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Wintertraum Lech, Bild: SABPICS / shutterstock

Lech am Arlberg – in search of the mountain that doesn’t exist

If you travel to Lech in Austria, you should give up the search for the Arlberg. For he will not find it. These seven letters stand for a region and for a passport. It is exactly 1,793 metres high and connects the provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Today, the “Arlberg” sees itself as the cradle of skiing and was apparently derived from the Arlen, a bush that can be found almost everywhere here. Lech, with its somewhat smaller neighbour Zürs, is not only a worthwhile destination in winter. In the cold season, legendary slopes beckon here for carefree skiing pleasure. In spring, the slopes of Valluga and Trittkopf are transformed into a blooming paradise. And that’s why Lech am Arlberg is a year-round destination for holidaymakers who prefer exercise in nature. Either on the narrow boards that mean the world to many or as hikers on foot.

The Emperor and the Monarchs of the World

Lech am Arlberg
Lech is also a popular travel destination in summer, Image: Umomos / shutterstock

It is thanks to Emperor Franz Josef I that the remote villages of this region once awoke from their slumber. The regent opened the Arlberg Railway Tunnel and thus the connection from Bludenz to Landeck in Tyrol. A side valley benefited from this, which is now one of the most interesting winter sports areas in the Alps. Lech am Arlberg not only acted as a magnet for the monarchs of this world. More often, crowned heads wept over the slopes. As early as 1959, the members of the Dutch royal family gathered here. They stayed in the historic Hotel zur Post. It is the first house on the square, which is also geographically correct. Because if you reach the beautiful village of international winter sports celebrities, you will find yourself directly in front of the “Post”. It was probably also due to the celebrities from all over the world that the properties to the left and right of the small river that gave this place its name were soon no longer affordable for ordinary mortals.

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With Hannes Schneider, the “white intoxication” began

A local named Hannes Schneider is considered a pioneer of alpine skiing. He opened the first ski school on the Arlberg in 1906. More precisely in Zürs, but in Lech this alpinist of the first hour is considered a “local”. Schneider taught his students technique and posture, although in the years after the turn of the century there were still boards without steel edges. It was the era when the “white rush” began in Lech am Arlberg. Leni Riefenstahl engaged Hannes Schneider for her film “Sonne über dem Arlberg”. At the latest this film brought the breakthrough for Lech and for the smaller neighbors Zürs and Hospiz. Today, there is hardly any other winter sports resort in the Alps that has such a large number of first-class ski instructors. They all see themselves as the heirs of the legendary Hannes Schneider.

Ernest Hemingway and the “grumpy peasants”

Lech am Arlberg
View of Lech from the Kriegerhorn on the Arlberg, Image: studio-fifty-five / shutterstock

There’s no question about it: Lech am Arlberg is a pearl in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. But that was probably not always the case, because none other than Ernest Hemingway was not particularly uplifted when he stayed in this area with his wife Hadley in the autumn of 1925 and immersed himself in his future book “Fiesta”. In his rather bumpy attempts to move in the young snow, he encountered, as he put it, “grumpy farmers”. Today, the region around Lech is a classic holiday destination with friendly ski instructors and locals who like to open the doors of their old farmsteads to their guests. The inhabitants of Lech, who are concerned about the preservation of nature, are equally concerned about the comfort of their guests, but at the same time feel a great deal committed to their surroundings. Therefore, for example, snow cannons may only be used in winter if strict conditions have been met beforehand.

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Relaxation and edification at the Schlegelkopf

Lech stands for entertainment and boundless fun in the snow. When the days get shorter there, this place with its white splendour presents itself as the largest contiguous ski area in Austria. The ski huts and restaurants in Lech and Oberlech are an Eldorado for skiers and snowboarders, and an international community of people who seek relaxation and edification meet on the slopes of the Schlegelkopf. However, many winter sports enthusiasts also come to this region to be pampered with culinary delights. In the star-decorated hotels and in the restaurants, where top-class chefs pamper their guests. Some people rave about a culinary break after an inspiring winter hike after their holiday. The way of life of this beautiful area in Vorarlberg can also be experienced on a warm summer evening in Lech. Golfing, mountain biking, hiking, swimming in the forest pool – the offer in this intact natural landscape is extremely rich. And the mountains on the Arlberg – which does not exist – are full of surprises