Ignore the romantic old picture above, the Austrians love to invest in modern equipment: the lifts are all state of the art, high speed and high capacity so however you go down the slope you travel up the mountain with hardly any queues and in comfort - some chair lifts even have heated seats. New in the 2011 season were two high speed lifts which completed a seamless, busless link between all the villages as well as adding a wonderful new restaurant at the top above Hinterthal. New for the 2012 season was another six person chair lift replacing the last remaining long drag lift from the village of Dienten. Another result of huge investment in recent years is that most of the pistes are covered by snow cannon and feeder reservoirs, ensuring good snow cover as soon as the weather turns cold
The Amade region with well-known resorts like Schladming and Badgastein lies mainly to the east of Hinterthal, but there are also many world-famous resorts within a 30 minute drive to the west including world-cup hosting Saalbach/Hinterglemm, the Schmittenhohe at Zell am See and the all year round skiing on the glacier above Kaprun. We mention these resorts to whet your appetite, but the Hochkoenig region is so extensive that unless you stay the whole season we would be surprised if you did more than ski in and out of the chalet.
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Our ski and summer chalet in Austria is situated in the village of Hinterthal in the heart of the province of Salzburg. It is an ideal base for skiing holidays, activity holidays or just quiet breaks from urban existence - whatever your reason for going to Austria, you will find this area has spectacular scenery, clear air, fresh pine forests and really friendly people.
Hinterthal is also very accessible - Salzburg airport, which now has regular flights from several airports in the UK is less than an hour by car from Hinterthal, while Munich is just over two hours away. Hiring a car is not essential - you can ski to and from the chalet - but it is useful if you want to explore the region, go to restaurants in neighbouring villages or try out the skiing in different resorts.
Hinterthal is a beautiful village at the end of the valley with rocky peaks to the east and north and ski slopes to the south and west. The village has a couple of ski shops and ski school less than 100 metres from the house, a range of restaurants and bars and excellent, safe night life for all members of the family.
After the snow has left the mountains, Hinterthal is a wonderful place for an active and healthy holiday. You will not find better walking, hiking, climbing, overnight stays in mountain top huts, tennis, golf, white water rafting and cycling than is available either from the door or in the immediate area.
For a cultural tour, Sound of Music tour or just a shopping tour Salzburg is a beautiful city and is only an hour by car. The picturesque lake-side town of Zell am See with its boutiques and water sports on its large lake is less than 30 minutes away. Each of the local villages - Maria Alm, Dienten, Saalfelden and Hinterthal - itself offer restaurants and bars for refreshment after a long day's hiking and have regular village cultural and musical events.
Our children always insist that they have a ride on the summer toboggan run at Saalfelden and more than one ride on the go-karts at Leogang, both 15 minutes drive from Hinterthal. There are two golf courses in the area, one skirting the river to the north of Saalfelden and the other on the meadows at the foot of the granite peaks above Maria Alm. The clay tennis courts in Maria Alm are next to an outdoor swimming pool complex with volleyball and table tennis facilities. The lake at Zell has a full range of water sports from sailing to water-skiing, the river at Lofer provides white water of all levels. And for children and adults, Maria Alm has a wonderful tree-top adventure park.
After all this activity you have your own deck over the private lake for swimming and chilling out.
For the skiing holiday, this area offers some of the most reliable snowfall in the Alps,150km of pistes for all levels of experience and plenty of safe off-piste skiing when the new snow falls. Hinterthal is in the Hochkoenig ski area which in turn is part of the massive Amade ski region with its 270 lifts and 866km of pistes. The lift pass for the Hochkoenig area of 4 interconnnected villages covers the whole of the Amade region.
The area is a paradise for ski tourers, low avalanche risk and few dangerous cliffs makes it a safe and peaceful activity. Hinterthal attracts a crowd of ski tourers every thursday evening for its weekly tour up to the mountain restaurant for dinner (head torches needed for the way down!).
Our house is right next to the nursery slope where the ski school meets, so the children (and other beginners) are never far from home. Also close to the house is a range of restaurants offering traditional Austrian and modern European cuisine as well as apres-ski bars and the late night AlmBar which is behind the house at the bottom of the nursery slope. The AlmBar is where both the youngsters and the not-so-young can socialise and dance late into or even through the night; it is close enough to the house to walk home without freezing en route but far enough away never to hear the eclectic music or the leaving revellers. For those who prefer to stay outdoors, Hinterthal has horse-drawn sleigh rides and tobogganing is available in Maria Alm and Dienten.
The house is at an altitude of just over 1,000m, by Austrian standards that's fairly high. Whoever tells you that Austrian villages are too low for good snow, doesn't know much about Europe's weather patterns! Recent years have seen fabulous snowfall in Austria with some of the deepest and best powder snow in Europe falling through to April; 2012 was a record year with almost 6 metres of snow at the top at the end of March.