Austria’s Lech am Arlberg is not on everyone’s radar, despite being home to one of the world's most expensive ski chalets.
Lech is a five-star resort which has managed to avoid the limelight, despite patronages from the Monaco, Dutch and Jordanian royal families as well as the UK’s Princess Diana and the princes. Hollywood stars, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, also come to disport themselves on its icing sugar-slopes.
A small, tight knit resort in a picturesque valley, the River Lech meanders through the middle with a church adding to the attractive scene. The friendly atmosphere is genteel, but not too precious. Amongst the buildings, there are plenty of bars and restaurants and just enough shops. The shopping is also a little different; they have their own interpretation of Harrods with the Strolz department store; their ski shop opposite is surely unequalled in its splendour. And, where else would you find a magnum of red wine at over €600 in the local supermarket?
The area of Lech covered by the ski pass is 300km and includes St Anton, Zurs and St Christoph. Their picturesque pistes are varied, with a few black runs but there are some achievable challenges for intermediates, including the famous 22km ‘White Ring’. At an altitude of almost 1450 metres, Lech is one of the highest ski resorts in Europe, meaning that it has one of the longest winter seasons and some of the most extensive and varied slopes. But best of all, it has lots and lots of snow.
Aware of the quality of the environment, Lech has reduced its CO2 emissions and improved air quality by building an award-winning biomass plant in 2011 to provide heat and hot water for the resort. Today 80% of the energy for the resort is generated from renewable biomass resulting in 22,000 tons of CO2 saved annually. Lech also has an e-gas station and has 30 e-bikes for rent during the summer months, as well providing a free public bus service to reduce the need for cars.
Lech's luxurious chalets are world ranking, including Chalet Aurelio, named as the world’s second most expensive ski chalet at €273,000 per week. With room for 16, the chalet facilities include a private spa, a chef and butler, with the Schlegelkopf ski lift just metres away. With an idyllic position next to the slopes of the Arlberg ski region, the chalet has living spaces like you’ve never seen before. This five-star hotel and chalet comprises of 10 hotel guest rooms and a further 2 suites and 6 bedrooms in the chalet. The 46 staff are personable and quick to fulfil every request. The three in-house alpacas are fun but not so obliging.
Following on is their biggest and most challenging expansion; the three chalets nearby with the two Arula Chalets which are nominated for the World Ski Award as the World’s Best New Ski Chalet 2019 and the charming Chalet Mimi. The Arula Chalets can be booked together or individually with a total of 29 beds, staffing is flexible including butlers 24/7. The 1,000 square metre spa is big enough to get lost in with the large pool being the hub of activities and, indeed, relaxation. There is a party space which features an exotic graffiti room and each chalet has its own spa, cinema room, pool and sun terrace.
After a day's skiing in Lech, choose a bar along the main street and bask in the sun, or seek out Hus No. 8 for its traditional cosy style, or the sleekly designed Der Wolf bar. Whilst you will not find the inveterate night-clubbers in Lech, there is enough variety and activity to give the resort a bit of a buzz. There is a large core of guests who regard Lech as their relaxing winter home to which they return year after year – the atmosphere is infectious. I certainly look forward to returning.