St Anton am Arlberg is unique amongst ski resorts in holding three legendary reputations simultaneously. First there is its world class skiing, second there is the resort’s reputation for the most hedonistic nightlife in any ski resort in the world, and third there is St Anton’s status as a key pioneering resort in Alpine skiing. Marketed as “the cradle of Alpine skiing”, one of the first ski clubs in the Alps was established here in 1901. Appropriately St Anton hosted the World Alpine Skiing Championships a century later in 2001.
This is a resort of contrasts, the timeless, peaceful village centre contrasts with the buzzing nightlife (although at the same time, the two seem to complement one another); the prepared trails which cover in excess of 300km of groomed runs in the Arlberg and then the incredible 200km more of ‘unpisted routes’ for experienced skiers to explore. The area was fully lift-linked for the 2016-17 ski season. All this together, but particularly the off-piste opportunities, makes St Anton a magnet for serious winter sports enthusiasts of all ages the world over, in the same unique way as Chamonix in France, Crested Butte in Colorado or Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
When the snow is good, nothing much else matters. St Anton, as far as its marketing is concerned, encompasses the high altitude hamlet of St Christoph (1800 m / 5900 feet) and half a dozen small villages nearby. St Christoph, right next to the historic Arlberg Pass, is particularly noteworthy as there was a monastic settlement here for 500 years. Travellers could shelter here when caught out by the weather front changes at this point: Arlberg is geographically significant as the dividing point between the watersheds of great rivers like the Danube and the Inn to the east, and the Rhine to the west.
Today the Hospiz Hotel on the site is one of St Anton’s two five star hotels and claims to have Austria’s best wine cellar: it was also the spot where on January 3rd 1901 the Arlberg Ski club was founded.