St Anton is to skiing what St Andrews is to golf. It’s the Alpine cradle of the sport where local pioneers like Hannes Schneider showed the world the way to ski in the years before WW2. Ever since, St Anton has managed to maintain its position on the podium of world resorts, and it has done this by regularly reinventing itself.
Here are four reasons to go there – some of them you might not have known about:
Ski: You can now go to Lech and back
After many years of talk, the Arlberg ski area has finally been joined together by the Flexenbahn lifts – and the result is a ski area that ranks among the best in the world.
This means that you can ski from St Anton in the Arlberg all the way to Warth-Schoecken in the Voralberg at the northern end of the lift system, and it feels like you’ve explored half the Alps.
In fact, with the help of the new link between Zurs and Stuben/Rauz, you can reach all locations on the Arlberg easily on skis – from St Anton and St Christoph via Stuben, Zurs, Lech and Oberlech through to Schroecken and Warth.
On your journey you’ll witness an ever-changing panorama of dramatic peaks unwinding in front of you, and find every type of piste, from gentle blues to tricky moguls. Off piste, the terrain ranges from gentle powder fields to steep couloirs.
But the new lifts haven’t changed the fundamental nature of St Anton. This is still primarily a resort for athletic skiers and party animals.
Eat: Explore the cellars of the Arlberg Hospiz Alm
The Arlberg-Hospiz-Alm is a rustically wooded mountain eatery above the village of St Christoph, near St Anton. By day it is mountain pit-stop with liveried waiters and waitresses serving simple food like Gulaschsuppe and frankfurters on wooden tables both indoors and outside on the terrace.
By night, it’s all smart tablecloths and gourmet food. A helter-skelter slide to the basement loos is the alternative to the staircase if you’re desperate. This route leads also to the 20,000-bottle wine cellar, which has a vast collection of Nebuchadnezzars of vintage Bordeaux.
Party: Find out what lies beneath the MooserWirt
Former cowshed, the MooserWirt, is one of the most famous watering holes in the Alps, set on the piste above the resort. At 3.30pm every winter’s day, music starts to boom out of the speakers, proclaiming the start of apres-ski. This is when DJ Gerhard plays the best-known German pop anthems for an uninterrupted four and a half hours.
What visitors won’t know is that beneath the building a network of underground rooms and corridors provide high-tech back up to keep the customers above watered to capacity. Giant dishwashers handle 30,000 glasses every afternoon. Computerised pipes pump beer and a dozen different Schnapps – and automatically dispense them. At any one time there are 110 litres of Schnapps in the pipes. There’s also a spacious garage for at least a dozen cars served by a James Bond-style car lift.
The Mooser hotel is right next door. However the hotel is not aimed at the young beer-swilling table-dancers, but at an older, wealthier clientele who’ll appreciate the smart accommodation. There are just 17 rooms and suites and the theme is contemporary mountain style. There’s a spa and a heated outdoor infinity pool as well.
The hotel is completely soundproofed against the music and drunken shenanigans next door. The bar quietens down after the last skier has departed down the home run to the resort – in pitch dark at around 8pm.
Stay: Eat like a king at Chalet Artemis
Chalet Artemis is a funky hexagonal box on four floors, set in Nasserein on the quieter outskirts of St Anton.
It is one of the most contemporary chalets in the resort in terms of interior design – with interesting and unusual artefacts reflecting the owners’ passion for travel. The chalet sleeps 12 in comfort, with a wellness area that is quite a bit bigger than that of other chalets – and a decent sized swimming-pool too, which is normally hard to come by in St Anton.
The home cinema has proper red velvet cinema seats and a popcorn machine. There is also a choice of physio and sport massage (either in the spa or in your room) provided by the excellent Alpine Sports Physio.
But best of all is the food. The 2014 MasterChef winner, Ping Coombes trains the chefs to cook an exclusive menu she has designed for the chalets. The menu is designed to be a relaxed affair, full of flavour and informal – so people can either chill out and eat whilst sitting on the sofa, or at the table. Book the chalet through Scott Dunn from £1,670pp per week half board, excluding flights and transfers.