This year our family went skiing with Ski Esprit to Obergurgl in Austria.
I’m an experienced skier and have visited many resorts in my time. A few years ago, I would have always been the first on the mountain and the last one off, but these days, due to advancing age and injury ( and the family of course), I tend to concentrate more on style and technique than the need for speed. My boys have developed a keen interest in the sport, this being Hugo’s 6th time skiing and Toby’s 3rd. Cal is one of those rare breeds, the non-skier! We therefore had a range of needs to cater for.
Obergurgl is a great family resort because it is compact, all the runs are interlinked, and there are plenty of places to meet up along the way. The transfer from Innsbruck Airport is relatively short and easy, which is a great advantage when travelling with children.
Being at high altitude, Obergurgl is pretty snow-sure. It’s not a tough resort, which makes it good for families. There are a variety of runs for all abilities. For the children, there are some fabulous snow parks with trails, jumps, and turns, half-pipes, obstacles etc. There is plenty to keep adults skiing happily, but also plenty to give confidence to younger skiers. All the nursery slopes are in the resort, right near the hotels, and there is direct access to the upper mountain from the same place. Our children could easily ski back to the hotel from the mountain.
Obergurgl has some fantastic mountain bars and restaurants including the newly opened Cross Point at Hochgurgl which has a motorcycle museum within it (of all things!). The food and drink are excellent and reasonably priced. Not to be missed are night skiing on certain days and fantastic apres ski including live band and dancing on the tables at the Nederhutte on the last run home. The ski instructors hold an evening display once a week, and the Festkogl gondola runs especially so you can watch the display and enjoy fondue & drinks at the restaurant.
Ski Esprit run an excellent service of wrap-around care for children of all ages. Our children were collected every morning and taken to ski school, with fun and songs along the way. They were given lunch and then had the option of further skiing or ‘snow club’ fun and games in the afternoon. I met them off the mountain and did some runs with them most afternoons. They were then given high tea and returned to us. On an evening, they could either attend cocoa club whilst parents had dinner, or could go to bed and have a baby listening service.
We’ve holidayed with Esprit before and always found them excellent. I also enjoyed the ski hosting by the Esprit reps, as this service isn’t provided in all resorts, but since I was skiing alone this was a great way to familiarise with the resort and meet equal level skiers. I met some great guys this way, and really enjoyed the guided days.
Ski school for the children was excellent, all instructors spoke perfect English which is important for little ones. Our children really developed well, our eldest boasting having completed all black runs by the end of the week. The poor ski instructor was so exhausted after skiing with him, she had to go for a lie-down!
The area has found more recent notoriety following the filming of the new James Bond film Spectre, in the nearby resort of Solden. I visited for the day on a trip organised by Esprit & Inghams, and it was only about 20 mins away by bus. There is a new high-tech gondola which takes you up to the heart of the ski area. From here lifts fan out in all directions into the surrounding mountains and glaciers with great snow conditions and long, sweeping runs back into the resort.
There are fantastic views on a clear day including the restaurant which was the clinic in the Spectre film. It is also possible to ski the run which was made famous by Bond piloting a wingless plane down the mountain!
The cast, including Daniel Craig, stayed at a hotel in Obergurgl just down the road from ours during location shooting.
We did our own bit of movie filming whilst there, as it is such a good opportunity to document the progress of our boys’ skiing. For the first time, I also took a head-mounted video camera out, although I did leave it until the last day. I managed to film the inevitable final day wipeouts which both boys encountered!
It seems a shame that a sport which we love so much can only be enjoyed once a year, so Cal had the idea of getting the boys to join a ski club when we got home. Our nearest dry ski slope is in Sunderland, around 30 minutes away, so we decided to pool our pocket money resources and let them join. So far, it seems to be one of the best decisions we’ve made in a while – they love it, work really hard, and return home absolutely exhausted but happy every week!
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