What’s the skiing like? St. Anton is part of the giant Arlberg ski region (340km), the biggest connected ski area in the country, with links to Lech-Zuers, St. Christoph and Warth. St. Anton also has a very impressive snow record as well as a fast, modern lift system. Freeriders are in their element here with 200km of off-piste itineraries (marked but ungroomed pistes). The big Stanton fun park is ideal for all levels of freestyler.
Best suited to? Advanced skiers
Beginners will find the nursery slopes at the base of the mountain and a very popular children's ski school. A little further up the mountain are gentle blue runs. Intermediates have a good choice of more challenging blues and reds. St. Anton is also the perfect place for confident intermediates to dip their toe into freeriding, thanks to the off-piste itineraries of varying levels.
Advanced skiers will find plenty of challenging pistes as well as a huge number of exhilarating steep, ungroomed off-piste itineraries - many of which are located on the wide valluga bowl. After fresh snow it's best to hire a guide to find the best powder spots as competition is high.
What’s the resort like? A pretty, Tyrolean mountain village with a pedestrianised main street and family-friendly restaurants and hotels. The apres-ski scene is legendary largely thanks to the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh bars where dancing on tables in your ski boots is the norm.
Off the slopes? For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll to the wellness cente, Arlberg-well.com, with indoor and outdoor pools, steam rooms, saunas, treatments, gym and range of fitness classes. There's also tobogganing, indoor and outdoor climbing at the Arl.Rock Center, and lunch at the top of the Valluga.
Downside? Tentative beginners may find the terrain a little limiting as the blue runs here are more challenging than most resorts.
Nearest airport(s): Innsbruck Airport 95km/75 mins
There are four airports within two hours' drive of St Anton and two others (Salzburg – 300km, and Munich – 250km) that are three hours away.
Innsbruck (104 km/75 minutes) Fürstenweg 180, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Austrian Airlines, British Airways, easyJet, and Monarch fly from London Gatwick; easyJet also fly from Bristol and Liverpool; Monarch also fly from Manchester.
Bodensee Airport (Friedrichshafen) (130 km/90 minutes), Am Flugplatz 64 88046 Friedrichshafen, Germany. Monarch fly from London Gatwick and Manchester.
Allgäu Airport (Memmingen) (170km/120 minutes) Schleifweg, Am Flughafen 35, 87766 Memmingerberg. Ryanair fly from London Stansted and Dublin.
Zürich Airport (200km/120 minutes) Flughafen Zürich AG, 8058. Both BA and Swiss fly from London City and London Heathrow to Zurich; easyJet fly from London Gatwick and London Luton; bmi fly from Edinburgh; Swiss also fly from Birmingham and Manchester. Many other major scheduled airlines offer connecting services from other UK regional departure points via their European hubs to Zurich – eg KLM via Amsterdam.
By bus: The only airport served by a direct bus service is Zurich, which has four services a day departing the airport from 10am to 7pm, courtesy of Arlberg Express (+43 (0) 55 82-226) Tickets are €50 one way; €80 return.
Shared/Private transfers: Available from all airports with Ski Express St Anton (+49 (0)8382 27 35 880). Expect to pay €48 one way, €84 return from Friedrichshafen; €55/€80 from Innsbruck; €80/140 from Memmingen; and €95/180 from Munich. Max waiting time 45 minutes, minimum pre-booking time, usually 48 hours, discounts for groups of six or more. Other companies, include Innsbruck based Transfer Tirol (+43 (0)512 7272-0). My Transfer Service GmbH, (+43 (0)5523 590 959) and Airport-Drivers (+43 (0)664 341 05 09) both operate from Friedrichshafen.
By train: St Anton has a rail station close to the village centre and you can reach the resort by rail from virtually all points in Europe, including via the Channel Tunnel on Eurostar from London. Railjet services from Zurich Airport (station at terminal) take between 2hr20 and 2hr40. There are also stations in Innsbruck and Friedrichshafen, a bus or taxi ride from the airports. For more prices and timetables, visit Austrian Rail; Swiss Rail and German Rail.
By car: Hire cars are available from all airports. Ensure your car is equipped for winter driving and carry snow chains. Although roads are normally kept clear, if there is excessive snowfall, particularly on access passes such as the Arlberg Pass, these may temporarily be closed. If you drive from the UK, an Austrian road tax sticker "Vignette" is obligatory in order to drive on motorways and on the S16. This can be purchased at the border, at petrol stations and at many "Trafik" shops.
The very centre of St. Anton is closed to traffic. Most accommodations offer parking and there are approximately 2,000 parking spaces available at locations around the resort centre including on the bypass, on the secondary school square, at the former Rendl station, at the “West” and “Mitte” car parks and on the outskirts of the resort. Parking is free after 3pm but otherwise is €7 per day.
The pedestrianized centre of St Anton means that many facilities and the ski lifts are within walking distance of many parts of the village. The free ski bus to Lech leaves from Alpe Rauz, the public bus from St. Anton has to be paid. A night bus runs from 7pm to 3am between St. Anton, St. Christoph, St. Jakob, Pettneu and Flirsch.
There are also seven taxi companies operating in the village including Taxi Arlberg-Car/Taxi Griesser - Tel. +43 (5446) 3730.
St Antonerhof, Arlbergstraße 69, (+43 (0)5446 29100) is the main five-star in town, owned by the Raffl’s family for generations. It’s a beautifully presented boutique hotel with high service standards, excellent gourmet cuisine and an intimate spa complete with sauna, hot tub and pool. The hotel is a two-minute-walk from the resort centre and seven minutes from the main lift, but a chauffeur service can take you to the lifts if you wish. A separate luxury chalet, with access to the hotel’s facilities, the Raffl Country House, is available to rent.
Hotel Montjola, Gastigweg 25, 6580 (0844 557 3119) originally opened in 1932 and has been fully renovated for winter 2012-13. The residence is located a 10-minute-walk from the resort centre (chauffeur service available 8am-8pm daily). The 33-room hotel now has all contemporary comforts including flat screen TVs, sauna and signature hot tubs. Operators VIP SKI provide welcome drinks, canapés, cooked breakfasts, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine included and two nannies working onsite to look after the kids.
Nassereinerhof, Nassereinerstraße 1, 6580 (+43 (0)5446 33 66) has been run by the same family for more than 300 years and is housed in a 13th-century building. This family-friendly three-star hotel incorporates regular hotel rooms and an apartment than can sleep up to seven. It is located only 150 metres from the lifts and the children’s ski school and slopes. The restaurant serves Italian and Tirolean specialities. Relaxation facilities include a sauna and steam room.
Pension Arlenhof, St. Jakober Dorfstraße 38, A 6580 (+43 (0)5446 3831) is located in a quiet street 10 minutes from the Nassereinbahn lift but with a bus stop right in front of the house. When snow conditions are good it’s possible to ski right back to the door in the sunshine and enjoy the great views towards the Stanzer-Valley.
Condo/House Rental Options
The majority of accommodation in St Anton is in chalets or hotels but there are still more than 2,000 apartment beds available for rental. Most are in traditional chalet style buildings with a maximum of six individual apartments within. For example the Apart La Vita, Schulerhofweg 10, A 6580 (+43 (0)660 4636960) contains five apartments and is situated within easy reach of the village centre, 500m from the nearest lift. The facility includes its own communal sauna, steam bath and relaxation room as well as a heated ski & boot room and car park. Alternatively the Pension Bachseite, Stockiweg 6, A 6580 (+43 (0)5446 3866) has apartments sleeping up to four people and is two minutes’ walk from the resort centre, and seven minutes from the lifts and ski school.
Although St. Anton is most famous for its off-piste terrain and ungroomed itineraries, it’s a little known (and perhaps in the circumstances, slightly ironic) fact that it was here that trails were first groomed to make skiing easier – this was before automated machinery, just a few men with a hand-pulled roller flattening the snow surface back in 1949.
Back in St. Anton, some of the gentler terrain is found right next to the village where there’s an excellent children’s ski school area incorporating protected nursery slopes for young learners. More extensive gentle terrain with mostly blue-graded runs are located in the Gampen area above.
Intermediates are spoilt for choice, but should certainly take a look at the separate Rendl sector, reached by new gondola from the village center, and home to almost entirely red rated pistes with a maximum steepness of 40%.
There are still tough groomed runs for advanced skiers as well as all the freeride terrain. Mattun and Schindlergrat are infamous bump runs for example. The Ski Arlberg Pass includes the neighboring ski slopes of Lech Zurs (reached by bus from St. Anton), which has a tamer reputation than St. Anton.
Most of the legend that is St. Anton relies on the tiny Valluga 2 cable car which climbs up the slopes to the region’s highest point at 2,811 meters and opens up some seriously extreme terrain. So serious in fact that you are not allowed to enter the cable car with skis or board unless accompanied by a qualified guide. Those challenges include the option to ski through the Pazieltal towards Lech, but are only suited to extremely skilled expert skiers who won’t be unnerved by the danger of death if a wrong move is made. However, for the rest, the top of Valluga 1 at Vallugagrat (2,650 meters) provides ample access to lots of steep and deep terrain, and it is exposed to some of the most abundant snowfall of any area in Austria and much of the Alps. These are just some of the numerous itinerary routes, open bowls for which perhaps St. Anton is most famous, chutes and steep gullies that abound in the sector – although it does have to be powder day for them to be at their most epic of course.
St. Anton’s main terrain park is located on the resort’s Rendl mountain. The Stanton Park area is home to a plethora of kickers, ramps, pipes, boxes and rails, and keeps getting larger each season. It now has three main lines, a Pro-line, medium line and jib-line, so there’s something for all ability levels. The park has also been designed for easy access and fast laps thanks to its location next to two lifts. With the Ski Arlberg ticket, you can access multiple terrain parks and the Funslope on Galzig.
The White Thrill race that takes place on Valluga each spring is one of the most exciting and testing races in the skiing world. The race starts on an agreed date in late. The race isn’t downhill all the way: the race includes a 150 meters ascent.