Near Salzburg, Bad Gastein has skiing and snowboarding for all abilities with over 200km of ski terrain. There are some lovely tree runs and plenty of red runs which make it particularly good for intermediates. The four ski areas are well connected with high speed lifts and it boasts reliable snow cover thanks to the altitude and well positioned artificial snow cannons.
On the slopes you can enjoy great local food and schnapps in the mountain Hutte and even shop at the Highest Farmers Market in the Alps (March). Walking across the highest suspension bridge in Europe will test everyone's nerve as will skiing the breathtaking runs of Sportgastein and the World Championship area on Graukogel.
For those calmer moments, you can visit the Alps biggest art festival 'Art on Snow' (January), take a walk to the 341m high Gasteiner Ache waterfall in the old town or just relax those aching limbs in the world famous Thermal Baths.
Bad Gastein offers something for everyone.
The fun isn't confined to the mountain however. Away from the piste, visitors to the town will find plenty of distractions to pack their apres ski time. Restaurants serve up local cuisine such as tafelspitz (boiled beef fillet), wiener schnitzel (pork in breadcrumbs) and hochzseitsuppe (herb and vegetable soup) and several bars cater for a thirsty crowd once the lifts close for the day. Holiday makers looking for a healthier warm down should head for one of the town's thermal spas - there's nothing quite like a back massage and a soak in a warm relaxation pool to end a hectic day on the slopes.
ON THE MOUNTAIN
With over 200km of groomed snow and super-quick chair lifts climbing to altitudes as high as 2700 meters, skiers and boarders of all standards will find enough thrills to satisfy their alpine wanderlust: leisurely blues that wind around the mountain, the longest red in the eastern Alps (H1, which runs for just under 11km) and a range of angular, mogul-filled blacks make up a diverse and and exciting piste map.
Each run is capped with its own reward. Ski huts and restaurants pepper the mountain, meaning you'll never go hungry (or thirsty). Healthy servings of goulash, local soups and catch-all dishes such as spaghetti bolognese mean there's no excuse for flagging energy levels during the day. And with a Ski Miquel ski guide on hand to reserve tables at Bad Gastein's busiest restaurants, you'll find lunchtime to be just as exciting as the best run of the day.
Bad Gastein is an Austrian treasure trove that boasts a diverse range of traditional entertainment, charming eateries and lively apres ski hangouts. Hearty grub and frothy Kaiser Bier can be found in Restaurant am Banhof, though anyone looking for a sturdy meal to sate the mid afternoon hunger should head for The Station (which is located inside the town's picturesque railway station) where a cutesy, art deco interior is matched by an impressive menu. Our recommendation: the mixed meat kebab, where grilled cuts are served on top of a mini wooden wheelbarrow which overflows with fries.
For a lively end to the day, head to The Silver Bullet bar at the bottom end of the town where DJs and cover bands keep the party vibe going until three am. But if you're looking for a quieter night cap there's an excellent option: the Felsentherme, a luxurious thermal spa with an outdoor pool of naturally heated mineral water. Any aches and strains picked up on the mountain can be eased away in the Institute For Massage upstairs where a 25 minute rubdown for approximatley €26.
1/ HOW FAR IS THE CHAIR LIFT FROM THE SKI MIQUEL HOTEL-CHALETS?
Not far at all. In fact, you'll only have a slow walk of six or seven minutes from your front door to the first gondola up the mountain.
2/ WHAT ARE THE QUEUES LIKE AT THE CHAIR LIFTS?
Pretty quiet. Six high speed lifts have recently been installed on the mountain, so people can move around pretty quickly. You won't experience the hustle and bustle of other resorts.
3/ WHERE CAN I STORE MY SKI EQUIPMENT?
We'll arrange a storage space for you which is positioned in a room underneath the first gondola up the mountain. The only thing you'll need to take with you in the morning is your ski pass.
4/ SOME OF US ARE NON SKIERS. WILL THERE BE ENOUGH TO KEEP THEM ENTERTAINED DURING THE DAY?
If long walks and relaxing spas are their thing, then yes. The mountain is also easily accessible for non skiers, so they can meet you in a ski hut for lunch without too much trouble. Alternatively, there's a direct train (journey time 1.5h) to Salzburg which is a great day out.