Nov 2018 – Facts right up front in terms of the Austrian village and slope area of Sölden and what it brings to you: it’s massive, cheap considering its size, and ridiculously consistent. I’ve taken a few trips there both as a complete family and as part of a “dude’s” trip and was pretty content and happy throughout each time period. Early and late season slopes are always available, here.
First foray to Sölden was as a lovely little family of four. I think Kate had heard of the place through a random Facebook page and we decided we’d give it a go. This was our very first snow trip as residents of Germany and we didn’t really know what to expect. All we had to go off of was the enormous trail map so we figured, based on that, it would at least be decent. Take note that we took this trip in late November. This can be a risky time in a lot of places located throughout the region based on unpredictable snowfall.
Without traffic, the village is not even 4-hours’ drive from our location. As mentioned in the Austria country page, don’t forget to buy your windshield vignette. Mood is a huge distinguishing characteristic between Austria and German Polizei…I’ll explain, shortly…
The drive in was uneventful. Luckily, our designated hotel that we had booked was Hotel Stefan. The parking here is atrocious; however, if you’re lucky enough to have a spot directly behind the hotel, you will be in the most convenient situation possible. The hotel is literally next to the Giggijoch lift (main lift to ski area) so, as far as convenience goes for the slopes, it’s unbelievable. In the middle of winter, you can board a run that sees you descending by nearly 4,500ft ending right at the hotel: it’s pretty awesome. It’s worth noting that, in the country page, I mentioned a lady…well…as you descend, this huge run gets thinner and thinner. I had the good fortune of completely yard-sale’ing some Austrian woman who decided stopping dead center of this increasingly crowded and thin run was a solid idea. Whoever you are lady, I hope you enjoyed spending money replacing the ski poles that ended up broken.
Hotel Stefan also has a fully loaded breakfast that came with our reservation. The room we booked, a Junior Suite, was actually huge but felt a little dated in terms of decor (See photo above). It’s worth mentioning the hotel also has a huge warming/gear room as well as a fully functioning spa (if you have the time to enjoy it). I recommend the place, for sure. Location is outstanding. Another great option for a reasonable price as well as ideal room setup (even heated bathroom floors!) is Hotel Garni Bergheim.
Not only was this our first snow trip in Europe, but this was also going to be the kids’ first time being on skis. For the adult lift ticket piece, when considering how large of a ski area Sölden boasts, the price for a day ticket is pretty amazing at 56€ during peak season. Again, keep in mind, Snowshoe, West Virginia charges over 100USD for a single day on the weekend. Austrian lift tickets are fair and reasonable. We bought our lift tickets, booked the kids at Ötztal Skischule, then took the trip up the mountain via the Giggijoch lift.
The meeting point for the school was conveniently right next to the lift and the entire day for both of them was 160€. Refer back to my Feldberg post and you’ll understand how expensive ski school can sometimes be throughout the Alps. Staff was super friendly and both our kids were just as happy as we were to get the hell away from us for a day. We gladly dumped them off to other adults we’d never before met in our lives and immediately got on a lift to get as far away as possible. Also worth mentioning that, in the case that your kids decide that ski school sucks, there’s a play area where they can self-destruct for hours on end.
The slope area is fantastic. It’s large, open, and even provides you an opportunity to snowboard next to and over glacier ice. The area is open enough that you have a lot of options for off-piste exploration and trail-blazing. If you’re looking for tree runs, though, you’re going to seep into depression: the majority of the area is well above the tree line. The main portions of the mountain are separated by gondolas and tunnels, so a three-day pass (still cheaper than a single day @ Breckenridge) is probably your best bet in terms of actually visiting the entire area.
Both days the kids were in school, I felt the instructors may have caved a little too quickly to our kids’ whining to stop. Since it was their first ski time, I’m not shocked at all that the kids griped about an hours’ long course in something they’d never done; however, we never got a single call from the school about any problems. Both kids were just thrown into the play area and the instructors actually played with them. In that respect, it’s kind of an expensive daycare, but sometimes it’s just totally worth the alone time with your spouse.
Sölden is a popular place for alpine-bound Europeans. As such, if you want to have even the smallest chance of getting a hotel room on a weekend, you need to book way ahead of time. There is an enormous place called the Aquadome for off-slope family time, as well. We haven’t been there; however, I’m pretty sure Hotel Stefan hooks you up with a deal there if you’re a guest. Other hotels in the area probably do, as well.
Basically, Sölden is a fantastic trip that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (if booked out far enough). There’s plenty to do on and off slope, and your kids can be well taken care of if you’re willing to pay a bit extra and enjoy your own time with your lady/dude.
Btw, dont even go 5km over the speed limit. On our way out of town, we almost drove over an Austrian Polizei Offizier because he thought the safest way to perform a traffic stop is to step INTO TRAFFIC and hold his hand out to stop traffic. Recklessness knows no bounds with the Austria Bundespolizei. Thankfully him endangering his life was only worth 35€.
If there’s anything you feel is missing or if you’ve got any questions, drop a comment below! I’ll get back to you!
Bis zum näschtes mal!-The Snowboard Dad In Europe