Looking for an Easter ski trip for a group of beginners or a family? There's a resort you'll probably never have heard of called Kappl, in the Austrian Tirol, which may well fit the bill.
You won't find it in any of the mainstream operators' ski brochures - which makes it that bit more special - but this chocolate-box village in the Paznaun valley has everything a novice needs.
The ski area offers 40kms of sunny slopes, mainly blues and reds which are ideal for first-timers. Once they've found their ski legs, there's the odd modest black run and a fun park to stop them from getting bored. Lots of the runs in Kappl are below the tree-line, which provide plenty of shelter in bad weather - although when I was skiing there last week I was blessed with perfect snow and clear blue skies.
Children can be dropped off at the Sunny Mountain Adventure Park, situated in a beautiful sunny bowl at the top of the main gondola, where they'll learn to ski in a relaxed and fun environment. Parents can watch their little ones find their balance on the ski carousel from the adjacent restaurant, or leave them to romp around it the snow at the Ski Kindergarten while they go off and ski.
Kappl-Sunny-Mountain boasts that it's "one of the most beautiful ski areas in the Silvretta region" and it"s hard to argue with that, but equally important is the fact that it's reasonably lofty altitude, extending up to 2,700 metres above sea level, means that it's snow-sure from the end of November to the end of April.
Apart from the skiing and snowboarding, there are cross-country trails and almost 300kms more skiing down the road at the much larger resort of Ischgl. Further along the Paznaun valley is Galtur, another lovely bijoux ski resort, and a fourth resort, See, is also included on the same area pass.
Kappl wouldn't suit skiers or boarders looking for a vast terrain, but it's a great alternative base to Ischgl for families or those who want something quieter, more peaceful.
France, with its plethoria of cheap, self-catering apartments and British-run chalets attracts the bulk of the family ski market, but prices in Kappl are also pretty reasonable. Certainly your clients will be pleasantly surprised if they stop at the Almstuberl restaurant for lunch on the mountain; they can sit on the sunny terrace and enjoy a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise for €8.20 or a bowl of soup for less than €4. The same food, same scenery would cost at least twice as much in France. Prices are even lower in the self-service restaurants and huts dotted around Kappl's slopes.
The village offers a variety of accommodation, much of it just a short stroll from the lifts, which can be booked via Incoming Paznaun, an arm of the tourist office which works with travel agencies. Innsbruck is the closest airport.
By Linsey McNeill
Friday, March 23, 2012