We usually choose high altitude resorts but wanted a change from wide open, often bleak runs and to ski amongst trees. We are all over 60, 2 of us use Snowbikes and 2 ski. We have been skiing in Austria for over 15 years.
Location: Flachau is about 50 mins drive from Salzburg Airport, motorway most of the way. There are train stations in St. Johann, Radstadt, Altenmark, Eeben, Bischofshofen and a Shuttle bus service from Salzburg. We booked a private transfer costing 200 euro round trip for 4 passengers from www.taxi-jaeger.at Booked everything direct DIY as UK TOps don’t go to this resort.
The resort: The village itself sprawls out along a busy road, not a typical chocolate-box town and no real centre from what we could see, but we didn't venture into town other than to the Spa Supermarket. But it’s not a purpose-built concrete jungle either. There is a local farming community and this is a summer resort too. Usual facilities available ski shops, hire shops, doctor, pharmacist, places to eat, a few bars but certainly not St Anton.
Lift system: Very modern, chair lifts often with heated seats. Few drag lifts but only on nursery slopes so good for boarders. We did find one other but they are rare. Lift system links well often with more than one lift travelling to the same area. New G-Link cable car now links to Wagrain and Alpendorf. The ski bus takes you to 9 other satellite towns with their own runs.
Flachauwinkl links by mountain to Zauchensee.
The terrain: 760 kilometers of pistes (275 km blue, 390 km red and 95 km black) 270 lifts. Pistes go up to 2,700 m above sea level. Flachau on the mountain is a very child-friendly place and if you accidentally go during the Dutch holidays, it’s very busy with lots of little people! Flachauwinkl and Zaunchensee were much quieter. Mostly intermediate skiing.
The lifts don’t leave from the town of Flachau itself; you need a ski bus or longish walk. There are a few hotels clustered around the base of some lifts (where there are lockers) so you need to decide what your priorities are, being in town, or near the lifts.
Runs: The last part of the red home run #4 under the Achterjet gondola lift is very busy at the end of the day and pretty cut up despite is being very wide.#2 Blue from the top of the Starjet 3 is a lovely long run through the trees. #33 from the top of the Flying Mozart is challenging for a red and the markings disappear as soon as you leave the lift and don’t appear again until you reach the G-link to Wagrain. In general we found the runs to be far longer than average, nearly all can be skied from the top of the mountain to the town so less time on lifts, more time skiing.
For some strange reason they have named the majority lifts with the suffix “jet” at the end. This makes for quite a lot of “map out of the pocket” time as you try to remember if you need Spacejet 1,2 or 3 or Starjet 1,2 or 3 and the Achterjet, especially in bad weather when you can’t see well. Why they didn't give them all completely different names I can’t think.
The snow: Snow making covers 90% of the runs – we had amazing snow for late Feb, even though everywhere in Europe had a really late start to the season. Couldn't have asked for better and it snowed heavily whilst there. This has restored our faith in low-altitude resorts. Pisté management was good, no ice, no bare patches.
Not sure how much off piste there is but we did see lots of tracks through the trees, under the lifts and anywhere that you could get off the runs and back on again. There is a pretty extensive Snow Park (we are told) in Flachauwinkl.
We loved this place and even after a week we had hardly touched the Ski Amadé area, it's vast. We will return in 2016, avoiding the Dutch holiday weeks! If anyone out there is interested we hired our Brenter Snowbikes from www.sportamjet.at