Tried & Tested: Hotel Zürserhof – Arlberg
The Arlberg is probably one of the most famous skiing areas all around Austria. It’s a place safe for snow and attracts free riders as well as families with kids who just learn how to ski. The little villages of Lech and Zürs in particular are what the whole winter world describes as the cradle of skiing or in German “Die Wiege des Skisports”. Many of the pioneers of skiing came to the Arlberg to practice and develop the sport as we know it today. In every corner of these lovely towns, you feel the heritage of this pioneering time. Toni Sailer, Karl Schranz, Othmar Schneider, Pepi Stiegler and many more came here to do what they knew best – skiing in the best terrain of Austria. Also, my parents took me there for skiing holidays when I was a kiddo – but unfortunately I did not turn out to be a skiing legend 😉
Also dating back to this time the wonderful hotel we stayed at has it’s roots. The Zürserhof was founded in 1910 but, more importantly, was taken over by the Skardarasy family in the 1950s who are now running the hotel in the third generation. Driving up the Arlberg definitely takes some skills (and nerves) and great winter tires on your car – but it is so much worth it! The scenic drive makes you feel you’re about to leave the world and enter winter wonderland. Zürs is located between St. Christoph and Lech and is a lovely tying town, pulsating in winter and almost being abandoned during the summer.
The Zürserhof sits on the left side coming into Zürs and looks like you would expect an alpine hut with a lot of heritage to look like. From the first step out of the car until you leave this wonderful place, one thing is indescribably amazing – the personal service. Starting off, your car gets unloaded, your skis and boots already go into your personal heated locker in the basement and wait for you the next day. The ladies at the reception already know who you are when you’re coming in and one minute later, the Skardarasy family stands in the lobby and welcomes you from the heart. You feel like all your sorrows, stress and what-not is taken from your shoulders immediately and you dive into a new world of comfort and exclusivity.
Coming to the room, our luggage already waited there and we were changing into our bathrobes right away to meet up with Marie, who gave us a tour through the fairly new and stunningly beautiful 3.000 square meter spa area. There is nothing that the Zürserhof doesn’t have: Saunas, steam baths, most gorgeous relaxing areas, huge sports gym, inside tennis court, personal coaches, every spa treatment imaginable, an infinity whirlpool and a private spa suite. One thing that also fascinated us a lot is the dedication to families. There is a whole family spa area with kids saunas and all-day program for the little ones. The Aureus spa area is cut off from the family spa area and is therefore super quiet. So whether you are a big family and you want time with and without your kids, or you are a young couple and you want a relaxing get-away, the Zürserhof is the place to go.
Finishing the tour with Marie, we were surprised with a Hamam spa treatment in alpine style. You lie on a huge hot stone and you get washed with foam and washcloths – truly fantastic. Finishing the 45 minute treatment, we got out and a set of herbal tea and macarons awaited us.
Thinking that this was already great, Marie came in again and wanted to know if we were ready for the “aroma oil massage” over in the private spa suite. Overwhelmed by the wonderful program, we made our way to the suite where two masseuses waited for us. (Quick side note to the private spa suite: as you will see in the pictures, the suite has two massage tables, a private sauna facing the icy slopes through a huge glass front, a big shower and a kingsize bed – so basically a dream come true.) We had to each pick an aroma with our eyes closed (apparently your body knows which aroma it needs right now). A 60-minutes massage later, we were left with a more delights: two smoothies, tying snacks, a basket of fresh fruit and, if it wasn’t enough, a bottle of champagne. And as you know: “When life gives you champagne, drink it.” Feeling so spoiled, we had another hour for ourselves in the suite and then went for a tiny dip in the ∞ whirlpool, followed by a nap on the waterbeds in the relax area.
Getting back to our room in total zen, I was wondering if anyone was in the room while we were gone. The bed was ready-made for sleeping, the comfy lights were turned on, even the TV-guide was opened next to the remote. It turned out that the hotel has a “turn-down-service” which means that our maid Karolina (she left a little note welcoming us to the hotel) came to our room twice a day to have everything perfect.
Dinner was next on the list. The hotel asks you to dress up slightly for dinner, which I personally think is wonderful. It creates a very stylish atmosphere and you have no one sitting there in ski clothes or bathrobes. Everyone meets up in the hotel bar for an aperitif and Ernst, the piano player, accompanies the conversations with timeless classics.
We had a lovely table overlooking the village and Rene, our waiter, took our preferences we could choose from a 5-course-menu. The food and atmosphere at dinner is totally matching to the hotel. Have I mentioned the service the entire hotel offers? We were truly overwhelmed by how amazing the staff at Zürserhof is. Every wish is fulfilled right away. As an example: Rene was at our table close to 30 times, checking if there was anything we needed. The wonderful thing about it – we didn’t feel his appearance at all, he was almost invisible.
Finishing off dinner with a cheese buffet (at least for Patrick) with over 130 different types of cheeses and a lovely desert, it was a perfect day.
Sleeping like a baby after all this relaxation and great food, we woke up to the perfect day for skiing. And as Patrick is a true skier, we had a tough schedule, because we had to be at the lift at 8:45 sharp to be the first one on the slopes. Breakfast was – as expected – lovely as well. There’s basically anything you can imagine to choose from and we also got freshly cooked porridge served (even lactose free).
Changing into our skiing outfits, we went down to the basement where our boots were pre-heated and the skis already waited for us to pick them up. Fantastic about the location of the hotel is that it offers a so called ski-in and ski-out service. So you can put on your skies directly in front of the hotel and start your day, and come back straight to the hotel via its own little piste when you’re done.
I have just taken on skiing again (I was a snowboarder for the past 20 years) so Patrick was teaching me techniques all day. As mentioned before, the Arlberg is the best skiing area in Austria and we enjoyed the perfect slopes and Patrick even got to enjoy a little powpow on the sides.
Enjoying some Austrian hut specialities during lunch, we did another round of runs in the afternoon and then quite soon came back to the hotel as we wanted to enjoy the spa again. This time: the sauna area with a very refreshing dip afterwards in the ice pool. This definitely gives you back all life’s energy. The evening routine was again a lovely aperitif followed by a great dinner ending with a small walk through Zürs and some long exposure shots done by Patrick.
The next day was a bit more chilled as we (aka me) were exhausted from skiing but we still managed to hit the slopes for the morning and then returned to the hotel to have some lunch, spa time and sadly packing up to go home as I needed to be in Vienna on Wednesday afternoon already. Leaving this wonderful ambience of coziness and hospitality was truly hard and Mathieu, the bell boy, was so nice to pack up our car entirely and have it wait outside the reception for us. When we got into the car we found two small bottles of water on our seats for our journey back home – so cute!
Looking back on three wonderful days in one of Austria’s finest hotels and the fact that skiing holidays are so special to me, I can’t wait until we go back someday, then for hopefully longer than three days.
Now, enough being said: I’ll leave you guys with some more photos of our short winter vacay in Zürs:
A – 6763 Zürs
+43 (0)5583-25 13 0
*special thanks to the Skardarasy family and the whole Zürserhof team for the amazing stay!