Schladming, Austria Ski Resort Travel Guide

The old town of Schladming, sitting at the foot of the main Planai mountain, is a real classic - parts of the busy center date back to 1322 - and the nearby village of Haus-im-Ennstal is captivating as well.

With slopes extending from Hauser Kaibling, above Haus, to Planai, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm, the amount of skiing on offer is nearly bewildering, although each mountain feels rather too much like its neighbor.

The four big ski areas will have most skiers engaged and Schladming's slopes are included in the vast Ski Alliance Amade region, which covers 270 lifts, 860km of piste and more

than 30 resorts, as well as glacier skiing at Dachstein. Each of Schladming's mountains is serviced by a gondola (the Haus slopes can be reached by cable-car too). Planai (1,894m), the nearest to town, is ruled - like much of Schladming's skiing - by red runs. There are great nursery slopes near the top, but novices will opt for the Rohrmoos plateau - a bus ride away for skiers based in Schladming unless they can manage with the runs down to the Planai West chairlift link.

The Schladmingerhutte at the top of the Planai gondola is a nice meeting point and serves up decent mountain fare. Onkel Willi's, with live music, open fire and a sun terrace, is tremendously popular. It has competition from the the Larchkogelhutte, next to the Larchkogel chairlift upper station, and the Planaihof. On Hochwurzen, the most popular option is the Seiterhutte, with a bar and DJs from 2pm daily. Nearer the nursery slopes at Rohrmoos, options include the Tauernalm and Hotel Austria.

There's a half-pipe in the center of the Planai area and another at the top of the gondola at Reiteralm. But pride of place goes to the huge half-pipe in the snow park further along the valley at the top of Galsterbergalm.

The swimming pool complex has a slide fountain and wave machine as well as a heated outdoor pool. The sports centre at the Sporthotel Royer does have a large pool, bowling

alley and sauna. In the great outdoors, there's snow-shoeing and a 7km toboggan run (floodlit during the night) from the top of the Hochwurzen gondola. Other possibilities include skating, paragliding and 30km of paths. Don't miss the town centre. Cafe Niederl, located in the main square, serves delectable cakes.

Expect everything from fine dining at the Hotel Alte Post to Giovanni's acclaimed pizzas. At the Sporthotel Roya's Tatarenhut, you can grill your own meat on the metal spikes of the 'Tartar's Hat'. The Talbachschenke, a converted wine cellar, offers traditional Austrian grill cuisine Quicy steaks, pork cutlets and lamb. The Dorfstockl, at Rohrmoos, has a famed a la carte menu in the evenings.

Opposite the Planai gondola is Charly's Treff (aka the Planaistub'n), complete with photographs of Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in nearby Graz and a regular visitor. Loud, thumping music foretells business as usual at Onkel Willi's. Later revellers march on to La Porta and the Hanglbar, where ten-pin bowling lanes are hand-carved into the rock. Late-night partygoers flock to the Sonderbar disco beneath the Hotel Rossi.

The revered Hotel Alte Post, was welcoming guests back in 1618 and is still a popular haunt almost 400 years later, with handsome rooms and a very good position on the main square, just a few minutes from the Planai gondola. The Hotel Landauer, five minutes from Schladming by car, features a wellness centre and charm-less but comfortable decor. The three-star Hotel Landgraf is highly regarded and is right in the center of the action.

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