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Winter movers and shakers

Austria's modern and sophisticated ski infrastructure receives significant investment each year, continuously upgrading the offer, variety and choice offered to its winter guests. From higher, faster and bigger top-of-the-notch ski lifts to new hotels, extended ski areas, a new ski hire equipment service and flight routes, here are some 2016/17 winter season highlights.

Big is beautiful

  • Flexenbahn Arlberg © Ski Arlberg Flexenbahn Arlberg © Ski Arlberg
  • New Flexenbahn Lift © Ski Arlberg New Flexenbahn Lift © Ski Arlberg

The winter season 2016/17 heralds the arrival of Austria's newest largest interconnected ski area in the Arlberg arena. This is made possible by the brand-new Flexenbahn, Trittkopfbahn I and II and Albonabahn II cableways, which represent a feat of modern engineering with an investment of over 45 million euros. 305km of marked runs and 87 lift and cable car systems will extend from St. Anton in Tirol to Lech and Zürs, as well as Warth and Schröcken in Vorarlberg. Away from the marked slopes snowsport enthusiasts will also be treated to unbridled fun on 200km of backcountry terrain.

It's a record breaker!

  • Bergstation Filmjochbahn © Silvrettaseilbahn AG Bergstation Filmjochbahn © Silvrettaseilbahn AG
  • Giggijoch Mountain Gondola Valley © Bergbahnen Sölden Giggijoch Mountain Gondola Valley © Bergbahnen Sölden

It's in with the new in the Ischgl skiing area of Tirol in Austria this coming winter season, with the unveiling of the latest £10 million 8-seater chairlift. The Flimjoch offers heated seats in a weather-protected bubble and shares one of its 16 towers with another 8-seater, the Hollboden. This one-of-a-kind tower could, theoretically, support 6,900 skiers and boarders per hour. Sölden's powerful new Giggijoch Mountain Gondola will transport up to 4,500 people per hour; the highest capacity of any lift in the world!

Blast from the past

  • Skiier at the Schmitten © Felsch Skiier at the Schmitten © Felsch

In winter 2016/17 the skiing area of Schmitten will be extended by the opening of the zellamseeXpress cable car. Linking Glemmtal with the Salersbachköpfl mountain, this comfortable 10-seater gondola will run to the top station of Salersbachköpfl at 1,920 metres and open access to ski runs used between 1930 and 1980. More upgrades are planned in the area for the 2018/19 season, with a 25 million Euro project creating further slopes and an additional cable car connection from and into Glemmtal.

Go higher and faster

  • Kitzsteinhorn © SalzburgerLand Tourismus Kitzsteinhorn © SalzburgerLand Tourismus

At Kitzsteinhorn the new Schmiedingerbahn chairlift is to replace the Schmiedingergletscher and is to become SalzburgerLand's highest situated chairlift at between 2,530m and 2,775m. The modern 8-seater will also have heated seats and a weather-protected hub.

Vorarlberg's fastest cable car is to be unleashed this season in the Nova ski area at Silvretta Montafon. The 8-seater car will travel up the Gampapinger mountain to a height of 2,145 metres. Transporting 3,200 people per hour, it will cover 2km in just 6.5 minutes, making it the first cable car in Vorarlberg to travel up to speeds of 5.5 metres per second!

Get greater lifts

  • 3s Eisgratbahn, Stubaier Gletscher © Stubaier Gletscher / renderwerk.at. 3s Eisgratbahn, Stubaier Gletscher © Stubaier Gletscher / renderwerk.at.

In the ski area of Burgstallalm near the Planai summit a new and highly modern 8-seater cable car is in construction. Powered by the environmentally friendly "Direct Drive" ropeways system, it uses less energy than conventional lifts and is practically noiseless. A modern 10-seater Schönleitenbahn will replace an older model in Saalbach, carrying 3,200 people per hour up the mountain. The Rauris Valley will receive a modern 10-seater gondola to cover the altitude distance of 563.50m between the valley station and the new mountain station, and the Galtür ski region will be enhanced by a new 10-seater monocable detachable gondola. A true highlight of this season is the new 3S Eisgrat cable car in the Stubaier Glacier area – it is the longest tri-cable gondola in the Alps and the largest single lift investment made by any ski resort.

Snuggle up near the slopes

  • Adeo ALPIN hotel © Adeo ALPIN hotel Adeo ALPIN hotel © Adeo ALPIN hotel
Earlier this year saw the opening of the adeo ALPIN Hotel in St. Johann (Kitzbühel Alps) right next to the Hochfeld lift. Owned by former professional skiers Rainer Schönefelder and Hermann Maier, its aim is to make ski holidays easy and affordable for all, concentrating on those ski-holiday necessities such as ski lockers, bathrooms, rain showers and free Wi-Fi. The Alm Resort Nassfeld boasts a new 100-bed 4* hotel, Almhotel Nassfeld, which lies directly near to the pistes of the Gartnerkofel 4-seater cable car. Very close to the hotel, 28 new, highly modern chalets have opened up, offering up a premium all-inclusive chalet holiday at 1,500m.

Even easier access

  • Bergisel Olympic ski jump offers stunning views © @innsbrucktourismus / Christof Lackner Bergisel Olympic ski jump offers stunning views © @innsbrucktourismus / Christof Lackner
A skiing getaway in Austria is already the height of convenience, and choose to ski in Innsbruck you could be making tracks on the slopes just 4 hours after leaving the UK. This year sees British Airways opening new flights between Heathrow Airport and Innsbruck, and Monarch Airlines is also setting up a new direct route from Birmingham to Innsbruck, making it even easier to get there. Jet2.com have also added a new Saturday service from Edinburgh to Salzburg and new routes to Salzburg from East Midlands.

The best of the rest

  • Skier at ski amadé © Ski amadé Skier at ski amadé © Ski amadé

Apparel: SkiSuitRental makes hiring a wide range of the latest ski apparel as convenient as possible. You can arrange to have your ski outfits delivered directly to your hotel ready and waiting for you when you arrive and picked up again at the end of your trip.

Tours: UK-based holiday tour operator Inghams have expanded their range of short breaks to include skiing holidays in St. Anton, Lech, Kühtai and Mayrhofen. Ski Club Freshtracks has introduced new ‘off piste’ ski weeks focused on developing off-piste skiing technique.

Offers: Ladies Week at Ski Amadé is returning from 25th March to 1st April 2017. As well as benefitting from an exciting programme of parties, concerts, the hair colour-team-ski race, ski tests, ski guiding, hut evenings, torch walks and spa offers in the hotels, take advantage of this deal to receive a free-6-day ski pass when booking a week in a double room with a partner or friend.

Ski card: The Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard and the Salzburg Super Ski Card are combining forces, creating one of the largest skiing area in the world with one pass. You can use one card to enjoy unrivalled fun in all 25 ski regions which together boast more than 2,750km of pistes and over 900 cable cars and ski lifts.

Virtual reality: Navigate your way around the slopes of Ski amadé with "Smart Ski Goggles".  These smart glasses contain information about ski huts, lifts, routes, current lift or slope statuses and also display the speed at which you're skiing. From the winter 2016/17 season they will also keep you informed about attractions on the go so you won't miss a thing. They can be hired from all 25 Intersport Rental sites in Ski amadé at €19 per day.

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