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Beginners and intermediates will find more terrain at Zurs than at Lech, or St. Anton, and intermediates and above can challenge themselves to ski “The White Ring” or Der Weisse Ring route, which takes skiers on an interconnected tour of all the Arlberg ski resorts. Every year a race is held on the route, but the real challenge for a skier on a Zurs ski vacation is to see how many restaurants and bars they can frequent along the route.
Will Return Many TimesZurs/Lech/St Anton/St Christophe is a massive ski resort spread over many mountains with excellent connectivity. The included meals at the five star Lorunser SportHotel we stay at is outstanding, far beyond anything at a American or Canadian ski resort. Thanks to the higher elevation, the snow is good into mid March, but then melts quickly. There is tremendous uphill capacity and rarely any lift lines. If you ski "on-piste", the grooming is fine in the mornings, but since 99% of the skiers ski "on-piste", it gets very hard packed very quickly. Keep you edges sharp. The only negative to skiing in the Alps is the flat light and visibility on bad weather days....with everything above the tree line, it is impossible to see without radar, no matter what kind of goggles you have. The prices for lift tickets and ski rental are 1/3 of US resorts; of course you have to take into consideration getting there, but Zurs is only 2.5 hours from Zurich Airport, so not much different than from Denver to Vail. And the scenery is much better than the Rockies.
Excellent Vacation But We Were Lucky with the Weather and Exchange RateThe Sporthotel Loruenser is a superb 5-star hotel with outstanding meals and wonderful staff. We stayed an extra 2 days, and are planning to return next season (not too early due to the European school holidays, and not too late due to the snowpack). As for the skiing in Zurs and the connected Arlberg ski areas, someone used to skiing in Utah or Colorado snow might not be that impressed. Zurs itself is not that expansive and while the base is at 1800m, the vertical is not that great. So I either took the bus to Lech (free 10 minute ride + some walking in your ski boots), or the new gondala(s) to St. Christophe & St. Anton. St. Anton, at a lower altitude, desperately needed snow. In mid-March, it was warm and melting fast. The last day it was raining at 1800m. The higher elevations had plenty of base, but as 99% of the people ski on the 'pistes', they get packed down and icy. The 'pistes' are groomed each night, but the grooming does not compare to what you see at Deer Valley or Vail. The easier trails are marked with blue poles and the intermediate ones with red poles, but there is really not much difference. I couldn't find any black(expert) runs that were groomed at all. As all the areas are mostly above the tree line, it is incredible mountain scenery on sunny days, but a total white out when cloudy or snowing/raining. The lifts are amazingly efficient, with 6 and 8 person high speed chairs with automated hoods and safety bars. If you have not skied Europe, I would go here. I would strongly recommend Zurs & Lech for the ambiance, food, wine, the mountain scenery, Austrian culture and lifestyle. The skiing itself is nice, but not that special. The Alps seem to be suffering from climate change. Once there, it is also considerably less expensive than in the US, with my lift tickets about $35/day and performance rental skis about the same.