Hailed the friendliest of the ski nations, Austria welcomes families with open arms and saves a smile for teachers needing a break- there’s nothing like a spot of Austrian après for letting the hair down. Between the snug Alpine villages, massive ski areas and revolutionary ski schools, you’ll be singing like a Von Trapp in no time this half term.
You’ve only got a small window of time at half term, so let a chalet host take care of the pots and pans, and get down to the important stuff. Six days a week, you’ll wake up to breakfast ready-made, come home to afternoon tea and tuck into evening dinners with wine.
Some chalets are exclusively for families – so while kids are making friends by the fire, grownups can enjoy adult company. Obergurgl’s one of our favourite family resorts, famed for its intermediate skiing, super ski schools and easily navigable village. Make your base the Chalet Verwall, where you’ll be near the Festkogel gondola and ski school meeting point.
Get the most out of February’s plentiful powder with some of the best off-piste on the planet in St Anton. In a chalet like the Pepi Gabl, you’ll practically fall out of your door and onto the Nasserein gondola. The nearby Fanghouse’s great for après (watch out for Hasse’s lethal Jägermeister shots, which he serves at -17°C…). If you’re bringing the brood, Chalet Hotel Schweizerhof’s a quieter option, a short walk from the main town. Also in a more peaceful position on the outskirts of Lech, you’ll find Chalet Alpenland – almost touching the Zugerbahn Chairlift which takes you straight into the same Arlberg ski area.
Everyone loves Mayrhofen: between the action-packed Penken and the easy-going Ahorn, all levels are covered. Stay somewhere ski-in ski out like the Ski Lodge Stoanerhof, where intermediates can ski to their backdoor.
With wellness facilities, in-house childcare and room-service in many hotels, there’s no reason not to relax on your week away. Children will love a splash in a swimming pool before bed and grown-ups can round off the day with a quiet sherry in an on-site bar.
It may be illegal to pick the Edelweiss flower in Austria, but you’re free to pick Obergurgl’s Edelweiss hotel. Nothing beats an alpine home that’s ski-in / ski-out and this one’s also at the confluence of 3 lifts. The icing on the Stollen cake: it’s possibly one of most child-friendly hotels in Austria.
Families and first-time skiers will also love Niederau, home to excellent properties like the Hotel Sonnschein and a ski school just for beginners (Skischule Happy). For an afternoon sans-skis, take the scenic mountain train ride to Thierbach.
Sporthotel Mödlinger in Söll’s another firm favourite. This resort’s successfully shaken off its boozy 80s reputation for a quieter, family-friendly appeal - plus it’s on the verge of the gargantuan Skiwelt area.
Over in Mayrhofen, not only’s the popular Sport Hotel Strass moments from the Penken lift (which leads directly to the ski school meeting point and nursery slopes), it’s home to the legendary Ice Bar... you don’t have to brave the cold to enjoy the schnapps, or dance on the tables for that matter (as long as it’s done before closing at 10).
Austria has some lovely spa villages like Bad Kleinkirchheim, where hotels like the Thermal Spa Hotel Pulverer serve up a double dose of half-term pampering.
With self-catering you’ve the perfect excuse to explore some of the prettiest villages in Europe on your own terms. Try all the restaurants and bars that take your fancy, and if you source ingredients from the supermarket, make some stonking savings.
Gallons of Alpine charm can be found in peaceful Alpbach, home to the Haus Adelwiss Apartments and gentle skiing for beginners. For a night away from the stove, friendly Flo’s will show you what warm Austrian welcomes are all about.
Oberburgl’s wide, snow sure pistes and compact town centre draw a strong family crowd every half-term. The school run will be a distant memory at ski-in ski-out properties like the Gurglhof Apartments, only 1 minute from the ski school meeting point.
If you want to take self-sufficiency to its limit and drive to your resort, Mayrhofen’s just over 10 hours from Calais - pack the car with pre-made meals and check into the Dejakom Apartments.
Play your cards right at the Mountain Lake Resort apartments in Zell Am See and you might end up with views over the lake or Schmittenhohe Mountain. If all you want to think about is skiing, ask us if half-board bookings are available to take the preparation of breakfast and dinner off your plate.
You may be hankering after a traditional abode, and in self-catered chalets like Chalet Levett in St Anton, you get to ski in a world-class resort from a good-old fashioned chalet, all on a budget.