My favourite European resort
The twin resorts of Saalbach-Hinterglemm are neatly tucked away in the Austrian Alps, not far from the little town of Zell am Zee.
I first visited in 1995, when the resort was still quite sleepy, even though it had hosted the Alpine Ski World Champs just four years before.
My most-recent visit was in February 2012, and even though it was the end of the season, the resort still had a huge base, and was still receiving regular snowfalls.
Being off-peak, the slopes were uncrowded, and a five-day pass was a very reasonable €180 if my memory serves me correctly. The pass gave me unlimited use of all of the lifts, as well as the ski bus to get to the more remote lifts and back from the remote run-ends.
The resort has about 200 kilometres of groomed slopes, served by more than 50 lifts. Some of the chair lifts are rather interesting, as they have a transparent canopy that comes down when the chair leaves the station, and are heated. This makes for a very comfortable ride, especially on the longer lifts.
The are many little Almhause scattered about on the slopes, where weary skiers and boarders can enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate, or, if you feel like following the German-Austrian example, a beer at each one you come across.
Ski-in/ski-out accommodation is available, but it costs an arm and leg, and probably your first-born too. There are plenty of more reasonably priced hotels and guesthouses, but it will mean a short walk or a bus ride to the lifts. Our budget meant that we had a 10-minute walk.
There are plenty of nightspots in both Saalbach and Hinterglemm, and the taxi fare after a night out to get from one side of the resort to the other is also reasonable.
It can get very crowded and busy in peak season, especially during the European school holidays.
There are regular buses from Zell am Zee, where the nearest rail station is. Zell am Zee can be easily reached by train from Vienna, Salzburg, and even as far away as Munich.
All in all, it's my favourite European resort.
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