In the western part of Austria, is the region Vorarlberg. It is famous to have one of the best snow records, not only within Austria but also of the Alps.
Vorarlberg is the smallest province in Austria and it's the place where I grew up and still live. The region is not only very well known for its skiing destinations, but also for its hiking possibilities during the summer, its lakes and rivers (for example Lake of Constance), its castles, beautiful mountain villages, unique architecture, music festivals and urban vibes in the towns. It's a place I have left several times and always came back, appreciating this piece of earth each time a bit more. And yes, indeed, I am happy to call this place my home.
Living here, it's never far to one of the skiing areas (the closest one is just up the hill from my house, only a few minutes away by bus or car). So yes, I am lucky.
When Doris from Doris World and I got the invitation to stay at Explorer Hotels in Gaschurn, I was excited to try out what it feels like to go on a skiing vacation in my own region. I won't say it all now, but let me tell you this: It is such a different feeling to be able to unwind and to relax after a day on the ski piste and there's no rush or worries about any kind of rush hour once you're on the highway.
Now, wait, let me tell you the whole story about our stay.
There are many ski resorts to choose from in Vorarlberg, but my destination choice was Gaschurn in Montafon because I wanted to go skiing in the ski area Silvretta Montafon. The last time I was there was probably as a kid?! To be honest, I can't even remember. You can imagine I was VERY excited to experience it by myself finally.
To get there, you have a few options. If you come by plane, you arrive either in Munich, Memmingen, Friedrichshafen (Germany) or Zurich, Switzerland. From there you can take a train or a rental car and get to Gaschurn. Many hotels offer a pick-up service. In Gaschurn itself you don't really need a car as there's public transport that brings you to the skiing resort and it works perfectly fine.
If you arrive by car, the hotel charges you 1 € per day on the parking lot and in the covered car park, it's 3 € per day.
I left my hometown Hohenems and as soon as I passed Bludenz with my car, the sun came out and accompanied me all the way into Montafon. An hour later, I already arrived. At the beginning of the village Gaschurn, lies the Explorer Hotel. From my last stay at the Explorer Hotel in St. Johann in Tirol I immediately recognized the hotel (first by its wooden look but also by its size).
In case you want to know where this region is located precisely, here you go.
There's a new category here on the blog, named green check-in. As my blog is about mindful traveling, I want to share my experiences here as well about green hotels. The latest green hotel I stayed at was in Lisbon.
Arriving at the hotel in Gaschurn, I packed a few things together and walked all the way around the building to enter through the main entrance. It's easier though if you walk through the covered car park, open the door at the very end and use the elevator to get to the hotel lobby.
Now, wait, yes, I came by car because I didn't have much time and also no shuttle service was provided by the hotel. If I'd stay in a hotel with a shuttle service, I could imagine taking the train. But first, I'd need to invest in a ski bag where I can put all my gear inside). Then it's just a huge suitcase and this bag, and yes, I think I'd be able to handle it all by myself.
The hotel lobby looked exactly the same as in St. Johann in Tirol. Being a franchise company, all of their hotels have the same look and therefore you already know what to expect and where to find what. To the left is the reception area where I found a woman with a bit of a Swiss accent welcoming me very nicely. I have to say, her check-in was beyond perfect. Compared to the check-in in St. Johann in Tirol, here the receptionist explained me everything that I needed to know and told me some of the most important things (breakfast times, and where to find the spa and the opening hours).
The Explorer Hotels are not only green with their design, they have several efforts to be a sustainable hotel. By using green energy, the hotel is a climate-neutral and zero-emission building.
Checking in to the room
Like in St. Johann in Tirol, the room is spacious and has big windows that allow you to soak in the view even more. In Tyrol, the view was over the village and to the ski lift and this time the view included a few houses and ...MOUNTAINS! I had some time to spend on my own until Doris arrived, so I took my time to arrive in the room. I unpacked a few things, read a few pages in my book at the reading nook at the window. Hands down, this is my most favorite place in the room.
The rooms are spacious. With 21 square meters, there is enough space for two people (even three because at the window is a bed drawer where a third person can sleep). The hotel is not just about design, it does a good job in functionality. Although I have already stayed a night in St. Johann in Tirol, again, what immediately caught my eye where all the hooks on the wall and the many shelves. I believe you wouldn't need that much somewhere else but here it's perfect. You can hang your sports clothes after a day on the slope to let them dry and there is enough space to unpack your sportswear, camera gear, shoes, etc.
The room also offers several plug-ins which allow you to work and charge your phone and/ or camera battery at the same time. This is so valuable, not only for bloggers but for any kind of person who has a lot of equipment.
Needless to say, there is free WIFI but we were not that happy with the connection in our room during our stay. A reason might be that it's open and everyone uses it without a password, but I am not sure if this is the only reason. It was doing well in the lobby though. The WIFI in Tyrol has worked better.
The bathroom in our room was very colorful. Now, I was a bit surprised to see different colors compared to the one in Tyrol, but the team of Explorer Hotels explained it that the colors which were used, are the colors of jerseys of winners from mountain bike contests. Just as in Tyrol, we were sleeping in the mountain bike room.
Goodmorning, say hello to my colorful shower: Mit so einer bunten Dusche, gaaanz in Dorisworld Farben, wird man viel schneller munter am Morgen unter der Dusche. Die ist fesch gell? Leider muss ich diese Dusche in den @explorer_hotels schon verlassen, weil heute geht es nämlich schon wieder weiter nämlich nach Tirol. Ja klar die Explorer Hotels gibt es auch in Tirol bzw auch an anderen Standorten...wie auch zuhause in Oberösterreich. Genauer in Hinterstoder, angeblich hat das im Dezember ganz neu eröffnet. Das möchte ich mir bald ansehen. Habt einen genialen Tag, ich werde mich von Tirol melden. #HotelExplorer #montafon #vorarlberg #happy #mountain #mountains #winter #mountainwoman #snow #mountainview #mountainlife #mountainlove #love #instagood #visitaustria #myaustria #austria #alps #followme #mountainlovers #healthytourism #ExplorerMoments #nature_lovers #greenhotel @visitvorarlberg #visitvorarlberg
Coffee & cake at Posthotel Rössle
After my check-in, I decided to go for a walk while the sun was still shining to explore a bit more of Gaschurn. It is a very picturesque mountain village with its alpine scenery and its unique mountain village character.
Walking along the street I saw a few very traditional Montafon houses, mixed with a few big hotels with modern architecture. Every few steps I saw another fascinating motive for my camera.
Another benefit of having vacation close to your home is that you have time to soak it all in. Otherwise, it's all about getting up early, driving straight to the parking lot, get a ski ticket and go up and spend all day skiing and drive back home again.
This time I just wandered around with no real goal in my mind. Wait, oops... there was just one little thing in my head the entire time. If you know me, yes, sure, coffee was number one and number two? If you know me even better, CAKE!
I made sure to ask the receptionist where to go for coffee and cake before I left and she recommended me to go to Posthotel Rössle. Excellent recommendation because the other cafés were all closed on this Tuesday afternoon. The selection was small but nice and I went for an apple strudel with vanilla sauce and a cappuccino. So here I was after a walk through the village, spoiling myself with coffee, cake, and a book.
Later, when Doris arrived, we had another drink together and then we went back to the hotel to try out the spa area. Unfortunately last time in Tyrol there was no time to try out the spa, so I was happy to find some time during this stay.
If you want to go to the spa at this hotel, don't forget to bring your own flip-flops and your bathrobe. I missed my bathrobe to be honest. I actually packed it into the trunk but I was too lazy to bring it up to the room. As soon as I saw the size of the spa towels though, I wished I would have gotten it. It's a normal shower towel so it's a bit short - that's probably also the reason we didn't take any pictures from the spa.
The spa area is perfect to relax after skiing or after some activities like hiking before it's time for dinner. It offers a sauna, a steaming bath, and a relaxing area.
Opening hours in winter are from 3 until 10 PM. There is some water offered too and while some spas have a bit of hidden showers, this is a very open shower (I prefer the hidden ones) and the sauna is mixed.
I enjoyed the 90° sauna the most, it has a nice look and l loved the feeling when we got out of the sauna and went back to the room to relax after a shower in our bed.
Dinner at Sporthotel Silvretta
If you think of ski vacation, what else comes up in your head? Skiing, obviously, followed by après ski, fun, spa time, ...treating yourself to delicious food? Yes!
We walked past a few good looking restaurants but ended up at the fancy Sporthotel Silvretta Montafon where we were super lucky to get the last spot available in the restaurant. Better reserve a table if you plan to eat there!
In the following hours, Doris and I enjoyed a fantastic dinner. It was a menu where you could choose to have only a few courses or all together. We were feeling quite hungry and so we went for all courses.
The restaurant is stylishly furnished and the kitchen is excellent. It was a true culinary experience. The restaurant is also known to cook locally and everything tasted delicious. I am pretty sure I will go there again. The entire experience, together with the kind and attentive waiter (and the good wine) made the evening perfect.
'Laughter is an instant vacation.'
Time for breakfast
No point in lying, whenever I go skiing I need to eat a lot in the morning so I don't end up starving at 11 already. By the time of 12 or 1 PM, I am ready for lunch again anyway. You see, I enjoy eating.
Breakfast at the Explorer Hotel starts from 7 and is open until 10:30 AM with a big buffet in the Explorer lounge. Here you can mix it all together from bread to many different jams, spreads, cereals and milk to yogurt and some cheese and also meat products (which I am not eating). I try to eat fewer dairy products, but the breakfast at the Explorer is a bit tricky if you follow a Vegan diet.
I enjoyed the breakfast station a lot. Here you find 3 stove plates. Below are pans and on the upper side, you find organic eggs, chopped onions, and tomatoes. I loved this station as it allowed me to create the kind of breakfast I like. I went for scrambled eggs but you can do whatever you feel like (sunny side up, omelet...). On the right side of the station, you can also boil eggs. By cooking my own eggs, I started with some onions and roasted a bit more tomatoes. It tasted so good!
While I prepared scrambled eggs, Doris went for sunny side up.
To my disappointment, the fruits at the buffet that was in a bowl, tasted as if they were sugared. When we asked the breakfast lady, she said they weren't but maybe they just came like that out of the can. Next time, I'd take some fruits and cut it by myself to have the true fruit taste. They were so fully loaded with sugar, that I couldn't finish my fruit bowl. And usually, I am not the type of person who leaves food on the plate as I hate to through away food.
Skiing at Silvretta Montafon
After our breakfast, we headed back to the room to get ready for a day in the ski area. We packed our backpacks, filled up our bottles of water and went downstairs. Just in front of the hotel is the bus station. Busses leave almost all 15 minutes to the ski resort and it's only 3 bus stops away.
Montafon reaches from Bludenz to the glaciers of Silvretta and to Piz Buin. Therefore it's one of the widest skiing areas in the Alps. Silvretta Montafon is one of the 10 largest ski resorts in Austria. Here, you find over 140 kilometers of pistes and 36 ski lifts. The pistes in this area are well groomed and range from easy to difficult, so whatever your level is, you'll find some pistes for sure.
If you need to rent your equipment, you find the rental shop just next to the ticket counter. Together with the Explorer hotels, you get a discount. Just ask at the reception for more information.
Price info skiing at Silvretta Montafon:
Day pass: 52,50 € adults, 30 € children
2 days: 101 €, adults, 58 children
afternoon ticket from 11:30 AM: 47 € adults, 27 € children
afternoon ticket from 12:30 PM: 39,50 € adults, 23 € children
Here you find the entire price list.
The weather and the snow conditions were perfect and I had so much fun skiing. It was actually one of the best days on the slopes in this season. In between we took some time for a few fun shots in the snow, and also used the breaks to enjoy some good food and the perfect mountain atmosphere at Bella Nova restaurant. Besides is Europe's largest ski bar, so make sure to not miss it out.
As you can see, the weather couldn't have been better. What a perfect day... I swear I was constantly smiling as I was skiing down the pistes.
Just before the ski lifts close, we went back to the bus stop and headed back towards the hotel.
One last cappuccino in the Explorer Lounge before it was time for me to head back home and to say goodbye to Doris.
'What good is the warmth of summer,
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.'
- John Steinbeck -
Have you been to Vorarlberg, Austria? Where would you like to go for a ski vacation next? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to share it with friends and family.
I'd like to thank the entire Explorer Hotel group for this wonderful experience in Gaschurn. Also, a big thank you to the receptionist at Sporthotel Silvretta Montafon for her effort to organize a table for us. We had an amazing evening! And last but not least, thank you Doris for the time we spent together. My opinion is always my own.