Lech (also known as Lech am Arlberg) is a mountain village in the far western region of Austria. It is home to one of the world’s most exclusive ski resorts and resides tranquilly along the shores of the Lech River. Though many might point to locations like Klosters as the celebrity capital of the skiing season, it is actually Lech that ranks as the most elite of them all. As one expert has said of it, “Princess Diana was its most famous patron and other past visitors include the Jordanian royal family, the Dutch royal family and Monaco’s Princess Caroline.”
Yet, many note that although it has some of the most “blue blooded” visitors imaginable, the area manages to retain its farming and shepherding roots. The area has a history closely related to farming, with many of the villages once serving as homes to cowherds and shepherds. Today, though, it is home to a vast network of underground tunnels used to maintain and meet the needs of the many who travel to the villages for the winter season.
Summer in Lech
Though famed for its pistes and slopes, it is also a popular summer destination for its hiking trails and its evolution into a “wellness destination” with yoga retreats, spa experiences and more. It also has quite a fascinating natural history and offers a rare hiking experience through the area known as the Sea of Stone. Here visitors can find any number of fossils as they pass over ancient, prehistoric coral reefs.
Extreme hikers can savor extended hikes which take travelers from one hut to the next along the uppermost ridges of the mountains. Also, many who enjoy mountain biking, repelling, and rock climbing will find endless days of summer fun in Lech.
The spring and autumn seasons allow visitors to enjoy the outdoor activities, and it is in the fall when things take a more philosophical turn as the annual gathering of the world’s scholars and philosopher’s meet for Philosophicum Lech every September.
Of course, the typical clientele of Lech means that many premium villas and luxury accommodations are available. This allows even the non-skier to enjoy the winter season. Packed with world class amenities, these properties often have indoor pools. There are also fitness centers, spa treatments, luxurious décor, full staff, media rooms and more. Paired with the luxury shopping and dining of the area, such accommodations might also become a destination for some!
The town itself is home to some of the most elite shops imaginable, including Stroltz Department Store, Huber and Sagmeister, all options for those eager to find the finest jewelry, clothing and accessories. Dining is also a delight. There are more than 100 different restaurants, with more than 12 of them having been recognized with Toque Awards. Among the finest are Gasthof Post, Picea, Die Stube and Fux. For authentic local cuisine, Hagen’s, Rud-Alpe Gastro and Kriegeralpe are favorites. You can also find many modestly priced options, including Balmalp, Der Wolf and Café Frtiz, among others.
Of course, it helps to know a bit about the skiing. Most experts agree that the majority of the pistes are best suited to intermediate skiers and up. Because the resort caps the number of day passes offered, it prevents overcrowding or declining conditions on the slopes. The Arlberg ski pass allows visitors access to neighboring St. Anton with more than 150km of additional pistes. With a modest altitude, Lech gets around twice the snowfall as its French neighbors.
If you are ready to rub elbows with the world’s most famous, and enjoy amazing skiing and scenery, a visit to Lech is just for you.