Austria, and the Arlberg in particular, prides itself on being the 'cradle of skiing' thanks to Hannes Schneider, who was born in the small town of Stuben and founded the Arlberg Ski School in 1921, which revolutionized downhill skiing techniques. Since then, Austria has spawned a host of skiing superstars who have consistently dominated the international ski scene, with the ski industry now accounting for up to a quarter of the economy in regions such as the Tyrol which counts around 80 resorts, from Axam Lizum to Zugspitze.
Austria attracts a fairly eclectic clientele. For many visitors, its appeal lies in reviving the rosy-cheeked charm of skiing in the 1950s – gliding down empty tree-lined slopes into small villages with onion-domed churches to sip glühwein in front of a roaring open fire. For others, it's the glamour of resorts such as Kitzbühel and Lech or the wellness scene of spa towns like Bad Gastein. For a significant few it's simply the lure of vast quantities of beer and Jägermeister and table-top dancing in ski boots, while still others come in search of the renowned off-piste terrain of resorts such as St Anton and Mayrhofen. Can one small country cater for all these diverse tastes? We think it can, and does.