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I Died and Went to St Anton

St Anton am Arlberg

 

When the train pulled in

and the snowy mountains appeared

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I wondered if my fate

had been what I feared.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

How could it be

that I was still alive

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

with this snowy heaven

right before my eyes?

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I guess I died and went to St Anton.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

You may have heard

of the Arlberg technique

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

or perhaps some rumors

about epic après ski?

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I went to see for myself

what all the fuss was about

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

and when I got to St Anton

this is what I found.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

A small mountain town

with endless terrain to ride

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

internationally famous

with a charming Alpine vibe.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

The slopes are as steep

as the mountains are vast

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

with powder whipped into butter

you go hella fast.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

Experts find bliss

off piste in the forest

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

the rest of us get thrills

on piste with the tourists.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

It’s true that St Anton

has challenging rides

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

on the slopes I swear I had

at least ninety-nine lives.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

My instructor nearly fainted

when I slid like a maniac

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I had a blast

he had a heart attack.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

For a break from the lifts

instead I climbed

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

into the woods

surrounded by pines.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I stopped for schnapps and strudel

in a quaint mountain hut

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

ran in snowshoes down

and fell on my butt.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

When I burned all my fire

out in the snow

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I went for après ski

with friends in the know.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

We sang silly songs

and toasted Austrian beer

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

listened to live music

and felt an old fashioned cheer.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

Further down the slope

was a truly wild sight

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

hundreds of people partying

at only six at night!

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

After getting my dancing fix

in the rowdy après ski bars

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I slid down the mountain

under the moon and the stars.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

In the morning came my train

and I bid the town farewell

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

proud I hit the slopes

even if I fell.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

Determined to return one day

with a whole lot more skill

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

to ski the off piste wonderland

then I’ll be fulfilled.

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

They say if you can ski in St Anton

you can ski anywhere

 

St Anton am Arlberg

 

I say if you can ski in St Anton

why would you ski elsewhere?

 

 

How to Get to St Anton

 

While there is no airport in St Anton am Arlberg, fast train and shuttle connections to nearby airports make it convenient to reach. The nearest airport is in Innsbruck, but Friedrichshafen, Memmingen, Zurich, and Munich are not too far away. Reaching St Anton by train is in my opinion the best way, as it’s very comfortable and stops right in the center of town. Trains run directly from Innsbruck (in about an hour) and Zurich (three and half hours) and connect with destinations all over Europe. Check the Eurail Timetable for train itineraries to and from St Anton. Most hotels are in walking distance from the train station. It’s also possible to take a shuttle or bus from from the airports to St Anton. For more information on how to reach St Anton, check out these travel suggestions by the Tourism Board.

 

Where to Sleep and Eat in St Anton

 

There are nearly fifteen thousand beds to sleep in as tourist in St Anton and the surrounding villages, ranging from 30 euros per night for a basic room in the low season to over 500 euros per night for a suite in peak season. Many hotels offer a half board option, including a breakfast buffet and multi course dinner. The town has many restaurants to choose from, and one of the great pleasures of skiing in St Anton is visiting one of the Mountain Huts on the slopes for lunch. Here are my top recommendations for where to sleep and eat in the area.

 

Hotel Schwarzer Adler 
Rooms start at 116 euros per person 

For classic Tyrolean charm, it doesn’t get much sweeter than Schwarzer Adler. This hotel was originally built in the 1500s and over the years they’ve made many additions and renovations to keep up with the times. The spa with five different sauna rooms feels ultra contemporary, while the suites remain decorated in classic Alpine style and the exterior displays the original frescos. Hallways and common areas are decorated with family photos and antiques. Every Sunday evening they offer complementary cocktails and a meet and greet with the Tschol family, who have been running the hotel since 1885, which was a touching way to connect with the local culture. In the afternoon they have tea and homemade cakes and strudel, an old fashioned style of apres ski. For half board guests, a big buffet breakfast is included as well as a spectacular five course dinner. It’s conveniently located right in the center of town.

 

Mooser Hotel 
Starting at 115 euros per person

If you want to be right up on the piste next to legendary apres ski, stay at Mooser Hotel, owners of the most famous apres ski bar Mooserwirt. Somehow they’ve managed to completely sound proof the rooms so that you don’t hear the apres ski music or partying. The hotel itself is elegant with gorgeous views, a spa with an infinity pool, and one of the best restaurants in St Anton.

 

Himmelhof 
Starting at 85 euros per person 

This cozy yet contemporary farmhouse is one of the top rated in St Anton. They have impeccable interiors, an extensive breakfast included, apres ski snacks by the fireplace, and a full spa, making it an excellent value for the price.

 

Anthony’s Hotel 
Starting at 80 euros per person 

Built in recent years, Anthony’s Hotel is ultra modern, chic, and right in the center of town. I love the rooftop pool and spa which has views of the mountains. They also have a great restaurant, with allegedly the best breakfast in town.

 

Couch Surfing
Free

If you’re on a serious budget, especially if traveling solo, your best bet is going to be couchsurfing as there aren’t any youth hostels in St Anton. While St Anton is not exactly a budget place, for skiing it’s far cheaper than many other ski resorts in the Alps. The good news is that there are many couchsurfing hosts in the area and in the surrounding area. I did an impromptu couchsurfing session there, staying with a friend in the “ski mansion” aka where the ski instructors live. It’s a great way to meet friends if you’re traveling solo. Just be sure to check out reviews, but I imagine St Anton has got to be one of the safest places in the world for couchsurfing since it’s such a small community.

 

Rendl Beach Club 

When the sun is shining there’s no better place to stop for lunch than Rendl Restaurant at the top of the Rendl gondola. It overlooks the STANTON terrain park where you can watch skiers and snowboarders do jumps and tricks. The scenery is stunning and they’ve got fresh salads and stir frys if you’ve overdosed on Austrian food.

 

Almfrieden Mountain Hut

This charming mountain hut in Pettneu feels like eating in the cozy dining room of your grandmother’s house. The owner is sweet as pie, speaks no English, and will teach you the right way to shoot schnapps. The cuisine is traditional Austrian and she makes the best apple strudel in St Anton.

 

Arlmont Restaurant

The perfect apres ski snack point, the Arlmont hotel in Nasserein sits right on the slope and serves traditional Austrian dishes tapas style. They even have a special “ski lounge” where you can ski right up to the bar.

 

Hospiz Alm

Famous for its extensive wine cellar, Hospiz Alm in St Christoph is probably the most famous restaurant in the area for a  splurge-worthy meal. You can ski over to St Christoph and have a long, decadent lunch or drive over in the evening for an elegant dinner.

 

 

How to Ski in St Anton

 

The first thing I was told when I arrived in St Anton was that if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere. They say this for two reasons. #1: The skiing is challenging here. Extremely challenging. Experts love it, and everyone else will quickly advance because of it. #2: This is the birthplace of the Arlberg technique, the modern Alpine ski method developed by Johann ‘Hannes’ Schneider. Ski schools across the world, and in particular all of the ski schools in the USA, were influenced by this style of skiing. Consequently ski instructors in St Anton are regarded the best in the world as the credentials to teach here are extremely high.

 

In addition to being challenging, there is vast terrain, both on and off piste, with 340km of ski runs and 200km of backcountry trails. No matter your skill level, I highly recommend skiing with a guide. If you’re a beginner, you’ll definitely need it, because some of the blue slopes here would be considered black at other resorts. If you’re advanced and looking to go off piste, a guide can show you all of the best spots you wouldn’t find otherwise. My instructor Nils Otto from Ski Schule St Anton was awesome, both in how he explained technique and also in making sure I had a fun time. While I scared him to death, I really improved after our day together. He typically works with advanced skiers as an off piste guide, so you can hire him for that as well.

 

If you plan to stay on piste and you’re pretty confident with your skills, check out these ski routes with suggestions for stops in other villages. For details on ski conditions and insider tips, visit wepowder.com, which is created by a ski instructor based in St Anton.

 

A great option for women who want to improve their skiing, test out off piste, or simply build confidence, is Girls Ski 2. They have day lessons you can join and even full ski camps that include yoga. The camps are especially nice for solo female travelers who want to meet fellow traveling skiers.

 

 

How to Not Ski in St Anton

 

Admittedly, St Anton is all about skiing. If you come here and don’t ski, you’re missing out on what really is the heart of the place. However, there are plenty of other activities if you want to mix it up.

 

On a clear day it’s mandatory to take the lift without skis up to the Valluga lookout point, with incredible views at over 2800 meters. There are cross country skiing tracks, toboggan runs (especially fun in the evening!), trails for winter hiking and snowshoeing, an ice skating rink, and many fitness opportunities at the Arlberg Wellness Center. On Tuesday evenings you can take Power Vinyasa yoga classes through Girls Ski 2.

 

Every Wednesday evening on the slope just beside the town, hundreds of people gather to watch the ski show with great performances and information on the history of the region. It’s a lot of fun, and the experience is further enhanced with a cup of mulled wine sold onsite.

 

Find the full list of activities with more information on the tourism board website.

 

I recommend these activities as an enhancement to Alpine skiing, but not a replacement. Even if you’re an absolute beginner or totally out of your element, challenge yourself to ski here. Just remember, if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere!

 

 

How to Apres Ski in St Anton

 

Easily as famous as the phenomenal ski opportunities in St Anton, are the apres ski opportunities. In fact St Anton is consistently listed as the best ski resort anywhere for apres ski. After scoping out the apres ski scene, these are my tips for making the most of apres ski, without ruining yourself for the next morning on the slopes.

 

Leave the Skis at Home and Take the Bus 

It gets very hot and crowded inside of the bars, and ski boots can get extremely uncomfortable. Finish out your runs, take off your boots, strip off some layers, and take the ski bus back to the apres ski bars. You’ll also have a much safer ride home by sliding or running down the slope, rather than risking skiing drunk.

 

Start Classic, Go Crazy, End Early  

There are many types of apres ski, from a glass of wine in an elegant piano bar to rowdy table dancing with barely legal ski instructors. Treat yourself to a little of each, bearing in mind that some bars are better when you’re 19 or extremely intoxicated. For the classic apres ski experience, I recommend getting things started at Senn Hutte. They have a live band playing lots of sing-a-longs, and a lively wholesome apres ski atmosphere. It’s a great spot to have a beer and share some Austrian snacks with friends. Afterwards slide on down to Mooserwirt, the most famous apres ski bar in St Anton. You’ll find people of all ages and a mix of popular top 40 dance charts and silly German/Austrian pub music. Trust me, you too will be dancing in no time. By 8pm the bars close down. Take this as a cue to head back to the village, maybe have a bite to eat, and get to bed early. You don’t want to miss a gorgeous morning on the mountain because you’re hungover from apres ski.

 

Take a Day Off 

Personally, I’d never survive doing full on apres ski every afternoon. I recommend alternating with some “healthier” apres ski options. After all, apres ski can be anything that helps you wind down after an adrenaline packed day. Take a sauna at your hotel or the Arlberg Wellness Club. Do some yoga stretching. Sit by the fire and have some tea. Maybe this makes me an old lady, but I can only handle so much table dancing.

 

A huge thank you to the St Anton Tourism Board and the Schwarzer Adler Hotel for sponsoring my stay and treating me with the warmest hospitality. Also thank you to Marcel from the St Anton Tourism Board for teaching me about Alpine culture, how to shoot schnapps at lunch, and how to run down the hill in snowshoes. Most of all, thank you to Nils from Ski Schule for his patience in teaching me to ski, for being my expert guide in apres ski, and for treating me like a friend he’s known forever.  

 


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Comments

  1. I’m not a skier, but WOW. It does look heavenly… and not unkind to those who forgo the slopes either!

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Yes, BUT you absolutely must try out skiing if you’re there. The whole town centers around it so you will definitely miss out if you don’t. Travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone after all isn’t it? 😉

  2. I like that you have given accommodation options for all budgets. Never been skiing in Austria, maybe I should :)

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 11, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Most definitely you should it’s amazing!! And Austria is much cheaper than Switzerland, so you will definitely find more budget/young travelers. Though of course, skiing is not exactly a budget sport 😉

  3. […] time I reached South Tyrol, after overworking, hardly sleeping, contracting a virus in Germany, and partying in Austria, I was hardly the poster child for […]

  4. beautiful words and pictures

  5. Glad you enjoyed your trip. As the grandson of the famous ski pioneer, it was fun to read your perspective on St. Anton. As an American living here every season, I hope you come back again with all of your friends.

  6. […] I Died and I Went to St. Anton […]

  7. […] mountains before it’s impressive, but the novelty escaped me as I had seen better views skiing in St Anton or hiking in the Cascades as a […]

  8. Girl,
    I just happened upon your website recently and we must be spiritual sisters. In your very select list of guides you’ve got two of my favorite places in the world: St Anton and Bali’s Bukit. Thanks for the beautiful tributes. Keep inspiring!
    xo
    Anna