Austria's Tyrol offers skiers the most ski areas anywhere in the Alps, especially in Zillertal – the Ziller River valley that includes Mayrhofen - Penken/Ahorn, Rastkogel, Eggalm, Kaltenbach – Hochzillertal-Hochfügen, Zillertal Arena, Spieljoch and Hintertux Glacier. From the village of Mayrhofen, you have combined skiing on two ski mountains Penken and Ahorn – for a total of 137 km of prepared ski slopes and 57 modern lifts and cable cars to whisk you around and up in every direction imaginable.
Huber's Boutiquehotel in Mayrhofen is a great ski hotel when visiting the Ziller valley, walking distance to town, and the slopes of Mayrhofen’s Penken lift. It is modern but still cosy and comfortable, with a beautiful lounge bar off the lobby separated by a see-through fireplace. The dining room is elegant, where half-board dinner and a tasty buffet breakfast is served to guests, overlooking the town and the Penken Gondola station. In fact, you are just a few steps to this $50 million 24-person gondola in the morning.
Huber’s Boutique Hotel has a Green Spa, on the bottom floor, a dark sultry lounge area with dry and steam sauna plus a lounge room with couches for relaxation. Massages are available at the Spa from professionals in the evening. Après ski at the nearby Ice Bar was more my speed, a happening disco bar at the base of the Penken gondola. The downtown area of Mayrhofen is happening with lots of ski shops, pedestrian walkways and ski bars on First Street. While the ski village of Mayrhofen is not quite as historic and charming as say St Anton or Kitzbühel, it has everything skiers need: bars, ski shops and restaurants. The lifts leave right from town to Ahorn and Penken with free buses if you feel it’s too far to walk in your ski boots to the ski lifts. Be sure to walk First Street to the church, about ten blocks. Popular places for après ski in Mayrhofen include Happy End and the Ice Bar where we encountered a dancing polar bear on a table top. Austria does après ski like no other ski place on earth. There is something for everyone here, much like the terrain of Mayrhofen.
For a traditional alpine evening and dinner in a hut near Mayrhofen, go to Tristenbachalm, a 1800 chalet at the end of the long steep Ziller valley, just 8 kilometres from the border of Italy, and Kronplatz. You can get here with an hour-long winter walk or a taxi up the long snowy canyon road. Tristenbachalm’s warm wood atmosphere is otherworldly, the hospitability is hilarious and fun – live music is played on an authentic accordion, percussion is an old washboard and a walking stick with bells. It’s not unusual for schnapps shots contests to ensue here as well as sit-up showdowns on a wooden bench. After a big meal of soup, noodles, ribs or Weiner schnitzel, and a decadent pancake dessert, plus a shot of schnapps, you’re ready for your descent down the dark winter wonderland trail on a rodel – an authentic wooden sled. This fun sledding run from the hut to the base is another highlight of the evening in a charming typical Austrian hut. It’s optional of course, but outrageously fun for après ski – an adventurous unforgettable evening in Austria.
Mayrhofen is the heart of the Ziller valley, and from here you can also ski Hintertux Glacier, Ziller Arena, Kaltenbach – Hochzillertal/Hochfügen (also call Ski Optimal) and Spieljoch on the Ziller Super Ski Pass. A ski holiday in Mayrhofen can be combined with visits to other ski areas in Austria’s Tyrol, SkiWelt, Kitzbühel, Innsbruck's nine ski areas. Austria is home to over 85 ski areas, extremely concentrated within a few hours in the Tyrol.