Deep in the foothills of southern Austria lies a quiet town as-of-yet undiscovered by British holiday goers, a fact which a selection of newly-built luxury chalets are hoping to change. Alexandra Fraser paid a visit.
With the season nearing its conclusion, most avid skiers have by now made the trip to their established haunts and enjoyed this year’s bout of good snow and smooth pistes.
However, for those yet to enter into one one of Europe’s favourite winter pastimes, that first holiday can be daunting, especially if one is hoping to travel as a family.
The logistics alone are mind-boggling – booking the hotel, getting to the airport, boarding the plane, driving to the resort, renting skis, renting passes, carrying three pairs of skis from hotel to the bottom of the slope, carrying two and a half pairs of skis back to the hotel and later returning for the ski you somehow managed to leave outside of the ski school earlier that day.
Those who choose to purchase holiday homes abroad avoid these situations, but this decision comes with its own risks. Committing to a single selection of ski slopes and a property that one may only be able to make the most of for three months a year is enough to gall any first (or even second) time buyers.
Those with young families in particular may struggle to search for a place with slopes challenging enough for confident adults but without the après culture which permeates so many of the best resorts.
Luckily for those who face this conundrum, property developer Allea Group has discovered a hidden gem in the form of St. Lambrecht, a Styrian resort in ‘the green heart of Austria’, and subsequently built 22 alpine residences at the base of the Grebenzen ski slopes for this exact purpose.
Beautiful year-round, St. Lambrecht’s summer is packed with activities and outdoor adventures, from fishing in crystal-clear lakes to hiking (or even paragliding) over stunning mountains. A haven for golf lovers, St. Lambrecht’s five courses are all less than half an hour from the picturesque village, while the Golf Studio in the centre of town allows for year-round practice on the latest golfing simulators on which one can play at 200 of the world’s best courses. For automobile enthusiasts, Red Bull’s Projekt Spielburg is only a short drive away.
The region, as you’d expect, is equally blessed for the winter season, with consistently good snowfall and nine different ski areas in close proximity, traversable by bus routes.
The residences, so-called ‘country houses by a ski slope’, provide a blank canvas for families to paint with their memories, sporting large garages for storing all the seasonal equipment one could possibly require and the option to add a sauna to the third bedroom.
If a spa in your home is not your glass of Veltliner, the NaturparkHotel Lambrechterhof offer discounts to chalet residents, with up to 50% off spa usage, and up to 20% off meals in their restaurant, which is run by award-winning chef Erich Pucher. Utilitarian in style, the houses lend themselves to cleanliness, although NaturparkHotel Lambrechterhof also offer maintenance and housekeeping services.
Rental rates for Mountain Residences St Lambrecht start at £175 per night for a 3-bedroom chalet, which sleeps 6 people. Prices to purchase a 2/3 bedroom home start at £350,600. Click here for more information.
Where to stay
Unmistakably Austrian, NaturparkHotel Lambrechterhof combines utilitarian architecture with luxurious furnishings to form the perfect base for a family ski holiday. Offering buses to and from the slopes as well as an award-winning restaurant and extensive spa program, this wonderful hotel sits on a picture-perfect street in the centre of St. Lambrecht.
Rooms at the NaturparkHotel Lambrechterhof are priced from £190 per person for two nights and includes breakfast, a one and a half day ski pass and free use of the ski bus to and from the hotel. Click here for more information.
While you’re there
Visit St Lambrecht’s inside Golf Studio and play St Andrew’s Old Course with your family. It also contains a putting simulator, a practice putting green and a well-stocked bar.
Make the trip to the AQUALUX thermal spa for a day of basking in the sunshine and enjoying mountainous views from the outside pools, or relaxing amid their extensive sauna facilities. Discovered in 1940 at the Fohnsdorf mine when an attempt to deepen the main shaft broke through to the thermal spring, later scientific research confirmed the water to have healing properties. AQUALUX was opened in 2006 with architecture designed to emulate a coal seam, a subtle nod back to the spring’s roots.
Book an off-road buggy driving experience with Projekt Spielberg and roam over the rough ground above the Red Bull ring or join the likes of Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher and race around this legendary track.
Take time to walk around the town and visit St. Lambrecht’s Abbey, one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in Austria and the true heart of this beautiful area.
Flights from London Gatwick to Klagenfurt with easyJet start at £51 for a return. For more information on the area visit www.steiermark.com/en.
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