The alpine resort of Lech, in the beautiful Arlberg mountain range, combines superb skiing, reliable snow, and delightful scenery. The loyal clientele of this celebrated resort look forward to the restaurants, spas, and après ski, as much as to the excellent skiing.
Together with neighbouring Zürs, Lech is perhaps Austria's most exclusive ski resort. Between them, Lech and Zürs boasts dozens of four and five star hotels, but there are also options for more budget conscious skiers.
Despite its reputation for luxury, Lech remains a picturesque traditional Austrian village. The resort has sprung up around an old farming village set in a high valley, and even now the settlement is sometimes cut off from the outside world when there is heavy snowfall.
Innsbruck airport is just 1.5 hours from Lech and Zürs, while the drive from Zurich airport takes a little over two hours.
Lech and Zürs offer some of the best intermediate skiing to be had in Europe. There may not be as many challenging pistes as in nearby St Anton, but there are extensive off-piste options.
Snow reliability is one of the main contributing factors to the success of this resort. There is a high annual snowfall and the highest lift station is at 2,811m. Lech is also home to the famous White Ring ski circuit, which takes skiers on a tour through the ski area.
Lech is linked by lifts and ski runs to the higher Zürs slopes, and a new gondola connects Lech to the pistes of Warth and Schröcken to the north, which doubles the available skiing area. Thanks to the new Flexenbahn gondolas, there is now also easy access to St Anton and other nearby Arlberg resorts.
There are plenty of excellent ski schools in Lech, Zürs and other ski resorts in the Arlberg area, but book early if you want to hire a private guide.
Shopping is surprisingly limited in Lech, and even more so in Zürs, considering both their reputations as fashionable resorts. Most of the shops are to be found on the Hauptstrasse, including major winter sports stores which sell all the latest branded equipment, as well as souvenirs, trinkets, and traditional Austrian clothing. Visitors will find everything they need in Lech, but it is not really a destination for shopping sprees. No doubt this lack of extensive shopping outlets helps to preserve the charming traditional atmosphere of the two alpine villages.
There are an appetizing number of good restaurants to be enjoyed while on ski holiday in Lech. Some of the most popular are Hûs Nr 8 and Rote Wand for traditional Austrian food, Don Enzo Due for pizza, and Fux for modern Asian fusion cuisine. Balmalp serves food like pizza and ribs, and enjoys stunning views of the valley. Zürs has a similarly good restaurant scene, with numerous upmarket options.
The après ski in Lech is world famous and many holidaymakers staying in Zürs venture out to sample some of the atmosphere (there are regular buses connecting the resorts). The Eisbar, outside the Hotel Tannbergerhof is the most popular place to head for a glühwein after a long day on the slopes. There's a small disco in the hotel too. The Krone Bar lures well-dressed clientele, as does the Hotel Arlberg. The champagne bar at the Hotel Montana is also a popular after-ski stop. The nighlife in Zürs is fairly quiet but there are a selection of bars and also a small disco. Those looking for a more rowdy nightlife may want to take a taxi to St Anton.
There's a huge amount on offer for non-skiers in Lech, from the sleigh rides and long winter walks, to curling, sledging, and ice skating. The resort is home to many wonderful upmarket hotels, which boast swimming pools and spa facilities.
Lech and Zürs are expensive by Austrian standards. There are also limited challinging pistes, although nearby St Anton has extensive sking for all standards.