The news for Ischgl, high in the Paznaun valley region of Austria’s western Tyrol just keeps getting better. In the run up to their now legendary big ‘Winter Opening’, this year held on 29th November and headlined by James Blunt, the timely news that Ischgl this week scooped Europe’s Most Improved Resort at the World Snow Awards will certainly give it the edge over its regional rivals Galtuer, Lech-Zuers and St. Anton.
A playground for the hedonistic and well-heeled, Ischgl has always been synonymous with a party-loving crowd, reassuringly expensive hotels and as near as guaranteed snow as you are likely to find in the capricious Alps. Of course, it is not for everyone and with its neighbour and polar-opposite Galtuer being but a few miles away, it is feasible for the discerning winter visitor to hit the slopes in Ischgl, enjoy a lunchtime tincture before ‘sloping’ off back to Galtuer where the nightlife is more sedate, the accommodation less architecturally questionable but more realistically priced. What you see though in Ischgl is what you get, a resort unashamedly gearing itself towards a certain demographic, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker numbering among its ranks.
By all accounts the clincher for Ischgl over its fellow nomination contenders Saalbach Hinterglemm and Laax of Switzerland is the considerable amount invested in improving the ski-lift infrastructure, complementing the Piz Val Gronda cable-car that opened last year. The upgraded Pardatschgratbahn, unpronounceable after a Stiegl or three will see the delays of yesteryear at the middle station as a thing of the past. The two projects have seen a total outlay in the region of €70 million, demonstrating the fine line between the outward confidence from the Silvretta Cable Car Company that such an investment will be recouped and, a certain air of desperation detected nowadays throughout the Austrian Tyrol where many resorts feel pressurised to keep outdoing their regional neighbours with an extra lift, Wellness centre or visitor accommodation that architecturally defies conventional wisdom or sympathy with its surroundings.
Ischgl should though finds its sizable investment to be one that will pay off, thanks to the loyalty from its many repeat customers who appreciate its fine line between sophistication and pricey hedonism, accommodation that financially separates the wheat from the chaff and a diverse array of skiing to challenge all abilities. It also benefits from a good deal of cross-border, weekend ski tourism. Whilst one mans Schnitzel is of course another’s poison, I personally prefer the charm of Galtuer to its boisterous neighbour; the best though of both worlds can be combined to ensure your visit to one of Austria’s most snow-sure regions is an unqualified success.
Additional reporting can be found at: