Easter Inspection Visit 201703/05/2017 15:48:17
Every year we run two inspection visits to which we invite group leaders. These visits usually take place just before Christmas and at Easter.
After a short 90-minute flight, we transferred to our accommodation for the night – the Niederstrasserhof in Oberndorf.
With spectacular views of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains, the slopes of St. Johann in Tirol and, of course, the resort of Kitzbühel, we knew this was going to be a great few days.
The Niederstrasserhof is ideal for school and youth groups. It boasts its own sports hall and is ideally placed for both St. Johann in Tirol and Kitzbühel, as well as the SkiWelt, which can be accessed in about 15 minutes by coach.
After accessing the Kitzbühel lift system via the Fleckalmbahn gondola,we were all soon on top of the mountain, which offers slopes to suit all abilities and fantastic opportunities to explore.
Even at this late stage of the season, there are always plenty of ski runs open up here, although with the warm temperatures, the best skiing was to be had in the morning and early afternoon.
The first morning offered the more advanced skiers the opportunity to ski down the famous Streif downhill course.
Renowned as the most challenging ski race course in the world, the group skied parts of it and gazed in awe at the steep jumps and drops, together with the opposite camber tight turns!
The group did well and we made it down to the gondola, which comes up from Kitzbühel town back in to the lift system.
An early afternoon of skiing with the intermediate group was followed by a trip into Kitzbühel town.
As they say, Kitzbühel is not a place but a condition, and we were all starting to feel this by the end of the first day’s skiing. Although we were here close to the end of the season, the magic of Kitzbühel is plain to see both with and without snow.
With its myriad of colourfully painted houses and pedestrianised streets, the old town really is spectacular and, to make the most of our beautiful surroundings we decided to enjoy a well-earned drink sitting in the sunshine.
Back at the hotel, it was time to make use of the hotel’s on-site sports hall with the ‘Halsbury Globetrotters’ taking on a combined team of top level athletes (a.k.a our teachers!).
The game was finely balanced and ended in a draw with some very questionable tackles, but was enjoyed by all. Our evening in Kitzbühel ended with a traditional game of Hammerschlagen – a competition to see who can hit their nail into a log the quickest!
Our Kitzbühel adventure continued the following day with some more challenging skiing in the Pengelstein area, before moving on to our second accommodation of the trip – the Hotel Plankenhof in Pill, near to the Ziller Valley.
After freshening up and enjoying a wonderful three course meal at the hotel, the owner, Michael, invited us down to his on-site schnapps distillery for an informative and humorous presentation about the history of, and process of making schnapps. And we even had the opportunity to taste some!
Despite the schnapps, we were up early the following morning to make the best of the snow conditions.
When we arrived at Hochfügen (in the Ziller Valley), our next resort, we were a little concerned, as we couldn’t see past the ends of our own noses! However, being keen and experienced skiers, we soldiered on and skied off into the abyss.
Despite the poor visibility, the snow conditions were pretty good. We stuck to each other like glue in our groups and made the most of the 8-man heated chairlift when we could.
Eventually, our perseverance paid off and conditions improved greatly after our schnitzel and hot chocolate break.
Before leaving Hochfügen for the day, we dropped in to one of our hotels for a quick coffee and a look around.
The Alpin Centre is a brilliant option for your group when skiing Hochfügen - not only does it offer slopeside accommodation but it also boasts a dedicated evening events room for your group’s use throughout the length of your stay.
On arrival back in Pill, we were keen to sample some of the evening activities available to groups staying in the area. Some of us took part in what turned out to be a very competitive bowling tournament at Check-In Bowling in Wörgl.
This bowling alley offers American-style ten-pin bowling, while others opted for a more relaxing evening at the WörglerWasserWelt – a large swimming complex with slides, saunas and indoor lagoons.
Kühtai, the host resort for Channel 4’s The Jump, was next on our list of resorts to try.
We were all very impressed by the snow conditions here – as the resort starts at an altitude of 2,020m, it is actually a brilliant option for Easter skiing. Plus, the ski area spans both sides of the resort, with a ski tunnel linking both sides underneath the village.
We skied the sunnier side of the mountain first, which boasts a series of blue, red and a couple of black runs – all of which bring you back to the village.
They’re also all accessible via the resort`s excellent lift system, which reaches up as high as 2,520m, allowing you to enjoy some truly amazing skiing.
The red runs in Kühtai are wide and at a low gradient – perfect for confidence building. The resort also boasts a half-pipe and a challenging slalom course.
The beauty of this resort is that all the runs meet back at the village centre and so it has a very convivial feel to it.
That night we enjoyed a games night organised by the Halsbury staff at our third accommodation of the week – the Hotel Auderer in Imst.
John, Sam and Beth led a series of games which would be ideal to keep children occupied after a day of skiing, including blind tasting local delicacies and ‘fluffy bunnies’ (a game in which the aim is to stuff as many marshmallows into your mouth as possible while still maintaining the ability to speak)!
The Auderer itself is a lovely 3-star hotel on the outskirts of Imst, one of the major towns in the Tyrol. It has a nice, traditional feel with Tyrolean wooden furniture and a fantastic chill-out area right next to reception, which is an ideal place for group leaders to convene of an evening.
Our fifth ski day saw everyone feeling a bit like secret agents as we took to the slopes in Sölden, one of the locations in the latest James Bond film, Spectre.
Skiing on the glacier there really was a treat – the pistes start as high as 3,340m, so there were no problems with a lack of snow, even at this late stage of the season.
The Tiefenbach glacier here has a good mix of blue and red runs, so that even beginners are able to ski from the top of the mountain by the end of the week.
After an early night, we awoke refreshed and ready to tackle our final day in St. Anton am Arlberg, which is often touted as the cradle of alpine skiing.
The skiing up at 2,800m was fantastic and the advanced skiers made their way all across to Stuben before dropping back into St. Anton’s charming pedestrianised area.
Here the group enjoyed one final lunch, followed by an afternoon soaking up the in-resort atmosphere with hot chocolates (and the odd Aperol Spritz thrown in for good measure!).
Back at the Hotel Auderer, the group celebrated a successful and informative week in the basement bar dancing the night away to all the best cheesy music from the last four decades, before travelling home the following day.
Sounds great, can I come next time?
We’d love you to join us on our next inspection visit! These trips are a great way to learn more about the Halsbury experience before travelling with your group.
You can get ideas for your next trip and even carry out risk assessments. Joining us on an inspection visit will leave you better prepared to lead your school’s ski trip.