have ever consumed.

Now I am not a schnapps specialist so the fault probably lies entirely with my palate, but don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Maybe another visit will change my view and I’ll ‘enjoy’ one in the bar of the Hotel zur Post.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I already love the ski area.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I want to discover the winter walking trails, the cross country routes and the toboggan runs too.

I want to step back in winter’s time.

So for me in the Ski Juwel, it’s likely more ‘Au Revoir’ than ‘Auf Wiedersehen’.

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

See here for further details on the Tirol Tourist Board web site.

UPDATE

It seems some PlanetSKI readers are rather fond of the place judging by some comments over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Gill Usborne – I learnt to ski in Alpbach in the early 60s. Such happy memories. Beautiful village and super friendly people. I must go back. It seems nothing much has changed!
Adrian Barratt – A favourite spot, have spent many happy weeks there, the perfect ski village plus great walking in the summer. Every restaurant and bar are perfect and ooze Tyrolean charm.
Katherine Harvey – Our whole family learned to ski there. Sweetest village in the Alps. Has a special place in my heart for the many, many happy times we had there and the delightful, friendly villagers.
Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Juwel, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

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